The Richardson Center provided scholarships for six NLD members to study intensive English in the United States for four months per the request of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Four scholars are members of Parliament, another scholar is the personal assistant to Aung San Suu Kyi and another scholar is a volunteer attorney for the NLD.
The scholars are attending the Wisconsin English as a Second Language Institute in Madison, Wisconsin, which provides 20 hours of course instruction per week. While their main goal is to become more proficient in English, they will also have access to resources at the state capitol and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The goal of the immersion English training is to allow the scholars to be able to communicate their issues to international media and fully participate in international trainings that are offered to them. Their lack of advanced English has been a hindrance to their understanding of international issues and the ability to express their desires to international audiences.
Madison, Wisconsin is an ideal place for the Richardson Scholars to study because it offers the NLD members opportunities for observation and training in government and it has a major university which can serve as a cultural and educational outlet for the MPs.
All scholars are staying with homestay families in the Madison area which will aid in their understanding of the culture as well as further the learning of English.
Madison is home to a very respected ESL school, called the Wisconsin English as a Second Language Institute. The Institute has been around for 30 years and collaborates with Madison’s three higher level learning institutions. WESLI has about 350 students each session, coming from over 40 countries. The courses will be intensive, meaning over four hours per day, five days a week. Also, the MPs can have the option of auditing political science courses or attending international lectures on the UW campus. UW has a Southeast Asian Studies program which has expressed interest in having NLD members speak to their students and discuss the changes in Myanmar. UW also has a well-known Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute that offers Burmese language studies, which will do a language share starting in June.