Burmese American Collective's story begins almost 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 at the Smithsonian Institution and for the first time learned about their Folklife Festival, an annual event built around two to three pivotal themes. Before leaving SI, I found out that one of the themes for the following year would be the "Asian American Experience." As a verified Asian American, I perked up with great interest to learn that my life experience was going to be a topic of the next Festival. I thought to myself, here is an amazing opportunity for Myanmar American communities to share the rich culture, history, and art of the diaspora with a national audience. When I learned that Festival organizers weren't even aware of our local Myanmar American presence, I knew that we had to be part of the Festival, our voices had to be amplified, and our stories had to be told.
Convinced that it would be easier to get things done as an organization rather than as an individual, I created the Burmese American Collective. After months of grass-roots community collaboration and preparation, our Myanmar American story became an integral chapter in the 2010 Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival, and we secured a place in national history!
By the end of 2010, I had finally scored a full-time permanent job and started my journey at National Geographic. Once that 9-5 commitment weighed in on me, I could no longer devote all of my time to growing BAC and it simmered on low in the background of my life. Time though, has a funny thing of creeping up on you like a storm and eight years after BAC took its first steps, I became a mother and went into hibernation. As motherhood finally begins to settle in, I find myself shaking off the cobwebs of hibernation and reemerging into the world. I am ready to think, create, and do. Ready to breathe life back into Burmese American Collective and grow it into something that my son can be proud of. For at the core of it, by breathing life back in to BAC, BAC will breathe life back into me.