By Jerry Nelson & Stasha Malcolm
The Rotary Club of Oroville Sunrise, District 5180 contacted Chiang Mai International Rotary Club (CMIRC) asking if we would be willing to be the host club for a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship for Stasha Malcolm. We agreed and that turned out to be one of the very best decisions our young club has made. We asked her to contribute to this month’s bulletin. Her article is below, but I should first mention that in addition to the wonderful work she has outlined, Stasha is very involved in CMIRC activities and projects and she has offered to be the primary to establish an Interact Club!
District 5180 gave Stasha her first PHF. Shown here Stasha, DG Anusit Puvaseth and his lovely wife Ampan Puvaseth
Currently I am about halfway through my second semester, which means my year of coursework is almost complete! I began the MA program with a broad idea for thesis research, focused on Myanmar’s current political transition. I also knew I was passionately interested in issues surrounding hydropower development (dam building) on the Mekong and Salween Rivers. Linking these interests, I have begun to narrow down my proposed research to “How State-Led Development is Undermining Myanmar’s Peace Process – A case study of the Hatgyi Dam project in Karen State, Myanmar”. This will be a critical narrative of development within ethnic states of Myanmar and analysis of the effect the continuation of those contested projects are having on the success of the peace-building process between ethnic armed groups, the Burmese military, and the newly-elected government.
My coursework last semester included one field trip to Chiang Khong & Bokeo (Laos) where we also visited the NGO “Rak Chiang Khong”. In February, I was able to meet with the Vice President of the Karen National Union here in Chiang Mai to establish a connection with her in order to facilitate future research for my proposed thesis. This semester, we will visit Baan Hin Laht Nai, a Karen village between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, to practice conducting Participatory Action Research in late March. Additionally, in April we will visit Mae Sot with the Trans border Studies elective course to visit various NGOs and local institutions.
Outside of school, I have been working on a Youth Empowerment service project to strengthen the network of Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) participants in Northern Thailand. In 2014-2015, I was an intern with the Virtual Student Foreign Service, working with YSEALI (an initiative founded by President Obama in 2013). Following that internship, I continued involvement with YSEALI through my internship at the U.S. Consulate General, Chiang Mai in the summer of 2015. My passion about YSEALI led me to see the disjuncture between YSEALI members and YSEALI programs. As YSEALI doesn’t have a space for action in the day-to-day lives of members or alumni, I wanted to change that through creation of an empowering and service-focused space for YSEALI members of Northern Thailand to come together and find solutions to the problems within our community, countries, and region.
This leads me to two events coming this month to move my project forward: first, the U.S. Consulate is hosting a meeting on March 16 for local YSEALI alumni to come together and establish an “association”; second is the grand opening fair of the YSEALI Speaker Series at Chiang Mai University, hosted in partnership with the American Corner and Center for ASEAN Studies on March 29 (my birthday)! These events will be followed by a Speaker Series event in April, and hopefully an application workshop in June. The next goal of the association is to plan, propose, and host an YSEALI Generation Regional Workshop focused around the issue of Economic and Community Development. (For more information on YSEALI, visit yseali.state.gov).