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Today, the inaugural class of the Bush Institute’s Liberty and Leadership Forum will celebrate their graduation from the year-long program, which focuses on the principles of liberal democracy, economic freedom, and principled leadership. The 18 graduates are from Burma, and represent young men and women who are devoted to their country making a full transition to democracy. Their commitment is so deep that one participant remains imprisoned while another has been forced into hiding – we regret they couldn’t be with us today and our thoughts are with them.
Their Liberty and Leadership program began last summer with a three-week summer seminar in the United States, including coursework at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas and a four-day tour of Washington, D.C. After returning home, the young leaders continued with an intensive year-long curriculum, hands-on development of their skills, and a practical application of the lessons they learned.
While on a path toward democracy, Burma’s destination is far from guaranteed. One key to success is ensuring that today’s young democracy advocates in Burma are prepared to be tomorrow’s political and civil society leaders. With the knowledge and skills they have gained from the program, the men and women of the 2014 Liberty and Leadership Forum class will have many of the tools they need to succeed.
(To view a live-streaming of their graduation ceremony at 5 p.m. CST on June 25, 2015, click on this link.
Chris Walsh is the program coordinator for Human Freedom at the George W. Bush Institute.
Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.Full Bio
ICYMI: Bush Institute Young Leader Discusses the Rohingya Crisis on Nightline
Bush Institute Liberty and Leadership Forum young leader Nickey Diamond (Ye Myint Win), of Yangon, Burma, recently spoke to ABC’s Bob Woodruff about the Burmese government’s brutal persecution of the Rohingya people. During the interview, Diamond explained how one-sided messages from the Burmese government and Buddhist leaders manipulate the general public into hating the Rohingya and believing they are terrorists. The segment also enabled Diamond to share his human rights work, which documents Burmese military officers’ crimes against humanity. Diamond has been threatened and often worries for his family’s safety. Still, he told Woodruff, “They’ll never stop what I’m doing.” Watch the full story on ABC Nightline.
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Burmese Young Leaders Have Message for Washington: Sai One Leng Kham
A select group of Burmese Young Leader graduates from the Liberty and Leadership Forum were in Washington meeting with policy makers. In a series of articles, they have outlined Burma’s greatest challenges and the need for U.S. leadership in Asia.