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Twenty young journalists — 11 Burmese, 9 American — help Burma tell its own story.

Hip-hop can't stop, won't stop in Burma

As Myanmar opens up to the rest of the world, foreign influence — in the form of hip-hop culture — has already taken hold.
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Burmese hip-hop artist Ash poses in front of graffiti art in Yangon, Myanmar. (Van Patrick King/GlobalPost)

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s reforms over the last two years are opening the nation to the wider world, experts say, allowing the once-cloistered nation to experience greater foreign influence as it eases restrictions on its people.

But throughout Yangon, from political graffiti tags on walls, to teens breakdancing in clubs, to the throbbing sounds of Burmese rap coming from the open windows of passing cars, cultural exchange in the form of hip-hop culture is already alive and well.

In a cafe in downtown Burma, 21-year-old rappers Ash and X-Box explain the challenges that came with creating hip-hop culture in a military dictatorship. Part of an underground scene here in Yangon, their clothing would fit in seamlessly in any hip-hop concert or video in the United States.

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Getting Ready: Workers unionize in Myanmar

Kyu Kyu Win was fired after organizing for better working conditions at Esquire Shoe Factory, even though citizens have legally been allowed to organize since October 2011.

 

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar is changing. In June, the International Labor Organization lifted all restrictions on trade and investment in the country. The Myanmar Investment Commission says foreign investment in the country is five times greater than what it was last year. As the demand for labor increases, workers are beginning to organize for better working conditions.

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Launching 'A Burmese Journey'

On Monday, GlobalPost launches a Special Report produced by 20 young reporters who gathered in Myanmar last month as part of an ambitious journalism fellowship carried out in partnership with the Open Hands Initiative.

 

YANGON, Myanmar — A group of 20 top, young journalists — 11 from Myanmar and 9 from the United States — set out on a series of journeys last month through a country undergoing dramatic change.

They formed five teams chosen for a highly competitive reporting fellowship which was put together as a partnership between GlobalPost and the New York City-based Open Hands Initiative. 

One team set out to navigate the great capitals of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

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A nation-state by any other name: Burma or Myanmar?

As the country transforms and stays in the news, what should we call it?
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Passengers on a circular train in Yangon, Myanmar on June 15, 2013. (Kaung Htet /GlobalPost)

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar — In May, when President Obama referred to Myanmar as “Myanmar” in an Oval Office meeting, it was a minor diplomatic coup for the country’s visiting president, Thein Sein. That’s because, to many people, Myanmar isn’t Myanmar. It’s Burma.

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Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar needs independent journalists with 'integrity'

In remarks to young journalism fellows in the capital of Naypyidaw, 'The Lady' urged a renaissance of 'old fashioned' journalistic values including accuracy and great storytelling.

As part of a reporting fellowship hosted in partnership between Open Hands Initiative and GlobalPost, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addressed a group of 20 top, young journalists from Myanmar and the United States at Royal Kumudra Hotel in Naypyidaw, Myanmar on June 27, 2013. 

After welcoming remarks from GlobalPost's Charles M. Sennott, Aung San Suu Kyi was introduced by Open Hands Initiative Chairman and Founder Jay Snyder, who welcomed her as part of OHI's mission for public diplomacy. 

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GlobalPost and OHI host Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar's capital

The pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate spoke Thursday to a group of 20 top young journalists participating in the 'Burma Telling Its Own Story' reporting fellowship.
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Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks with young journalists at an event co-hosted by GlobalPost and Open Hands Initiative in Naypyidaw on June 27, 2013. (Natalie Keyssar/GlobalPost)
NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar — Coming straight from the opening of a fateful parliamentary session where constitutional reform and press freedom laws topped the agenda, pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi spoke Thursday to a group of 20 top young journalists brought together by GlobalPost in partnership with the Open Hands Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to public diplomacy.
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Aung San Suu Kyi downplays anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar

Speaking in the capital of Naypyidaw, the opposition leader said a rising 969 movement did not represent the majority of Buddhists.
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Aung San Suu Kyi addresses GlobalPost-Open Hands Initiative reporting fellows in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw on June 27, 2013. (Kyaw Myo Min/GlobalPost)

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar — On Thursday evening in the capital of Naypyidaw, opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she thought the number of Buddhist monks who hold extremist anti-Muslim views was limited.

"I don't know how big the movement is and I don't know how widespread this movement is," Suu Kyi said, addressing a group of young Burmese and American journalists. "I do not think that any extremist movement is good but I do not think that the majority of our monks or our people are extremist."

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Reporting from Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta through different sets of eyes

Two reporting fellows, one Burmese and one American, visit a place best known for Cyclone Nargis' devastation now seeing some change.
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Young women dock workers unload firewood from ferries on the Irrawaddy River in Mandalay. (Gary Knight/VII/GlobalPost)

BOGALAY, Myanmar — Last week a group of Open Hands Initiative-GlobalPost reporting fellows left Yangon and set out for the Delta — low-lying wetlands in the Irrawaddy Region that at one time served as the ‘rice bowl’ for the rest of Southeast Asia. Cyclone Nargis devastated the area in 2008: over 150,000 people are estimated to have been killed and the vast majority of farmland —  the area’s livelihood — was destroyed. Our group is reporting on how the area is recovering five years later.

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Watching the Orwellian ‘Big Mother’ on Burma’s state-owned TV

In the Shan State town of Hsipaw, Korean soap operas are popular but so is a homegrown show reminiscent of 1984.
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(Diana Markosian/GlobalPost)

HSIPAW, Myanmar — One of the more entertaining ways to take the cultural pulse of a society is check out, and sometimes struggle to understand, its sources of entertainment. In Myanmar, a video shop in the Shan State town of Hsipaw and a state-owned television station each offer their own glimpse.

In the market at Hsipaw, Korean soap operas are all the rage these days.

Tin Nilar Htwe, an 18-year-old attendant at the video shop, counts herself among the fans of the Korean soaps. She says she enjoys them because the actors are attractive.

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Profiling change in Burma: Living along the banks of Myanmar's Irrawaddy River

Neither monsoons nor a reformist government have phased river residents, but a new dam has them scared.
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A fisherman on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. (Kaung Htet/GlobalPost)

MANDALAY, Myanmar — A five-year-old girl, her face covered with the yellow cosmetic paste called thanaka, asks for money from her mother. She wants to have noodles for her breakfast.

The girl’s mother Daw Yee finds the money in her purse and gives 200 kyats.

“Thanks a lot to the river,” says Daw Yee, 48. “We can survive because of the river. Long live the river.”

The family lives beside the Irrawaddy River, in the place where Daw Yee married her husband years ago.

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