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I was impossibly excited to become more a more able spanish speaker, and apprehensive on the 20 minute walk from armando´s house where the students had just had lunch. I expected to do lots of grammar with a strict teacher and at first that´s how I felt when I sat down with Nely a 29 year old mother who drove in from Xela and was the only teacher not wearing a traditional Huipile. We sat down and she asked me a few questions about my family and I though alright not so bad. Then Nely started requring me to give her lists of every animal, fruit, color, part of the body that I knew-- for a girl under pressure this was a dissaster! It´s funny to think back on those first stressful hours when I told her I wanted to work on my grammar... that very afternoon I had the best conversation in spanish yet with Nely when we walked back to Armando´s, her patience was incredible and there was never a silent moment. Our 3-4 hour spanish lessons were some of my favorite moments in Pachaj and my maestro, Nely my closest connection and the hardest person to leave behind. My favorite moments with Nely were in the pick up on the way to the market as we pointed out animals and objects and worked on my impossible accent.  A day that is still my favorite is the day that we decided to go outside. For over two hours we walked around Pachaj and sat cross legged on the roof talking about everything from Guatemalan folklore and Holidays to the a personal conversation about political views and the corruption of the Guatemalan Government and Police to the problems that the U.S. government faces as well. We talked about the opression of women in Guatemala and on the last day she brought an article for me to read on Women in Guatemalan society. I was touched at her notion to apply my interests to the lesson. She has made an incredible impact on me. I wish I could explain in more detail her impact but I have to go because we are late to dinner and several blocks from the hotel! Adios!

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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Mi Maestra

Malia Demers,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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I was impossibly excited to become more a more able spanish speaker, and apprehensive on the 20 minute walk from armando´s house where the students had just had lunch. I expected to do lots of grammar with a strict teacher and at first that´s how I felt when I sat down with Nely a 29 […]

