Myanmar in Denmark – Living and studying in the happiest country in the world

Students of Silkeborg Højskole on their Tour de Denmark November 2016. Lu Maw Naing to the right and Naw Briana and Ei Zin May Phoo in the middle of the group.

Ei zin May Phoo fra Myanmar er i Danmark et halvt år, hvor hun går på Silkeborg Højskole. Læs med her, hvor hun på engelsk beskriver, hvordan hun oplever Danmark.
Ei Zin May Phoo from Myanmar is in Denmark for half a year, where she attends a course at Silkeborg Højskole. Read her blog post about how she sees Danmark.

By Ei Zin May Phoo

By the grace of God, Lu Maw Naing (YMCA), Naw Briana (YWCA) and I, Ei Zin May Phoo, (Shalom Foundation) got the chance to study at Silkeborg Højskole in Denmark. The school is like a boarding school where all students study, eat, play, and have fun together. It is such a great pleasure for us being together with 11 different nationalities and learn about their cultures and traditions.

We are together with people from different countries and so we have different ideas, ways of thinking, norms, and standards. We learned how to accept different points of views and how to work together with different people. We went to the FDF senior course and learned how volunteers were working hard to make a better society. I believe, I have changed a lot in good ways because of the trip. I am becoming more patience, getting better at team work, and more able to accept different opinions and thoughts. I have become more optimistic and can accept others’ culture (Although some cultures are totally upside down with our cultures). For young people, it is really nice and great being together with other young people in the same place for four months. We fight, argue, work together, laugh together, and above all, we learn from each other. We care about each other and share responsibilities. We become more mature and can solve the obstacles and problems very calmly.

Youth Empowerment and youth involvement

We study Youth Empowerment as our main subject, which is the only subject in English. In addition, we can choose optional subjects and existential subjects. I chose to study Photo, Graphic, outdoor light, and Danish for international as my optional subjects; and Intercultural learning and Game theory as my existential subjects. In the optional subjects like Intercultural Learning, Game Theory and Danish for Internationals we are mainly international students. When I chose the subjects, I chose the ones I could use back in Myanmar. For some subjects, even though I like the them, it is not possible to get the materials in Myanmar. In those situations, I needed to think about another subject I like second most.

Most of the time, we are together with our main subject group. In the group, we create projects, go to the FDF camps, and play games. We learn about group dynamics: How different individual can work together as a group, Leadership skills: How to lead and how to follow, Social capital: The glue that holds the society together, How volunteering and youth organizations benefit the society, and Youth Participation, which focusses on the different levels young people can get involved in decision making processes. Also, we had a visitor from the Danish Youth Council (DUF), who taught us how DUF works in Denmark.

We took part in FDF senior course, where we talked with the leaders from FDF and learned how they manage camps. Finally, we created an international evening, where everyone could enjoy traditional music, dance, food, and Skype with the different people from different countries.

Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world with cold weather and beautiful nature. Lu Maw Naing, Naw Briana, and I easily got used to of everything here – except for the food, ha ha (Myanmar people eat rice every day, but the Danish people eat bread every day). If you want to know about other countries, you can google them or read about them in books, but nothing can make you understand countries and their culture better than staying in that country and being together with the people from that country. This is want to share with you.

Lu Maw Naing, Naw Briana, and Ei Zin May Phoo trying canoeing for the first time. 

Whether you are raised in Denmark or Myanmar

In Denmark, there is no difference in living standards between the big cities and the country side. Everyone has the same facilities. In Denmark, most of the young people are really fond of volunteering. They spend their free time being volunteers.  They also love travelling, and almost all young people travel around the world when they are 19 or 20 years old, often after they finish high school. Denmark is also one of the only countries where you can get paid when you go to university. The education system is excellent. In schools and universities in Denmark you can discuss your opinions and ask questions to your teachers. You don’t need to say “Yes” whenever the older people speak.

Young people are having fun and drinking when they think that it is time for them to relax. They can control themselves and never get drunk all the time. They pay full attention when it comes to work. They are punctual, and you can rely on them when they promise you that they will do something for you.

Lu Maw Naing and Ei Zin May Phoo at a Christmas party with friends from Silkeborg Højskole

Whether we were born and raised in Myanmar or Denmark, we all have the same talents and abilities to make our society better. What make us different is the way we are brought up and the supports we are given. Most parents in Denmark are ready to support their children in what they are good at, while most parents in Myanmar are directing us to do what they want us to do. As a result, young people from Denmark know where they want to go in an early age, while we are wondering about where we should be. The way Danish parents nurture their children makes them independent and confident young people. Most of them know what they want to be and get the chance to work towards their goals.

Thank you so much

School finishes in December, and then we will go back to Myanmar. I came to Denmark as a representative from my organization, Shalom Foundation. When I go back, I will go back to my organization and apply what I have learned in Denmark. I want to be a part of building peace in my country. I will also be at Foundation for Change in my free time and contribute what I have got to my fellow young people.

We are so glad that we are here, and we hope we can apply what we have learned here when we go back to our home country. Thank you so much to everyone who gave us a chance to explore the world.