The following is an interview with Maung Nay Oo Kyaw, studying in the University of Computer Studies, Mandalay (UCSM), who won the first prize in the World Skills Korea competition held in the Republic of Korea from August 16 to September 14.
By Nandar Win and Win Win Maw
Q. Tell us about World Skills Korea and how you came about competing in it.
A. World Skills Korea is a programme that is held in Korea. The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) provides support to apply for the competition. A competition for students from UCSM, UCSY (University of Computer Studies, Yangon) and YCC (Yadanabon Cyber City) was held, and I was selected to represent Myanmar in Korea. I studied and competed in computer science programmes held in Suwon, Seoul and Jeju cities, Korea.
Korea did not participate in this competition. Myanmar, Nepal, Viet Nam, Laos, Mongolia, East Timor, and some Latin American countries participated in it. Some countries competed in groups of two and three. My teacher and I were from Myanmar. We were asked to compete as guests. This is the first time Myanmar was invited.
Q. What prize did Myanmar win and how was it won?
A. I won a gold medal in the competition. East Timor came in second, and Guatemala stood third. I had to try very hard to win the prize. It was not easy. Before competing in Korea, they gave me training. I studied hard at that time and kept my focus. I studied thoroughly before I left for Korea. I studied the surveys and thesis papers. I also reviewed the subject that I was competing in, as I had to do it there.
Q. What did you learn from the competition? What sort of difficulties did you face?
A. I gained a lot of experience. I competed for the first time in an international competition. I was very excited during the competition and when I got the prize. I did not even know what to say when I won the prize.
It was not a simple matter for me. It had many meanings. I was able to make a name for Myanmar and for my school, as well. When I won the prize, everyone was interested in my school. I gave the name of my school with a big smile on my face. I am happy that I was able to do something for my school. I was also able to make my parents proud.
Of course, there were some difficulties. Some things are not as easy as I thought. The first competition was for two days. I had absolutely no experience. I only knew about it when I was in Korea. There was not much time, and I had to study very quickly in the time I had. When I was competing, I was not quite confident of my abilities. However, I was able to compete well. I was not able to sleep much during the competition days. I slept only for three to four hours a day.
Those were the main difficulties I had. English was being spoken there, but it is a bit difficult to talk with the Koreans. They prefer to speak Korean.
In this sort of international competition and programmes, language is important, especially English. I could not speak Korean, but there is a need to speak English fluently. Only then is it possible to communicate.
Q. What sort of benefits did you gain from this competition?
A. I was able to do much during this competition. I am glad that I represented Myanmar, which competed for the first time, and was able to prove its abilities.
The runner-up, Guatemala, had experience in other countries, too. I had no experience participating in international competitions, but I competed for the first time and won. I am glad that I was able to make Myanmar proud. I was also awarded additional prizes by the country.
Q. What do you want to say to the youngsters who will compete next year?
A. Earlier, Myanmar was not invited. Now they will start thinking about us. Youngsters who want to compete can contact KOICA and their own schools. As it is an international competition, there is much to study.
Firstly, you have to be well versed and learned in the subject that you chose. My preparation for the competition began a long time before. I combined the experiences in the past four to five months to study. The subject I competed in was my area of interest. I want to tell youngsters to concentrate on what they do. Be persistent. American President Abraham Lincoln said, “You can be slow. It is not your fault. But you must not stop.” So always study, and do your best. A person who tries hard never loses. If there are competitions, do not hesitate. Progress is faster if there is competition.
If someone else represents Myanmar instead of me, I think he or she will be able to perform well Myanmar has the ability.
They can do what others can do. If they cannot do something better than others, at least they can do it equally well. Try hard. Opportunities are within your grasp for those who always try.