Photo of the Week
China
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    [post_content] => Throughout the course we were asked by the instructors, "what is China?" and given time to think, journal and discuss. The first time we were officially presented with this question was our first day, when everyone (except me and Jeremy) was jetlagged and disoriented. The last time we were asked was our very last day, when everyone was a mix of ready to go home, and already getting nostalgic. The first time, our answers were short, based on limited prior experience truly exploring the country, and even academic. The last time, our answers were still short (as we were limited to a sentence or two), but much more poetic and thoughtful. My official answer stayed the same; I said a variation that included the words "a feast for the senses" both times, but my experiences in China in between both responses has completely changed my personal understanding of all the things that China is.

China is huge cities. Cities I've never heard of, that contain more people than any of America's largest cities, that are constantly under construction. China changed its writing system in the 1950s, technically they simplified it, and already the only evidence that there was ever an unsimplified Chinese is in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and some historic sites. Everything else in China it seems is new enough that it wasn't around back then. Whole cities, with millions of people, completely torn down and built up over and over again, in less than a lifetime. China is those millions of people coming from all over China to cities to find work, and "make it." China is those people's struggles, habits, joys, consumption and waste, evolutions, actions, decisions, values...and their wide-reaching collective implications. China is glittery skyscrapers (invisible due to smog in Beijing) and stone houses with courtyards at their heart where chickens run amok. China is a Western fast food chain on every corner of a city, and it is a bowl of rice with veggies. China is ten well groomed young women in uniform greeting you as you enter a store, and it is the villages they left behind. China is huge cranes in the sky, and in Tongren, it is prayer flags on them. China is lanes on lanes of highway, and going to Bada Village to "help build a road" and instead learning traditional dance and taking naps in the afternoon. China is school age kids in their tracksuit school uniforms, and seeing the most bizarre outfit of pigtails, a neon green fur coat, black bedazzled sweatpant capris, fishnets, and five inch heels on a 30-something in the Chengdu airport. China is my Tibetan host family having a statue of Buddha in their house along with a poster of the current Dalai Lama, but not being able to send his picture through wechat without getting in trouble. It is also, Mr. Rush, our Xishuangbanna hiking tour guide, having illiterate farmers as siblings even though his mother was a teacher. It is a turbulent past written in the wrinkles on people's faces, as much as it is the excess of alcohol and delicious food at business banquets. China is 56 ethnic groups, and many more languages that people juggle with Mandarin Chinese. China is booming domestic tourism, and fleeting eye contact with fellow foreigners. China is lack of privacy, lack of personal space. It is walking by a hotel and seeing seven pairs of brides and their grooms waiting outside greeting the guests going to their respective wedding. China is hiking and not seeing another non-Dragons affiliated human for hours at a time, and never finding a seat on the bus home. It's the generosity of strangers, as well as their laughs and points.

China is a huge conglomeration of so many things. It's a tapestry woven with the lives of over a billion of people. It is the policies of a Communist (in name) government with the huge responsibility of controlling while trying to facilitate the prosperity of 1/5 of the world's population. But on this trip, we found that China is an overflowing bowl of contradictions, stories, and food for thought, placed on the table of our minds...served family style of course.
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China

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What is China?

Annina Zheng-Hardy,China

Description

Throughout the course we were asked by the instructors, “what is China?” and given time to think, journal and discuss. The first time we were officially presented with this question was our first day, when everyone (except me and Jeremy) was jetlagged and disoriented. The last time we were asked was our very last day, […]

Posted On

12/15/14

Author

Annina Zheng-Hardy

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2014-12-07 14:02:28
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    [post_content] => At the beginning of this trip, twelve students came together, and each was given a clean slate, the opportunity to be whoever he or she wanted to be over the next three months. The person each student became was an intentional combination of old selves and new ones. The person we are returning to you is not the person who you said farewell back in September. To help students solidify the knowledge they gained and to help them reintegrate back home, we guided students through a process we call Transference. Returning home will be challenging for students, so I want to take this opportunity to involve all of you in the transference process.

So… what does Transference look like?

First, we help students to review the trip. To this end, students created a map of China, each using their own special color. When we put the pieces of the map together and saw the individual journey and the group journey converge. Looking over the map, we could see places we went to, struggles we faced, people who touched us, memories we made with each other, and the moments and the flashes of inspiration we had on the way.

