President Barack Obama recently became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, also known as Burma. Myanmar was under strict military rule and closed off from the rest of the world for roughly fifty years, but has made great strides towards democracy over the last two years.
Myanmar residents expressed hope that Mr. Obama's appearance would help spur the country on its path away from authoritarian control.
"I really hope that Obama will help build the transition to democracy. We have many ethnic groups in Myanmar. And they are also hoping that Obama will help them progress," said one man on the streets of Myanmar's capital city. He was one of tens of thousands of local residents who packed the streets of Myanmar's capital city to greet the president.
Mr. Obama met with Myanmar's president, former General Thein Sein, and complimented him on his pro-democracy reforms.
He also met with Aung San Suu Kyi, a longtime opposition leader who spend most of the last 20 years under house arrest, and now serves as an elected member of Myanmar's house of representatives.
The president used his six-hour visit to address an audience at the University of Yangon, and recognize the country's long struggle for freedom.
"Above all, I came here because of America's belief in human dignity. Over the last several decades, our two countries became strangers. But today I can tell you that we always remained hopeful about the people of this country, about you. You gave us hope and we bore witness to your courage," he said.
"Within these borders, we have seen some of the world's longest-running insurgencies, which have cost countless lives and torn families and communities apart and stood in the way of development. No process of reform will succeed without national reconciliation," - President Barack Obama.
1. Where is Myanmar?
2. Why is it important for world leaders to visit other countries?
3. What does it mean for a country to be under a military dictatorship?
1. What role should the U.S. have in promoting democracy around the world in countries living under oppressive leadership?
2. Why do you think President Obama’s visit was so important to Myanmar?
3. Do you think the president’s visit will help promote democracy in Myanmar? Why or why not?
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