Former political prisoner and human-rights activist Wai Wai Nu was invited by U-M’s Donia Human Rights Center to give a public lecture titled “The Rohingya Crisis and the Future of Democracy in Myanmar,” on February 13, 2020, in Weiser Hall. The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the Program in International and Comparative Studies. To an audience of over 110 faculty, students, and members of the general public, Nu spoke about the systemic and historic discrimation Rohingya Muslims have suffered in Myanmar, with emphasis on her own personal story. Currently, she is an Obama Foundation Scholar at the Columbia University World Project, and heads the organization Women’s Peace Network, which builds peace and understanding between Myanmar’s multiple ethnic communities and advocates for women’s rights. In the audience was Amy Perkins with thirteen of her students and her colleague Christine Sloan. Perkins teaches world history at Lakeshore High School in Stevensville, MI, which lies on Lake Michigan and across from Chicago. To attend Nu’s lecture, the group had travelled 150 miles that day.
About the experience Perkins later wrote:
Perkins is also a participant in this year’s MENA-SEA Teacher Program, a collaboration between the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) and the Center for Middle Eastern & North African Studies (CMENAS). Funded by the centers’ Title VI grants from the U.S. Department of Education, the program trains a cohort of Grade 6-12 educators from across Michigan in deepening their understanding and appreciation of religious diversity in the two regions. To learn more and/or to apply, please visit 2020-2021 MENA-SEA Teacher Program.