Posted On

04/18/13

Author

Malia Demers

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I re-entered the homeland and everything was the same but different. After three months of rugged travel along the Mekong River the comforts of my old life seemed unbearably opulent. My bed was too big. My house had too much "stuff" in it. A few days after my arrival, I was startled by a bizarre, futuristic noise that came from underneath my bed. It was my cell phone ringing- my dad calling to remind me of the dentist appointment I had in fifteen minutes. Welcome back to the Western World.It seemed like ages since I had first stepped out of the airport and into the bustling streets of Kunming. Potatoes sizzled on roadside grills. Double-decker busses inched like giant caterpillars through the traffic. The city smelled like rotten eggs and stale cigarettes. Toilet paper was rare and toilet seats were practically nonexistent. All street signs, city maps, information boards, and advertisements were written in Chinese and, every time I wanted to communicate, I would blurt out phrases in Spanish. Welcome to Southeast Asia. I chose to travel because I felt bound by expectation- my own and those of the people around me. I wanted anonymity. I wanted adventure. I wanted an escape from the inexorable forces of growing up. I deferred the fall semester of my freshman year and, through a travel abroad company called Where There Be Dragons, traveled for three months through Southeast Asia. I learned about religion and politics, bombs and bureaucracy, culture and development. I trekked around a holy mountain, slept in ancient caves, harvested rice, river-boated through rapids, learned how to play Kaw-Taw, and taught English at a foreign language school. And when I finally made it home I felt lost, tearful, and exhausted in the same way I had when I began my journey three months earlier in China.The transition between then and now is difficult. We bridge distant worlds when we travel and the challenge we face when we return home is reconciling that dichotomy. We grapple with something a bit deeper than Reverse Culture Shock- an internal shift in our sense of self and a feeling that everything is the same as it was before we left, but now, having returned, it is different. We are the same, but we are different. But I was followed by a feeling of same but different long before I boarded a plane back to America. It surfaced in the silent corners of an abandoned Wat in Luang Prabang and in the noisy check- out line at a mini-market in Siem Reap. I felt it when I first met my homestay family. I felt it when I saw a prayer bell made out of a bomb casing. Same but different is a dizzying sensation- an illusion of foreignness coupled with an instinct of familiarity.Same but different splices what we thought we knew and creates a sort of duality of existence, in which we see ourselves, our lives and our world with new eyes.I was in Koh Preah, Cambodia when I first recognized the duality of the chicken.Koh Preah is a small island in the Mekong River, just south of the border between Cambodia and Laos. We were there with the Cambodian Rural Development team to help build water collection units for the villagers. I was waiting for breakfast one morning when a Khmer woman tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a roaming chicken. Moun” she said, teaching me the Khmi word. “Chicken”- I reciprocated- and she practiced the word a few times, sounding out the syllables like a diligent schoolchild. And then it hit me: Chicken and Moun are not the same. Where I come from, chicken is pink flesh neatly packaged in cellophane. Chicken is four little nuggets in a greasy bag with French fries and ketchup. Chicken occupies minimal space in my pre-packaged, Western World. Moun, on the other hand, is a lifestyle. It is feathers and meat. It is feet and wings and eggs. Moun is a morning chore and a dailynuisance. In the same way cars are a part of my day- to- day life in America, the chicken is a part of hers. Two worlds collided in the same animal. Same but different. A month later I found myself at church on a Sunday morning in Bristol, Rhode Island. The musty smell, the creaking sound of the wooden pews, and the rustle of jackets as the congregation stood up, made me feel, for the first time since I had arrived in the States, at home.But the cherubs painted on the blue ceiling reminded me of dancing Apsaras in the ancient temples of Angkor. The twelve Stations of the Cross, depictions of the Passion of Christ, resembled paintings I had seen of the life of Buddha. The same prayers I had heard my entire life meant something new to me. Southeast Asia, it would seem, had seeped into that warm place that resides in the gut- a place where we feel loved and accepted, understood and appreciated. Though thousands of miles away, I found Southeast Asia in my home. About halfway through the mass, the lector began the Prayers of the Faithful. He prayed for peace among all nations of the world. I thought of the American War in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia thirty years ago. I thought of war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq today. The congregation responded:Lord Hear our Prayer.He prayed that those who suffer might find freedom from their fear. I thought of the essay “Freedom from Fear” by Aung San Suu Kyi. I thought of ethnic minorities like the Hmong, who continue to fight even though the war has been lost, because their lives and their livelihoods depend on it. The congregation responded:Lord Hear our prayer. I realized then that there are millions of realities that float like bubbles in this vast world, everything from a thatched house fastened out of bamb oo rods and banana leaves to a gilded palace enclosed by wrought iron walls. But it is the same stars that guide us through the night. It is the same sun that gives light to the day. We breathe the same air. Same sun, same moon, same river, same chicken.

And perhaps that is why same but different is such a dizzying sensation- for a moment in time we step out of our own realities and enter something much larger than ourselves.

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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Duality of the Chicken/Same but Different- Reflections from a long time ago…

Anna Mack,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

Description

I re-entered the homeland and everything was the same but different. After three months of rugged travel along the Mekong River the comforts of my old life seemed unbearably opulent. My bed was too big. My house had too much "stuff" in it. A few days after my arrival, I was startled by a bizarre, […]

Posted On

01/21/10

Author

Anna Mack

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A Thai police officer checked our bicycles for security purposes.

After he and his buddies took the bikes on some data collecting loops around the train station, we were cleared for entry into Lao.

The train ride from Bangkok to Nong Khai was awesome.

We awoke to the sunrise burning off the night fog, revealing the expansive rice fields of northeastern Thailand.

Rail is a superior way to travel, and so is wheeling.

Once back in Vientiane, I headed to COPE to retrieve my steed. I was reminded of the power of nature and the richness of Lao’s growing season when I found my bicycle choked out by vines. The speed at which vegetation grows in this climate is amazing. After only six weeks, vines had completely devoured my bicycle and it took a couple strong tugs to reclaim Chaodan (my bicycle’s name; Vietnamese for ‘Black Ox’) from the weeds.

I am going to be doing some fund raising for COPE this spring and hopefully into the future. I am attempting to combine my desire to travel via bicycle and fundraising for a cause I feel strongly about. I still need a catch phrase, so please send your ideas. Possibly “Whims for Limbs” “Wheelin for Healin”… I haven’t decided yet but am a sucker for rhymes. If any of you are interested in doing some fundraising at your new universities or in your hometown, let me know. I have some information and a brief slideshow about COPE. Also Chris and Jake, I will be setting up a stand at this year’s Kunming Hat Tournament, so we can do some work over here as well. http://copelaos.org/

Riding in Lao is wonderful. This photo is taken about 10km past the organic farm that we stayed at together. I could not help but laugh to myself as I rode past. The memories of goat milking, cheese, epic brick making, mud fights, and the dip in the Song River, will always be a gem that I can pull out of the dredges of Vang Vien, so thank you.

