Meet Lin Theik
Lin is a 29 year old tour guide, educator, and entrepreneur from Myanmar. The ninth of ten children, Lin has a contagious enthusiasm for travel, learning from differing perspectives, and environmental entrepreneurism. Linn is a hero on many fronts – from exposing local youth to a variety of cultures within the borders of his own country to finding creative solutions for reusing plastic.
Lin had been working as a guide with a tour company leading young American students throughout Myanmar when he asked himself, “Why not do this with local students?” This question inspired him to found an organization, called Promised Land, that brings local youth on trips within Myanmar that exposes them to differing cultures and perspectives found within their own country.
Lin teaches Myanmarese youth how to travel, guiding his students to reflect upon their own experiences and helping them to build a cohesive group dynamic. Students learn leadership skills, oversee the group budget, engage in trekking, and have discussions with local community members. Lin tries to give them, “what they cannot get from the city.” He says, “I’m trying to let them see what you really need to see, trying to get them to think outside the box.” Through these immersive and hands-on travel experiences, Lin aspires to cultivate a combination of confidence and respect within his students.
Lin shares that one of the biggest obstacles in working with the youth of Myanmar is in fact their parents! Culturally, parents aren’t accustomed to being apart from their children and have high expectations for consistent communication and a low tolerance for separation. Lin surmounts these obstacles by posting daily messages on social media for the parents as well as keeping the trip length to a maximum of four days!
Over the years, two prominent figures have influenced Lin’s approach to life. The first was his late father, whose wisdom shaped Lin’s heart-centered manner in which he approaches people. His father taught him,
‘People will forget what you say and what you give, but they will never forget how you treat them.’ The second was a former boss, who taught Lin, ‘When you talk to the people, you talk with your heart, not with your brain.’
Those words of wisdom have a visible effect on the way in which Lin interacts with others; he exudes a zest for life and heart-centeredness that permeates all of his encounters.
Lin states, “Traveling is important … to see the world in a different perspective.” He surmises that traveling is akin to standing in front of a mirror; it provides the opportunity to reflect upon one’s life and also to see from another person’s perspective. He shares, “The youth can change the world, if they try to know each other. If you want to know each other, you have to go to the place you’ve never been, talk to the people you’ve never talked to, and eat the food that you’ve never eaten.”
Forever the entrepreneurial spirit, when Lin isn’t busy guiding, he is developing a project to collect plastic and recycle it into bricks to be used for construction.
The idea came to him after watching local pagodas integrate straw to fortify the clay in the creation of bricks. He thought why not use plastic for the same purpose. He is in the process of creating this project and aspires to collect plastic gathered by people in his community by trading a prescribed amount for a t-shirt.
We’ll end with Lin’s words of wisdom: “Walk the way you’ve never walked. Don’t judge people, go the road the people go so you will see it. Go travel and learn. You can have fun and see what is there.” Lin believes that meeting new people and seeing the world through different points of view is the key to understanding and true happiness.
Lin’s Film Recommendation: The Lady
Lin’s Book Recommendation: Twilight over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess
Lin’s Favorite Myanmarese Food: Mohinga: rice noodle soup served with beans, egg, and banana stem. An essential part of Burmese cuisine that is eaten in the morning and evening.
To learn more about this inspiring human and his organization, please visit Lin’s website: Promised Land Myanmar.