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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 19:10:05
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img_6269

We just left our students at Phnom Penh airport, no tears, just a sense of joy and accomplishment.

They are all amazing people. They should all feel proud to have travelled 4,500km overland from China to Cambodia learning about life along the Mekong.

We will miss them dearly. They will be home soon or in touch about their solo travels. We are excited to see where they all end up :)

Thank you, the parents, for trusting us with your most precious cargo. It's been a wild journey and we think it may take a while for you to understand what they have experienced. Just give them time to process and explain their many many stories.

Many thanks and we hope to meet again soon!

Jess, Jo, Som, Thavry & Gong.

 
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Students are on their way home/onwards

Mekong iTeal,FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

We just left our students at Phnom Penh airport, no tears, just a sense of joy and accomplishment. They are all amazing people. They should all feel proud to have travelled 4,500km overland from China to Cambodia learning about life along the Mekong. We will miss them dearly. They will be home soon or in […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Mekong iTeal

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 13:53:13
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    [post_content] => To all,

As the students and instructors bid farewell this morning -- some continuing their journeys in Southeast Asia, others boarding long flights home for the holidays -- I wanted to leave you all with something from the final days in Kampot. I woke up one morning last week to find this video sent from the instructor team in my inbox....

[video width="848" height="480" mp4="https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/IMG_0352.mp4"][/video]

May the road rise to meet you all.

Sincerely,

Justin Kiersky
    [post_title] => The Tibetan Plateau to the Gulf of Thailand
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The Tibetan Plateau to the Gulf of Thailand

Students,Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

To all, As the students and instructors bid farewell this morning — some continuing their journeys in Southeast Asia, others boarding long flights home for the holidays — I wanted to leave you all with something from the final days in Kampot. I woke up one morning last week to find this video sent from the […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Students

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    [post_content] => The past three months have been a wild journey for the Mekong course. We started in the Tibetan Plateau and ended in the south of Cambodia. We saw yaks, dams, countless tributaries of the Mekong, and lots of temples. Cultures changed, language changed. We learned some Mandarin, Laos, Thai, and Khmer. In Laos we noticed how much slower the pace of the country was, especially after leaving bustling Southern China. In Cambodia we studied the rich yet painful history of the country which holds the wonder of Angkor Wat as well as the horror of S-21 and the Killing Fields.

All of these clear, visual changes gave context for the flow of the river, which provides for millions of people and passes through six countries. But what about the internal changes we experienced? How did following the Mekong with the group alter our values, mannerisms, and perspectives?

Here are some things to expect from the students of the Mekong Semester upon our arrival home!

Leyla: I definitely want to tell you everything about my travels and semester, but not all at once- slowly it will unravel. I miss you guys a lot and can't wait to see you!

Anna: I'm so grateful for you guys and this trip helped me realize that. Thank you for everything and letting me travel after. I miss you a lot and I can't wait to see you.

Avra: I can't wait to share my new ideas, dreams, stories, and most of all, my upmost appreciation for what you do. I can't wait to show you this side of the world in future travels...

Doug: Expect a new man with a Dragon's taste for spice.

Tom: You should expect the unexpected, and I will appreciate you more and love home cooked food.

Andre: Expect me to be more attentive at dinner conversations, I feel more driven, and I love to read!!!! And I'm more culturally sensitive.

Santiago: I have better daily habits and I have a bigger perspective of the problems of the world. Also, I'm so thankful for what my family has given me.

Emma: Mom, Dad, Jen, Sissies! I can't wait to see y'all in a few short weeks! In the last three months, I've learned more than I thought possible. Can't wait to share my endless stories and tell you of how I've changed. I'm so indescribably thankful to you for allowing me this incredible experience. Love y'all!!

Will: Hey guys.

