Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi visited Roosevelt High School on September 15th. She spoke with 22 Roosevelt students about topics such as education, oppression and the importance of voting.
According to an Associated Press story on the visit:
Aung San Suu Kyi told students at Roosevelt High School on Thursday that she had never visited a public school in the U.S. While the students had prepared questions about her life and career and her opinions on American politics, she appeared more interested in using them as a focus group, quizzing them about their favorite teachers and subjects and asking how schools can improve the performance of boys in particular.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled for decades by a military junta, and Suu Kyi, 71, was a longtime opposition leader who spent 15 years under house arrest. The Nobel peace prize laureate was elected last year — in what she called her first-ever opportunity to vote in a free election — and she holds the titles of state counsellor and foreign minister. The constitution still bars the pro-democracy leader from the presidency.
As Suu Kyi pointed out during her school visit, Myanmar's development has lagged behind the rest of southeast Asia, and she described the public school system as a shambles. Classrooms are overcrowded, schools can't afford to provide books and many students drop out, Suu Kyi said.
By contrast, she marveled at the facilities of Roosevelt, which reopened this year after a $136 million modernization. She was surprised to hear that about half the teachers are men — more than 90 percent of teachers in Myanmar are women, she said.
She also listened intently as boys described how the school supports their interests in music or sports.
"You have no idea how privileged you are," Suu Kyi said.
Asked for thoughts on the U.S. election, she urged everyone to vote and said it was important for voters to explain the reasons behind their support for a candidate.
"I worry that each and every one of you who is in a position to vote will not exercise his or her right," Suu Kyi said.