|You won't believe this was the bridge back in|
Yankin when we first moved to Myanmar 2012
Wow.... Myanmar, 5th Year. I'm going through the 6th rainy season - and you know what - after the 4th year - the indoor waterfalls and dampness don't get to me anymore. LOL. I'm seasoned and conditioned. Just 2 days ago, I went home after a long, long day and found the apartment flooding. I literally went "Oh. Water." I was too tired to even bother drying it up. LMFAO. When your energy is spent trying to empower the people of Myanmar, you don't let small stuff like these get to you. Or at least you close your eyes to it (and close the door to the room that was flooding 😝)
I am still with CM and for reasons still unknown to me, DBW gave me yet another increment. In a way, I guess, it's her way of appreciating me for helping her build up her team. I've been with the team for 5 years now and I do kinda feel my job is almost done with them. I mean, wow. Just wow for me when I look back at the level of the team 5 years ago to where they are now, they've done well. Not as fast I would've loved but they're halfway there. And really, it is quite possible for them to continue growing without me. But perhaps DBW has other plans for me. I'm not sure. I still only go in as a consultant 3 times a week. It wasn't easy the last 5 years. It was a lot of (and I mean really A LOT OF) bang-head-on-wall and boo-boos and screaming (word has it that the whole Shin Saw Pu road can hear my voice) and I knew that it worked also because the team never gave up on me either. As hard as I pushed was as hard as they tried. Attitude. You can never teach that no matter what. I'd like to write a bit more about my relationship with DBW here. It's a bit of a funny one really. We don't talk much to each other - since the day I started working. I only have lunch with her once a year. When she needs me to look into certain projects she calls on me. We don't always see eye to eye, of course. But yet, despite all of that, there's an openness between us. And the level of trust I think really speaks for itself. We have nothing signed in black & white between us. Enough said. We had a bit of a heart-to-heart talk last year and I appreciate her wanting me to stay. For me, it's just the team. I love them to bits. But if I ever learnt anything from my SoyAi experience - it is that if I am continuously there, there will be certain growth level which they will not be able to go to. So, let's see when my day is done here. I'm also consulting for NEXlabs, a tech enterprise as well as a couple of other start-ups and agencies. Working with one of Forbes #30Under30 CEO had been fun. Really. 😉 Considering I'm a tech idiot and he's a tech-God. LOL. Though I am a little overwhelmed because I don't have enough time slots to take on more. I keep wanting to do more. MOH suggested that I start contemplating a training school.... hmmm..... can my plate get any bigger??
The SoyAi Boyz are mostly on their own now. I don't see them everyday and only occasionally when the situation calls for it. I spent 2 years trying to make a difference with this project. It's now their turn. They're also managing the children, their daily needs as well as the weekend classes and the Youth Centre in general. I've also roped in some of my students to come teach at the Youth Centre and they're really loved by the kids. I'm really so thankful for their passion and dedication. You know, some may say I've shrugged my responsibility to the Youth Centre and the kids. People can say whatever they want. But considering the fact that Myanmar isn't my home country, I need to suss out a legacy plan. I have to keep empowering and INSPIRING Myanmar people to do good and that way, at least I know that when the day comes for me to leave, I know there'll be people still carrying out the good.
I'm still teaching at Strategy First. Which has been really fun because I get to observe the behaviour of different walks of working adult lives. Watch their attitudes, observe their hunger in learning, see their passion in making a difference for their beloved country. There's a huge mixture in the classes and I know some will go very far and some won't. Again - you can never teach attitude. What I can do is only keep reminding them that positive attitude and the grit to swim above all the shit will take them as far as they want to go. It is still up to them. It's the same coaching fitness classes actually. Those who want it will be there every week, consistently, gritting through the shaking pain from the 100th squat. I like to see attitude. I like to see people struggling but yet they don't give up. That motivates me to try even harder - not only for myself, but for them too. That motivates me to bring my A-Game. Over and over again.
Myanmar by far has changed in the short span of 5 years. Who would've ever thought that Hard Rock Cafe would be in Yangon? When I first arrived in 2012, my choices of eating out was rather limited. But these days, there's so many choices, we don't know what the hell to do. And then there's Uber. There's Grab. Back in the day, I had Flintstone taxis with wipers that don't work in the rain. LOL. The buses are air-conditioned now. I remember taking the buses back then - boy oh boy. It was tough. !! This rapid change has kinda got to me though. You start seeing a bit more of the ugly. You start seeing a bit more of the selfish. You start seeing a bit more of the dishonesty and distrust. Not a day goes by that I don't wish for things to be like 2012 again - despite all the inconveniences (water and electricity being a huge part - but this hasn't changed much). Yet, things were a lot simpler and no one was out to get you - at all. On good days, I get to see the simple kindness on the streets, the honesty of a poor security guard returning a diamond ring to the customer and I think - there's still hope. All is not lost. I pray Myanmar is able to preserve this.... then on the opposite side of things, there are the 1st world foreigners who come in, thinking this, this is their pot of gold. They sit there in their high seat and complain about the heat, the weather, the power cuts, the people, the supermarkets,.... if all you do is complain and bitch - go home. I was discussing with DBW actually - who by the way has a great, great love for the people of her country, about how it should be a priority KPI for all foreign-hires to upgrade the skills of the locals. If you're too busy complaining and you got no time upgrading lives and making a difference - go home. C'mon. Get off your ass, get off that high seat and go make a difference. A lot, and I mean a lot of foreigners do and some of them have really great projects empowering the people of Myanmar. Get involved! Spread love. Spread kindness. I have SoyAi and The Children of Tomorrow Youth Centre and Women4Women and a Mobile Soup Kitchen Project if anyone's looking to volunteer their time 😍😍😍God knows, I need help.
Sometimes, when Yangon seems despairing because of the rapid development and "invasion".... I like traveling to far-flung places within the country where you still get to experience the simple and honest kindness that the people of Myanmar offer. This is what's golden about you, Myanmar. Not your shwe nan dars and not your shwe whatever else. It is your shwe kindness. Please, please do preserve this. And let kindness be how the country move forwards.
You have been good to me and MOH for 5 years despite all the #MyanmarMoments. Oh, I know all those moments so damn well. The annual rental nightmare (YES - stay tuned for this as we embark on YET ANOTHER move this year!!!!), the no water for 3 days situation, the power cuts in the middle of the night during summer, the strange alien mold, the way strange lines are drawn into the road to manage traffic, the human-operated fairies wheel, the handyman who comes to your home without his tools, the list goes on. But despite all that, you stole my heart. You did. I hope to be able to continue to do good by you and your people.
Thank You Myanmar for 5 f***in' awesome years!!