As far as I go: Mum, Dad, Al, Hels, what's up? I can't wait to show you all that I've learned (a little bit of tai chi, how to make spring rolls, amongst other things), but I also can't wait to hear everything you have been up to while I've been away! So be prepared for many questions and also many stories. I've seen so many new perspectives and I hope I get to share what I've learned with you over the rest of my gap year.
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What to expect when I come home

Francesca Mansky,Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

The past three months have been a wild journey for the Mekong course. We started in the Tibetan Plateau and ended in the south of Cambodia. We saw yaks, dams, countless tributaries of the Mekong, and lots of temples. Cultures changed, language changed. We learned some Mandarin, Laos, Thai, and Khmer. In Laos we noticed […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Francesca Mansky

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 10:54:59
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-05 17:54:59
    [post_content] => Traditional Cambodian music is clashing with the taxi driver's loud laugh as he talks in rapid Khmer into his flip phone. I look out the window as skinny white cows graze below palm trees and huge billboards advertising Angkor beer. We are in our last long journey, headed from Kampot to Phnom Penh. Despite leaving the homestay village (Koh Ksach Tonlea) a few days ago, I still think of Mai La and Pa every morning.

Just over two weeks ago, our group was crossing the Bassac river by small ferry boat to get to Thavry's village on the island. I remember the feeling of anxiety I had as we retrieved our bags and began the walk to meet our homestay families. After my first interaction with Mai, my nerves subsided. She approached me with open arms and a huge smile, revealing three gold teeth. For the first time in my life, I towered above someone. This little, adorable woman grabbed my hand and led me on my first walk through the village to her home. I was greeted by a naked two-year-old boy held in his older sister's arms as she swung in a hammock. A shirtless man wearing only a green checkered kroma introduced himself in Khmer as "Pa." I smiled and laughed awkwardly and told them my name, then followed Mai to my room for the next 12 days.

Although it took a few days to acclimate to the language difference, I soon discovered ways around this barrier. Thavry and my family both taught me enough Khmer to sort of successfully communicate, and I used hand symbols when I didn't know the word. Over those 12 days, I experienced some of my favorite moments on course. From double biking and playing soccer with my younger sister, to falling out of a hammock while the whole family witnessed, then all erupting in laughter. By the end of those (almost) two weeks, I felt honored to have been welcomed into such a wonderful family.

As the longest period we've stayed anywhere, it was easy to form a daily routine. Every morning, I woke up at the third or fourth cock's crow, walked outside to the bathroom, then got dressed and began sweeping the floor of the small outdoor restaurant run by my family. Mai made me breakfast, which I ate outside on the bamboo table that also served as the neighborhood hangout spot. After morning lessons at Thavry's house, I returned home for lunch and a sweet iced treat (sold at the family restaurant - truly delicious!) I normally spent the next few hours hanging out with the kids making origami or playing games. Felt like everyone in the village would visit throughout the course of one day. I met so many people just by sitting outside of the house - neighbors, random family members, teenage monks dressed in orange robes, butchers, babies, old cackling women, young cackling women! Everyone would approach me, introduce themselves in Khmer, then keep talking at me as if I could understand what they were saying. One man sat with me for over half an hour, seemingly describing his life story. He gave me a mint, then a "bye bye," clearly the only English he spoke. Moments like these made my experience so unique and amazing.

Each day finished with a soccer game, where we all bonded with the local Cambodian teenagers. I returned home each evening for a bucket shower, then dinner with the family while watching the nightly Thai soap opera. It was during these evening meals that I first tried chicken foot, hairy pig skin, and intestines. With every bite, I plastered a big smile on my face and told Mai it was "Ching-ayng," meaning delicious. Next, Mai and I would fight over who was doing the dishes. Kindest family I've ever met, they barely let me do any housework. I went to bed exhausted every night, and always fell asleep immediately.

Those two weeks spent in the village were some of the best on course. I'll never forget my family in Cambodia, and I hope that I'll be able to return one day. It's hard to believe that we only have two days left, these past three months have flown by.

