Last Thursday night was our turn to host the Thursday Club dinner.  The Thursday Club is a club for 2nd highest ranked officer (doesn’t necessarily need to be Deputy Chief of Mission) from every embassy in Yangon.  I’ve come to this gathering a few times and I quite like it.  Though the members are predominantly males, but there are female diplomats who are active members of the club.  The spouses are also amazing people.  They are also active members of the club and are always involved in the different discussion of various different topics.  It is just amazing to see such talents and confidence they have, and I just love being surrounded by them….so very positive.  Please note that the spouses are not only ladies, they are also gentlemen who are married to female diplomats or male diplomats but we don’t care.  At the end of the day we are all individuals, with different background, who have different talents and potentials, who landed on this land called Myanmar and belong to the Thursday Club.

Most of the spouses are active in the community outside of their own.  They hold different profession here in Yangon, school teacher, language teacher, singing coach, drama teacher, consultant, commercial advisor, and also a housewife who is an active fund-raiser.  This then got me thinking, what made them so alive, so confident and so happy.  When I asked them what made them happy, the answer was simple: we feel at home because what we can still be who we were.  Then they all told me their stories.  Rob, who is the husband of Australian diplomat was a consultant back home.  Now that he’s in Yangon to follow his wife, he is hired by an NGO as a consultant who give advise to their Myanmar counterpart on economic issues.  Don, who is the husband of US Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) was a singing coach back home and a coffee expert who provide consultations to cafe owners about coffee is now teaching singing and music classes at an international school.  Shan, who was a active with social organisations back home, are still active with a social organisation raising funds for unfortunate women in Yangon.  So then I asked another question: are you allowed to work or be socially active outside of your own community?  Again the answer is simple: of course we are.  These people feel so content.

I know that we cannot be somebody we don’t want to be.  We will change if we want and are willing to change.  I am just sad to see how people around me still believe that the only place we belong to is in the kitchen, and the only things that we are allowed to do are cook, shop and look pretty.  I am not saying I don’t like to shop, no female in this world hates shopping.  But here in Yangon where the only decent thing to shop for is precious stones, silver and 18K gold, I feel that shopping becomes a remedy or a necessity.  Thus the women love going to places like the Lady Luck that sells souvenirs and jewelery, the Gem Museum that also functions as jewelery shop or the Bogyoke Market.  Not to count the supermarkets of course.  This is what is called ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’.

I used to love going to my kids’ school, and hang out at the canteen because I thought I can make it more orderly and structured.  I didn’t mind going there even if it wasn’t my turn.  I created a simple stock taking system in excel that can help the canteen manage the in and out of the stock and the canteen’s profit.  All they need to do is just enter the information into the file and voila…. it’s done.

When the Indonesian school here asked me to assist them as school counselor who will help counsel special needs students and about career, I had ideas about the different programs we can have at the school that relates to planning the students future career.  I created a program for the school and it was spot on, exactly what they needed.

These are only among the things that I have done, which I though were positive.  Apparently, most people at the embassy or associated with the embassy didn’t think so.  I am not good at cooking, I don’t like shopping if I don’t need to shop and I don’t like to show off my jewelery for the sake of looking pretty.  I am really doomed…..!


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