Nang Rives spoke about how she lived much of her early life under an authoritarian socialist dictatorship in Burma, where her “heart still belongs,” before traveling to live in the United States where she eventually obtained eight degrees, including two PhD’s. She returned to Emporia State, where she received a masters in library science, to speak about her life last Thursday in the Sauder Alumni Center.
“In my days (as a teacher at Hopong High School), there were insurgents, even in the daytime,” Rives said. “They often came to raid the town. You could see them on their horses galloping to come kidnap the town’s socialist party leader...The kids were coming back to school from their lunch break and they were scattering everywhere. They were in a field running around.”
Rives had to think quickly to save the kids under her protection.
“I was able to get them to come back and lie down on ground,” Rives said. “Just imagine, I was in my early 20s, so I had kind of fierceness in me still. I was able to keep the kids from getting hit by bullets.”
Rives spoke about how she was a teacher in Burma and hoped that people would gain an appreciation for the culture and scenery of Burma.
“Women are very powerful in Burma,” Rives said. “They are well-respected.”
Rives spoke about the specific challenges she faced as a woman, especially with dealing with sexual harassment.
“In honor of Women’s History Month throughout March, Emporia State University is celebrating the accomplishments of women, including Dr. Nung Rives,” said Mirah Dow, professor of the school of library and information management and former professor of Rives.
Rives currently lives in Lawrence, KS.
“This is a great collaboration between the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and very own SLIM program here at Emporia State,” said Jason Brooks, assistant dean of students for diversity, equity and inclusion.