MA THIDA (fiction writer, physician, activist; b. 1966, Burma) was in medical school when Burma’s military junta shut down the universities. She then served as a health care provider as well as an editor for the non-violent National League for Democracy. Her many short stories containing disguised criticism of the Burmese government led to six years in solitary confinement, without access to reading or writing materials. In 1999 she was pardoned and released on humanitarian grounds. She is now the editor of a youth magazine as well as a surgeon at the Muslim Free Hospital, which treats poor patients at no cost.
Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State, writes about cultural diplomacy and the International Writing Program for the Harvard International Review.