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A New Beginning

 Student Learning Resources Center opening in Myanmar
Bringing Dreams to Life

By Fr. Kurt Zion Pala

On August 15, 2022, on the Feast of the Assumption, the Catholic Student Action Myitkyina opened its Student Learning Resources Center (SLRC), which is located on the grounds of the St. Patrick’s Church grounds, Shatapur Parish in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Columban Fr. Kurt Zion Pala at the Student Learning Resources Center
Columban Fr. Kurt Zion Pala

The current political crisis and the COVID pandemic have affected many young people in the country. Young people in the country these days are out of school and seeking employment. Many are not ready to be employed or do not have the important skills to be employable. This alternative learning program for the youth hopes to address the gaps in education, skills formation and youth employment. After the training program, the youth will hopefully be able to find internships and work in different businesses or organizations inside or outside Myitkyina.

The center is a partnership with the Pinyar Thagar Academy, the Advance Accounting Institute, the Confide Psychological Services and the Columban Missionaries. The center has a computer room, library, office and counseling room. A total of 27 students enrolled in the center’s three-month-long training program which covers the following subjects: basic English skills, basic computer skills, basic accounting skills, work and life skills. The enter will also provide counseling services and psychological education classes. The center is also guided by the values of Service, Leadership, Resilience and Community.

In the month of August we celebrated World International Youth Day (August 12). The 2022 heme or focus was on Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages highlighting ageism. The World Health Organization defines ageism as “the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) directed towards others or oneself, based on age.” One is either “too young or too old” to be someone or to do something.

The LRC hopes to provide these young people the space and opportunity to lead, learn and grow while also providing service to their fellow youth. The center is managed by a young and hopeful team composed of eight members (four men and four women). The teaching staff is also composed of young, competent and passionate teachers and trainers.

Of the 27 participants, 15 are men and 12 are women. Most participants are 19-22 years old The political crises resulted in an increased number of students not attending school or universities. Through the center, we hope we will be able to aid and support all young people not just the Catholics. We hope to provide a safe space for young people to meet and build community, space and opportunities for learning, support literacy and education, and help shape new ideas and perspectives and finally build resilient and work-ready young people.

Thank you for helping us to assist young people in bringing their dreams to life.

Columban Fr. Kurt Zion Pala lives and works in Myanmar.