Students in Kasi, Lao invited us to their school. There is one teacher who has around one hundred students ranging from age 9 to 33. Juliet and I were sat down in either ends of a basement and were interviewed repeatedly for about 2.5 hours. After the study session, I followed common courtesy and invited them to behold the universal power of Frisbee.

Ban Xieng Men

Your families miss you! I cannot stress this enough. They were pulling out pictures, showing me your telephone numbers, and telling me what states you were probably located in. It was like running a gauntlet to get to my home at the end of our stretch of road. A very happy gauntlet, that smiled and laughed in a way that makes you feel too fortunate. The hospitality that I experience in Ban Xieng Men set the life bar for a warm welcome. It truly did feel like going home. My mother changed less than the rest of the Mekong Region, and continued to force feed me and ask me if dishes were ‘sep bo?’ My brother and I swam in the Mekong close to sunset and the most powerful feeling of contentment radiated through my flesh as I bobbed in the Nam Khong’s muddy water.

Oh and Sam Murphy my brother is still playing with his inflatable globe and asked if you were coming.

Evidence of Development

One thing that is striking about this area of the world is the constant rapid change that the region is experiencing. I felt nostalgic from Vientiane, to Ban Xieng Me n, and all the way home to Kunming as I witnessed the speed of development in mere months. The feeling of longing for something that is gone eventually shifts inside of me to sheer wonder at the inevitable dynamics of change. I found myself stopping and staring quite a bit and decided to take a few photos to attempt to illustrate the pace of development in the Mekong Region. Just know, that being the inaugural Mekong Semester is not only unique because we pioneered the course together. We also witnessed and were changed by a sliver in time that we will share forever, and that will never be perceived again.

Vientiane: After the ASEAN Games ended, the Korean funded ‘riverbank protection project’ estimated at around 80 million USD, went into full swing. Some of us had the pleasure of a sunset Frisbee session previously on this sandbar.

Ban Xieng Men: Believe it or not, the front of Nick Taber’s homestay house has been converted into a computer lab with 10 new units, flat screen LCDs, and DSL internet access. This will obviously change the homestay experience for future Dragons courses, and may reduce the necessity to venture to Luang Prabang. In my home, I could see my economic footprint everywhere. My father purchased a large quantity of wood and re-boarded the roof, walls, gate, and hand fashioned 8 wooden chairs that he will likely sell in the future.

Kunming: After a 24 hour bus ride back to Kunming, I expected the biking trip to have come to a close and to enter a somewhat familiar environment. This was a very ignorant assumption, and China never ceases to expand and reinvent my perceptions of what is possible. The bus stopped at a station that I had never been to before. The reason for this is that it did not exist three months ago. Now, it is large enough to handle hundreds of buses and most long distance travel in and out of Kunming. I assembled my bicycle and asked some of the taxi poachers how far it was to the center of the city? “20km” was the reply. I pried for answers from the man, and tried to get my bearings, this is the “new southern station” he stated gruffly.

It seems the wheeling adventure had one last leg, for the first hour of the ride I did not see one landmark, sign, or road that assured me of my current location. I could not believe what was happening. I had grown old, gone too long, Kunming was moving on with or without me.

The apartment complex in the photo was built two blocks from my home, the size cannot be captured in one shot, this is about half of the development.

I tried to snap back into urban cycling mode, cutting people off, being cut off, cars driving down the bike lane going the wrong way, horns, huge trucks, motos, potholes, and dealing with an enormous population that is just learning how to drive.

Finally my adrenaline peaked as a minibus veered in front of me, and forced a moto driver into my front wheel. The moto driver swore at the van and pointed a dirty finger after the fleeing vehicle. Then the moto driver looked at me with some shock and fear, the potential problems of hitting a foreigner on a bicycle and not knowing if he should attempt verbal communication sat heavy on his brow. I said good morning to him and asked if he was all right, and instantly his face burst into a smile. We complained about car traffic for a moment and then wished each other well. I rode away with even a bigger smile, I let out a yell, China is raw, I am back in the belly of the beast and I feel alive in the churning chaos and noxious gases. After two hours of riding, we made it to our neighborhood and went straight for our favorite la mien (hand pulled noodles) restaurant. They too have changed, new location, two stories, but the same great quality tastes and smells. I think that maybe a small pearl of knowledge. Holding on to your great qualities, and letting the rest bend and reconstruct with the ever changing world.

