First Time Joining The CERS Family
First Time Joining The CERS Family
Friends and colleagues asked why, with a newly minted MBA, I wanted to quit a prestigious corporate job with great prospects for the future. Finally I have my answer after spending two weeks on a field trip with CERS. There is no more “TGIF” for me, but instead it is “Thank God Everyday Is Friday.”
Waking up with fresh air and a colorful sunrise, exploring the Chindwin River on the HM Explorer, our research vessel;I never felt it was tiresome. I was so lucky to listen to so much of the views and obser vations of Wong How Man along the trip; things that I never learned in business school. We worked morelike a family than just a team. All the boat staff are so eager to learn and help each other. My traveling experience with CERS opened my eyes and heart to doing many things in the future. I’ve gotten a great chance to enjoy the beauty of Myanmar, my own country, and to know more about its life and culture.
Modernization of a country has its pros and cons, but every citizen needs to maintain the cultural heritage of a region. A traveling orchestra which I met in Kalewa is keeping its heritage from generation to generation performing at ceremonies. More recently, however, in order to get the attention of a younger audience they have needed to create some new songs that reflects the current musical trends;all the while maintaining some integrity of their former style.
My very first experience to chat with the rafters on their bamboo rafts revealed how hard they are struggling in leading their lives on the Chindwin River while floating their rafts down the river. It is no wonder that bamboo poles are in great demand.As KoKyaw Zeya from the CERS Bamboo Collection House at Inle Lake explained, they can be transformed into over a hundred designs by a bamboo master craftsman. Ko Kyaw Zeya was not from a family of bamboo craftsmen. But in 1998, while he was very disappointed at being a goldsmith, he went to Nant Pan Monastery for a month to become a monk. He started learning bamboo craft from the monk Ashin Nya Na Taza, and beganmaking and selling bamboo objects as his vocation. In the beginning he could create only a few bamboo articles. But day by day, he fell in love with doing such things and came to understand that it’s not only about the bamboo crafts, but the art of bamboo.
In 2003, he was one of twenty eight students chosen to be sent away for eight months to learn more about bamboo crafts in Paung San (Bao Shan), China with the support of Sayarma Daw Hnin Hnin Ohne from Shwe Inn Thu Foundation and the Norwegian Embassy. After learning more about how to choose the bamboo, how to treat bamboo to make it last longer, and how to create things, he better understood the value of bamboo and was willing to contribute his knowledge for the development of his community and to expand the bamboo art.
Around that time, he met Wong How Man through Ms.Chaw Su from the Inthar Heritage House, and was able to implement his dream of a “Bamboo Collection House”. With the help of CERS, in 2013, he embarked on his new milestone project. Today, he’s making over a hundred bamboo objects, like bamboo cups, baskets, tables, chairs and other interesting and lovely souvenirs, allon exhibit at the Bamboo Collection House. “There is nothing to throw away from a bamboo,” he said with a smile. “Every part of it is priceless.”
He is now contributing his knowledge to the community by giving short- courses to apprentices, and advocating thevalue of traditional bamboo art. He also travels to provide vocational training in different places.
Moreover, he encourages and gives moral support to people who don’t know the value of bamboo art. Some of these people become addicted to doing bamboo arts once he finishes coaching them during a short training.
To keep our environment clean and beautiful, we should grow more bamboo, which ismore sustainable than other materials. We should substitute bamboo objects for thewood and plastic things in our daily life. In the future, the art of bamboo will spread locally to globally, as these are environmentally friendly products, and their beauty will catchthe eyes of people. Itboth has value and preserves the tradition of an old culture.
Last but not least, itwas also very interesting to visit the pottery villages along the Chindwin River. The art of doing pottery had been handed down over generations. Based on their location, the way each village baked their pottery was different. There will be a big future market if theycan add some more artistic value to the pieces.
All in all, this first trip is one of my most memorable trips. I hope there will be many more trips to come, allowing me to reflect more on my country as well as to contribute to our community in the future.