Last Wednesday, nearly 200 eager participants gathered at the Inya Lake Hotel in Yangon to share some ideas. TEDxInyaLake was a seminal event in Myanmar’s growing landscape of thought exchange. As beautifully illuminated by our friend, Yan Naung Oak, in his talk, “Myanmar: A Nation of Hackers,” Myanmar nationals have been turning out new ideas a mile a minute to make a life out of what was given to them, but they have never had a platform quite like TEDx. March 23rd was an opportunity for Myanmar to connect to the world and showcase a handful of these ideas in a whole new way.
Many alumni of the program were also present both in the audience and on the stage. Third waver, Ko Lin Sun Oo narrated the personal journeys of himself, his mother, and his grandfather through the film industry in Myanmar. Each has overcome unique challenges, political, social, and technical, through there commitment to the silver screen. Ma May Thway Ko from the 5th wave shared her vision of living heritages in downtown Yangon which have graced both its past and the present. Program director Helen Waller was also able to share a bit about the educational philosophy of the Pre-Collegiate Program, our special sauce, so to speak.
But no stage runs on its own. There was a huge group which came together to make TEDxInyaLake real. Eight core members worked for months in organizing the whole event and were chasing us down for scripts right to the end. Throughout this time our alum Ma May Thu Khine has managed the public relations and communications for the event to spread the word and help the event put its best foot forward. In the run up to the event, more than twenty-five volunteers dug in to get the curtains up. Ko Thu Htet and Ma May Thu hustled throughout the day to make sure that the whole audience could catch every word. They translated ten of the 16 speeches either from Myanmar-to-English or English-to-Myanmar in real time (remember that bit about chasing us for transcripts?).