The Students of the
School for Shan State Nationalities Youth
⇒ Nine Training ⇐
© 2009

Rarely is the world able to read celebratory news about Burma. The stories that reach the international community involve the brutality of the long-reigning military regime and the diaspora of refugees in neighboring nations. In ethnically diverse regions like Shan State, the population struggles to survive forced relocations, a stagnant economy and a corrupt educational system that has suppressed ethnic languages and literature.

It is somewhat remarkable then, that out of this oppression has emerged a generation of youth at home and in exile, who are dedicating their lives to promoting and preserving their culture and ethnic identities. They, like their parents and grandparents before, have carried these folktales on journeys through jungles, over mountains and across borders. Their stories, like them, are Kachin, Kayan, Pa-O, Shan and Wa; they highlight their love of nature, family and tradition.

These ancient tales also inspired many students to compose new works fitting the modern age. Found near the end of this book, these contemporary stories reflect both the challenges facing their communities today and the better future they are dedicated to creating—one where they are free to pursue education, return to their homeland, and live in peace.

The simple continued existence of Shan State’s folktales and the enthusiasm of SSSNY’s students to record, illustrate and share them, is a legacy for the children of their country who will inherit their peoples’ history. This book is a celebration of the region’s unique heritage—a reminder that Shan State’s culture and literature are still alive.

Sally Kantar
9th SJEP Teacher SSSNY
December, 2009