On 11th December 2013, I witnessed the opening ceremony of SEA (Southeast Asian Games) in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. For the absence of hosting the game for more than 44 years, Myanmar eventually was offered to host the game in 2013. I was more than happy to watch the opening ceremony, and coming sport events. My whole family sat down in the living room to enjoy the series of sport events aired through MRTV, a state-owned television channel.
That was my first time to personally discover the pleasure of being a citizen of a country, which belongs to ASEAN. ASEAN stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and consists of ten countries in Southeast Asia. They are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Myanmar became a member in 1997.
In my matriculation level, I got to learn about ASEAN countries’ famous spots in English subject. Bangkok, being the shopper’s paradise, Manila, where there is a huge amount of festivity, and Singapore with a lot of tourist attractions, became my favorite places to visit.
The greatest pleasure for me is getting to explore other cultures in ASEAN member countries. Little did I know that Myanmar and other member countries had some mutual cultures, which I felt kept all of them closer. Now, I am studying abroad in Hong Kong, and whenever I meet a student from a ASEAN country, we become immediate friends and hang out. I did go ASEAN both in my action and in my mind. When I am given a chance to introduce myself to Hong Kongers, I am proud to say that I am from Myanmar and belong to ASEAN. Moreover, as an active Toastmaster, I like to include my background in speeches as much as possible.
Besides me, my family has been a huge fan of ASEAN games. Any soccer match between ASEAN countries makes my parents sit in front of the television, and cheers for the Myanmar team. They enjoy the good games, especially from ASEAN countries.
ASEAN has been around my life in one way or another. With the elected government, Myanmar will be more involved with ASEAN countries in terms of economic trade, political assistance, and tourism.
I may not understand how much ASEAN significantly contributes to the development of Myanmar, but I would like to proudly say that Myanmar is better off with ASEAN.
When I graduate from Lingnan University, I will certainly travel all ASEAN countries as my graduate trip, taste local foods, make more friends, learn local cultures, and enjoy being an ASEAN citizen.
By Paul Han, ASEAN correspondent from Myanmar