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Nurturing Global Leaders is an enriched version of the successful Moei programme launched by the Faculty of Social Sciences in 2008. It is offered as a campus-wide programme to all HKU undergraduate students and local youth.

NGL aims to nurture future leaders for Hong Kong and the world who are caring, responsible and capable; equipped with global vision, multicultural understanding, and problem-identification and problem-solving skills; and committed to contributing to Hong Kong and the world.

Upon successful completion of the coursework HKU students are awarded 12 free-elective credits and the programme fulfills the requirements for the SIGC requirements in the Faculty of Social Sciences.   All participants receive a generous grant from the Hong Kong Jockey Club to offset expenses incurred.

NGL 2019 will recruit 140 HKU undergraduates and 70 teenagers from secondary schools and youth organizations to achieve the utmost educational and social benefits. HKU participants will team-teach with non-HKU participants, and will also mentor them to enhance the development of their leadership and mentorship skills.

Private: NGL Cambodia

Location

NGL Cambodia will be situated in two main locations. Our primary base, and the jumping-off point for the programme will be Siem Reap. Most of our students will be in and around this location.  We have a number of partner organisations operating in villages outside of Siem Reap so a portion of our participants will likely be spending their weekdays living on-site at their schools and have the option of spending weekends in Siem Reap with the larger group. We will have a satellite location in a town called Kuhn Saen Dei, located about two hours outside of Phnom Penh.

Siem Reap

Siem Reap is a heavily touristed area- there are plenty of conveniences- restaurants, shops with foreign goods, tourist attractions, etc.  In this location we have some placements that are in-town, where volunteers will be living in a local hotel and other placements out-of-town where volunteers will spend the week in a village living at their school. Although we will be visiting in the off-season, participants who stay in-town will likely have a less immersive cultural experience, whereas those who live in the areas outside of Siem Reap should expect to experience a true taste of local culture.  All locations outside of Siem Reap are not places that normally see foreigners- there will be few food options other than Khmer cuisine and the local populations will likely not speak much English.

Kuhn Saen Dei

This town is about 2 hours outside of Phnom Penh. The partner organisation is a Hong Kong charity that does missionary work in the area.  All volunteers in this area will live together in a dorm and travel to nearby government schools to teach. There will likely also be after-school classes arranged. On weekends volunteers will be able to visit Phnom Penh.

Weather

As the programme takes place in the middle of the rainy season participants in Cambodia can expect much of what we get at most NGL locations- frequently rain and hot temperatures.  The rain will likely come on an almost daily basis.

Health

NGL participants must take full responsibility for health cover and health insurance throughout the duration of the programme.  Although all participants are covered by a basic health package purchased through the programme you should read the terms carefully and determine whether you wish to purchase additional insurance.  The programme takes place in a malarial zone during the rainy season and there is some risk of both malaria and dengue fever. All participants must consult a doctor well prior to joining the NGL programme and must follow the medical advice they are given. In Siem Reap and Phnom Penh there are good hospitals that can be accessed on a self-paying basis.

Accommodation

All accommodation costs must be borne by the participants themselves. The rough costs of accommodation in Siem Reap is about $12 per day for a shared (double) room for those staying for 8 weeks.   Students staying at their host school are expected to make a reasonable donation to cover their costs of accommodation and any food expenses.

Personal Safety

Cambodia is not particularly dangerous, however, participants must always remain situationally aware and cautious. Cities such as Siem Reap have some nightlife- participants are encouraged to be responsible and ensure that if you are out at night that you remain in groups and return to your hotel at a reasonable hour. Always be aware of your personal belongings and keep a low profile.

Currency

US Dollars are widely used in Cambodia and most ATMs distribute both US Dollars and the Cambodian Riel. Normally these currencies are used interchangeably, with one USD being equal to 4,000 riel. It is common for riel to be used for small amounts instead of coins.

Visa

Applicants will receive confirmation at least one month before the programme commences and further instructions regarding the visa application process will be distributed to participants in due course. In the past it has been required to apply for a visa extension from within Cambodia and we anticipate that this will again be the case in 2019.

