VISIONS Myanmar (Burma) is one of the newest programs, but strong relationships have already been established with our Burmese partners and friends. Teen volunteers will live in the heart of the city of Mandalay on a monastery school campus. Novice monk students will be the guides through excursions—including exploring local markets, pagodas, and Buddha statues, and a visit to Bagan, which is home to 2,000 temples—and also on projects relating to school infrastructure and development. Participants will spend time teaching the children in a summer camp at the Phaung Daw Oo school and working on projects that improve the classrooms and facilities that are used by the children.
Education and infrastructure for schools is a focus in Myanmar. VISIONS works with Phaung Daw Oo (PDO), a monastery school that has earned recognition from the Open Society Foundation and international leaders for its success in providing free, high-quality education. PDO is a lively campus with a few thousand young monk students and overflowing classrooms. VISIONS teen volunteers build classroom additions and other needed facilities at PDO and neighboring schools. There also is ample time to help teach in the classrooms, spend time with young kids, and get to know our hosts and translators who are part of PDO’s Pre-College Program.
New Education Highway believes that everyone should have access to quality education. NEH uses technology and teacher training to bring curricula to communities where educational resources are lacking. NEH works with seven schools in Myanmar to date.
From breakfast through bedtime, our days are shared with Myanmar’s children, teachers, school monks, neighbors, shopkeepers and local friends. Monastery schools are bustling and lively places with endless opportunities to play games, learn about Burmese culture, and enjoy quiet moments while classes are in session. You will come to know the small city of Mandalay and its Royal Palace, open-air markets, pagodas, Buddha statues and views from Mandalay Hill. Myanmar’s history and modern times deserve special attention. We take time to listen to a few important guest speakers, tour the countryside, do interviews, eat at local restaurants and participate in daily life whether at the project sites or during outings and excursions.
"Myanmar was so fun! Phaung Daw Oo was the coolest school I’ve ever seen. Everyone within that community was so welcoming and friendly. Also, doing excursions with the Myanmar students was great!"
Spend a weekend at the ancient Buddhist capital of Bagan, where 2,000 temples and pagodas dot the incredible landscape. Walk across Taungthaman Lake on the world’s oldest and longest teak bridge, U Bein’s Bridge, and then have lunch at a café overlooking the lake. We will walk by bright green rice paddies while visiting rural schools and also take short hikes on mountain paths. We will see some of the world’s rarest wildlife species in Myanmar’s precious but endangered ecosystems.
We live together at a monastic campus, located near Mandalay. There bathrooms, showers, and kitchen facilities, and a bed awaiting each person.
Work days begin after breakfast and continue until mid-afternoon. We usually work five days per week, with each person getting to choose between two or three different worksites each day. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. Your crew makes breakfast and lunch, goes to nearby markets to buy food for the next meals, does laundry, and takes in a “day in the life” of Myanmar.
After work is time for cultural activities and outings. We play games with kids at the school, visit pagodas and temples, ride bikes through nearby rural villages, and more. A few evenings a week, we have group meetings to discuss the cultural experience. In addition to activities during the week, you’ll take part in exciting full-day excursions.
Meals include meat and vegetarian options with plenty of variety and always enough for seconds. There also are healthy snacks available throughout the day.
VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle in to our home base and are part of daily life. The itinerary provides a general overview of just a few of our activities in Myanmar.