I came across the DeBoer Fellowship during their survey activities in 2012 and 2013. After meeting Jack & Marilyn DeBoer and Fritz Kling in person, I instantly fell in love with the program. It was not just from meeting Mr. & Mrs. DeBoer that I liked the program, but simply because of the mechanisms of the program. The design, intentions through their survey activities, care for the needs of the country, and desire of the potential fellow candidates all stood out to me.
Since Myanmar was closed for decades, many young people in their thirties and forties are hungry to learn for their professional and leadership skill development,
The very first time I became familiar with the DeBoer Fellowship was when my supervisor became a 2015 DeBoer Fellow and conducted a peer education workshop during an office sharing session. That workshop reminded me of the personal and soft skill development trainings I had attended before, but the concept of meeting people of diverse backgrounds while learning interesting organizational development topics led me to search through the DeBoer Fellowship website. I decided to apply for the Fellowship after reviewing the topic, timeline, and objective in advancing citizen leadership among mid-career leaders. To be honest, I was not fully confident I would be chosen as a Fellow when I compared myself with other former Fellows.
I have a lot of special memories throughout the yearlong fellowship – about exciting trips together with like-minded citizen leaders, insightful leadership lessons from professionals of different backgrounds and fun but educational activities together with the other fellows. However, if I had to choose my favourite one, I would choose the time we listened to Jack and Marilyn – about why they took very serious about a stranger’s words – “we have no hope”. This simple statement was the catalyst for their commitment to establish the DeBoer Foundation and initiate the fellowship program to “advance citizen leaders for Myanmar’s prosperity”.