Cost

For NGL Cambodia one of the main costs will be transportation to the site and accommodation. Depending upon your location there may also be daily commuting expenses. A rough estimate of costs is given below, however, these costs can fluctuate based on where you are posted and the extent to which you manage your finances carefully.

ItemHKD
Accommodation3000
Food and beverage2500
Transportation including return flights from HK4000
Cultural visits1500
Miscellaneous (e.g. teaching materials, insurance, visa)1500
TOTAL12500

I

Holidays

  • Jan 1 – New Year’s Day
  • Jan 7 – Victory over Genocide Day
  • Feb – Meak Bochea
  • Mar. 8 – International Women’s Day
  • 
Apr. 14-16 – Khmer New Year
  • Apr. or May. Visak Bochea
  • May 1 – Labor Day
May – Royal Ploughing Ceremony
  • May 13-15 King Norodom Sihamoni’s Birthday
  • 
May 20 – National Day of Remembrance
  • Jun. 1 – International Children’s Day
  • Jun. 18 – Queen Mother’s Birthday
  • Sep. 24 – Constitution Day
  • Sep. or Oct. – Pchum Ben
  • 
Oct. 15 – Commemoration Day of King’s Father
  • 
Oct. 23 – Paris Peace Agreement Day
  • Oct. 29 – Coronation Day of King Sihamoni
  • Nov. 9 – Independence Day
  • Oct. or Nov. – Water Festival
  • 
Dec. 10 – Human Rights Day

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_Cambodia

Tourism

The largest tourist site in Cambodia is Angkor Wat. This is located in the Siem Reap area and there are many local drivers offering tours. You must purchase a park pass and these are only available at the official ticket office at the park. You can purchase a pass that is valid for 1, 3 or 7 days. Do not purchase a pass outside the park.

There are many other interesting sites around the country. Many of these deal with the dark period in Cambodia’s past under Pol Pot- particularly there are prisons and killing fields with deep historical significance.

Context

In the 1970’s under the Khmer Rouge nearly all of the teachers in Cambodia were killed or fled. Recovering from this tragedy is a slow process for a country as poor as Cambodia.  Schools in Cambodia normally operate either in the morning (from 7:00 to 11:00) and in the afternoon (13:00 to 17:00).  Students attend only one of these two sessions and are therefore free most of the day.  The government schools are very poorly funded and often have difficulty finding enough teachers.  Although English is part of the formal curriculum from grade 4 on, many schools are unable to find qualified teachers.

NGL volunteers assist by working with either local government schools or at free schools that have emerged throughout the country to meet the needs of students during the periods when they are not in the government school.

Learners in Cambodia are eager to learn and receptive to lessons, but they are accustomed to rote learning. Younger learners, particularly in more remote areas, are unlikely to speak much English and volunteers should be focused on creating simple games and using songs to teach. In areas such as Siem Reap, English is an important skill for local people to be able to work with tourists, and for this reason older learners will be highly motivated to learn to use English for these situations.

NGL Myanmar

Location

NGL has deep ties to Myanmar, and we operate in a variety of locations- cities, small towns and remote sites. In all of these places the locals tend to be very receptive to our teaching and keen to engage with our volunteers.

Hpa-an

NGL has been operating in Hpa-an since 2017. This relatively small town is a few hours from our Mae Sot site in Thailand. Volunteers in this location normally live at a local guest house and teach at learning centers around town. Past volunteers have formed close relationships with the local community and had a unique opportunity to see a less touristed part of Myanmar. There are many caves and other attractions in the local area and typically students are very happy to guide our HKU volunteers. In this area we also work with one local village requiring our volunteers to spend the week living in the village and some schools provide accommodation allowing volunteers to live on-site.

Kalaw

Kalaw is one of two locations in Shan State. The town is called the “Switzerland of Myanmar” because it is somewhat elevated. This location was a hill station during British colonial rule and the influence is still very present. You will see old buildings from the colonial era and you can find more foreign restaurants in town than other Myanmar locations outside of Yangon. Volunteers teach older learners and focus on helping them work with tourists.

