Mekong Cultural Hub

SEAΔ 2020-21 FELLOWS: Create in Myanmar

The SEAΔ 2020-21 Fellows are working on the CREATE stage of their program. The group focusing in Myanmar includes Regina Yuching Lin – an independent research-based translator, writer and curator based in Taipei; Nguyễn Tân Khiêm – an event coordinator in Hochiminh City, and Mohd Jayzuan, a Malaysian multi-disciplinary artist based in Ipoh. With the support of Zaw, the Biotrade Project Manager of Helvetas Myanmar, they have formed a group which allows each member to bring in their best strengths to complement others’ shortages, creating a well constructed and productive team.

Members of the group came from different backgrounds and they support each other. Each of them bring their skills and knowledge to add to the project – it makes balance among the team. “Jay is a musician and works with visual art,” Regina shared her experience working in the group “He’s very quick to respond and come up with different ideas. He’s always the first member to propose the meeting schedule for the group, and to identify what we have come up with, what should be left behind. He’s like a producer of the team. Khiem is also our tech guy. He’s very experienced with Zoom and all kinds of technical problems we have to face. He is a quiet member, but he offers a different perspective from his biology background and also reminds us about the things we didn’t think about or forgot.” she continued. Coming from a political background and having translated several books about Myanmar into Chinese, Regina sees herself as a contributor of insight on Myanmar’s complex political situation in the past and present.

Out of a wide range of Bio-trade products in Myanmar such as Green tea, Ginger, Spices, Thanaka, and Jujube, their focus was narrowed down on the Bio-trade of Thanaka, the famous tree for being a traditional natural cosmetic ingredient planted Salay Township, a very small town in center of Myanmar. Not being able to travel to the site, the group totally depends on Zaw, their partner from Helvetas Myanmar to collect materials for their project. In order to get the most authentic way to look into their local people’s daily life, they came up with the idea of collecting video clips shot by the local people themselves. “The video clips would show how daily life is, which tempo they take every morning, what breakfast they eat, what kind of animals they have in their family,  how their children look like, what schools they go to, what kind of plays they play everyday, what is the situation in the farm and what Bio-trade project benefits brings to them. Is it good or bad, etc.” – shared Regina.

The coup that broke out in Myanmar in early February challenged them to come to a new plan. “Our process is not stopped. We might be a little delayed, but we won’t give up. In each of our meetings we are trying to find solutions for every challenge,” share Zaw. Unable to travel to Salay Township, the group decided to turn the focus to the life of Myanmar people facing the country’s current turmoil situation. As for the outcome of the project, it would reflect their different backgrounds and perspectives. The group hopes to bring their exhibition touring through Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia showing the positive life of the Myanmar people. “Around the world, people have heard enough bad news from Myanmar. What we are trying to do during this project is to portray the positive side of Myanmar. Despite all the fear, anxiety due to COVID-19 the political situation people are facing, they still find a way to enjoy life which is going on.” – shared Jay.

Commitment, discipline, consistency and integrity are the qualities that enable an effective online team work and a sustainable partnership can not be built without a supportive spirit. “Try to understand and try to lend a supporting hand whenever needed,” said Jay. While for Regina, being as honest as you can be, willing to share your opinions and concerns, and listen to others is the key to work successfully in an online project.

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