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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 GCSI requirements in the Faculty of Social Sciences.   All participants receive a generous grant from the Hong Kong Jockey Club to offset expenses incurred.

NGL 2018 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.

NGL Mainland China

Location

NGL China teaching is taking place in the prefecture-level city of Jiaozuo in Henan province. With kind assistance from the local government, teachers will be accommodated in the municipal office, which also has its own kitchen, solar-powered bathroom and meeting rooms. This site is also within walking distance to the schools that NGL works with.

Located adjacent to the Yellow River and south of the Taihang Mountain range, Jiaozuo city is famous, among many other cultural heritages, for its Yuntaishan Geopark – a UNESCO-inscribed World Geologic Park and the only national scenic area and national forest park in Henan province.  Teachers can spend a couple of their weekends just exploring this world-famous and magnificent geopark.

NGL China also offers you intellectual and cultural exchange opportunities with students from Shanghai Jiaotong University and Henan Polytechnic University. You will receive training in Shanghai with experienced project leaders before setting off for Jiaozuo.

Weather

Summers are rainy and hot in Jiaozuo and the average temperature is around 25-35 °C in the summer months of June, July and August.

 

Health

While Jiaozuo is relatively safe with a large general hospital and many clinics around, NGL participants must take full responsibility for health cover and health insurance throughout the duration of the programme.

 

Accommodation

Accommodation for NGL China is provided for by the local Jiaozuo country government and typically there is no need for participants to bear extra costs.

 

Personal safety

There is no particular personal safety risk or issue for Jiaozuo, China, but NGL participants are still responsible for their own safety during the entire duration of the programme.

 

Currency

China legal tender is Chinese Yuan (CNY) or Renminbi. 1 RMB= 1.22 HKD. Digital currency Wechat Pay and Alipay are also widely accepted in shops, big and small, but you would need to register and verify your identity with a Chinese bank account.

Visa

NGL applicants will receive feedback at least one month before the start of the programme. For NGL China, all selected applicants will be sent a letter addressed to the visa section of the Chinese Embassy in their country of citizenship. This letter will enable them to apply for a Non-Immigrant visa for China to cover the full duration of the NGL programme. The cost of a visa varies from country to country, but is generally between S360-$1,100 HKD. All participants must cover their own visa costs.

Partners

NGL China partners include Siyuan Community for Social Welfare (思源公益), a non-government organization, and Shanghai Jiaotong University as well as Henan Polytechnic University. The former two have been co-operating similar voluntary teaching programmes in China in the past ten years and the latter is a new partner whose students can act as cultural ambassadors of the region.

Cost

For NGL China, the main cost of joining the programme is a flight to Shanghai, a train ride to Henan from there, and accommodation. Participants also need to cover their own insurance, visa and healthcare costs. 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
Food and beverage 6,500
Transportation including return flights from HK 4,000
Ad hoc teaching materials 1,000
TOTAL 11,500

 

NGL Myanmar

NGL Myanmar

Location

myanmarNGL Myanmar is based in the former capital city, Yangon, though it may also offer some placements in other parts of the country. 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.

HKD
Accommodation 5500
Food and beverage 4500
Transportation including return flights from HK 4000
Ad hoc teaching materials 1000
TOTAL 15000

Anniversaries and Festivals

thailandOne 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

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 is planning to operate 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. Those living in the hills will be living on-site.

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 further away. Most schools give encourage participants to return to Mae Sot at the weekend.

Chiang Rai: As 2018 is our first year to operate in Chiang Rai we have yet to identify a hotel or guest house that can be our ‘home base’. As in Mae Sot, there are many budget options for interns to choose from in the city. More information will be provided as we further develop our base in Chiang Rai.

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 4500
Transportation including return flights from HK 4000
Ad hoc teaching materials 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 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 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