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Thursday, June 20, 2024
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WALKING FOR A DREAM — School of International Service senior Kirk Acevedo prepares for his 450-mile trek across Myanmar to raise money for a Myanmar woman to attend college.

Acevedo to raise money for Myanmar student with 450-mile walk

Corrections Appended

Last week Kirk Acevedo woke up at 7:30 a.m. and walked 20 miles around D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

And that was just a warm up.

The School of International Service senior is preparing for a 30-day, 450-mile trek across Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in October to raise money for a Myanmar woman’s college education.

Acevedo first met “Ying” in Thailand during the winter of 2008 while on an AU alternative break trip. He is not using the woman’s name for fear of retribution from the Myanmar government.

Acevedo said the raw emotion of Ying’s story moved him to tears.

“[Others] didn’t have the same drive to educate themselves that Ying did,” Acevedo said.

Ying is a Shan, one of the many ethnic groups oppressed by the military junta.

She was forced to drop out of school upon her parents’ death in eighth grade. Working odd jobs, Ying worked to support her family and save money for her younger sister’s education. Once her sister received a full scholarship to a university in Thailand, Ying remained determined to finish her own education.

Acevedo decided to sponsor Ying’s education after he was inspired by Patrick Cook-Deegan’s, director of Strategic Partnerships for U.S. Campaign for Burma, 1,000-mile bike trek through Burma in 2006.

At a pace of about 18 miles a day, Acevedo will start in Rangoon and end in Mandalay.

His route lies in a valley between two mountain ranges, a relatively safe urban road protected from the warring ethnic groups. The closest area of conflict to Acevedo’s trek will be 50 miles away.

Acevedo, with the help of five others, wants to raise $26,220 through donations. Ying’s actual tuition is close to $15,000, but the rest of the money will cover books and other supplies, he said.

Acevedo has received positive reactions from the family and friends he asked for donations.

“We’re changing a woman’s life, and people have been excited about this idea,” he said.

With five months left to prepare for the trek, Acevedo enlisted the help of his friend Sean McCarty, a member of the AU wrestling team.

“I basically begged him to get me into shape,” Acevedo said.

Acevedo hopes to do a 400-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail or in the Rocky Mountains sometime in late August.

Acevedo said he’s trying to fight Myanmar’s poverty and military junta’s oppression of ethnic groups.

“Everyone has their own response,” Acevedo said. “Mine: I want to send you [Ying] to college.”

Corrections: Acevedo first met "Ying" in Thailand, not Myanmar, as originally stated. Acevedo hopes to to do a 400-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail or in the Rocky Mountains sometime in late August, not Acevedo and McCarty together. Acevedo wants to raise $26,220, not $26,200.

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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