SAN FRANCISCO—Nobel laureate and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi came to San Francisco last weekend to reunite with the local Burmese community, the largest in the United States.
On Friday, Sept. 29, Suu Kyi attended a town hall-style meeting at the University of San Francisco to share about the democratic progress in her country.
For her peaceful struggle toward democracy under a military dictatorship, she has become a symbol of hope for many. After spending 15 years under house arrest, she was released in November 2010, as Burma, also called Myanmar, has embarked on a course of opening up.
Suu Kyi’s visit to San Francisco was part of a two-week trip to the United States, her first in 20 years, with a full schedule of almost 100 meetings across the nation.
At the university, Suu Kyi was awarded an honorary doctorate, presented by Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
“We are deeply moved … to shine a ray of light on Burma and to have in our presence the woman who personifies the determination of the Burmese people to be free,” Pelosi read from an official citation.
During the meeting, Suu Kyi answered questions from the audience on the challenges and opportunities for the country.
She called the moment of transition for Burma “a delicate and difficult time.”
Suu Kyi encouraged the Burmese present to consider returning to their homeland and putting the expertise and experience they gained here to good use in helping to rebuild the country.
“An important ingredient in the time of transition is humility,” Suu Kyi said. “We have to understand that we need to acquire many more qualities to enable us to build a strong and peaceful society.”
Regarding the ongoing conflicts among the many ethnic groups in Burma, she said communities in Burma should consider what is lacking in themselves, rather than others. “Look to yourself and examine what you have done or not done to promote peace and prosperity in your country.”
She lauded San Francisco as an example to learn from. “This is what I think is most precious about this city, that you are open-hearted and open-minded. We need both.”
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