Whittier College recently hosted the "Citizen of Burma Award." The event honored five finalists who presently help the poor and disenfranchised.
The winner was U Kyaw Thu, who along with several other initiatives, organized a society that provides free funeral services to the poor.
"The Citizen of Burma Award is by far the most historically important event that I have participated in as a person who teaches and writes about cultural events around the world," said religious studies professor Jake Carbine, who helped organize the event.
The Award ceremony opened with a dance by the well known Burmese performers Daw Lay Naing Ei, and closed with a comic performance by a Burmese youth organization from Oregon.
Votes for the award, collected and monitored by a third party via an internet polling system, numbered over 280,000 and came in from 54 countries around the world. The event was broadcast live into Burma, which has been ruled by a military regime since the early 1960s, via Radio Free Asia.