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Striving to establish a library:
the “Wase-girl” born in Myanmar

Ms. Monmyathu

"After one look at the library, I instantly knew I wanted to enroll in Waseda," said Ms. Monmyathu with a smile. For this girl with an unrivaled love for reading, the Central Library, which boasts a collection of 2.5 million books, was "like a dream," she said, her eyes gleaming. Ms. Monmyathu's relationship with Japan goes quite a ways back. In the 1940s, her grandfather attended the University of Tokushima as a foreign student. Her grandfather passed away before she was born, but she says that old friends from his university days still come to visit his grave even today. "I never got to meet him, but I wondered what sort of student life he lived in Japan." This was the reason she became interested in Japanese.

While studying Japanese at a university in Myanmar, there came a time when supplies needed to be delivered from Japan to Myanmar. This was when she became aware that the current state of affairs between the two countries wouldn't allow the items to be shipped in. Most of the problem involved linguistic difficulties. "A person from Myanmar who can speak Japanese needs to jump into this process!" she thought to herself, setting her mind on studying abroad in Japan.

While studying the practice and theory of international cooperation, she came across an idea of what she could do in order to make use of her unique skills and offer her support. "I want to build a library in Myanmar, even if it's just a small one." Aside from urban areas of Myanmar, there are a number of regions where children do not attend school in favor of helping out with their family's business. But so long as there is a library, even if they can't go to school they can still encounter books. "I figured that a library was a place where anybody could go whenever they wanted in order to experience various things through books." As a start to her venture of building a library, she began shipping picture books to a temple in Myanmar that looks after homeless children. She gathers these unneeded books in Japan and sends them together with a Burmese translation. "My current dream is to start out by filling those bookcases. There's still a long way to go."

Ms. Monmyathu believes that if she continues to increase the number of books, the temple will eventually become a library. All the while, however, she is constantly reminded of the same phrase. This phrase is spoken by a fox to a prince who is cherishing a rose in her favorite book, "the Little Prince." "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. Look after your rose until the end." She said, "During my four years at Waseda, I have taken these words with me and have come to strongly feel the importance of encounters with other people." Ms. Monmyathu went on to speak with a newfound resolve, saying "I want to build my library within the next two years." There's no doubt that within her heart blooms the rose of her dream.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Monmyathu

Born in 1984 in Myitkyina, Myanmar. Graduated from the University of Foreign Languages, Yangon, and entered Waseda University's School of Social Sciences in 2006. She is currently enrolled in a seminar studying International Cooperation and is active as a student staff member of WAVOC. She recommends the book "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World" by John Wood. The author of that book, as well, is currently in the midst of building a small library in Myanmar with a dogged determination. She is a 100% "Wase-girl." Her hobby is gardening.