February 27, 2017 — In an effort to broaden and strengthen the national network, the organizing trip of the Myanmar Students and Professionals Network USA (MSPNUSA) to the west coast of the United States has successfully concluded today. The week-long trip achieved key goals by establishing new chapters in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada.
“It was a pleasure meeting with the Myanmar communities on the west coast, and I am particularly encouraged by the enthusiasm and dedication that the students and leaders there demonstrated for this cause,” said Mr. Elaisa Vahnie, project director of the MSPNUSA.
Chapters in Los Angeles and the Dallas-Fort Worth area have also been expanded by electing several coordinators and mentors of the network. Ko Gyi Soe, the Editor in Chief of The Myanmar Gazette, and Dr. Lawma, member of Myanmar Dentist Association in Southern California, serve as key players in helping to coordinate the network in California.
During the trip, Vahnie also met with the Honorable U Aung Kyaw Zan, the Consul General, and his staffers at the Myanmar Consulate General in Los Angeles on Feb 23. Both parties agreed to work together collaboratively in an effort to reach out to the Myanmar diaspora as well as to continually build and improve the relationship between the people of the United States and Myanmar.
Although the network is primarily intended for members in the U.S., Myanmar communities in Canada will be given the privilege of being part of the network, given their proximity to the United States.
“Mr. Vahnie’s visit to Canada is truly an honour; parents and community leaders within the Burmese diaspora community are greatly encouraged by hearing his talk about the importance of post-secondary education and the way we can work together for their children and youth,” said Sui Len Sung, newly elected coordinator of the MSPNUSA Vancouver chapter who is currently a junior at the University of British Columbia.
“I believe the MSPNUSA initiative will have a tremendous impact on our community here in Canada as it will connect students and professionals from similar fields. The idea of fostering unity among all ethnic groups and networking is not only ingenious, but it will have a positive impact on the overall Myanmar community worldwide,” she continued.
Texas hosts one of the largest Myanmar communities including 23,204 Burmese refugees admitted to the state since 2000.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to be part of this network as a coordinator. Although we are moving steadily, I have no doubt we will surely achieve some great things together,” expressed Justin Puia, who has been serving as coordinator for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Mr. Puia will also begin his coursework this fall on Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
The overall Burmese population in the U.S. is believed to have reached nearly 300,000 and an estimated 1,500 Burmese-Americans graduate each year from high school. In 2016, approximately 83 percent of Burmese-American high school graduates were enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities.
The MSPNUSA aims to connect Myanmar students and professionals across the United States, with the primary goal of supporting members in achieving continual academic and professional success. Securing and directing resources to local communities in the United States as well as in Myanmar is critical to achieving this goal and, thus, will serve as a core component of the network’s activities in the coming months.
The following coordinators have been confirmed during the trip:
California, Los Angeles
Coordinator I- Dr. Lal Thanga, Dentist
Coordinator II- Ko Gyi Soe, Editor in Chief of the Myanmar Gazette
Coordinator III- Christina Dhoj, College Junior
Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Lewisville, Midland
Coordinator II – Khing Zar Win, M.Sc., School Teacher
Coordinator III – Vanpar Sana, College Senior, Pre Med
Coordinator I- John Bik Thang, College Sophomore
Coordinator II- Thang Tuang, College Junior
Coordinator I – Sui Len Sung, College Junior, International Relations
A number of mentors have been recruited. Please visit the Mentors page on the network website to see a list of the network mentors: www.mspnusa.org