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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Riding Home

Stew Motta,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

Description

A Thai police officer checked our bicycles for security purposes. After he and his buddies took the bikes on some data collecting loops around the train station, we were cleared for entry into Lao. The train ride from Bangkok to Nong Khai was awesome. We awoke to the sunrise burning off the night fog, revealing […]

Posted On

01/19/10

Author

Stew Motta

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Hello everybody,

As you all know, my ISP this past semester was Hmong culture and the Secret War in Laos. I chose this topic because of its relevance to my home in Rhode Island- there is a significant population of Hmong refugees that live in Providence. Before I left for the trip I met Hang Xiong, a Hmong man who works as a machinist at a small plastic manufacturing company in Bristol (my hometown). Hang shared with me his own history: he was born in an unnamed village in northern Laos, his father fought under Vang Pao in the United States’ secret army, his village was destroyed by a US bomb when he was five, and he spent the majority of his childhood fleeing from war. He eventually made it to a refugee camp in Thailand and, when he was nine years old, received sponsorship to move to the United States with his family.

Yesterday my mom and I went to Hang's Church in South Providence.

The Hmong Church of Providence was founded in the mid- eighties, when the majority of Hmong refugees came to the United States. It is unique in that it is one of the only Hmong Churches in Rhode Island that has full ownership of the property.

When I entered the church I was reminded of the old truism that “the most segregated hour of American life occurs on Sunday morning.” (President Obama brought his point up in his speech on race last March). My mom and I were the only non-Hmong present.

Our distinct foreignness didn’t seem to matter; nearly the entire congregation came over to our pew to welcome us. Even the priest introduced himself. There were old women wearing woven sarongs, teenage boys wearing suits, and little children running up and down the aisles. By 10:45 am the entire building was filled.

The pews were set up in a sort of semi-circle facing the altar. Behind the altar there was a traditional organ and in the foreground there was a (not so traditional) drum set, amplifiers, microphones and three electric guitars. Instead of a choir- they had a live band! The band- which consisted of four teenaged guys- started the mass with a song about God in English (which I suspect might have been for my mom and I) and then a song about God in Hmong. Afterwards they told us that the congregation found organ music boring and the electric guitars got more people to come to mass.

In the opening prayers, the priest publicly thanked my mom and me for visiting. After that, nearly the entire mass was in Hmong. They do this so that the “young people” won’t forget their language. Every once in a while, as the priest delivered his sermon, he would use one or two words in English. The words I recognized were “Gentile”, “Jew”, “Electric Chair”, “Haiti”, “South America”, and “foolishness.” (I’m guessing that perhaps these words don’t exist in Hmong language). I learned that “Yesux” means “Jesus” in Hmong.

When the mass ended, Hang pointed veterans of the secret war:


“You see that man in the gray suit- that’s Vang Pao’s cousin.”

I met Hang’s dad and his older brother- both fought in the secret war. Hang’s dad gave my mom and I each a big hug. He was wearing a leather jacket that had the US Air Corps wings on it. I met another man who has shrapnel in his right arm.

Before we left, the pastor thanked us for coming and invited us to come back again with the rest of my family.

It’s been more than a month since the trip has ended I find myself compartmentalizing my experiences along the Mekong, neatly packaging them and setting them aside as I “move on” and prepare for college. In doing so, I fall into the dangerous thought pattern of “that was then and this now” and “that was there and this is here.” I saw yesterday how the secret war tangibly exists in present day life not just in Laos but also in the United States- the shrapnel in that man’s arm, or the US air emblem in Mr. Xiong’s jacket. The experience of going to Hmong church was meaningful because it reminded me that “there” and “here” are one and the same.

