International Trade Centre, Myanmar

From February to September of 2021, I was engaged as a communications assistant in developing support materials for an ITC program in Dawei, Myanmar. I detail the organization and my involvement below.

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Established in 1964 as a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, the ITC focuses on enabling Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in emerging and transitioning economies to become more competitive. This includes connecting them to international markets for trade and investment, building capacities among stakeholders, and working to fulfill ITC’s mission of creating “trade impact for good.”In this particular project, the ITC had partnered with the Netherlands Trust Fund to promote Inclusive Tourism in the Kayah State and Tanintharyi Region of Myanmar. The project ran from December 2017 to June 2021, and included support in the following areas:

  • Marketing and branding
  • Tourism statistics
  • Development of Codes of Conduct for tourists, tour operators, and communities

Following the success of the first iteration in Kayah State, a survey conducted by ITC suggested two villages in the Dawei area had the highest potential for additional inclusive tourism development, along with the Dawei city center. Because of this potential, the region was chosen for the continued development of its tourism products and services, as well as training their tourism service providers.

As another note on the context and our ability to work with stakeholders (already diminished because of COVID-19’s impact on travel), the start date of my project was February 1st, 2021, which coincided with the same day of the 2021 Myanmar coup d’état.

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Our work with the ITC and Myanmar was, perhaps unsurprisingly, more hands-off. The original task was to develop an Action Plan for Dawei. As it became clear after the coup that stakeholder involvement would be minimal at best, we undertook a process to see which of the operational objectives could be met through the remote development of materials. This iterative process - which started with the action plan, then led to the drafting of fact sheets and documents, before ultimately becoming a proposal - involved a monthly meeting with our contact at the ITC between February and June. 

In between, the ideas for what ultimately became 5 communication materials - 3 animations and 2 presentations - were outlined, developed, and then created. Due to the sensitivity in the Dawei area, we held off from involving or engaging with local stakeholders for the majority of the project. Towards its end, however, we began to work more closely with an ITC representative based in Myanmar to create Myanmar language versions of the animations (both the voice and text).

  • Script - After having the overarching ideas approved for the three videos, I worked to create short, engaging scripts of about 2 minutes in length to capture the themes and to present them with a narrative arc. In a collaborative rewriting process, it was agreed that it was necessary to convey more information, so two videos (Awarding, Codes of Conduct) were expanded to 5 minutes and the third (Sustainability Check-Up) was expanded to 10 minutes.
  • Storyboard - Taking the pacing from the scripts, I created small images for each scene to give a sense of the visual layout and the characters we would be using for each idea. A version of these documents was used to share with our contact at the ITC as well as other parties to confirm that the idea we were developing, along with its visual style, made sense.
  • Rough Cut w/ Images - Following those meetings, I put together a first video version of each piece with characters and a voice-over. This was perhaps the most difficult part of the process in terms of communications. Given the time needed to fully draw and animate, I erred on the side of presenting a rougher version to see if the idea was working. This was often received as if I were presenting something fully done, and ultimately required us to change the visual style to a far simpler one to be able to move forward more productively.
  • Edited Version w/ Animation and Voice Over - With an initial deadline at the end of May, final versions were presented to the ITC.
  • Myanmar Language Version - With flexibility on the project’s end, we decided there was a bigger chance for impact if the animations were also created in the Myanmar language. Given the style - audio voice-over and on-screen text - this required working with an ITC contact in Myanmar to re-create each of the three animations. 
  1. Powerpoint - Leveraging Digital Promotion Opportunity
  2. Powerpoint - Guidelines for Tourism Awareness
  3. Animated Video - Introduction to the Tourism Awarding Process
  4. Animated Video - Tourism Sustainability Check-Up
  5. Animated Video - Codes of Conduct & Sustainability Certifications

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All presentations and videos are available for review upon request.

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