From DC to Naypitaw – Capitals Compared

A week ago, my taxicab was approaching the U.S. Capitol. Two congested lanes of traffic and a great deal of police. Routine security inspection from a couple of scowling Capitol Hill police. No one looked suspicious that day.

Seven days later, our delegation’s bus approached the parliament in Naypitaw, the capital of Myanmar, on a 20-lane highway. There was no traffic and a few police that told us to turn back, since we did not have an appointment. Fair enough; our meeting was at the Ministry of Education.

Take a tour of the capital of Myanmar via Google Earth. You will note there really is a 20-lane highway and a city in the middle of a jungle in the middle of a very remote place that has the scale and dispersion of a modern-day Angkor Wat.

Myanmar will be the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year and host the region’s Olympics. The new capital, whose airport is the size of Washington Dulles, certainly has the space. So far there are three flights a day. But this will change.

Every good Burmese King was known for the capital they built and for what they did for the people. There are memorable things happening in Myanmar today and U.S. higher education institutions are most assuredly invited to help. In fact, what we build together could become the memory palaces of this country’s future.

IIE’s President and CEO Dr. Allan Goodman is currently in Myanmar leading a partnership focused delegation through IAPP. While in Myanmar, the IIE-led delegation will hold public workshops at a number of universities in Yangon and Mandalay open to anyone interested in learning from the U.S. representatives as they lecture on topics such as accreditation, quality assurance, faculty development, student learning, partnerships and other critical subjects.