Giving a Voice to the Myanmar American Community

by Sandi Tun

Hello and welcome to Burmese American Collective!  Our story begins a smidge over 9 years ago at the very tail-end of 2009 when I had the luxury of time – time to think, time to create, and time to do.  I had just wrapped up an internship with the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Cultural History Program and found out about their upcoming Folklife Festival.  One of the themes for the 2010 Festival was the “Asian American Pacific Islander experience” and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share the story of the Myanmar American diaspora on a national platform.  When I learned that Festival organizers weren’t even aware that our local Myanmar communities existed, I knew I had to act.

It was in that moment of inspiration that genesis occurred, and Burmese American Collective was born

After months of grass-roots community collaboration , fundraising, and hard work, our Myanmar American voices were woven into the 2010 Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival and we secured a place in national history!

        After the Festival wrapped up and my contract with the Smithsonian concluded, BAC simmered in the background of my life as family and a 9-to-5 job took center stage.  I became a first-time mum in 2017, channeled all of my energy into my son, and then was unexpectedly jolted out of my comfortable 9-to-5 job towards the end of last year.  I desperately needed to be shaken out of stagnation and I relish the freedom that I suddenly have again to breathe life back into Burmese American Collective; to grow it into something that my family and community can be proud of. 

My current motivation for EVERYTHING!

By breathing life back into Burmese American Collective, it will breathe life back into me

Thanks so much for joining me on this journey.  It is important to me that BAC remains a purely non-political organization, leaving the controversial discourses to other groups.  Our mission instead focuses on people, relationships, and the sharing of knowledge.  I want to hear your stories and create a platform for meaningful exchange so please send me your comments, feedback, and advice.  Social media is not my thing but I am trying so cheers for any efforts to help me out! 

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