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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Hmong Church of Providence

Anna Mack,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

Description

Hello everybody, As you all know, my ISP this past semester was Hmong culture and the Secret War in Laos. I chose this topic because of its relevance to my home in Rhode Island- there is a significant population of Hmong refugees that live in Providence. Before I left for the trip I met Hang […]

Posted On

01/18/10

Author

Anna Mack

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I have found out from being home that the most common question I am asked is "So did you ever feel unsafe?" Every time someone asks me this I feel a lump form in mystomach almost asenseof rage or anger. "How could they be sonaive" i ask my self and then go on to explain how NO i never felt unsafe, andYES I had a friend of a friend of a tuk tuk driver named Jake arrange a cargo boat to take me 7 hours south to the boarder with no worries andYES i wandered into a strangers persons house on the mekong boarder between vietnam and cambodia and spent the night with nohesitationsin mind. After all of this I try to explain that I got on that cargo boat at noon with no true idea about where it was going and no clue where i was going to stay the night, but it was all ok; I knew that, worst comes to worst, at the end of the day if I still was wandering the streets while everyone was listening to blasting Khumer music in their living room I would be invited in to stay the night, i mean that is the South East Asian way.

After everyone closes their mouth at the end of that i try to tell them that Americans have abiasedand tunnel visioned view of the world. All we see is how the world hates Americans and foreigners, I mean why should they think any differently? After all if you saw a Indian man walking down the street late at night with a backpack on would you give him a place to say? Most of the time, to the people I am talking to, the answer is no. So why should they think that any one else in any different part of the world would do any differently to them? Also, i have found that Americans have this idea that the world is out to get us, theprivileged, rich and well off. I mean open up the paper today, I bet there is at least one article of westerners getting killed either because of terrorism or travel, and if that is not in the paper than they are telling stories to imbed fear into the general population, tightening airport security because more people are out to get us...

This mentality since I have been home has been overwhelming... When people ask me, "if you could go and travel some more where would you plan your next trip to?" and hear myresponse, across the northern countries of Africa from Morocco to Egypt or along the silk road from China to Iran theyautomaticallycringe up andquestionme, "well thats not the best place to go now."

WHY THE HELL NOT??

Get out of your little Vineyard Vines bubble and realize that the people in thesecountriescan be some of the mosthospitablepeople in the world. Travel is all about connecting with the real people, and getting to know them, how in the world is the world going to get along if people aren't willing to go and learn about others and different cultures?

Today I stumbled across this map, it put a huge smile on my face as I saw the US was yellow, look at some of the countries that you have traditionally felt were unsafe to travel in and maybe you will see that they are just as safe to travel to as it is to live here in the US.
Traveling safe is all about knowing how to travel. Now of course some of the overall generalizations are true and you need to be careful when traveling knowing how to fit into culture and customs that will let you travel with an aura of peace and friendship is needed. But in my opinion the overall scared american of others is no worse than being openly racist, it is in the samecategoryofClose-mindedness.
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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Travel unsafe??

Chris Megrue,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

Description

I have found out from being home that the most common question I am asked is "So did you ever feel unsafe?" Every time someone asks me this I feel a lump form in mystomach almost asenseof rage or anger. "How could they be sonaive" i ask my self and then go on to explain […]

Posted On

01/13/10

Author

Chris Megrue

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It wasn’t until I returned to my home in Santa Barbara that I realized that I left my heart in Kunming. While I was in Laos and Cambodia, my mind rarely turned to China, but since I’ve been back, it has never left my thoughts. I go back, in memory, to my third week in China, early morning:

The experience of Kunming slowly solidifies around me as I drift into wakefulness. The sounds of thousands of honking horns and crackling recorded calls of bicycle-borne vendors force their way through the walls of the hostel. People are yelling to each other and into cell phones. Beneath it all are the low growling tones of diesel-powered city busses and powerful construction trucks.

When I first stepped out of the airport, the acrid scent of pollution and smoke was overpowering. My eyes burned for days. Now, the scent of wood fires and smog is the background against which the myriad smells of Kunming jostle for attention. Now I can smell steamed dumplings and fried bread from the street below my room, but that will change when I step outside.

Looking out my window, at first glance, everything is drab and covered in a layer of ash and grime, the uninspired vision of communist city planning. Then I start to pick out the newer buildings, structures of glass, steel and granite, or upscale-looking dark wood and brick. Next, I notice the advertising billboards sprinkled across almost every structure, quirky yet familiar, like so many colorful parasites.