Nyaung Shwe

In 2018 NGL began operating at the Phaya Taung Monastery. This unique location is far from any major cities and our volunteers live on site where we work with the 1,200 young people receiving education at the monastery.  We plan to expand our footprint in this area in 2019 and reach out to other partner organisations in the area. For more information about this special location watch this video:  https://youtu.be/LVv-3omwiKA

Yangon

In Yangon, the schools NGL works with can be reached on a daily basis either by bike or taxi. Teachers at these schools will stay in hotels and guesthouses in Yangon. The stunning Shwedagon Paya is the centrepiece of the city, a gleaming golden stupa visible from all over town. Closer to the waterfront, downtown Yangon is a warren of historic streets concealing some of the best British colonial-era architecture in the region.

Weather

NGL Myanmar takes place in a malarial zone during the rainy season. Virtually every day there is heavy rain in the afternoon, and often it will rain heavily all day long. Sometimes the rain will persist for several days. All participants therefore need to be prepared to work in very wet conditions.

Health

NGL participants must take full responsibility for health cover and health insurance throughout the duration of the programme. In Myanmar, the NGL programme takes place in a malarial zone during the rainy season when the risk of infection is generally quite high. All participants must consult a doctor well prior to joining the NGL programme and must follow the medical advice they are given. In Yangon there is a good hospital that can be accessed on a self-paying basis.

Accommodation

myanmarAll accommodation costs must be borne by the participants themselves.
The rough costs of accommodation in Yangon are:

– Guesthouses/hostels: US$12 per night per person

Personal Safety

Myanmar is not especially dangerous. Nevertheless, all NGL participants must be cautious and take full responsibility for their personal safety. An informal rule is not to stay on the street after midnight. Expensive belongings should be stored safely and not shown publicly. A low profile is generally a good idea.

Currency

Myanmar uses the kyat. 1 USD = 1300 MMK. 1 HKD = 165 MMK. US dollars are also widely used.

Visa

NGL applicants will receive confirmation at least one month before the programme commences. All selected applicants will be sent a letter addressed to the visa section of the Myanmar Embassy in their country of citizenship. This letter will enable them to apply for a work visa in Myanmar for the full duration of the NGL programme. All participants must cover their own visa costs.

Cost

myanmarFor NGL Myanmar, the main cost of joining the programme is an international flight to Yangon and accommodation. Participants also need to cover their own insurance, visa and healthcare costs. In-country costs for a stay of around 70 days are generally low. A very rough estimate of the major costs is given below. Note that actual costs may not conform precisely to this breakdown, which is presented as a general guideline only.

Item HKD
Accommodation 4500
Food and beverage 3000
Transportation including return flights from HK 4000
Cultural visits 2000
Miscenllaneous (e.g. teaching materials, insurance, visa) 1500
TOTAL 15000

thailandAnniversaries and Festivals

One way of getting to grips with Myanmar is working through key dates in the national calendar. These are often shrouded in controversy, and minority ethnic groups have their own special dates that are yet more contested. But the national anniversaries and festivals open an important window on this complex society, and for some key dates NGL participants will be working in Thailand and will find commemorative events going on around them. These are the biggest anniversaries and festivals:

January 4 Independence Day (marking the end of British colonial rule in 1948)
February 12 Union Day (marking the interethnic Panglong Agreement signed in 1947)
March 27 Armed Forces Day (marking the Burmese army revolt against Japan in 1945)
April Water Festival/Burmese New Year
July 19 Martyrs’ Day (marking the assassination of General Aung San in 1947)
August 8 Unofficial commemoration of the Four Eights democracy uprising in 1988
September 26 Unofficial commemoration of the crushing of the Saffron Uprising in 2007
November National Day (marking the birth of the nationalist movement in 1920)
Dec/Jan Karen National Day (the only minority national day with official recognition)

