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A group of 26 teachers and administrators from Myanmar has spent the last month on the WIU campus for the Educational Leadership Institute.
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Jeff Hancks, executive director of Western's School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach, addresses the crowd at Thursday's closing ceremony.
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While the group from Myanmar was on campus, they celebrated their country's New Year.
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Myanmar Teachers, School Administrators Wrap Up Month-Long Educational Visit to Macomb

May 11, 2018

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MACOMB, IL – A group of 26 teachers and school administrators from Myanmar spent the last 30 days exploring educational opportunities as part of a partnership between Western Illinois University and the International Language and Business Centre (ILBC) of Myanmar.

The Educational Leadership Institute held its closing ceremony Wednesday (May 9) in the Sherman Hall auditorium.

The program began in 2014 after a memorandum of understanding was signed between WIU and the ILBC. Over the last month, teachers attended a variety of classes and seminars to improve educational leadership and teaching methodology, as well as visiting a variety of elementary and secondary classes in the region, including Macomb, Abingdon, Avon, Colchester and Sciota.

For May Pa Pa Soe, the head of school of Nay Pyi Taw, this was her second visit to Macomb as part of the educational opportunity.

"This is important professional development and we get to know the culture here," she said. "We met with and experienced instructors and gained theories for learning and teaching. We also learned about the people in Macomb, who are very warm and friendly."

Soe said the exchange is possible because the teachers and administrators are currently in their summer break in Myanmar.

While in Macomb, the Myanmar group was invited to the home of Macomb Mayor Mike Inman and his wife, Melissa, for a picnic. Inman attended Thursday's closing ceremony and said the visit was an important chance for Macomb to share American culture with the cohort.

"I look forward to them sending more groups to learn best practices from faculty and staff at WIU," said Inman. "They are an outstanding group of individuals who are dedicated to what they do in their home country."

Jeff Hancks, executive director of Western's School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach, traveled to Myanmar in February to enhance the partnership the country has with WIU.

"The benefits this program offers are tremendous," said Hancks. "Our faculty get to work with teachers from around the world and are hearing their unique perspectives. This exchange also helps diversify our campus."

Hancks added that during the cohort's time in Macomb, they engaged with the community, giving public presentations and celebrating the Myanmar New Year. The teachers and administrators stayed in WIU's Olson Hall and ate in the campus dining halls.

A goal of the program, Hancks said, is to build on the collaboration in the coming years so WIU faculty could travel to Myanmar.

"There is also the possibility that some of these teachers could pursue their master's degrees online from WIU," he said.

Hancks praised the work of Sally Adams, a program assistant in his office who developed activities for the guests to engage in during their time at Western.

"It was a lot of work, but it was well worth it," said Adams. "They love everything about being in Macomb and on campus, so it makes the work worth it."

The ILBC was established in 1995, with a small language class of 20 students. Since then, it has become the leading institution among the private education sector in Myanmar. Today, the company has established 24 schools in seven major cities of the country, providing education and language training to approximately 8,000 students, from pre-kindergarten through high school.

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations