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Reason for Excitement: Bush Institute Welcomes New Liberty and Leadership Forum Class
Looking understandably fatigued, 21 Young Leaders from Burma filed through DFW airport’s International Arrivals gate after a 14,000-mile journey from Burma, also known as Myanmar. As we greeted them, their faces lit up with contagious grins and excitement replaced weariness. The Bush Institute’s newest Liberty and Leadership Forum class had arrived in Dallas.
President and Mrs. Bush welcomed the Young Leaders and offered encouragement saying, “Here’s what’s exciting: a group of leaders can change a country. Through the Liberty and Leadership Forum, we want to provide you with the tools that will help you be agents of change.” In doing so, President Bush observed that their “great country could be a beacon” to others struggling for freedom.
These Young Leaders grew up in a place dominated for five decades by a totalitarian junta. Today, they are part of Burma’s historic transition toward democracy.
It was only last year that the pro-democracy National League for Democracy, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, swept the country’s first national elections to occur in decades.
Burma’s future pivots on the decisions Young Leaders like these will take. Among them is a new Member of Parliament, a journalist, a former political prisoner, several medical doctors, civil society activists, and other forward-leaning men and women who are trailblazers for Burmese democracy.
While the Young Leaders recognize their country’s journey is far from over, they have an opportunity to help build a free society that respects the universal freedoms of all people. No wonder they’re filled with such excitement.
Learn more about the Young Leaders of the Liberty and Leadership Forum here. Meet the 2016-2017 Young Leaders:
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
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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.