Looking down, the streets overflow with life. Everywhere, people are moving, by foot, on bicycles and electric motos, in taxis and busses, and in private cars made by Volkswagen, Toyota, Chang’an. The street to my guest house is so wide that traffic types are partitioned apart. Vehicles change lanes, swerve, and ignore every signal and rule of the road save one: the biggest has the right of way. Shops selling live fish, breakfast noodles, trendy clothing, electronic safes, and everything in between line the long city blocks. Enterprising men sit by pushcart bike and shoe repair shops on corners, and many stores near the university feature MP3 player repairmen. You can’t open your eyes on the streets of Kunming without seeing hundreds of things for sale.

All of Kunming that I can know and interact with are these stores and restaurants. But there are people here! I can see them all around: a man dressed in a suit swinging an attaché case hurries to a meeting. A group of students with henna-died hair laughs as they walk to a bubble tea restaurant. An older man pilots his donkey cart laden with bamboo across the street. What does the cart driver do to relax? Where do the students spend their time? How often does the businessman see his mother? Although the people and their culture surround me, I remain apart.

There are moments of connection. I brush this world when I receive my bag of steaming dumplings from the woman behind the stove, exchange a smile, and say, “xie xie,” thank you. I get a glimpse into life in China beyond the people on the street and endless stores when I spy four individuals playing mahjong through a closing door. I hear stories from my instructor of the Chinese New Year, when millions reunite with their families to celebrate. I want to participate in this world. I want to discover Chinese life and culture in Kunming. I want to stand next to the stove and make dumplings. I want to laugh and play mahjong. I want to be crushed in a train during New Year.

I am inexorably drawn to China, by its culture and its history. It is a place that has affected me so profoundly that I must go back. It feels like a biological imperative: eat, sleep, return. China is a self-contained, fantastic world, and I want to be a part of that. I need to strike up a conversation with those students I saw at bubble tea. I would sit down with them and say, “Your country is beautiful. What are you studying?” I long to return to Kunming, when I know Mandarin, go beyond a smile and a thank-you, and communicate. But not only Kunming; I want to explore the vast country of China, finding my way on trains and sleeper busses, down streets and onto footpaths. I would like to be invited into homes and lives. Language is the first key to unlocking this world.

So I'm going back.
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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Kunming

Jake Teton-Landis,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

Description

It wasn’t until I returned to my home in Santa Barbara that I realized that I left my heart in Kunming. While I was in Laos and Cambodia, my mind rarely turned to China, but since I’ve been back, it has never left my thoughts. I go back, in memory, to my third week in […]

Posted On

01/11/10

Author

Jake Teton-Landis

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-21 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

My name is Mara Karell and I'm a junior at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. I was born and raised in Atlanta, but recently Greensboro has been my home. I'm a Sociology/Anthropology major and I can't wait to explore the cultures surrounding the Mekong. I've never been to that part of the world, but I have been lucky enough to travel some. I spent the summer living in Malawi and have also spent time in Ireland and the Netherlands.

As for my more varied interests, I am heavily involved in my school's student-run cooperative coffee shop, which provides a place for me to get my fill of coffee and serves asmy launching board for getting involved in social justice issues, changeand action. I am an avid photographer and I also love to cook, read, go to shows where local bands are playing and people watch. In addition, I love figuring out how things work which over the years has led me to some odd jobs including my current summer job--- lab work in an infectious disease lab at Emory University.

Beyond that, I happen to be a CDC kid, which means that both my mom and my step dad work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. My step-dad works in the Malaria division, so Chris, if you have any more questions, let me know and I'm sure he'd be happy to answer your questions or find someone who can if he can't.

Also, Jake, I've had quite a few friends who've gone "WWOOFing" and all of them have loved it!

Sam, I'm really glad you're going to be on the trip, because honestly, I'm rather nervous about learning not only one tonal language but two or more!

Anna mentioned that she's really excited to be in the company of people her own age, and I can commiserate because this summer I've mostly been working byself, so I'm eagerly awaiting traveling and meeting all of you as well!

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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Introduction

Mara Karell,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

Description

My name is Mara Karell and I’m a junior at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. I was born and raised in Atlanta, but recently Greensboro has been my home. I’m a Sociology/Anthropology major and I can’t wait to explore the cultures surrounding the Mekong. I’ve never been to that part of the world, but I […]

Posted On

07/21/09

Author

Mara Karell

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-18 00:00:00
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Hey Everyone!

