During my four weeks in Burma, I was working on two research projects. The first was my Tanner Fellowship project where I looked into how effective the international NGO World Vision—Myanmar was in their projects, how the organization is perceived by the Burmese people, and how the organization has developed since it started in the early 1990’s. My second project was researching street art for my Senior Year Experience in Global Studies. In addition to my research grants, I chose to conduct research in Burma because it is where I grew up and I had not returned since my family moved in 1999. My Dad started the Burmese branch of World Vision and was the Country Director for five years. I do not remember much of our time in Burma nor did I understand my parent’s impact in their communities due to my young age.
Upon my arrival in the largest city of Yangon, I spent the first few days reconnecting with old family friends and seeing sights that were a crucial part of my childhood—my house, the Shwedagon Pagoda, Lady Luck jewelry store, and the American Club. Though the city has changed drastically in the last couple of years, many of these sights were familiar to me. I also visited the World Vision—Myanmar office and set up a rough game-plan for my research. A few days a week, I went to the office to speak with different project directors, the overall director of all projects, the Country Director, and various other people involved in the organization. I was also able to read through project summaries explaining the details, the goals, and the results that have been seen so far.
My original plan, and what I was most interested in, was to be able to visit project sites. Unfortunately, due to government restrictions, it would have taken weeks for me, as a foreigner, to get a permit to visit a site. However, I was able to see the shelter for street and working children just outside of Yangon. This was an important part of my research and my experience for two reasons. First of all, it allowed me to see a World Vision project in action. Secondly, it also allowed me to see a project that my Dad started when he was Country Director. These two factors have allowed me to really see how the organization has changed and evolved in the last 20 years.
Street art is not extremely prominent on the streets of Yangon, but there are some examples of murals and tags on walls throughout the city. In order to find street artists, I found articles online about specific artists and then found them on Facebook. 9 Micro from the crew ROAR invited me to come see his crew work on a commissioned mural inside a restaurant. I took many photos and interviewed the members of ROAR as well.
My research overall was very successful. I have more personal experience and primary sources for my Senior Year Experience project. However, through my research of World Vision and conversations with old family friends, I learned a lot about my parent’s and the lifestyle of my childhood.