One thing with potential to bring positive change to Myanmar is the Comprehensive Education Sector Review. (Policy types = not so good with punchy titles.) A bunch of experts from all over are digging in and trying to build a qualitative, broad picture of the country’s creaky education system.

I got a chance to see one small piece of that system–a free elementary school run by a Buddhist monastery near Yangon. Here’s the story I did for The World.

Phoo Myint Mo and Chit Loon Oo, two students at Thiri Mingalar Monastic School in Pyi Thar Township near Yangon.

Phoo Myint Mo and Chit Loon Oo, two students at Thiri Mingalar Monastic School in Pyi Thar Township near Yangon.

I hurried up to Mandalay planning to head from there to Monywa, where ongoing protests against a Chinese-owned copper mine had just been broken up pretty violently by local security forces. When I got to Mandalay, though, I found out that The World already had someone in Monywa covering the demonstration. (Sometimes communication breaks down a bit when there’s an 11-and-a-half-hour difference between reporter and editor.)

So there I was in Mandalay. Here’s the story I cobbled together.

Signs on the stage at the Moustache Brothers' performance space in Mandalay. The  photograph shows Lu Maw with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Signs on the stage at the Moustache Brothers’ space in Mandalay. Par Par Lay and Aung San Suu Kyi are in the photo behind the signs.

I met Ah Noh of the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) a couple years ago when she was in New York for meetings at the U.N. She and Debbie Stothard of ALTSEAN Burma talked to a small group at Columbia about the current situation in Kachin State. I got back in touch with her when I was heading to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where KWAT is based. We met and Ah Noh filled me in on what KWAT was working on, and a few days later she hosted me at her church.

Here’s the story I did for The World about that visit, and what the current situation for ethnic minorities in Burma looks like seen across the border in Chiang Mai.

Christmas tree at Wunpawng Church in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Christmas tree and a young worshiper at Wunpawng Church in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

42 members of the National League for Democracy won parliamentary seats in April’s by-election in Myanmar. You’ve probably heard of at least one of them. I got to sit down with another one of them while I was in Yangon in December. Phyu Phyu Thin is a longtime HIV/AIDS activist, and now an MP representing Mingalar Taung Nyunt in Yangon.

Here’s the profile I did for The World.

Phyu Phyu Thin on the campaign Trail. (Photo: Htoo Tay Zar/Wikipedia)

Phyu Phyu Thin on the campaign trail. (Photo: Htoo Tay Zar/Wikipedia)

One thing that struck me as I got into some of the policy issues at play in Thailand’s migrant worker laws is how similar they are to ones being debated in the U.S., and how Thailand has tackled them more actively and successfully than we have. The Thai system is still a mess, though.

Here’s a story I did for The World about new wrinkles in the Thai system for giving migrant workers from neighboring countries legal status.

Public bathrooms at a migrant worker camp outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Public bathrooms at a migrant worker camp outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A trishaw driver association parading down Pansodan Street in Yangon, on their way to deliver offerings to a Buddhist monastery.

A trishaw driver association parading down Pansodan Street in Yangon, on their way to deliver offerings to a Buddhist monastery.

U Pyinya Zawta, a Burmese Buddhist monk I know here in Brooklyn, told me that tazaungdaing was happening the day I arrived in Myanmar. I was all “tazaungwhat?” and he explained that it was a big deal–the end of a month of offerings people make to monasteries. Kind of like a Burmese Buddhist Christmas, he said, only giving stuff instead of getting stuff.

So when I got to Yangon on November 28, I fought off the jet lag and went out to see what I could see. Here’s an audio slideshow I produced for The World.

Irrawaddy Magazine covers from the mid-2000s hang in a conference room at the publication's Chiang Mai offices.

Irrawaddy Magazine covers from the mid-2000s hang in a conference room at the publication’s Chiang Mai offices.

I’ve been reading the Irrawaddy since I first got interested in Burma three years ago. (Back then most people I talked to still called it “Burma.”) So I was excited to look them up when I got to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they’ve been based since the ’90s.

More excited still to find out that they were, the week I arrived in Chiang Mai, publishing their first issue openly inside of Burma/Myanmar. Here’s the story I did for The World about exile media going home.

A few small things I wrote for The World‘s blog while I was in Myanmar–

One on chasing rumors of demonstrations, and finding only a scrum of reporters.

One on international ATM cards finally being accepted in the country, and my failed attempts to make use of this fact.

And one on Yangon’s lovely quality of being a bit trapped in time, a quality that I think it’s now quickly shedding.

AGD

Asia Green Development Bank seen through spires at Sule Pagoda. AGD is owned by Tay Za, who Forbes called “one of Burma’s richest tycoons.”

A couple new Global Hits on The World in the past month.

Hüsnü Şenlendirici is a big-deal Turkish clarinetist whose recorded output sometimes tends towards the New Agey, but was way more old-agey when Julia and I saw him in Philadelphia at the end of October. The show was part of Al Bustan Seeds of Culture‘s 2012-2013 season. Here’s the story I filed for The World.

I first got into Bachata a couple years ago when I was working at WYPR in Baltimore and a few of the newly resurfaced legends of the music came to play at Artscape. I recently got back in touch with Benjamin de Menil, the guy who put on that show and runs iASO Records, a label largely devoted to bachata. He told me about an upcoming bachata show he was putting on in Manhattan, mixing a two generations of bachateros. Can’t miss that. Here’s the story.

How many times have you asked yourself “What do New York’s taxi cab drivers think about the subjects being discussed at the United Nations General Assembly?”

Ask no more, because The World had me go out last week while UNGA was clogging up Manhattan’s thoroughfares and find out.

This story was also featured on “Boston Calling,” the new missive from The World that airs on the BBC World Service.

A diplomatic convoy turns onto 42nd Street near the UN.

(Soon after I took this picture, a fellow wearing a jaunty white “United States Secret Service” polo shirt came up to me, asked for my press credentials, and then said, “Be careful, because we’re watching.” Which reminds me, I need to get press credentials.)