from the Northern Star (1.20.2004)
are tomorrow leaders. To become future good generations depend not only
on children themselves but also on many factors: environment, education,
culture, religion, and etc. Although the process of human development
may be very complicated, to become a better generation rely on only two
factors. They are environment and parents. It is all about what they expose,
and how they will be taught by their parents.
As I was born and raised in Kachin State, the northern part of Myanmar,
I will talk about my own experience in that region only. I have traveled
back and fort uncountable times by train between Myitkyina, where the
railway ends in the north and Mandalay, the second largest city in central
Myanmar. The railway passes through three states along the rail road:
Kachin, Sa Gaing, and Mandalay. I don’t know much about the other
two states except our Kachin State. Some of the towns in Kachin State
are Myitkyina, Moe Nyin, Moe Gaung, Ho Pin, Nam Ma Tee, Nam Mar, Sar Maw,
Taung Ni, Shwe Gu, Pyi Taung, and Ma Yan. Among them, Myitkyina, the capital
of Kachin State, Moe Gaung, and Moe Nyin are bigger and more populated
towns compare to others.
Myitkyina’s business mainly depends on Hpa Khat, home of world best
quality jade, and nearby small villages. The time when I was in my teenage
years, Myitkyina seems too far away from Yangon, the capital of Myanmar,
and Yangon was kind of a very cool big city. I often heard of amazing
news and rumors about Yangon. At that time, going to USA or foreign countries
was only in our dreams and looked like impossible for most of us in such
remote town. So it was the time when we were teenagers, and the time we
absorbed everything good or bad.
Look at around us; mostly all we heard were about Hpa Khant, cheap drugs,
gambling, gangs, and prostitutes. Many times and everywhere, we heard
and talked about who became billionaires or penniless suddenly with jade
business. Although in Myitkyina, only those live around downtown area
can open small shops and do business. Majority has to go out of the town
to make money: in this case, mostly of them went to Hpa Khant.
Imagine our boundary of exposure of things, the depth of our vision, and
the kind of our motivation, what would we learn and what we will do? It
is not new that we heard many young people in our generation addicted
to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and etc. Especially, in jade mines area,
many people from around the country in some ways have ties with jade business.
Some people call Hpa Khant “little Hong Kong”, which is a
free zone and many things you can’t find in town are there. Many
people got addicted to at least one thing out of the three; gambling,
heroin, prostitute (pe, phoe, and phar in Burmese). Of course, there are
many people who can avoid the above three, but can’t avoid getting
rich in a short cut. As our young people usually hang around at tea shop,
most of the stuff we talk about was within a very small boundary and hardly
Although most of us went to schools or colleges, most had no idea what
to do with our degrees or where to use them. Very often, not only friends
but also adults people will laugh at you when you say you are going to
college or to become a doctor or an engineer. It seems they already know
the fact that we will return to do our own business or family business
no matter what degree we get. This kind of idea has stuck around in our
people quite a long time. It affected our young generation. We became
not very serious in studying anymore, and going to school was just for
fun or just wasting time. Therefore, we forgot and left all we studied
at school when we graduated.
Talking about parents, I understand all the parents in the world love
their children, which I believe is universal truth. But the way how parents
teach and raise their children is very important, and which has great
effect on how our future looks like.
In my hometown, some parents love their children so much that they never
want them to go here and there. They don’t want them to do this
and that. They want them to stay at home all the time. When the sun sets,
there is no going out. Even the children become around 20’s, there
is still iron rule at home. Those kinds of thing can create problems when
they grow up: troubles in social relation, making decision, and self confidence.
Some parents, who do business at jade mines or somewhere else, were too
busy and they were away from their homes most of the time. They couldn’t
spend more time with their children. As a result, there was no strong
bond of affection between parents and children. Parents could not focus
on what children were feeling and doing.
Another thing is that many girls in my hometown were usually labeled as
“girls hiding at home”. I feel very pity for them. I think
many young girls or women were the victims of our social culture. Many
adults, many of my friends, and even I at that time thought it was not
good for a girl to do something that we boys normally would do: hanging
out with other friends, going out at night, sitting at a tea shop, and
etc. What they could do were staying at home, going to schools, keeping
their shops, and cooking at home. I think I have never seen my sisters
sitting at a tea shop. I feel many girls from my hometown lost their freedom
and their beautiful time. What a social norm created in Myitkyina!
Such norms and society created many bad consequences: loosing many talented
children, more conflicts between children and parents, unprepared children
when they grow up, heavy responsibilities on children and no clear paths
for children to continue.
I do understand what our parents or grand-parents have gone through at
their time, and in what kind of situation they grew up. Actually, they
all are heroes in our lives and they have done tremendous sacrifices for
all of us. What we should do is to learn from the past, keep the good
things, and change the bad things. In that way, we can prepare a better
step for our children.
It is understandable that many people from Myitkyina have moved to big
cities: Mandalay, Yangon, etc. People from big cities have moved to other
countries: such as USA, Singapore, UK, Japan, Australia, and etc. Just
like cows move to better pastures when they think there is nothing good
to eat in their lands. (I’m not sure if it is a good comparison)
In fact, we don’t have to move or find a better place. Myitkyina
is a very beautiful place with nice people, pleasant weather, good fruits,
and great landscape, plenty of trees, mountains, and water. We just need
to create a better environment for our children with cares and loves.
Listen to our children, let them express their feeling, and give a chance
let them freely be creative. We also need to provide them with a better
education. (Remember, it is very important that we have to educate ourselves
as well.)Then Myitkyina will not be the same as before. It will be Myitkyina,
the Northern Star.