I'm Sam. I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, close to Philadelphia. I also recently graduated from high school and (Anna!)will also be attending Middlebury college as a Feb!

I went on the Dragons summer program in Cambodia last summer with Tim and Allana and had an incredible experience. I knew I wanted to take a semester off before heading to college, and Middlebury had a fantastic Feb option, so I decided to take another Dragons course in the same region I fell in love with last year.

My interests are broad and I know it will be difficult for me to find a focus, but I plan to think on that the rest of this summer. I know that I want to include both photography and composition in my Independent Study Project again in some way. But as far as subject goes, I have scattered, half-formed ideas at this point.

I am very very excited for our adventure and I can't wait to meet all of you in a couple months! And I can't wait to see you Tim and Allana-I've missed you guys!

-Sam Moog

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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Intro

Samantha Moog,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

Description

Hey Everyone! I’m Sam. I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, close to Philadelphia. I also recently graduated from high school and (Anna!)will also be attending Middlebury college as a Feb! I went on the Dragons summer program in Cambodia last summer with Tim and Allana and had an incredible experience. I knew I wanted to take […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Samantha Moog

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 50772
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2009-07-17 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => 

Team Mekong!

Chris just asked a good question about malaria, and I'm sure most of you have the same concern about malaria medication.

There's not a simple answer to the question of whether or not you should take malaria medication, and what kind to take. All of you should consult with a doctor who is familiar with your specific medical history and can make individual recommendations.

When you go to the doctor, he or she will need to know where you are going and for how long. The sample itinerary for the Mekong Semester is a good starting point, but please note that as of now we don't plan to go to Vietnam in order to have more time in Laos and Cambodia.

We will be traveling at the end of the monsoon season, which means lots of water and - sadly - lots of mosquitoes.

Generally speaking, there is not much malaria in cities and large towns. Most malaria cases are contracted in rural areas. Hot spots for our journey include the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China come together; far northern Laos, Khammoune Province in central Laos, Champasak province in southern Laos and the area around Stung Treng and Kratie in northeastern Cambodia.

While on course, we will take great care to avoid mosquito bites, not only because of malaria but because of other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever. We will use bug repellent and long sleeved shirts, and burn mosquito coils at night.

Please keep up with the Yak Board, as we will have lots of information coming your way in the weeks ahead. If you haven't posted an introduction yet, please do! We look forward to hearing from you.

-Tim

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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Malaria on the Mekong

Tim Patterson,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

Description

Team Mekong! Chris just asked a good question about malaria, and I’m sure most of you have the same concern about malaria medication. There’s not a simple answer to the question of whether or not you should take malaria medication, and what kind to take. All of you should consult with a doctor who is […]

Posted On

07/17/09

Author

Tim Patterson

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-16 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Hello,

My name is Chris Megrue, I am 18 years old and live in Norwalk, CT. As I suspect I am in a very similar position as all of you, I just graduated high school and am taking the path less traveled deciding to defer a year from the college I got into to take a gap year. I first got the idea when my brother and his best friend took a gap year 2 years ago and did the Andes dragon program having the time of their life.

I have been fortunate to have traveled extensively throughout my life to all different parts of the world. I understand that most of my opinions beliefs and values in life have been developed from travel experiences seeing things that I sometimes wish I did not but I have always tried to grow learn and think about each one of them with how they effect who I am. What I am really interested in and wish to learn more and help out eventually is sustainable economic development, piggy backing off of my interest in the environment and sustainability in general. I could go on forever about how I got to be very interested in this topic but I am sure none of you want to hear that.

I am leaving early and going to be traveling around Japan for two weeks with my cousin before I meet you all in Hong Kong. I cant wait for this fall and am looking forward to it more and more every day. See you all soon and cant wait to read your introductions.

Chris Megrue

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Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

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Hello all…

Chris Megrue,Mekong Semester, Fall 2009

Description

Hello, My name is Chris Megrue, I am 18 years old and live in Norwalk, CT. As I suspect I am in a very similar position as all of you, I just graduated high school and am taking the path less traveled deciding to defer a year from the college I got into to take […]

Posted On

07/16/09

Author

Chris Megrue

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