Reflecting on these experiences was another part of what we did. Students journaled on their experiences and conversed with themselves about values we’ve encountered, differences and similarities we’ve seen, struggles we’ve faced, our failures, our successes, our joys, worries, goals, and ideals. We asked ourselves, what did we see and how did it shape us, and at the end of this journey, who are we? We also reflected on our academic inquiry into China. We asked the students, what is China? and challenged them to answer this question. We asked them, how do you make generalizations about something as huge and complex as a country or a culture or a history and we asked why we visit far-flung places and minority regions rather than Shanghai, Hong Kong, and other mainstream tourist sites. We challenged students to examine what they’d learned but, even more importantly, to identify what they still had yet to learn.

Evaluations are another huge part of transference. Students gave formal feedback to us and for the course. They also had the opportunity to meet with each other one-on-one. They met outside and in the classrooms and discussed their performance over the most recent expedition phase and over the course. For some of these students, the conversations they had during this activity tipped them over the edge in terms of lessons they were on the cusp of understanding. They learned that feedback is a gift, that words are powerful, and that sometimes it’s more important to say what someone needs to hear to grow than to make a completely objective assessment.

We did recognition activities, where students had the chance to dedicate a bracelet to someone in the group and where each person’s attributes were valued as they deserve.

The final part of our Transference was concerned with the reintegration process students will begin after returning home. As part of this process, we role-played scenarios that sought to simulate experiences students will have back at home. The students acted out a conversation between a student overly critical of his home country and a parent overly defensive of that country. Students were asked the broad question, “how was China?” and they brainstormed ways to answer this question beyond “good,” the response students often revert to when they realize they don’t know how to answer the question. Through other scenarios asked what it’s like to return home and realize the skills you struggled so hard to learn, like navigating Kunming’s complex bus system, are useless back at home or are disappearing rapidly, as their Chinese language ability inevitably will.

One final piece of the reintegration section appears below. We gave students the opportunity to create an anonymous letter to all of you, their friends and family, telling you something they think you need to know in order to support them through the reverse culture shock they will experience. We welcome you to have a look at what they came up with and to be part of one of the most nuanced and difficult parts of any journey: coming home.

*

Dear friends, family, lovers, mentors, teachers, pets, neighbors, and community members: I need you to know… I need you to know that there is so much I’ve learned and so much I want to share with you all and some of it might be really hard to explain. I have to new habits and some new hobbies (but I still want the mini wood carving set). I might have changed a lot, or maybe just a little, but I’m still me. I need you to know that…I’m not that eager to explain everything I’ve done and learned to you. I need you to know that I will try to be more patient than I was. I will need you to listen quietly, to show your care, and to be patient with me too. I need you to know that I’m more confident than ever and that I’ll be living and working in China after graduating from college. I need you to know that China and I are becoming close friends, getting to know each other a little more each time we meet. I need you to know that with the independence I’ve had over this trip, I’ve found that I’m capable of doing a lot of things on my own that you’re used to doing for me. If I seem to want more independence when I get back, that’s why – it’s not because I don’t love you. I need you to know that I care so much about all of you and that this trip will help propel me forward in life. I need you to know that I finally understand in my own way what home means thanks to being away and meeting so many caring people on this journey during the home stays that I now care about. Home is where the love is. I need you to know that in as many ways as I’ve changed, I’ve also stayed the same, and so will continue to need your love and support as I grow up and down and this way and that. I need you to know that I won’t be able to convey/articulate everything. I need you to know that: I’m not the same as when I left for this trip. I’m more independent, more resourceful, and have a louder voice. But my core self hasn’t changed, of course. When I get home, I’m going to need everyone I talk to be able to be respectful of my story, not expecting too much, and realizing that I can’t explain everything as well as I wish I could. I need you to know that I currently have no deep stories in mind to express to you. Have no expectations when you pick me up at the airport, and plan to just let the information flow naturally. Also, I might be very hungry when I get there. Have food ready. Preferably hot food. Thanks mom *unanimous* :-P [post_title] => The New People You Already Know [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => new-people-already-know [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-01 09:49:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-01 16:49:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=113453 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 262 [name] => China [slug] => china [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 262 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 239 [count] => 63 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7.1 [cat_ID] => 262 [category_count] => 63 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China [category_nicename] => china [category_parent] => 239 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2014/china/ ) ) [category_links] => China )

China

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The New People You Already Know

Luke Hein,China

Description

At the beginning of this trip, twelve students came together, and each was given a clean slate, the opportunity to be whoever he or she wanted to be over the next three months. The person each student became was an intentional combination of old selves and new ones. The person we are returning to you […]

Posted On

12/7/14

Author

Luke Hein

Category

China

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    [post_content] => Hello China Program Family & Friends!

