At our Club lunch meeting on July 18, Wendy Howard introduced Ashley Pritchard, a former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, who shared her fascinating work in Myanmar.
While working at United Nations headquarters in New York, she first learned about the Ambassadorial Scholarship program, funded by The Rotary Foundation. Over 40,000 scholars from 100 nations received Ambassadorial Scholarships between 1948 and 2012. She received her Master of Arts in International Development from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. As a result, she was sent to Myanmar where she worked on the historic 2015 election to allow the country to transition from a dictatorship to a democracy.
She described Myanmar: it has the 25th largest population in the world;90% of the people are Buddist; there are over 135 recognized ethnic groups; and it is a very poor agrarian society. The Internet does not exist, and communication is very difficult.
The election was expected to bring out 40% of the voters, but 70% turned out instead. Following the election, she influenced, drafted or revised more than 15 national policies. The laws had not been changed since British colonial rule ended some 50 years earlier. She worked with a company to draft a new human rights policy, providing labor rights to workers. Now, more than 175 companies have joined the first company in instituting human rights policies.
She helped manage a refugee camp for several hundred thousand persecuted ethnic Rohingya people after Myanmar rejected their citizenship. They were forced to flee primarily to Bangladesh.
She thanked Rotary for its many projects underway globally.
Upon her conclusion, the audience gave her a well-deserved standing ovation. After the meeting, some members said that it was the best presentation they’ve ever seen at a Rotary meeting! For those who couldn’t make the meeting, you may view her presentation at