MZU Vice Chancellor speaking via zoom at introduction meeting

October 15, 2022, Comment off

ICA, MZU kick off Research Fellowship Program

On Wednesday 12th October 2022, the Myanmar Research Fellowship Program, facilitated by the Institute of Chin Affairs (ICA), hosted at Mizoram University (MZU), and supported by the Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar initiative by the IDRC (International Development Research Centre), kicked off the program with an inaugural welcome meeting.

Background of the Program

The Myanmar Research Fellowship Program welcomes five scholars from Myanmar who have been displaced by the military coup, to take part in a one-year research course, hosted by MZU. Recent reports reflect the admission of 6000 children from Myanmar of school age who have been able to join schools in Mizoram since March 2021. However, there has been no uptake of Myanmar students in higher education institutions in Mizoram. This program intends to fill that gap and provide support for the five scholars who have joined to participate.

This program is designed to equip the Fellows with knowledge of foundational principles of research and themes of social science. The program intends to support Fellows in the production of their own research study on themes of displacement in Myanmar and Mizoram, informed by personal experience and perspectives. The program will be an opportunity for the Research Fellows to add their voices to dialogues on displacement, conflict, and social change in Myanmar.

The courses themselves will be taught in part by lecturers from MZU and lecturers from international universities and educational institutions. Finally, the program will provide opportunities for Fellows to publish their research and articles, both through ICA’s website, and online media related to Myanmar and through the program with Mizoram University.

Research scholars at their first lecture class
Research scholars at their first lecture class

Introduction meeting

The program opened with remarks from Professor K.R.S. Sambasiva Rao, the Vice Chancellor of Mizoram University, who warmly welcomed the Fellows and spoke about the evolution of the program hosted by MZU, from when it was first mentioned to him to the opening of the program. Professor Lalnundanga, Registrar of MZU, also joined to welcome the Fellows and thank the MZU colleagues for lending their support so graciously to ICA. Salai Nilian, Executive Director of ICA gave some background of ICA as an organization and thanked colleagues from both MZU and ICA for their contribution and hard work.

Dr. Kristina Z. Zama, the lecturer at MZU in the Department of English, introduced herself and assured the Fellows that she was looking forward to taking classes with them in the current semester. Dr. Van Hnuai Kim, a member of the Program Academic Committee, similarly welcomed the Fellows and mentioned that she was interested in reading their research.

Following Dr. Van Kim, Hannah Russell, Project Lead and Secretary of Myanmar Action Group Denmark introduced herself and thanked colleagues from MZU and ICA for their contributions to the program. Hannah addressed the Fellows directly, thanking them for their participation and encouraging the Fellows to reach out to ICA staff with any concerns or queries.

Professor Lalnilawma of the Department of Extension Education and Rural Development then gave his address, beginning by thanking Professors Sambasiva and Lalnundanga for their time, generosity, and consideration in the process of initiating the Fellowship program at MZU. Professor Lalnilawma welcomed the Fellows and iterated his wish that they regard MZU as their home for the next year.

Salai Van Sui San, Deputy Director of ICA, was not able to introduce himself due to illness, therefore Hannah briefly introduced his role on his behalf. Finally, Dr. Langle Benjamin, Learning Facilitator with the program, introduced himself and expressed his commitment to helping the Fellows to get the most out of the program.  Dr. Elis Thangi, who was going to teach Burmese language and communication skills at the University, was also not able to attend due to illness.

Thus, the introduction meeting was brought to a close, and the Fellows continued their schedule for the rest of the day, including a campus tour, library tour, and group lunch.