E.
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Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Life Along The Mekong

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My Family in Cambodia

Emma Aoueille,Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

Traditional Cambodian music is clashing with the taxi driver’s loud laugh as he talks in rapid Khmer into his flip phone. I look out the window as skinny white cows graze below palm trees and huge billboards advertising Angkor beer. We are in our last long journey, headed from Kampot to Phnom Penh. Despite leaving […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Emma Aoueille

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 09:45:12
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    [post_content] => Dear Fall 2016 Mekong Semester Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families (all times are in local time zones):

Tuesday, December 6th 

Dragon Air #207

Depart: Phnom Penh (PNH) 11:30 AM

Arrive: Hong Kong (HKG) 3:10 PM


Cathay Pacific #882

Depart: Hong Kong (HKG) 4:35 PM

Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 1:15 PM

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Monday, December 5th, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin
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FALL: Life Along The Mekong

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RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION

Eva Vanek,FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

Dear Fall 2016 Mekong Semester Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Eva Vanek

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2016-12-01 17:04:54
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-02 00:04:54
    [post_content] => Dear Fall 2016 Mekong Semester Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families (all times are in local time zones):

Tuesday, December 6th 

Dragon Air #207

Depart: Phnom Penh (PNH) 11:30 AM

Arrive: Hong Kong (HKG) 3:10 PM


Cathay Pacific #882

Depart: Hong Kong (HKG) 4:35 PM

Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 1:15 PM

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Monday, December 5th, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin
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FALL: Life Along The Mekong

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RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION

Eva Vanek,FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

Dear Fall 2016 Mekong Semester Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight […]

Posted On

12/1/16

Author

Eva Vanek

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2016-12-01 09:07:59
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-01 16:07:59
    [post_content] => Another day,  another journal entry. I wrote this while lying on my makeshift bed on the island of Koh Kasach Tonlea.

We've been here for about a little more than a week and a half, 12 days, and I know it'll be one of my most memorable experiences on the entire trip.

I don't really know how to explain myself but this island village kinda feels like home. Maybe it's the weather, perhaps the methodical schedule of eat, sleep and play soccer or maybe it's something else.

Since the first day being here I've slowly allowed myself to become part of my two host parent's lives. Slowly my conversations with my host mother have grown from "Nyam Bai," ( time to eat ) to a game of charades and telling her what I did that day. Slowly the kids I've been playing soccer with begin to pass the ball a little more to me, trusting that I'll be able to do something good with it. Slowly, my desire to read has grown substantially; I'm on my sixth book as I'm writing this field note. Slowly I've finally come to the realization that I've yet to post a note and hence made an effort to do so. Slowly all the "hi's" and "hello's" have finally become expected and have been another addition to the daily rhythm here.

We've come to the final leg of our journey, all the way down the Mae Nam Khong, and I feel at home. Can't wait to go back to my real home bringing all the love I've had for this trip. And maybe this home will never really leave me because, as they say, "home is where the heart is."

 

 
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FALL: Life Along The Mekong

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My first and only field note

Andre Ntshaykolo,FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

Another day,  another journal entry. I wrote this while lying on my makeshift bed on the island of Koh Kasach Tonlea. We’ve been here for about a little more than a week and a half, 12 days, and I know it’ll be one of my most memorable experiences on the entire trip. I don’t really know […]

Posted On

12/1/16

Author

Andre Ntshaykolo

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    [post_content] => One of our legendary instructors named Gong told us this as last advice right before he went back to his home: Open your hearts, dump the trash out and then let it open for the good and new things that are yet to come.

We are now 10 days before this trip ends. The last week we have spent in a homestay in Cambodia in one of our instructors villages. In this island the days have no names, only the sun and moon set the time. Bucket showers, good food, classes in the morning, interviews, ISP's, nap after lunch and to finish the day a game of soccer. Spoiled.

