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In June 2013, the Open Hands Initiative, in partnership with The GroundTruth Project, brought 20 top, young American and Myanmar journalists together in Myanmar to participate in a three-week Reporting Fellowship entitled Burma Telling Its Own Story.

A Burmese Journey — Presented by GlobalPost and Open Hands Initiative

The fellowship was comprised of three critical parts: educational seminars, field training, and production, with an emphasis on hands-on training in photography and videography, as well as workshops on writing and radio broadcasting. During the fellowship, the journalists had the opportunity to contribute daily reporting to the GroundTruth blog, some of which was cross published on our "Burma Journal" blog at Huffington Post.

GroundTruth in Burma

The first week of programming was dedicated to ensuring the students had a solid footing in the country's history, culture and current issues. Guest lectures were provided by AP’s Senior Correspondent in Burma Aye Aye Win, journalist and author Bertil Lintner, human rights expert Ja Nan Lahtaw, and historian and scholar Thant Myint-U. The group also had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Ny Nyo Thinn, a Burmese Parliamentarian and the U.S. Ambassador to Burma, Derek Mitchell.

The second week of programming led the fellows on a journey through Myanmar where they would put their skills to the test while trying to find the country's most thought provoking stories of change and transition. The fellows were led by a team of international journalists with decades of experience in the Southeast Asia region, including the program leaders, GlobalPost cofounder and Executive Editor Charles Sennott and cofounder of VII Photo Agency Gary Knight. These professionals not only provided critical training, but also mentorship. Read about the program leaders here.

Five teams of four fellows were each accompanied by a program leader, who would provide training and tutelage along the journey. One group traveled down the Burma Road from the Chinese border, where the fellows examined the influence and impact of Burma's northern neighbor. The second group followed the string of former capitals--Bagan and Mandalay--before arriving in the current government seat of Naypyidaw. A third visited Inle Lake, where they reported on the crossroads of tourism and development, and the impact those things are having on the environment of a sensitive ecosystem. In the Irrawady Delta, the fourth team measured progress made since the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in 2008. And the fifth team looked a labor rights and the economy in Yangon.

After their journeys, the teams united in Yangon where they put together a GlobalPost Special Report, "A Burmese Journey." This multimedia report will be republished in English and Burmese language through our partners in the United States and in Myanmar, including Radio Free Asia, The Voice Weekly, Myanmar Times, and others.

GlobalPost Special Report Image

The program concluded with an event in honor of Nobel Peace Laureate and Member of Parliament Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met individually with each of the young reporters to hear about their journeys through Myanmar, and then gave remarks to the group (the event's transcript and video are available here).

Canon supported the “Burma Telling Its Own Story” fellowship by generously providing camera and video equipment for the training. Samples of the fellows' work produced using Canon's digital imaging equipment can be seen here

Inspired by the Open Hands Initiative’s belief in the strength of "people to people" diplomacy, this exchange fostered dialogue, teamwork, and mutual respect, while emphasizing our common ground. This project brought people together, met GlobalPost’s desire to do great journalism, and GroundTruth’s mission to train the next generation of international correspondents, while increasing the capacity for freedom of expression throughout the world.