Highest and Hardest Glass Ceiling

The gendered nature of HRC’s campaign loss at this time around is a painful one.

Here I acknowledge that people have complex reasons for going with different candidates, but there exists a gender dimension to the 2016 election results in America.  Many of my friends cried yesterday at work, and between classes.  The mood this week could be a lot better.

HRC was not a “cool” choice among young people, like Obama was in 2008 when the Hope sticker was a cool accessory on college students’ laptop covers.  But with HRC, even when compared side by side with the scandalous disposition of the current president-elect, people still faulted HRC for her personality, not the policy she has been campaigning for or the public issues she brings up with facts and figures.

This election is a slap in the face.  We mourn, but now we have to move on because there is so much work to do!

To young people in particular, I have as Tim said spent my entire adult life fighting what I believe in. I’ve had successes and setbacks and sometimes painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public, and political careers — you will have successes and setbacks too.

This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.

It is, it is worth it.

And so we need — we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives. And to all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.

Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will — and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.

And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.

Myanmar Art: Pyithu by Sue Htet Aung

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Artist – Sue Htet Aung
Exhibition Title – Pyithu
Venue – Nawaday Tharlar Gallery behind Park Royal Hotel

Sue Htet Aung’s new politically-charged series makes use of large chess pieces, drawing on an obvious analogy between political games and a game of chess.  This metaphor is so obvious that the painting with a woman easily identified as Aung San Suu Kyi is titled “Strategy and Hero.”  The artist asserts that some games reveal heroes who stand by the people.

Pyithu is a Burmese word for the people.  Ordinary people are at the very heart of this exhibition content.  When you talk about politics, you cannot escape the people.  The word itself originated from a Greek word meaning in relation to citizens.  The spirit of the people is hauntingly there in these paintings.

The one intriguing aspect of this series is its focus on the ongoing religious conflict and the politics behind it, with a trail of religious leaders walking abreast away from the viewer.  At a time when New York Times calls Aung San Suu Kyi a “coward” and a few protestors in Yangon are pressuring the United States Ambassador to leave because of the use of the word “Rohingya,” the portrayal of religious harmony and solidarity in the arts is a brave and peaceful message this community needs.

Go see for yourself at Nawaday Tharlar Gallery!

As my country Myanmar goes through a historic transformation, I have noticed a peculiar thing under the current of changes, and that is the political power play found in Myanmar’s politics.  Of course every nation on earth is engaged in tit-for-tat games, and I as an ordinary person have been engrossed in these games without even realizing.

In a nation, games are played out in religious, social and economic spheres.  At times, these games lead to neatly decided outcomes and stability, but at other times, games lead to conflict.  To this end, I have been witnessing both scenarios unfolding in Myanmar.  In these scenarios, I have seen the major religions come together in solidarity to tackle the social ills in my country, but I have also witnessed the unfortunate birth of religious extremism in Myanmar.  I have seen ordinary citizens like myself become a collateral damage in power negotiations way beyond our control, but I have also had the privilege of witnessing the birth of heroes, who choose to stand by the people in hard times.

It is my pleasure to present all of this sentiment in an art form in this exhibition.

– Sue Htet Aung

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Myanmar Style Election Campaigns: Winter Melons on the Roof

One night at Casa de May, my father laments the fact that as a political science major in college, I have yet to have heard about winter melons popping up on top of marketplaces across Yangon.  By that, he means winter melons randomly hanging out on top of roofs at major markets.  One of the hottest trending stories this week!

Winter melons are called “kyauk-phayone” in Burmese language, same alphabets as “Kyant-Phont” or the incumbent USDP party.  The original market sporting the now famous melon is Insein Market, known locally as “Insein Zay-Gyi,” which – you have guessed correctly! – is composed of the same letters as Aung San Suu Kyi.

The placement of the USDP winter melon right on top of the market plaque symbolic of the opposition party is considered or rumored to be one of the many strategies to win the votes in upcoming election in Myanmar this November.  It looks like the election strategists have seriously thought their plan through to win it this year!

Several people have pointed out, however, that these trending vegetables are being used as lightning rods at markets.  But that makes up for a less interesting story, and…does that even work?

Oh Yangon and all its quirks!

 

Today in Myanmar’s history 

A recent sign at a tea shop in downtown Falam, Chin State, forbidding patrons from discussing politics within the premise…and an excellent yet natural facial expression of this person in a blue sweater

This is the kind of morning you will remember.