Before that we went to Phnom Phen and to Siam Reap. We visited S21 and the killing fields, some of us biked from sunrise to sunset in the temples of Angkor Wat. (These are the most relevant activities, we did much more). Both experiences I will never forget.

But also this trip is not only about having a list of the countries you have visited but to get to feel and comprehend the people in it and the history behind it. Cambodia has been affected deeply very recently. I'm living with people that went through the Khmer Rouge regime. My homestay mom was 9 years old, she collected rice and cow manure and lost her brother in that time, and she is only one of all the stories that I could tell. Every student is living with people that survived that era.

At the beginning I would get so angry at myself. How could I be so ignorant, why didn't I know what happened here, why wasn't I taught this at school and couldn't the world have helped to stop this massacre?

I personally have changed. This trip is making me desire knowledge, it is making me curious and humble to the problems around me and also to the problems that aren't so close. We really need to stop thinking that it is normal to see in the news that many issues. We never truly care about anything only if it happens in our place. Why? Like Gong said, it is us that need to open our hearts, in that way we feel for others and we become interested in their problems, by doing this as a whole we can change the future of a country or a close group of people or even yourself. Let us all be dragons.

Santiago Sahagun Cota
    [post_title] => Dragons everywhere
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Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Life Along The Mekong

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Dragons everywhere

Santiago Sahagun Cota,Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

One of our legendary instructors named Gong told us this as last advice right before he went back to his home: Open your hearts, dump the trash out and then let it open for the good and new things that are yet to come. We are now 10 days before this trip ends. The last […]

Posted On

12/1/16

Author

Santiago Sahagun Cota

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    [post_date] => 2016-11-29 11:23:04
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    [post_content] => Parents and Friends,

So here we find ourselves with one week to go on the 2016 Mekong Fall semester. It's humbling to write each time that ... The students have now traveled more than 3000kms from the high Himalaya to the island of Koh Ksach Tonlea just south of Phnom Penh. Here they are reflecting on the journey, knowing that they have only another 100kms to go before they reach the golden shores of the Gulf of Thailand.

While living with host families on the island, students have been easing into the slow pace of life -- attending ceremonies at the local temple (wat), fishing for crabs with brothers and sisters, eating mangoes, talking Khmer Rouge-era history, learnign how to cook traditional fare, improving their Khmer language skills and helping out in the fields. As always, we are humbled by the manner in which we are ingratiated into the community and cared for by Thavry Thon's family and all the the local villagers. We are equally thrilled by the unbound love and respect that Dragons students bring to the community. This is where the connections made on course truly shine.

This final homestay also provides students a chance to present their Independent Study Projects that they've been working on in some form since the beginning of the course. The image above is Anna presenting to the group at the main program meeting area on the island. Students stagger their 30 min to 1 hour presentations over the course of a few days. This is an opportunity for students to take assume the role of leader and teacher, and to share their profound learnings with the rest of the group.

We understand that there have been relatively scant updates from the students in recent weeks. Unfortunately the amount of movement in Cambodia has meant that students have infrequently spent time at internet cafes or using the iPad. While on the one hand that's a great thing, we also recognize that not hearing from students with regularity can be very difficult. After they leave the homestay village in the two days students will be back in touch while in Kep and Kampot on the coast. Those old French colonial-era beach towns will mark the end of the course and greater access to connectivity.

Thanks for your patience until then, and all the best...

Justin
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Update from the Homestay — Cambodia

Justin Kiersky,FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

Parents and Friends, So here we find ourselves with one week to go on the 2016 Mekong Fall semester. It’s humbling to write each time that … The students have now traveled more than 3000kms from the high Himalaya to the island of Koh Ksach Tonlea just south of Phnom Penh. Here they are reflecting […]

Posted On

11/29/16

Author

Justin Kiersky

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    [post_title] => Celebrate the Human Spirit
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Celebrate the Human Spirit

Joseph Vincent,FALL: Life Along The Mekong

Description

Posted On

11/14/16

Author

Joseph Vincent

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