Our Volunteer in Myanmar program offers the unique opportunity to truly feel immersed in a wonderful culture whilst making a difference in a local community that will embrace you as one of their own.
Angella Busacker is a XploreAsia alumni who spent a few months as a volunteer in Myanmar as an English teacher. The following interview was conducted earlier this year and tells of her experience whilst on the program.
Why did you want to volunteer in Myanmar?
I wanted to go to Myanmar particularly because it had been closed-off to the rest of the world until relatively recently and it’s still quite untouched and wild in many places. I wanted to go there before it becomes overrun by commercialism, western food, and hotel chains.
Having recently emerged from their hermitic existence, the Burmese people are very eager to catch-up with the rest of the world. I felt compelled to help them in this endeavor and teaching English was an ideal option for me given I already had a Master’s Degree in TESOL.
Do you feel your time there had an impact on the people?
Absolutely. I am very proud to say that there are now several Burmese children who can speak a few words of English, can sing a couple of English songs, and have wonderful memories of having a lot of fun learning English through music and movement. (Even my driver, with whom I bonded during our several hours in the car, just sent me an email yesterday saying, “Hello Teacher, we miss you very much” 🙂 🙂 🙂 So yes, there’s no question I had an impact there.
Would you recommend anyone else to do this program and why?
Teaching English to Burmese people (particularly to the little monks, nuns, and children in the countryside) was exceptionally rewarding. They live in extremely basic conditions, have little resources and rarely have the opportunity to be taught be a Western native English speaker so they are extremely appreciative when they have one.
In addition, in general, teachers are extremely highly respected in Myanmar (as in most Asian countries); for a Western teacher, this is a rare experience (unfortunately). It was wonderful to walk into a classroom and already know that I would be automatically accorded this level of respect and therefore, could concentrate my time and energy on actual teaching and most importantly, having fun together
What is so great about teaching in Myanmar?
There were two things that made my teaching experience particularly special. Firstly, the children were absolutely wonderful. They were extremely respectful and well-behaved so I was able to focus my energy on teaching rather than disciplining or maintaining order. They were very eager to learn English and found my presence as a Western teacher such a special event, that they listened to my every word, watched my every movement and engaged fully in every activity.
Secondly, teaching in monasteries and nunneries exposed me to a very special, very important part of Burmese culture which no ordinary tourist is normally privileged to see. I felt honored to have been so welcomed in such culturally and spiritually important places, places far off the beaten path in the countryside while providing a service to the community.