Stairway to education

The children wanted to show me the school in Kazat, a Burmese village of less than 200 where one truck a year is built in the local factory. I followed the stream of students through the field and up the path where a building of faded colors seemed to sit patiently as children ran across the dirt yard and gathered water from a well.

Earlier in the morning, I heard children reciting with rapid speed and followed their voices until I found them sitting at makeshift desks. This trip, I brought along an audio recorder to capture the sounds of the villages so I demonstrated the technology. The parents smiled and invited me inside. The baby laughed. The father and mother motioned for their neighbors to watch the show.

Soon, a small crowd peered from the doorway and clustered in the yard to hear the replay of voices and see the photographs in the digital screen. I followed them to the school where a girl led me to a classroom and handed me chalk. We gained a few new words, sang songs and learned by heart an important life lesson: Kindness creates a world of difference.

An empty classroom awaits students in Kazat, Myanmar.Studious  Jump Well water kids

Water girl

Quiet learning

TardyA boy finishes his candy before the teacher arrives in Kazat, Myanmar. A boy rearranges his school box in Kazat, Myanmar.

I love the learning curve when you meet children without the benefit of a translator. It’s amazing how quick and eagerly they catch on. A future post will feature some of their voices, but here’s a teaser:  (Warning: I’m singing, kid-wrangling and filming at the same time so things get a little shaky. Keep your eye on the girl in red who stood her ground.)

Meet me: Sheilah Bright, a sucker for a story. I've been a journalist for 39 years after first publishing at age 14. Do the math. No, don't. My work has appeared in hundreds of newspapers and magazines. I spent 18 years writing advertising for People and TIME magazine. When I'm not traveling abroad, I bounce along the backroads of Oklahoma searching for some golden story nuggets as a contributing editor for This Land Press and Oklahoma Today.

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