The Perfect Launch Party In Yangon

If I had to imagine as I was going through the process of writing “Floating” what the perfect launch party would look like, it would have to be a lot like the event that we just had in downtown Yangon at Pansuriya. There were some people who couldn’t make it and where greatly missed but overall, it was a wonderful collection of friends near and far, highlighted by being able to show my daughter Phoebe her grandfather’s Burma. (The book party was less than a ten minute walk from his old office on 35th Street.)

Book Launch - Elmar : Sarah : Phoebe : me : Aung Ngwe
Sarah Lenz and Elmar Vendel from Germany along with Phoebe, myself and Aung Ngwe.

The first element for the perfect party was the collection of people who were there. It was not only that I had friends from Germany, Canada, United States, Kenya/Ireland and more there, it was being able to see them all come together and meet each other – some for the first time – some reconnecting after earlier trips to Burma with me.

Book Launch - Jessica and Mr Kyi
Jessica Phillips chats with the fabulous Mr. Kyi

For those who had a chance to read the book, such as Elmar and Sarah who are working on the German translation and the e-book version of “Floating”, I loved seeing them react with such joy at meeting friends of mine who feature so large in the book like U Soe Win.

Book Launch - U Soe Win signs
U Soe Win signing “Floating.”

Elmer, and others, collected signed copies not just from me – but from everyone in the book who was there.

It was my great honor that not only was U Soe Win at the event but that he agreed to introduce me to the crowd. Of course, just as he did so, the power went out (and it was already 100 degrees outside and seemingly not that much cooler inside) but in true Burmese fashion of adapting and smiling all the way, everyone light up the room with their phones and the party went on. The party, by the way, would have never happened without my trusted friend Charlotte O’Sullivan and the wonderful Tina who not only set up the party, but also created amazing gift bags and brought a large number of the local press to the event.

Also at the event were representatives of the three groups that the limited First Edition is benefitting, Hla Day, Girl Determined and MyMe Mobile education project. It was again, wonderful to have them there with my friends, from overseas and locally.

Hla Day created the beautiful Rakhine fabric wraps that each first edition is being sold in. The first editions are all $75 each with $25 going to one of the three nonprofits above (buyer’s choice.) Over the course of the week, we had the opportunity to visit and chat with each of the groups and my determination to help them all is greater than ever.

The rest of the evening went by in a bit of a blur – the ladies from Classique Inn rightly so had a place of honor at one of the tables. Lian took a break from his amazing work in Chin State to come by – there were new friends made like Catherine Smith and really wonderful moments with characters I had met before such as Errol.

Book Lunch - Hla Day
Hla Day’s display at the event

For the next few months, before US and then international distribution starts, the limited first edition is the only available  of the book. There are only 999 copies and each one is signed and numbered. Each one again will benefit one of the three nonprofits above.

The night ended with everyone headed out into the hot Yangon night and then a wonderful meal at Gekko. It is entirely appropriate and appreciated that the last photo of the evening is Charlotte and I walking down a typical Yangon city street in the night.

Thank you to everyone who came – from near and far – and to everyone who couldn’t make it, Tina, Rica, Leigh, Ted, Ty who was there in spirit.

Book Launch - Gekko With Charlotte.JPG
Charlotte Sullivan and I – chatting so intensely we missed our turn (my fault)

Special thanks to everyone at Pansuriya – the event, food and welcome were all perfect.

And, of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Leigh and Huuug. (Stay tuned, we are planning a group Huuug trip back to Burma in November.)

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