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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 Senior Program Manager for the Human Freedom and Women's 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
Witnessing Burma's Transition Through Its People
Learn how the Liberty and Leadership Scholars, together with others in Burma, are forging a path to democracy and peace, bringing diverse communities together through mutual understanding and respect.
Bush Institute Leaders Are Contributing to Burma's Democratic Transition
Since the launch of the Liberty and Leadership Program, the Bush Institute has engaged 79 men and women from Burma, including former political prisoners, civil society activists, members of parliament, journalists, educators, health practitioners, and other emerging leaders.
Burmese Court Jails Liberty and Leadership Program Scholar for Freedom of Speech
Burmese activist and 2016 graduate of the George W. Bush Institute Liberty and Leadership Program Lum Zawng was released from jail last week for his role in a December 2018 peaceful protest.