The wheels of the publishing world turn slowly. So just as we are settling into life here in Bulgaria, BBC Travel Online have published an eassy from Wind&Bones’s very own Will Buckingham about Myanmar. It is a fascinating tale from the tail-end of Myanmar’s military rule, about the logistics of moving 1000 ghosts from the capital city of Naypyidaw.
This piece was a long time in the making, and like all pieces of writing, there was a lot of collaboration behind the scenes, a lot of talking to friends and contacts and scholars. It was great, as we munched on our Bulgarian breakfast pastries this morning, to see the work finally pay off. And although Bulgarian breakfasts are the best in the world, we feel duty bound to say so are Burmese breakfasts. So reading this, we also felt a little pang of nostalgia for our work in Myanmar, and for the pleasures of Burmese tea, and flat noodle salad, or nan bya thouk.
A couple of weeks back, we spent a fabulous two days running staff training with the talented, committed people at Paung Ku in Yangon. Paung Ku — whose name literally means ‘arch’, ‘to bridge’ or ‘to span’ — are an NGO who bring together people, networks, ideas and resources to transform Myanmar civil society from the ground up.
Because Paung Ku’s work is all about communication, they brought us in to explore how to make their storytelling more effective, and how to develop stronger, more compelling narratives about their work. In our first session, we looked at storytelling and editorial skills, then in the second we explored the organisation’s needs when it came to communicating with specific audiences.
Along the way, we covered a lot of ground, including the relationship between oral and written storytelling, the connection between contending with troublesome dragons and working for an NGO, and how to bring together text and image, ideas and data into a compelling tale that is accessible to all.
It was a delight to work with such a committed and engaged team. Find out more about Paung Ku’s work on their website.
We’re delighted to be working over the coming months with the lovely people at Mote Oo, which runs projects on education and social justice. We’ll be consulting for them on their new coursebook on ethical leadership, as well as writing, and possibly piloting, the textbook.
We’re very excited by this, as it is a chance to think about ethics not as something bolted-on to the way that organisations work, but instead as something that runs through everything that they do. Later next week, we’re having some initial discussions up in Hpa-An, in Karen state, and then into the new year we’ll be getting to work on developing some content.
We’re now in Myanmar (Burma), where we’ll be for the coming months. We’ve got a number of projects in the works, but first up is a six week writing workshop at the Parami Institute of the Liberal Arts and Sciences in Yangon. Starting later in November, we’ll be teaching a course on the fundamentals of short story writing. We’ll be drawing on published stories from both Myanmar writers and writers elsewhere in the world, and will be looking at short stories in a cross-cultural and cross-linguistic context. It promises to be a lot of fun.