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How are PLP Alumni from the 6th Cohort Coping with COVID-19?

The unprecedented global pandemic has disrupted and affected many lives in many countries around the world, and including Myanmar. Since late March 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak in Myanmar has forced businesses and even educational institutions in big cities like Yangon to move online. 

To keep the Parami Leadership Program continuing while practicing COVID-19 preventive measures, all of the classes at PLP adopted online teaching, and our PLP alumni from the 6th Cohort experienced both physical and virtual learning before graduating in May of this year.

It has been six months since the 6th Cohort students graduated from the PLP. We tried to reach out to some of our alumni, and they shared updates on careers and how they are dealing with the pandemic. 

Zun Pwint Aung (Rylan)

When the COVID-19 outbreak began to escalate in Yangon, like many other students from outside of the city, Zun Pwint Aung (Rylan) decided to go back to her hometown, Mawlamyine and attended her classes at the PLP online. 

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, she planned to expand her network especially in Yangon through her interesting jobs. Rylan shared that "the COVID-19 took away my chance to work in Yangon, where I believe I can gain a lot of experience for my career. However, I still consider myself to be lucky as I got a job offer for teaching, thing that I am also passionate about during this pandemic."

Rylan is now working as a class teacher of Ramonnya Land English Language Center, and she is also a teacher at PACE Online English School. 

“Sometimes, I lose my motivation just by thinking about the uncertain future due to COVID-19. I am now trying my best to focus on the present time by staying busy with my current job and spending my time with my family. As a teacher, there are always new things to learn, so I take this opportunity to get out of the depressed zone.” she added.

In addition, she shared that she has had a chance to learn and do many wonderful things during this outbreak—a family reunion, experience teaching online, and learning about the benefits of online learning for people from diverse backgrounds. Most importantly, she has learned to love herself and get rid of negative thoughts that may keep her feel demotivated.

Tun Aye Mro

After graduating from PLP, Tun Aye Mro decided to leave Yangon and go back to his hometown in Maungdaw, Rakhine state.  “During this Covid-19, I can spend most of my time with my family and learn more detail about Mro society [Mro is his ethnicity]. I spend most of my time listening to life stories of local people and observing their daily life, and now I understand how much they are struggling for their family,” he said.

He is currently working as a project officer at a local NGO, and  with a commitment to contribution to his society, he is also serving as a lead teacher and an English language trainer at 3 Miles Monastic school.

Tun Aye Mro added that “I try to stay motivated by helping local people. So far, I have trained 20 Mro students for their English Language skills and conducted Educational and COVID-19 awareness training for people in my village. Instead of staying at home, I always try to make myself busy so that I am still learning during COVID-19.”

PLP 6th Cohort from Mandalay, Shwe Yi Phwe, expressed that having to move from in person-classes to online classes during her study at PLP was the first thing she got affected by the COVID-19. Then her family customized a tailor shop and training center back in Mandalay, which has been closed since before the first wave. As only a few regular customers still come and make orders at her house, that makes her family income go down very significantly.

Shwe Yi Phwe

Despite the impacts caused by the COVID-19, Shwe Yi said she is, however, doing well coping up with the pandemic and can stay motivated due to her family.  “My family is incredibly optimistic. They told me to take my time to find a new job. They are very supportive of me to be mentally and physically healthy. Most importantly, our family opens up our feelings to one another as we spend time together day and night during this time. Normally we used to be so busy with work and socializing and didn’t have time to hang out, particularly with family.”

Moreover, she can pursue her hobbies as much as she wants to, especially making Chinese traditional and other modern snacks at home and giving them away to her neighbors and relatives. Playing and taking care of a dog, David, a giant Alaskan Malamute, that she and her neighbor have rescued recently. She expressed that “I fell in love with dogs thanks to my neighbors’ dog, Orchid, also a giant Alaskan Malamute. I used to dislike dogs in general, but now I like all kinds of breeds.”

Shwe Yi added that “I happened to listen to Buddha’s teachings, and I found out that I want to learn Abhidhamma. And I have been donating to random people who need support as much as possible. I happened to donate almost all my savings and income, which makes me super glad and peaceful.”

Min Thura Kyaw (Courage)

Meanwhile, after returning home in Mawlamyine, Min Thura Kyaw (Courage) also experienced difficulty in  pursuing his career opportunities due to the pandemic. While seeking for further job opportunities in the environment, education and community development fields, he spends his time on learning and sharing his knowledge related to Buddhism to others. 

Aiming to expand his knowledge about practical Buddhism, Courage is now attending the Superior Diploma Course (Domestic) in Abhidhamma online from University of Abhidhamma Yangon. “I provide a free weekly Dhamma talk to my foreign friends from Vietnam and Singapore through video. It is like a discussion, where I basically share some Dhamma knowledge, help to guide them along and answer their questions.” he said.   

Apart from studying Buddhism in-depth, he mostly spends his time with family, improving English skills, joining webinar, doing workout, and reading during this pandemic. 

While coping with this uncertain time, it is crucial to have self-motivation, know how to spend time wisely and how to take full advantage of any given opportunities.

Thuzar Aung (Athena)

Although the COVID-19 has blocked her potential for a better career opportunity, Thuzar Aung (Athena) tries to make the better use of her time pursuing her profession in teaching English to young children online while staying at home in Meiktila, in Mandalay. 

“I was feeling down for some time during this uncertain time. I was so frustrated losing one marble in my motivation to keep moving forwards. I believe this is not only just for me but also for those who are aiming to achieve their goals. I have realized that this COVID-19 has allowed me to shape my density and spend my time without procrastinating,” said Athena. 

Also, she spends most of her free time studying, polishing her skills, and preparing herself for future career. With this purpose in mind, she feels motivated and energetic to proceed with my steps of attempts for the future.

The travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders for preventive measures for COVID-19 in the area of Yangon and other regions are still active. While others are working at a local NGO and teaching online, most of our alumni from the PLP 6th Cohort are staying home and trying to learn something that reflects their interest during this time.


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