All students have cleared airport security in Kunming and are headed home and onward. We wish them smooth travels onward! Thanks to everyone,(students, families, language teachers, host families, guest speakers and guides) for an exceptional fall semester! Thanks most of all to our China Program Coordinator, Annie Jiao in Kunming, and our stellar team of instructors, Joe Goldes, Luke Hein, and Sheila Sun!

Best regards,

Jody Segar

China Program Director
    [post_title] => Yi Lu Ping An (Peaceful Journey!) Onward for all China Students
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China

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Yi Lu Ping An (Peaceful Journey!) Onward for all China Students

Jody Segar,China

Description

Hello China Program Family & Friends! All students have cleared airport security in Kunming and are headed home and onward. We wish them smooth travels onward! Thanks to everyone,(students, families, language teachers, host families, guest speakers and guides) for an exceptional fall semester! Thanks most of all to our China Program Coordinator, Annie Jiao in […]

Posted On

12/5/14

Author

Jody Segar

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2014-12-05 11:26:38
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-12-05 18:26:38
    [post_content] => Well, I guess this is it. Three months, over before we knew it. I'm posting to notify all that we have returned safely from our X-phase, and that it was a success--everyone thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks, and is in good spirits as we have returned, despite various... fecal issues... on the overnight bus ride. Personally, the week-long homestay we just concluded in the village of Bada in Dehong prefecture ended up being one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. Never have I met a community so welcoming, so caring, and so together. Pictures will surely follow of all we accomplished throughout the week.

Now, as I write this in my final day in Kunming's Program House, we have about 16 hours remaining before we board an early bus for the airport. A mix of sadness and excitement has rushed over the fifteen of us, as we prepare to leave behind what I see as the most valuable possible time I could have spent in the first portion of my gap year.

I'd be writing a longer, more insightful post if we weren't so busy in these last days of transference, but I've been asked to give a quick update. Everybody, get excited to greet us upon arrival home!

 

Max
    [post_title] => Where did the time go?
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China

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Where did the time go?

Max Benegas,China

Description

Well, I guess this is it. Three months, over before we knew it. I’m posting to notify all that we have returned safely from our X-phase, and that it was a success–everyone thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks, and is in good spirits as we have returned, despite various… fecal issues… on the overnight bus ride. […]

Posted On

12/5/14

Author

Max Benegas

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2014-12-01 16:53:08
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    [post_content] => Dear China semester families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure in China! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their plane back home. Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families:

Returning Flight:
December 6th, 2014
Air China #4171
Depart: Kunming (KMG) 8:05am
Arrive: Beijing (PEK) 11:15am

December 6th, 2014
Air China #987
Depart: Beijing (PEK) 1:30pm
Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 10:30am

If you have any questions or concerns about the return – and you’re calling outside of our normal office hours – please leave a message at 800-982-9203 x 130.  Should you need to reach our staff during students’ return travel days (outside of normal office hours), please call our Admin cell phone for assistance: 303-921-6078.

Many thanks,

Dragons Administration
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China

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Return Group Flight Reminder

Dragons Administration,China

Description

Dear China semester families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure in China! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their plane back home. Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families: Returning Flight: December 6th, 2014 Air […]

Posted On

12/1/14

Author

Dragons Administration

Category

China

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    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2014-11-25 09:09:24
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-11-25 16:09:24
    [post_content] => Hello all,

Max here again. The group had a fantastic and fulfilling first week of the X-phase, but Mady and Elena will have more extensive yaks up to give you more details on that.

I’m writing this just to notify everybody that today (Nov. 25th) we are leaving to head to Sophie Mu’s village in Dehong Prefecture, Yunnan, and will not have internet access until we return on Dec. 3rd. So, parents, friends, whoever’s out there, you will not conveniently be able to access your dear students for the next week or so. Obviously, in cases of emergencies, the instructors will all have their cell phones on them.