Books

The best single introductions to the complexities of contemporary Myanmar are Christina Fink, Living Silence in Burma, and Michael W Charney, A History of Modern Burma. Charney’s general history, published in 2009, is a little uneven, but it does bring the Myanmar story up to date, and it collects a great deal of information and analysis in one place. Other important but quite challenging histories by Thant Myint-U are The Making of Modern Burma, published in 2001, and The River of Lost Footsteps, published in 2006. Thant Myint-U is the grandson of former UN Secretary-General U Thant. The NGL Director, Ian Holliday, has also written on the country in Burma Redux: Global Justice and the Quest for Political Reform in Myanmar, published in 2011. Many other analyses provide excellent insights. Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom from Fear (a collection of essays) is iconic. Pascal Khoo Thwe, From the Land of Green Ghosts is a superb memoir covering the period both before and after the 8-8-88 uprising. Emma Larkin, Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop and Andrew Marshall, The Trouser People pick up on famous colonial officials and provide neat explorations of the situation today. Also worth reading on the contemporary period stretching back to 1988 are Bertil Lintner, Outrage (on the events of 1988), and Justin Wintle, Perfect Hostage (a biography of Aung San Suu Kyi). Looking again to the past, an excellent historical novel set in the nineteenth century is Daniel Mason, The Piano Tuner. A good novel about the early colonial period is Amitav Ghosh, The Glass Palace. Also interesting on colonial times are a novel and an essay by George Orwell, Burmese Days and “Shooting an Elephant”. On Myanmar in World War Two there are many memoirs and some massive histories, notably Louis Allen, Burma: The Longest War. Evocative accounts of an awful conflict are George MacDonald Fraser, Quartered Safe Out Here and Kazuo Tamayama and John Nunneley, Tales by Japanese Soldiers. Also interesting about Japan and World War Two is Michio Takeyama, Harp of Burma. On the early years of independence, when Myanmar was a functioning but fragile democracy, Norman Lewis, Golden Earth is an outstanding travelogue – though the language is quite difficult for non-native English speakers.


General enquiries: nglhku@hku.hk

Private: NGL Thailand

Locations

Mae Sot

thailandMOEI, the precursor to NGL was based in Mae Sot, Tak Province, which is situated just a few miles from Myanmar. Students in Mae Sot are mostly refugees from Myanmar. Most of the schools NGL works with can be reached on a daily basis from Mae Sot — either by bike or by songtaew (line-car). Teachers at these schools generally stay in hotels and guesthouses in Mae Sot — though some occasionally stay at their schools. Mae Sot is a reasonably large border town, and has quite a few restaurants and bars. There are many options for both food and drink.

Chiang Rai

NGL has operated in Chiang Rai for the first time in 2018. Although this location is similar to Mae Sot it is also very different. Chiang Rai is located just south of the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. The hills surrounding this provincial capitol are home to many hill tribes and has historically been a centre of opium production. In recent years the area has undergone significant development in part because of the China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Teachers at this school will be located in Amphur Muang (the main city) as well as in some of the surrounding hills (see the description of Mae Sai below).

Mae Sai

Mae Sai is located about an hour outside of Chiang Rai on the border with Myanmar.  This small community became somewhat famous last year when a group of boys was trapped in a cave and subsequently rescued.  This location in the Golden Triangle was once an area where lots of opium was grown – these crops have now been replaced with coffee and tea.  Our volunteers in these locations live in their schools where the students are mostly from Myanmar and ethnic minority groups.   Volunteers can travel quite easily back to Chiang Rai or other parts of Thailand (e.g. Chiang Mai) on weekends.

Weather

Virtually every day in June and July there is heavy rain in the afternoon, and often it will rain heavily all day long. Sometimes the rain will persist for several days. All participants therefore need to be prepared to work in very wet conditions.

Health

thailandNGL participants must take full responsibility for health cover and health insurance throughout the duration of the programme. In Thailand, the NGL programme takes place in a malarial zone during the rainy season although the risk is low. Dengue fever is a real possibility, and NGL Thailand has registered cases in past years. Although Mae Sot and Chiang Rai are relatively safe, all participants must consult a doctor in advance of joining the NGL programme and must follow any medical advice they are given. Both of the areas where we operate have hospitals and clinics which participants can access on a self-paid basis. (Please read the HKU or NGL youth travel insurance policies for information about reimbursement.)

