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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ICU (Japan) chapter.
Study Session About Kachin in Myanmar

I am a member of the Southeast Asia Culture Club. At the end of March, we had a study session inviting Burmese exchange students. I want to talk about what I learned from the study session.

My Backgrounds

Before I talk about that session, I would like to introduce my background. I am Japanese and was born in Tokyo, but I have lived in Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Japan. All the countries I lived in, except Japan, are in Southeast Asia, so I joined that Southeast Asia Culture Club. I started to live in Myanmar for two years when I was thirteen years old. I was living in Yangon, the most prosperous city in Myanmar. I loved its people, its traditional culture (many still wear traditional clothes, and Tanaka, a skincare product popular in Myanmar), its unique atmosphere, and everything.

Study Session

The session was held to get to know Kachin states. The students who talked in the study session were Burmese exchange students from ICU 27 September, from Kachin State in Myanmar. Kachin State is located in northern Myanmar. He told us about Kachin’s unique culture, life experiences, and future prospects.

Surprising fact in Kachin


I was surprised that the language is totally different in Yangon and Kachin. Surprisingly, the Kachin language uses the alphabet, while Burmese uses its original characters. At the beginning of him telling us about the Kachin language, I thought he was using the alphabet because we cannot read Burmese characters, but it was not. He said some people in Kachin cannot read or write the Burmese language since they are completely different, which shocked me. 


The naming system in Kachin is so complicated. They have many rules and must inherit the names, which is interesting but confusing. Also, the clothes and the traditional dances are unique. Kachin is divided into several groups, and the clothes are different for each group so that they can figure out the group by their clothes.  For the dance, women line up into one line and move like snakes. It is complicated but fantastic, and the music is so traditional. If you are curious about that dance, go search on YouTube!

His life experiences

There have been many conflicts between the army and insurgents in Kachin State. Around 2010, he suddenly needed to leave his house and Kachin state because of the conflict and moved to a shelter in Myanmar. Then, last year, he got a scholarship for the ICU and came to Japan for the first time. I was surprised to hear about his situation and the reality that conflicts are happening many times in numerous places in Myanmar because I only knew about the military coup that occurred in 2021. He said he has yet to meet his family since coming to Japan. He used to call them regularly, but since Kachin’s internet has been cut off, he has no method to talk with his family. 

His future prospects

At the end of the session, he said that he wants people to come to his beautiful home country, Myanmar when the situation gets better. I agree with him that people should go and feel the beauty, kindness of people and the many unique attractions in Myanmar.

Conclusion- by joining the study session

I joined this study session since this is my first chance to learn about the Kachin states. I love learning about a new culture because it is full of surprises and interests and I feel like it expands my world view. 

It was a precious time to hear about the actual experiences and cultures in Kachin, and it made me think I want to visit Kachin State one day in the future!

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Saya Ishida

ICU (Japan) '28

I have lived in four countries, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Japan, so I’m interested in South East Asia! I love to eat, sleep, learn new culture. I also love nature, especially to see flowers, sunsets and oceans. It’s the best way to relax. I have been doing Japanese calligraphy for 10 years. I used to be in table tennis and soccer club, and I’m in lacrosse club right now!<3 I’m looking forward to develop my writing skills in her campus!!:))