Dear family and friends,

Greetings from the town of Mae Hong Son! Yesterday our group left the city of Chiang Mai, where we had spent our first, foundational module, and took an 8 hour bus ride up to Mae Hong Son. After checking into our guest house, students and instructors participated in a bead ceremony which closed out our first module and opened the second — our trekking module. The bead ceremony gave us the time to reflect on what we did and on what we learned, a list that is surprisingly long for encompassing onlyfive days. A few of them are:

–How to greet people in Thai, based on their social status and age.

–How to find and use local means of public transportation

–The concepts of greng jai (loosely translated, how to be considerate) and naam jai (generosity), as they are applied in Thai society

–Basic Thai phrases, numbers, and food words

–The ways in which groups develop, interact, and change

–The practice of Buddhism in Thai daily life

–How to travel between cities, and the multiple means of transportation available

Now, we take everything that we have learned in our beginning days here and start to apply it on a closer, more local level. In just over an hour, our group heads out on our trek, an exciting 6-day period of hiking, homestays, and community-based and -led tourism. We drive today from Mae Hong Son to a town named Nam Hoo. From Nam Hoo, it is a 4-6 hour hike to the village of Hua Hee. While many of the students are excited to begin the trek, there are also some group members who feel a little nervous. For several of our students, this is the first trek of this nature in which they have participated. Packs are heavy. Homestays are challenging.Heat and mosquitos are ever-present.Despite the above concerns, everyone is ready for the adventure, and is more thanwilling toventure forth to "find ourdragons."

Very important–because we will be trekking in a very remote area for the next6 days, we willNOT have Internet access.On day 3 or 4, we will summit a tallmountain wherewe hope to get cell phone reception. If we do, we will be able tocallJosh Morris, our course director, and he will be able to post an update about our trek. The nexttime that you hear fromthe students and instructors directly will be on July 11th (Thai time!), when we return from our trek and prepare for our trip down to the border town of Mae Sot.Thank you for your patience and understanding while we are out of Internet range. Weare looking forward to our trek and to posting about it afterwards. Until then!