We are all stoked for this second half, as it will surely be very valuable in learning about service and development, as well as one more set of great homestays and everything there is to learn from those. The group’s feeling about the 24-hour bus ride in a few hours, however, is a bit more… mixed. Have no fear, we will be home soon!

Max
    [post_title] => Contact update - out of reach!
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China

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Contact update – out of reach!

Max Benegas,China

Description

Hello all, Max here again. The group had a fantastic and fulfilling first week of the X-phase, but Mady and Elena will have more extensive yaks up to give you more details on that. I’m writing this just to notify everybody that today (Nov. 25th) we are leaving to head to Sophie Mu’s village in […]

Posted On

11/25/14

Author

Max Benegas

Category

China

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2014-11-25 09:06:39
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-11-25 16:06:39
    [post_content] => 
Our four days trekking through the rural hills of Xishuangbanna have exposed us to a stunning variety of wildlife. This tiny region, only 0.2% of China’s total land area, is home to 16% of China’s vascular plant species, one-fifth of the country’s mammalian species, and over a third of its bird species. As part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, which extends down over Southeast Asia toward Indonesia, Yunnan province is home to a greater variety of species of wildlife than almost anywhere else on the planet, including more distinct species than are native to most of the rest of the northern hemisphere. The province as a whole is only 4.1% of China’s land area, but is home to over half its species of wildlife. Yunnan is distinctive in particular because a relatively high number of its species are endemic to this region. However, this area’s incredible biodiversity is threatened, and becoming more so. One of the largest environmental problems currently affecting Yunnan is the region’s drought. This region has not historically been prone to drought, and in fact still receives heavy rainfall, but because Yunnan is mostly mountainous and greatly ranging in elevation, that rainfall is unevenly distributed. Everything that lives here, including the humans, depends on the land’s ability to retain that water. Deforestation is a major contributor to the recent reduction in the ability of Yunnan’s land to retain water. Though 53% of the province is still forested, only an estimated 9% of that is still natural forest, and the large commercial tree plantations that have replaced much of the region’s original forests are much poorer at retaining water than the natural forests were. Xishuangbanna, of course, is home to its own unique set of environmental problems. By far the factor most threatening to the biodiversity here is the rubber economy. Car ownership in China has skyrocketed in recent decades, and with it has come a growing demand for tires – China accounts for one quarter of global tire demand. That calls for a lot of rubber, and land suitable for growing rubber trees is limited in China. Rubber requires a tropical climate, and Xishuangbanna is one of very few regions in China where such a climate is available. As such, the rubber economy here is enormous, and growing. More than one-fifth of the land are in Xishuangbanna is currently rubber plantations. This region has certainly seen the benefits of this change: rubber farming is a very lucrative business, and has put a high income within reach for farmers in this region. But the benefits are not without costs. The rubber plantations are replacing Xishuangbanna’s natural rainforests, which not only are home to much of the region’s wide variety of plant life, but also constitute a habitat for the region’s wide variety of animal life. More than two-thirds of the rainforests in this region have now been lost to rubber plantations. In addition to decreasing the land’s ability to retain water, rubber trees use more water than the natural rainforests do, so the dry season in Xishuangbanna is growing longer, worsening further the effects of the drought. To make matters worse, the majority of rubber plantations here are run by small-hold rubber farmers, who tend to be much less productive and resource-efficient than state-run rubber farms, in part because much of the land they use is land that is unsuitable for rubber trees. During our five short weeks in Kunming, I researched biodiversity issues in Yunnan province as part of my Independent Study Project, and the Xishuangbanna rubber economy was only one of the many serious and urgent threats facing Yunnan’s biodiversity that I came across in my research. In the articles I read, each issue was painted as its own war: businessman against environmental scientist, traditional Chinese medicine against endangered animal species, rubber against rainforest, each problem contaminating further downstream and creating or adding to countless more problems, a series of interconnected cycles with no breaks in sight. All of that turmoil was in my mind as we hiked through what looked like peaceful green valleys, banana plantations giving way to sugar cane plantations giving way to tea plantations giving way to villages giving way to banana plantations again, all of the hillsides surrounding us textured with the striations of agriculture. Since I now know what the consequences are, it was hard for me to look at the rows upon rows, hills upon hills of rubber and see only green trees, but at the same time, it was surprisingly easy to forget. On some level, it’s counterintuitive to me that something with leaves that flutter in the gentle breeze can have such a devastating effect on the natural world around it. Not far into the first day’s hike, we passed through our first rows of rubber trees. Our guide, the knowledgeable Mr. Rush, motioned for our group to stop walking and gather at one side of the road. Standing by one of the trees, he explained the process of rubber farming to us, explaining that the trees have to be eight years old before they can be tapped, that they can then be tapped for about forty-five years, that the farmers have to wake up before the sun rises in the morning to collect the rubber from the trees, and pointing out how grooves are carved into the bark to direct the rubber into the bowls. “It’s very bad for the environment,” he said of the trees at the end of his lesson, and it was almost hard to believe. At what point will this one perfectly average-looking but remarkably lucrative tree become most of what Xishuangbanna’s biodiversity has to offer? By day, on the hikes, I observed the area of effect of the issues I have been studying for the past month, but by night, our time in the villages reminded me that no issue is so black-and-white. We didn’t speak to anyone specifically about rubber farming, but after our second day of hiking we stayed in an Aini minority village on top of Nannuo Mountain, an area known for its tea. Everyone in the village was in the tea business, and when asked about their work, they told us repeatedly that tea was their life. According to Mr. Rush, the reason this village is so involved in tea is because not long ago, tea was much cheaper than it is now, so many farmers cut down old tea trees to make room for other crops, but these villagers neglected to cut their trees down, so when the price of tea rose again, they found themselves in possession of the oldest tea trees in the region, and thus the best and most expensive tea. On our way down the mountain and out of the village the next morning, we noticed several houses that were larger and more modern-looking than the other houses in the village. Mr. Rush explained that these people could afford more expensive houses because of the money they had made selling tea. Given the amount of people who are now in the rubber business and the wealth that crop has brought to this region, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people in Xishuangbanna who talk about rubber the same way our hosts talked about tea. Credit for these lovely photos goes to Margot. Above: a view of a variety of different plantations, including bananas in the foreground, from the first day’s hike. Side: a rubber tree and the system used for tapping and collecting the rubber. P.S. Thanks so much to everyone for my surprise birthday celebration. I couldn't have hoped for a better, or better located, birthday party. 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Rainforest to Rubber

