Building connections across countries and cultures and histories is slow work. Our partners who work on cross-border initiatives focus on building relationships between individual people as a way to affect policy and solidify international relations.
Here are a few of their stories:
If you travel to the largest ethnic state in Burma, you may encounter several local social justice organizations. But you be hard-pressed to find one without a graduate from the School for Shan State Nationalities Youth (SSSNY).
With more than 700 alumni, these graduates can be found working on nearly every human rights issue in Shan State: promoting education, protecting land rights, and standing up for gender equality.
Founded 20 years ago by youth activists on the Thai-Burma border, SSSNY’s reach is vast. Its intensive Social Justice Education Program includes courses ranging from multi-ethnic history to natural resource management to digital security to community mobilization–subjects that are still risky to teach and study in Burma.
The Advisory Council
Most grant-making organizations like Partners Asia do their work by consulting with a Board of Directors throughout the year, and we have an excellent one.
But we also have something that most organizations don’t—an Advisory Council (AC) giving guidance and insight from a local perspective.
The AC is made up of six established local human rights leaders from Thailand and Burma. The communities they represent range from migrant workers, to ethnic minority youth activists, to policymakers.
They meet annually as a group, and they remain in close contact with Partners Asia throughout the year. In this role, the AC members do two things that are invaluable:
First, they advise our Board and staff on our organizational strategy and how to work in contexts that they, as locals, know best. This is one way we ensure that our work advances local initiatives and visions, rather than interfering with them.
Second, they mentor the next generation of leaders in the region. They select individuals and build their skills and confidence with the aim of increasing their credibility and influence as teachers, advocates, and activists.