Oxford-Burma exchange proposed


An invitation extended by Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese politician and Oxford alumna, during her visit to the University last year has inspired OUSU to organise a student delegation to visit Burma.

The delegation, which is being organised in association with the Oxford Hub, has the aim of recognising “the unique position, and responsibility, of Oxford’s student body to be part of the weaving together of the youth of Burma and the youth of other countries”.

During her visit, Daw Suu, leader of the National League for Democracy political party, discussed a visit to Burma with a group of students, and highlighted the benefits this would have for both British and Burmese young people.

OUSU President, David Townsend, has set out plans for a delegation of around 8 current or recently graduated Oxford University students to travel to the country for a week. The earliest opportunity for the exchange to take place would be during the upcoming Easter Vacation.

The proposal states: “Being possessed of great privileges in the academic sphere, it is the responsibility of Oxford students to deploy them in the fostering of international academic community.”

Townsend commented: “This proposal is a new initiative, in response to an invitation from Dr Aung San Suu Kyi to establish links between young people in Oxford and Burma.

“At Encaenia (the presentation of honorary degrees) last summer, she spoke passionately about the value of her opportunity to study at Oxford, and after the ceremony she requested OUSU to organise a visit by Oxford students to Burma, keenly aware of the value of building links between the youth of her country and her alma mater.”

He also said: “The hope is that it would be followed by a return visit by young Burmese people to Oxford in the near future, establishing an ongoing relationship.”

This would take the form of an established Oxford-Burma Student Exchange, with a visit by a Burmese delegation to Oxford in the near future.

The proposed exchange would include “a couple of people from OUSU and Oxford Hub in a leadership and organisational role”.

The remaining members will be selected according to a number of criteria, including: “Demonstrable positive contribution to local, national and global communities whilst at Oxford and beyond” and “Demonstrable interest in Burma or in issues of development and/or social improvement relevant to Burma”.

Potential activities for the trip include visits to youth-led programmes or projects, and a tour around the Oxford University tropical medicine laboratory situated in Burma.

Gargie Ahmad, Keble Charities Rep, said: “This seems like it will be an interesting opportunity for the students that will be involved.”

Financial backing for the exchange has been provided by the Vice-Chancellor, Andrew Hamilton, and the University is also providing logistical support, including aid in liaising with diplomatic and governmental representatives.

A motion to approve the scheme is due to be debated this Wednesday at the first OUSU council meeting of term.

photo/Jean-François Beausejour


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