Accommodation

Mae Sot: There are several cheap hotels in Mae Sot however most participants choose to stay together at DK Hotel. DK is central to Mae Sot and within walking distance of a variety of restaurants and the Burmese market. Rooms can be booked for THB300-400 a day. If occupied on a twin-share basis, the cost per person per night is THB150-200. A few participants though will also be asked to stay in their host schools as these are further away. Most schools encourage participants to return to Mae Sot at the weekend.

Chiang Rai: There are main city areas and hill-side teaching locations in Chiang Rai. For the city locations, some students will live together in the same hotel/guesthouse while students teach in schools near hill-side will live in school dorm.

For those residing in schools, we suggest a donation be made at the end to cover the expenses. A simple way to calculate the amount would be to think of how much has been saved in hotel costs.

Personal Safety

Our locations in Thailand do not face any particular personal safety issues. Nevertheless, foreigners are highly visible throughout the border zone, and must take necessary precautions. Personal safety is the personal responsibility of each participant.

Currency

thailandThailand uses the baht. 1 USD = 36 THB. 1 HKD = 5 THB.

Visa

For NGL Thailand, all selected applicants will be sent a letter addressed to the visa section of the Thai Embassy in their country of citizenship. This letter will enable them to apply for a Non-Immigrant O visa for Thailand to cover the full duration of the NGL programme. The cost of a visa varies from country to country, but is generally around US$100. All participants must cover their own visa costs.

Cost

For NGL Thailand, the main cost of joining the programme is an international flight to Bangkok. Participants also need to cover their own insurance, visa and healthcare costs. In-country costs for a stay of around 75 days are generally low. A very rough estimate of the major costs is given below. Note that actual costs may not conform precisely to this breakdown, which is presented as a general guideline only.

Item HKD
Accommodation 3000
Food and beverage 2500
Transportation including return flights from HK 4500
Cultural visits 1500
Miscenllaneous (e.g. teaching materials, insurance, visa) 1000
TOTAL 12500

Getting Around

thailandMae Sot can be reached by long-distance coach from many parts of Thailand. From Mo Chit bus station in Bangkok, the journey takes about 8 hours either by day or overnight. For a standard seat, the cost of a one-way ticket is about THB500. Taking a taxi from Bangkok’s main international airport to Mo Chit costs about THB300 (including highway tolls). By far the easiest way to get around Mae Sot is by bicycle. Bikes are cheap to rent and can often be hired for the entire programme as part of a deal with a hotel or guesthouse. Participants who do not know how to ride a bike will be at a significant disadvantage in Mae Sot, and may find that their range of possible placement schools is limited by transportation problems.

Tourism

There are several interesting tourist sites close to the border zone. Traveling down to Umphang is interesting, and there are nice waterfalls nearby. The journey takes about 3.5 hours by songtaew (and is not good for anyone prone to travel sickness). The ancient capital Sukhothai can also be a weekend destination. The journey takes about 2.5 hours by minibus. It takes about 7 hours by bus to get to the major regional centre, Chiang Mai.

Context

NGL Thailand operates in and around the border town of Mae Sot in Tak Province, northern Thailand. It works with refugees and migrants from Myanmar. Because NGL is based in Mae Sot, many of the people participants meet are from the Karen ethnic group. However, participants also come into contact with migrants from other ethnic groups in Myanmar.

Mae Sot is a very special place providing an unusual window on the Myanmar problem. Because of its border with Karen State in Myanmar, Mae Sot is dominated by the 60-year struggle of the Karen people against their Myanmar rulers. While this is an important part of the Myanmar story, it is by no means the core theme. Also, while the Karen perspective rightly highlights the might of the military machine that rules Myanmar, it offers few insights into ways forward for an ethnically diverse nation once the army is no longer in charge.

Refugees and Migrants

Nobody knows how many refugees and migrants from Myanmar now live in Thailand. The best guess is about 2 million. Only a very small minority — little more than 100,000 — are refugees living in the 10 refugee camps on the Thai side of the Thai-Myanmar border. The Thailand Burma Border Consortium website provides comprehensive information about the camps — www.tbbc.org. The rest of the 2 million people divide into two roughly equal groups of legal and illegal migrants based mainly in border towns. Legal migrants have papers that allow them to live and work in Thailand. Illegal migrants do not, and can be shipped back to Myanmar at any time — though in fact many stay in Thailand on a long-term basis.

