UNIC Yangon intern on finding the link between music and the SDGs

Hannah Chua, an intern with the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Yangon, Myanmar, shares her story about finding connections

“Find a connection between the Myanmar Music Festival and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” I was told. I felt as though I had been given an impossible task. With three days before the concert, I wasn’t convinced that I’d be able to find a link in time.

I hopped on Google to get more information about the SDGs. After staring at the screen, I felt hopeless. Whenever I tried to connect the music festival to a goal, everything would feel so forced and awkward. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed as though music just didn’t have a place in the SDGs.

On the music festival’s website they stated that “music creates possibilities and opportunities”. While that statement might be an obvious give away to one of the goals, I just couldn’t find any link.

As the dreaded night rolled around, I was still stumped. There had been 15 minutes of speeches and the audience was growing restless.  Then, the head of UNESCO Myanmar, Min Jeong Kim, spoke.

“Music in particular, can help to foster social cohesion …. and offer a space where people can interact and inspire,” she said.  

All of a sudden everything made sense. This festival was a blend of traditional Myanmar music and classical Western music. It was a metaphor for cooperation and peace between peoples which related to SDG 16: Peace.

The festival brought music to remote areas of Myanmar and held master classes which connected with SDG 4: Education.

When the final song was performed, the host invited the audience to sing along. Many in the audience, including myself, were moved to tears. An immense sense of pride and unity could be felt when the audience began to quietly hum along.

The audience’s enthusiasm showed that this festival was an important way of promoting peace and inspiring the younger generation.

Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t see the links between music and the SDGs. I was missing the obvious. But sometimes, all it takes is one person to show you the path to get the adventure started. 

Written by
Hannah Chua
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UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Information Centre