When I heard Michael had written this book I was very wary about
reading it since I know Michael from our shared experiences in
Myanmar. Writing about Myanmar for anyone who’s lived and worked there
is a bit of a double-edged sword. The reason is that the people who
live in Myanmar are subjected to scrutiny so using real names and
events can, at times, be risky for the Myanmar people. While "It all
started in Mandalay” may not be an amazing adventure story, it is
amazingly authentic. Michael found a solid balance in ways to relate
his experiences in Mandalay by not using real names of the characters
in the stories. However, I was able to recognize some of the
characters just the same.
His descriptions of events, the things that educators experience
working with people who depend upon them for so much more than a
common working relationship is the reward within the pages of this
title. The read true stories from a school Principal who genuinely
cares about the human condition, the lives and well being of the
teachers, students and parents of those students, while explaining the
idiosyncrasies involved related to local cultures and customs is
delightful and heart warming.
For any person who’s worked at international schools in the ASEAN
region horror stories of egomaniacal school owners and their western
Principals are very common. Many young and older teachers have such
stories to relate. But, anyone who’s worked under Michael’s academic
professionalism knows they had a leader who not only cared about them
and their well being but knew how to manage a school and make teaching
and learning fun for all on board.
I mentioned to Michael that he could have written five hundred pages!
But at 154 pages it’s a very enlightening read. Anyone with a sense of
adventure and curiosity about what working at an international school
in the rugged place called Mandalay, Burma was like before the current
reforms and changes will find “It all started in Mandalay” a
pleasurable insight into the life and times of a real professional