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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
ICYMI: Burma’s Crimes Against Humanity in the Headlines
Headlines continue to cover the well-known persecution and forced removal of Rohingya Muslims from Burma, but we're also beginning to see more visible coverage of Burma's lesser known conflict with the Kachin, a mostly Christian ethnic group near Burma’s resource-rich northern border.
Two-Minute Take: U.S. to Provide $44 million for Vulnerable People in Burma and Bangladesh
The U.S. has provided more than $299 million in humanitarian assistance for people in and from Burma since October 2016. This additional aid aims to help bring relief to more than 9.3 million people who are affected by conflict and lack basic human necessities. Read more on the details of the announcement.
Nowhere to Call Home
In May 2018, a U.N. Security Council delegation visited Burma’s Rakhine State, where more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims, a persecuted ethnic minority group, have fled military-led violence. The visit is a step in the right direction, but more must be done.
My Medical Journey Through Burma
Nay Lin Tun, a 2017 Liberty and Leadership Forum (LLF) graduate from Burma, is a medical doctor and a Master’s student in the National University of Singapore’s Public Policy program. He recently completed an internship in Burma’s deeply conflicted Rakhine State.