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Leadership Mindset Earns Parami Alumnus a Lincoln Scholarship to Navigate from Shan Hills to Alabama

Parami alumnus, Zaw Lin, has recently started his first semester at Auburn University, Alabama, in the United States, pursuing a master’s degree in Rural Sociology with a scholarship award from the Lincoln Scholarship. He is eager to learn more about sustainable rural community development and the best practices for resources management to help grow his community. Zaw Lin is from the highland region, Namhsan township, Shan State, also known as the tea capital of Myanmar. 

He stated that studying abroad is a vital responsibility—as he felt that the knowledge he would be acquiring from his study would play an important role in improving his community. 

“It’s a responsibility that I need to go and learn. If I keep staying in my hometown, I won’t have a chance to learn some of the leadership skills and technical skills to apply in my career and professional field. The Rural Sociology field of study covers the study of the community, society, human behavior, and resources management. These are the things I’m going to study, which are related to my professional field since I’ve been working on community development as well as agriculture-related projects in my hometown,” he said. 

Zaw Lin graduated from the Parami Leadership Program (PLP) in 2018. Along with young people in his community, he co-founded a social enterprise called Yar Ta’ang in August 2020 to improve local income, especially women in the highland regions in Myanmar. He has applied the skills and knowledge learned from the PLP in his profession working with his team. 

“Research and anthropology classes have helped with running [Yar Ta’ang] when considering human behavior and target customers. Critical and leadership thinking—these are the skills that I’m sharing with my colleagues, and we practice these skills in our organization,” he said

He wants to contribute the knowledge and skills to establish a community development school to educate the young people in his community and other highland regions such as Lashio and Kyaukme. Zaw Lin believes that pursuing a Rural Sociology field of study will allow him to help young people from rural areas find educational opportunities.  

“ In my community, young people tend to migrate to the city for study and work [opportunities]. In most cases, a few return home, while most decide to live in urban areas. As a consequence, there is a lack of young people with sufficient skills to help grow the community. To solve this problem, we will need to create educational opportunities and a platform for young people to come together and learn in their communities,” said Zaw Lin.

Moreover, as the majority of the population in Myanmar lives in rural areas, he shared how community development and effective resource management can also contribute to economic development in the rural areas. “We have vacant land in rural areas, so why don’t we use those lands to produce food and export to other countries to grow our GDP. We can use the lands effectively, like growing rice and other crops, and think about what we can grow in the highland and lowland regions. We can think of many solutions for this, but first, we need to provide education to young people in the rural areas, then we can find out what more we have to do,” he added. 

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