Elena Bingham,China

Description

Our four days trekking through the rural hills of Xishuangbanna have exposed us to a stunning variety of wildlife. This tiny region, only 0.2% of China’s total land area, is home to 16% of China’s vascular plant species, one-fifth of the country’s mammalian species, and over a third of its bird species. As part of […]

Posted On

11/25/14

Author

Elena Bingham

Category

China

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    [post_content] => Hey everyone;

Now that we have said goodbye to Mr. Rush (we will all miss his enthusiasm and his perfect triangle eyebrows) and the xi shuang banna tea, rubber and banana plantations we’re all gearing up for the 24 hour bus ride to the second half of our X-phase. The village we’re staying in won’t have any wifi so don’t expect any posts for a few days.

We will arrive in Dehong on Wednesday and start village homestays right away. The next day we’ll start our service projects, road building and teaching English at the local school. Scattered around these last few days are song instructor lessons, student lessons and even a coffee house performance.
Everyone is looking forward to packing the most we can into our last week and a half here in china, and we can’t wait to get started.
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X-phase Part 2

Margot Levey,China

Description

Hey everyone; Now that we have said goodbye to Mr. Rush (we will all miss his enthusiasm and his perfect triangle eyebrows) and the xi shuang banna tea, rubber and banana plantations we’re all gearing up for the 24 hour bus ride to the second half of our X-phase. The village we’re staying in won’t […]

Posted On

11/25/14

Author

Margot Levey

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2014-11-25 08:57:16
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    [post_content] => Tonight we have returned from the first portion of our final x-phase. We all feel fulfilled and accomplished from the 4 day trek through the (unfortunately) domesticated jungles of southern Yunnan. We're all pretty bushed so I'll just give the basic rundown of our four wifi-free days.

We started out the first leg of our journey on a bus from Kunming to Jinghong. We spent the following day resting for the coming days of trekking. Many took a nice stroll along the Mekong and finished the day perusing through the city's lively night market. The next day our hike began after we met with the legendary Mr. Rush. The first part of the trek was from our hostel to the bus station. Afterwards we took a short ride and were delivered to a sleepy town where we purchased lunch on the go. Finally we found ourselves at the foot of the trail through the jungles. Lunch took place in a small village. 14 Kilometers from the beginning we finally and thankfully trudged into an Aini minority village for the night. After a very fulfilling dinner and some peaceful stargazing we all flopped onto our shared mattresses for the evening.