Countdown: three more months till elections in Myanmar.  Today’s headlines will sell papers for weeks to come, and books for years to come, with repercussions in our lives, direct or otherwise.  Already, this has impacted my life by forcing me to fly out to another town in short notice for a meeting and cancelling a dinner, which is now five plus weeks outstanding.

But of course this is nothing compared to the degree of political, social and economical implications caused by the forced departure of the Speaker of the House, of the incumbent party.  Seen as a punishment of defying party lines and being too chummy with the opposition leader, the ousting of U Thura Shwe Mann is significant, not only because of its happenstance – we all know there will be news before the election – but also because of the way in which he is forced to leave, complete with colorful images of security forces surrounding a building and all.

The way people talk about this news … sudden whispers, shut doors …reminds me of another event eleven years ago – the fall of Myanmar’s Military Intelligence, headed by all powerful U Khin Nyunt, some of whose close advisors just recently came out of their scattered prisons as recent as nine months ago.

This morning shows who’s in charge, who has power and how far Myanmar has and has not gotten.

At the end of a day like this, confusion and uncertainty cloud people’s minds. Are foreigners getting deported?  What’s going to happen?  Will we go back in time?

One wonders.

UNSA Campus Photos

By 10:00 pm on Thursday, I am totally burnt out for the week and refuse to absorb any more information. I am taking only four classes but they should give me 2 credits for philanthropy class since we have an extra an hour and a half session every class day. So, today, I had four classes in a row from 8:30am till 2:15pm, JUST LIKE HIGH SCHOOL! Then, literature hall meeting, yes a theme hall – where we read and discuss more books and stories. In theory, I am also supposed to go to swim practice afterward but I am dropping it after all because I need to drop something – not international club, not dance, not student restaurant nor environmental club. Cooking and grocery shopping add to these workload and Lin is confident that I will stop cooking meals myself by Spring Break (note the capitalization, it marks holiness). Despite these apparent complaints, you can tell that I am secretly in love with being busy (not quite a secret anymore now, is it?). It keeps me moving, and gives me an illusion that I am actually doing something useful. How good it is to be back in a college setting!

But I still miss Peru.

And strangely enough, I even miss UNSA – Universidad Nacional de San Agustin. Abimael Guzman – the leader of Shining Path – was an UNSA student. He also went to a high school that’s right around the corner from my house. Shining Path is a leftist political violence that started in Ayacucho (highlands) and moved up to Lima, the capital. It caused so much misery and pain and death, mainly because the movement poeticized death. The followers are supposed to cross the sea of blood to reach utopia.

Evidently UNSA also hosts students and faculty members that support Pizango, a presidential candidate with a heart for on protecting indigenous rights. He often speaks up against Amazon forest deforestation and commercial exploitation, I believe… Believe because I followed him through a combination of Caroline’s translation and my reading newspapers with the help of a dictionary every seven words. Pizango is against water privatization. His party symbol? A big, blue drop of water. He positions himself directly opposite to that of Alan Garcia, the current president, who’s all about development and industrialization. He published an article in Peru’s El Comercio, titled El Perro del Hortelano. I just found out that you can access to its translation here. When I was in Peru, even Google engine generates only links in Spanish – it may have been a good thing for my Spanish.

You don’t need to look elsewhere to sense the tensions between development and environmental preservation. It is not surprising to find murals and signs that extol environmental virtues at UNSA.

These pictures from UNSA were initially intended for my history paper: Peru’s Past in Peru’s Present. I was planning to analyze murals and statues at UNSA campus and around Arequipa. Then, I found an easier method: to study films and books! As a nerd, I had been appropriating previous student’s books and reading novels on Peru from the beginning. So I just used them for my paper and made a bold claim = books and films show that Peruvians are more resented against their government rather than Shining Path itself for the tragic events from 1980s onward.

In front of Social Science building, statue of Jose Carlos Mariategui, an influential socialist thinker. Guzman took the name Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) from Mariategui’s writing: El Marxismo-Leninismo abrira el sendero luminoso hacia la revolucion, meaning Marxism-Leninism will open the Shining Path to revolution.

This one is to “Arequipa’s heros that fought against military dictatorship,
June 1950, and permanent validity (?) (vigencia) of human rights”

Walk from home to school, writings on the pedestrian bridge

In case anyone’s interested in movies for spring break, these are the films I used for paper:

  • La Boca del Lobo (1988),
  • Paloma de Papel (2003),
  • Ojos Que No Ven (2003),
  • Mariposa Negra (2006) and
  • La Teta Asustada (2009).

Novels:

  • Nicholas Shakespeare’s The Dancer Upstairs
  • Mario Vargas Llosa’s Death in the Andes.