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Burma: It's a Small World

By Julia Hursh

In Myanmar I decided to travel with 3 other friends to an area less populated by Semester at Sea students, or anyone for that matter. I got off the ship and headed to the airport. My friends and I bought flights to Ngapali Beach for only about 65 USD. We had already booked a hotel called the Bayview Beach Resort and were pleased to find our hotel concierge waiting for us at the airport when we arrived. We got to talking and it turns out the hotel we were staying in was co-owned by Germans and Burmese. The man who picked us up at the airport was German and had moved to Myanmar about one year prior to work for the hotel. I asked if his move was temporary and he said no. He said he would stay there as long as he didn’t miss his home in Germany. It turns out the hotel was run by mostly Germans who had migrated for work.

It was nice to stay at a place with very few people around us. There was a tiny village nearby that we rode bicycles around to explore the local culture, but otherwise the area was very remote. Which is why it was very shocking to hear someone yell hello in perfect English to us. As we looked over at the bar where it was coming from it turns out it was a woman who attended college with Jered, one of my travel friends. She was from Seattle and they had been in the same photography class about 3 years prior. We went over to socialize with our fellow American friends. It turns out she had moved to Myanmar to teach English for a year but ended up meeting a Burmese man, got married and decided to stay and live there for longer. She said she would like to eventually go back to the U.S. but she was happy and content with her situation in Yangon, where she resided.
I was shocked to find so many signs of migration in the tiny beach town in Myanmar. I was traveling away from the big city to relax and explore a different side of the country, yet I found more signs of migration there than anywhere else I visited in the country! All of the readings assigned for class mentioned that Myanmar is a migrant sending country, not a migrant receiving country. According to the article Migrant Domestic Workers: from Burma to Thailand millions of people have left Myanmar for Thailand because of conflict, militarization, and minority persecution. It was interesting to find a flow of migration into Myanmar from both Germany and the U.S.

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