Few places have grabbed me the way that Myanmar has.
Myanmar (formerly Burma) has endured for decades under harsh military dictatorships, closed off from much of the western world during that time. Over the years, its citizens have felt waves of hope for freedom and connection with the rest of the world--hope quickly (and often violently) quashed by the reigning regime time and time again, but never completely dying.
In 2011, the first nominally civilian government took power in this small Southeast Asian country. Since my first visit shortly after that, I've returned more than a dozen times, each time keen to see how the country has changed through the gradual easing of Western economic sanctions, changes in government policy, and exposure to the outside world.
"This Myanmar Life" shares stories of the Myanmar people today, showing how these recent cultural, economic and political changes are affecting their lives. From two communities coming together to build a road that the government failed to do, to how a former political prisoner got his nickname, to understanding how dating in a small mountain village works, these stories are snapshots of life in a historic time for the citizens of Myanmar.
The project is bookended by a pair of important political events in recent years: the introduction of the civilian government in 2011, and the landslide victory of the National League of Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, to form a new government in 2016. While This Myanmar Life isn't a political project, the period of pivotal change for an entire nation provides an important backdrop to the stories it shares.
The project also extends past these walls. You can follow the URL or scan the QR code to read the stories online, and dive deeper with audio clips and extended essays.
It's my hope that the images and stories draw the viewer into Myanmar and help bridge the gap between life here and life in a previously shrouded country on the other side of the globe. In the end, I hope it helps highlight what really makes all of us around the world the same despite our geographic differences and no matter our nationality, culture or religion.