Exactly why 2 million citizens of Myanmar are now based in Thailand is a very complex issue. For many years, the push factors inside Myanmar included an entrenched military regime, ongoing slow-burn civil war between the mainly Myanmar army and some of the ethnic groups along the border, economic failure and limited opportunities for work, and pervasive political repression and human rights abuse. The pull factors inside Thailand included escape from the Myanmar army and a heightened degree of personal security, job openings (almost always low grade and low paid) and, for some, the possibility of resettlement to a third country. The facilitative factors included a porous border that can be crossed in five minutes on an inflated inner tube, and a Thai police force that will often turn a blind eye to illegal migrants because of the benefits they bring to local businesses. As Myanmar transitions to democracy, many of these factors are now changing.

Anniversaries and Festivals

thailandOne way of getting to grips with Thailand is working through key dates in the national calendar. These are often shrouded in controversy, and minority ethnic groups have their own special dates that are yet more contested. But the national anniversaries and festivals open an important window on this complex society, and for some key dates NGL participants will be working in Thailand and will find commemorative events going on around them. These are the biggest anniversaries and festivals:

January 4 Independence Day (marking the end of British colonial rule in 1948)
February 12 Union Day (marking the interethnic Panglong Agreement signed in 1947)
March 27 Armed Forces Day (marking the Burmese army revolt against Japan in 1945)
April Water Festival/Burmese New Year
July 19 Martyrs’ Day (marking the assassination of General Aung San in 1947)
August 8 Unofficial commemoration of the Four Eights democracy uprising in 1988
September 26 Unofficial commemoration of the crushing of the Saffron Uprising in 2007
November National Day (marking the birth of the nationalist movement in 1920)
Dec/Jan Karen National Day (the only minority national day with official recognition)

Books

The Thai-Myanmar border is an intriguing and special area in its own right. On the Myanmar side live individuals both from the Bamar majority, and from minority ethnic groups such as the Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan. Directly across the border from Mae Sot is Karen State.

No single book adequately describes life on the Thai-Myanmar border, and it is doubtful that any one book ever could capture the extreme diversity of the border zone. The most readable entry point is Mac McClelland, For Us Surrender Is Out of the Question: A Story from Burma’s Never-ending War. Probably the best attempt to document life in “the lands in between” is Richard Humphries,Frontier Mosaic: Voices of Burma from the Lands in Between. This can be quite a tough read at times, but it contains plenty of excellent material and is worth reading from cover to cover. Also very good is Phil Thornton, Restless Souls: Rebels, Refugees, Medics and Misfits on the Thai-Burma Border, which was written in Mae Sot and looks from there at Myanmar’s ethnic problem and the people who have gathered along the Thai side of the border as a result of it. This is also an easy read, and is highly recommended for NGL participants. Another Mae Sot book, published in 2010, is a history of the first 20 years of Dr Cynthia’s outstanding Mae Tao Clinic (which is one of NGL’s partners on the Thai-Myanmar border). A free download is available here. Finally, Forced Migration Review has an outstanding April 2008 special issue on Myanmar’s displaced people, with about 30 short articles covering many aspects of migrant life. The articles can all be accessed here. Other issues of FMR are also worth checking for Myanmar material.
Several books on crossing the border and working or fighting with Myanmar’s ethnic minorities are also interesting. Mike Tucker, The Long Patrol: With Karen Guerrillas in Burma, a short account of a brief foray into Karen State, will be of interest to many NGL participants. Shelby Tucker, Among Insurgents is a decent read. Benedict Rogers, A Land without Evil is useful.
Cast in a totally different context, but actually very evocative of life in a contemporary refugee camp (such as those found along the Thai-Myanmar border), is Dave Eggers, What is the What. This epic account of the Sudan refugee crisis of a decade or two ago – pre-Darfur, but no less horrific – provides perhaps the best description of the challenges faced by Myanmar refugees and migrants.


General enquiries: nglhku@hku.hk