We have two core geographic areas in which our programs are focused: Cambodia & Vietnam and Bangladesh & Myanmar. We choose to focus on these areas because they are sites of sensitive and complex conflicts that received limited attention and constructive engagement. Sarus approaches these conflicts in a non-political and non-ideological manner, focusing instead on creating supportive and intentional spaces in which key individuals from conflicting demographics can collaborate for positive social change, while developing meaningful and sustainable friendships and building community across traditional boundaries, in the process.
The Bangladesh-Myanmar internship exchange program targets outstanding female university students from these two neighboring countries. The program is designed to provide a space for young women leaders to explore issues pertaining to cultural identity, gender equality, and social justice with their peers during collaborative summer internships in each country. Participants become equipped with skills to create positive social change in their communities upon returning home.
Orientation & planning
The orientation and training for this program occurs between May and June, during which time students participate in workshops in their home country centered around the core Sarus learning themes of emotional intelligence, critical thinking, non-violent communication, design thinking, and adaptive leadership. During this time, participants are assigned internship host organizations in both countries and begin working closely with the host organization in their home country. Participants also begin work on on a collaborative action research project with their partners in the other country.
The 6-week exchange occurs each year in July and August. The first three weeks are spent in Yangon, Myanmar and the final three weeks in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Participants pair with a partner from the other country in order to complete intensive internships together at dynamic organizations in Yangon and Dhaka. The final output, an action research project which explores key program themes as they pertain to each country, is a valuable tool for the interns’ host organizations. Interns live with each other throughout the exchange, participating in nightly reflection and team-building activities. Excursions and homestays allow participants to dive deeper into cultural and historical issues of interest and share their traditions and values with each other.
Upon conclusion of the program in August and September, participants finish their action research projects and share their results with both their host organizations and their communities. They also are given the opportunity to apply for small grants to fund projects that further advance mutual understanding and collaboration between the people of Bangladesh and Myanmar.