Unforgettable Interview

Today I had an interview that I would never forget.

My day started off with an unfamiliar sound of phone ringing disrupting myself from writing following-up emails to different organizations and people I had been meeting with this week. It had been a long week and I was glad to have an expected phone call, which led to an unexpected interview. I just recently rented a sim card and glad that it has proved to be very useful. Sim cards in Myanmar are very expensive, it costs 48 USD just to rent one for 15 days, and that doesn’t include any top-up packages…

The person calling was a student and a good friend of my ex-supervisor. We have been introduced to each other through emails and I knew him as a Burmese activist working on water issues. He offered to meet with me anytime within two hours. My gut was telling me that this would lead to something really important, without further hesitation, I jumped into a cab rushing off to see him.

Turns out that the person I met was nothing but ordinary. A graduate from Cornell, a writer, a long-term political activist, a first leader of the All Burmese Student Democratic Front (a student-led revolutionary group fighting against the Burmese government in 1988), a chairman of an NGO, a political prisoner…the list can go on and on…

Mr. Htun was tough, kind, and open. The kind of person who had been through unimaginable life struggles, yet still find love in humanity. The kind of person who had seen the worst sides of human beings, yet still believe in human dignity. He slowly talked me through his past, telling me how it was to be a revolutionist, how it was to get a death sentence and had to resettle in the United States, how it was to be separated from a family for years, how it was to spend five years in prison…

“Like animals.” was the answer I got. “I will never want to go to the zoo again, animals in those cages…”

Being maltreated by his countrymen doesn’t stop Mr.Htun from loving his country and the people. His NGO, the Civil Society for Myanmar (CSM), will be ready to run in the coming August. Mr.Htun is hoping to distribute drinking water to those in need.

I truly wish him success.

“Do you feel safe enough in your country?” “Can I share your stories?” I asked after he lightly told me about being followed by the Burmese intelligence agency.

“I am US citizen now. I don’t care. I just want to help people.” he simply answered.

Courage is among so many other things I learn from him.

ps. Thank you Leslie, my ex-supervisor, for making this happened and thank you, Htun, for the inspiration. 🙂

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