Promoting Cultural Awareness of University Students in Myanmar


  • Aung Thet Soe


Universities are diverse spaces. Their students are of different races and religions,
belong to different socioeconomic groups and are even geographically different: some come
from cities, others from rural areas and still more from completely different countries. With
such exposure to difference, students have the unique opportunity to learn from others.
Myanmar universities, however, are struggling when it comes to this sort of learning. Most
like their peers on the continent and globally, commit themselves publicly to core values
such as diversity and global citizenship. Yet they are missing out on developing students’
intercultural competence, which is key to bringing those core values to life. Someone’s
cultural awareness is their understanding of the differences between themselves and people
from other countries or other backgrounds, especially differences in attitudes and values
(Gay. 2000). Intercultural competence is a combination of skills, knowledge and attitudes
needed to engage successfully across differences. It’s what is required to get along at an
interpersonal level with those who may not seem like us. Universities have an important
role to play in developing this competence. Doing so can help equip graduates for living
and working in the 21st century. Young people should have the opportunity to develop
a full understanding of and respect for how ideas and meaning are communicated and
creatively expressed in different cultures and through different media forms. These could
include printed texts (books, magazines), websites, theatre, film, dance, games, art and
design, and music. Time spent at university is another opportunity for young people to

develop their sense of cultural identity. They
need the skills to creatively express and
interpret ideas, experiences and emotions
with empathy. Universities may consider
working in partnership with external organi
sations in order to create a variety of learning
experiences. This is particularly important
in today’s multicultural environment. The
purpose of this research is to study cultural
awareness of university students in Myan
mar. If we and our students have the training,
skills, and knowledge to work effectively
with a diverse group of people, we will also
be able to open more doors for our business.