Emma Thompson's Burma / Myanmar Diary: Part ten

Friday, April 20, 2012 - 11:53

More than a hundred inspiring and inspired young people gather at the local monastery for a Fellows Conference - but will Tindy get a snog?

This jet lag will kill me. Barely slept, even after 25mg of Temazepam which in London would put me out for a week.

The views from the Popa Resort are breath-stopping. The Popa Mountain itself, constantly trodden by pilgrims being got at by monkeys, rises up suddenly out of a huge belt of forest.

Below, at the local monastery, wait 115 of the most extraordinary young people I think we are ever likely to meet. Like a great wave of intelligent, compassion they make me tearful from the start, (but that could also be the Temazepam).

This event is the Fellows Conference. There are thousands of fellows in Burma but these are the representatives from each area of the country – here for the yearly presentations and knees-up.

Unfortunately, it all kicks off with the chicken dance. The Burmese are all in heaven, the westerners are all appalled.

Every fellow here has spent at least 2 years working in a village – one that they either know well, are from, or have some connection with.

The vision statement is pretty impressive:

The fellows are a force for change, developing themselves and other young people to take a leading role at regional and national level to bring about a just, peaceful and democratic society where all ethnic nationalities are united and enjoy equal rights.

File 7302Jo and Tindy and I are so impressed.

“Surely” says Tindy “with all this beauty and energy and three nights away from home and duty, there must be naughtiness?”

He means sex.

“Oh no” says Ni Ni. “That would never happen. Anything like that would destroy the reputation of both parties and mean ruin for the women especially." Seeing the incredulous look on our faces, she bursts out laughing. “It’s very different here!” she giggles. We are feeling quite shocked.

“It’s our inverted prudery”, says Jo.

Tindy, I think, is just plain disappointed there won’t be any opportunities for a snog.

Carry on reading Emma Thompson's diary