Prospect Burma volunteer Joe Massey recently returned from three months in Myanmar, where he was supporting work in our Yangon office. In the final post in his three-part blog series, he talks about meeting the PB scholarship applicants and the passion they have for gaining skills and expertise to help transform their country. 

My return to Yangon coincided with the beginning of the rainy season. My taxi ride from the airport through a thunderstorm gave me a sense of what was to come for my next month in Myanmar. The first week back was spent preparing to interview the applicants to our scholarship competition. I also visited Sky Age for the last time, which was quite sad. I had spent quite a lot of time with the students, so it was a shame that I had to say goodbye. I have no doubt that they will go on to great things and their time at Sky Age will prove invaluable.

We had decided on a shortlist and began to schedule the interviews for the following week. Due to the size of the country and some of the students already studying abroad, not all of them were able to come to the office for an interview. We scheduled interviews over 4 days with some students coming into the office, and the others taking place over Skype. Steph, from the London office, arrived on Wednesday morning and we were finally ready to meet our students. We spoke to over 30 students in 3 days and we were blown away by the quality and passion of our applicants. Each student had completely different stories and ambitions – each as impressive as the next. Speaking to the students gave me a huge amount of context into the lives of young people growing up in rural Myanmar. I think the most impressive thing about the students is how driven and knowledgeable they are about the ways they could make a difference to Myanmar’s future. Each student had a completely different plan covering everything from education to medicine to engineering. It was amazing to meet the students, and I can’t wait to see how they get on in the future.

My last two weeks in Myanmar gave me the chance to see a little bit more of the country. My girlfriend had flown out from the UK and we had 15 days to see as much of Myanmar as we possibly could. We started with a few days in Yangon, followed by a short trip to Hpa-an, unfortunately shortened by the heavy rain, time at Inle lake, a night in Mandalay and three days in Bagan. It was fantastic to meet so many friendly people, see some amazing sights and try a lot of delicious food. Myanmar truly is a beautiful place.

Having now returned to the UK I’ve had a chance to think about my time in Myanmar. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for me, and I’m so grateful to everyone at Prospect Burma for offering me the chance to spend time in this amazing country. I will never forget my time in Myanmar, especially the people – their smiles and warmth as well as their passion for social change and for helping as many other people as they can. I’ve made some friends for life and I have no doubt I will be back in the country again soon – I won’t be able to stay away!

Joe Massey, Prospect Burma Volunteer