Some of us awoke to the rooster's call (at 2 am) then fell a sleep again to the shrill discordant melody. Eight was the official wake up call for breakfast. Afterwards we headed out for day two. We were told that day one was going to be the easiest. It turned out to be a rather strenuous 6+ hours. Day two was supposed to be the hardest. Therefore we went into the hike with determination and drive. The next 15 kilometers turned out to be nothing in the end. I'd like to attribute that to our group's amazing mentality and focus. We exemplified expedition mentality. Boom chaka laka. We all arrived safely in the second nights's village, a branch of Aini. Dinner and cultural activities were followed by a tense night of sleep for many.

The rooster's calls kept the majority of the group up all night. If you who are reading this Yak are to take anything from it, let it be this: roosters don't wait for the sun to robustly proclaim their masculinity.

Day three was an easy 2 kilometer trek down to a small village where we took buses to Menghai for lunch. From Menghai we took a bus out to more rural areas again and enjoyed a leisurely 5 Kilometers to our final village, Zhanglong. Pete caught a bug along the way and had a hard time of it after the bumpy bus ride. Once we arrived at the village he got time to rest. Night fell and with it came band practice with some of the locals. A slightly more peaceful sleep for all followed.

The next morning we got up bright an early to celebrate Elena's 18th birthday. After one of the villagers performed a protection ceremony for Pete we headed out for our last 5 Kilometers, backtracking our way back to the bust stop that would deliver us to Menghai. We made record time getting there, unfortunately the bus did not. We got to bask in the sun for a while because of that. After we were finally delivered to the city we took some time in a local market to eat lunch and explore. Afterwards we caught transport back to Jinghong where we had a proper celebration for Elena's birthday (cake, barbecue, cards and the like.) After that tamed romp we finally turned in for the night.
    [post_title] => the reason why you haven't heard from us in a while
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China

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the reason why you haven’t heard from us in a while

Madeleine Brach,China

Description

Tonight we have returned from the first portion of our final x-phase. We all feel fulfilled and accomplished from the 4 day trek through the (unfortunately) domesticated jungles of southern Yunnan. We’re all pretty bushed so I’ll just give the basic rundown of our four wifi-free days. We started out the first leg of our […]

Posted On

11/25/14

Author

Madeleine Brach

Category

China

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    [post_date] => 2014-11-18 08:54:13
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    [post_content] => We are heading down to Xishuangbana, then onto Dehong tomorrow for a week of hiking then learning about service and development with Where There Be Dragons. We are excited for this learning opportunity, and I'm happy that our students are taking ownership of the final phase of this semester program. As instructors, we are stepping back but not stepping away; a major goal for us during this section is to teach about both development and service learning. To do this, the students have planned multiple service projects to be completed in the hometown of one of our guest lecturers, Sophie Mu. We hope that the sub-tropical south of Yunnan provides a beautiful backdrop for these projects, but the beautiful pictures of us building a road over a six day period in a small village will not be our source of fulfillment. Rather, we are searching to complicate our ideas about development and what these communities want and need and then provide our hands to help with projects which help the village and which the villagers themselves believe in. Without giving away too much, I thought I’d share with you a video that captures the spirit of the lesson we’re preparing to learn. This TEDx talk was given by a former Dragons Instructor who started PEPY, an organization that Dragons still cooperates with in Cambodia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYWl6Wz2NB8

Also, because I majored in economics, I'll definitely be sharing this podcast with the students. For me, the talk raises one of the hardest questions one has to answer when giving one’s time: How can I make sure that my actions benefit to the global community more than just donating money? This is a question students must ask themselves and it is one the instructors we have to face as well. Is what I’m doing worth it? Is the positive affect I have worth the jet fuel or could I help the world more by giving my money rather than my time.    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/11/08/243967328/episode-494-what-happens-when-you-just-give-money-to-poor-people
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China

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Learning Service

Joe Goldes,China

Description

We are heading down to Xishuangbana, then onto Dehong tomorrow for a week of hiking then learning about service and development with Where There Be Dragons. We are excited for this learning opportunity, and I’m happy that our students are taking ownership of the final phase of this semester program. As instructors, we are stepping […]

Posted On

11/18/14

Author

Joe Goldes

Category

China

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