This time last year I was on my way from Bangkok to Boston, to return to school for the first time in five years, attending Fletcher. It was a difficult decision because I had been working with a local Burmese research organization that was located in Bangkok but was making its transition back into Myanmar. The shift was spurred by an unprecedented change in the then nascent Myanmar government’s policies, led by the newly appointed President Thein Sein and a handful of reform minded ministers. These changes unlocked a new horizon of potential for the work our office could do, and even more so, a new and unexpected future for a country to shift from nearly 50 years of military rule.
Despite the incredible transition I did leave because it was also an opportunity for me to build on my own experience having seen how crucial a role economy and income played for Myanmar’s poorest communities, those who have borne the brunt of years of one-sided economic stagnancy. Thanks in part to the generosity of the Blakeley Foundation I now have the opportunity to return to Myanmar to look specifically at how rural and urban communities are informally using financial services and habits. I plan on using this blog to explore some of the ideas and insights we’re that will come out of our field work, as well as take a larger approach and look at the larger reforms that are still continuing.
Thank you again to the Blakeley Foundation and I hope you all enjoy!