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Two Canada-ASEAN SEED Awardees from Myanmar exchange to Carleton University

30 Oct 2020
Pakkamol Dherapongsthada

Khin Yadana Kyaw from Myanmar – Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development Awardee (2019-2020)

I would like to thank the Government of Canada for its generosity in awarding me a Canada-ASEAN Scholarship and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED) scholarship. I am deeply appreciative for being selected to the program for a short-term international exchange opportunity at Carleton University in Canada.

I am currently majoring in Mechatronics for a Master’s degree at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Thailand. My research title is “Development of Master-Slave Exoskeleton Arm with Haptics Control.” The SEED scholarship enabled me to complete a six-month visiting research position at Carleton University.

It can be very difficult for students with Asian citizenship to study in a country like Canada, so this was a life experience to pursue research for my thesis that I could not have asked for on my own. Every faculty member was quick to lend me a hand. Their friendliness and kindness reduced my anxieties and made me feel comfortable about staying in a country so far away overseas. My professor at Carleton was a great help in enhancing my thesis work as well as my broader education. I am certain that the SEED scholarship has augmented my overall academic life and that my career will benefit as a result of this international experience.

My story began September of 2019, when I traveled to Carleton, which is located in Ottawa, Canada. The most satisfying thing that I found there was that every faculty member was open-minded and always ready to help and solve any problem I may have had. All of the students in the MSc laboratory that I was assigned to were very friendly and they took great care of the foreign students.

Another unforgettable memory, which is the best memory in my life — was playing in the snow of over 40 centimeters deep. I am from a tropical climate and I had never experienced snow before. My life was pleasurable in the snow but the Canadian winter and the temperatures that could dip to minus 20 -30 degrees Celsius made me insane. In Ottawa, the temperature averaged 3-7 degrees but in my native country Myanmar, the normal temperature is 28 to 33 degrees. On the first day that I landed in Ottawa, the temperature was amazingly chilly, and I am sure that I will always remember this feeling.

Going to Carleton University by train from living off campus was one of my pleasures I experienced in Canada. The view of Rideau River near the campus and playing with squirrels in the snow always fascinated me. I also had a chance to try Canadian food and experience their culture. When I was in Canada, I loved to drink French Vanilla lattes from the popular coffee chain Tim Hortons all the time.

I was there in fall and winter seasons so I had wonderful experiences on the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest skating rink. So I would like to give thanks again for the generosity of the SEED scholarship, which has inspired me to help others and to give back to my community.

Kaung Soe Thar from Myanmar – Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development Awardee (2019-2020)

It’s hard to find the words to express how wonderful it was to become one of the SEED scholarship recipients. I am so thankful to the Canada-ASEAN Scholarship and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED) scholarship because it provided me with an invaluable opportunity for students from developing countries, and I am pleased to share the knowledge that I gained from this overseas exchange opportunity.

I was a research exchange student from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand to Carleton University, which is located in the capital of Canada, Ottawa. My nationality is Myanmar, and I really felt like I was representing both countries, and my home institution AIT.

At Carleton, I conducted my research in the Systems and Computer Engineering department. The faculty members there were very helpful and very skillful in their respective areas, apart from being very kind and friendly. As I was coming from two tropical countries (both Myanmar and Thailand), I initially faced plenty of difficulties to withstand the cold weather of the Canadian winter and finding a place to stay and call home for 6 months. But my Carleton supervisor, Dr. Paulo Garcia, understood me and let me settle down first, and after that we started our project. Without the support of Dr. Garcia, I would have never been able to arrive at such an amazing place so give my respect and special thanks to him.

Another key fact about my host university that made me proud was U Thant, the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, who is a highly respected person in Myanmar’s history, received an Honorary Doctoral degree from Carleton University. It made me feel so good to study at the same place that he had been to before, and I felt very special to have Carleton University in common with him.

Living in Ottawa was amazing and cool. At first, I thought I would have to encounter culture shock because of the difference in living styles between Eastern and Western cultures. But I did not feel this way because the Canadian people are very welcoming, very helpful and very hospitable. They smiled and greeted me every time I would meet someone, and it was very lovely to live there.

As I visited during the winter, I was very happy to experience snow for the first time. Since I was in the country’s capital, I was able to visit a number of national museums in Ottawa and learn about Canada’s history and culture. I also visited famous places in Canada like Niagara Falls, which is located along the border of Canada and the United States.

I also visited Canada’s biggest city Toronto and attended a New Year’s event at Nathan Phillips Square at City Hall. Thousands of people gathered outdoors to ring in 2020 and this event really amazed me since I had never experienced such a huge crowd like that before. I also thought to try to visit Vancouver, which is another of the big cities of Canada, but since it is so far from Ottawa on the other side of this giant country, I changed my plan to visit.

A unique feature about Ottawa in the winter is the public ice-skating on the Rideau Canal, which is one of the country’s National Historic sites. When the water in the canal freezes every year during the winter it becomes also the world’s longest outdoor ice-skating facility. This was a completely different experience for me, and it was enormously fun! I am sure that I will remember these lasting moments from Canada for my entire life.