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WOW! Guys I just got back from a meeting with Wildlife Conservation Society and it seems we have an INCREDIBLE service learning project set up with them. They have a research centre in the middle of a Laos National Protected Area (protected jungle) where we can stay for a full week! The site itself is just gorgeous in the middle of the woods on the banks of a river AND we can help them with biodiversity monitoring – setting up butterfly traps, documenting the butterfly species (apparently butterflies are excellent indicators of biodiversity, especially fauna), checking on heat and movement sensitive cameras in the forest and documenting the species the camera catches, trail maintenance…oh it’s going to be AMA ZING!!! And at the end of the day we can return to the research centre, go for a dip in the river and learn to cook Lao food! WOWZA!

Okay, I’m just as excited about the program as you are!!

To answer your questions:

1) Will each of us be giving a lesson each week, or does one person give a lesson a week? For the time being we’ll stick with one student lesson per week and then if we want to kick it up a notch later in the program we can. So you only need to choose ONE topic for the semester right now.

2) Would I be able to do casual interviews? Will we get a chance to interact with a variety of people including officials and govt people? I really want to do something with photography, but I'm not quite sure how to integrate it. Any ideas? In the first few days each student will be assigned a ISP Advisor (either Michael or myself) who will answer all these questions and more for you. We can brainstorm together and we’ll let you know what resources we have and what is culturally appropriate. For now, as long as you have some general ideas you’re on the right track!

3) I was wondering about traveling at the end of the program. We get to organize our own trip right? Would it be possible for me to arrange a visit with my friends mom in Thailand? Throughout the entire program Michael and I will be working to give you the tools and skills you as individuals and as a group will need to plan and implement the end of the trip including booking tickets, making reservations, assessing risk, communicating within the group, making group decisions, setting goals, etc. We hope this can all start upon arrival! We want to give you as much control over planning and logistics as possible. Our basic itinerary of spending the first 3 weeks in Cambodia, the next 6 weeks in Laos (with a quick stop in Thailand for a visa run) and then the last 3 in China (the 13th week is spread evenly between the countries) is pretty set in stone though. Do you know where your mom’s friend is working? Hopefully it’s somewhere near the Laos border!

4) Does Dragons pay for ourmeals each dayor is that why we are told to bring$50-75 per week,because we are paying for our own meals? Dragons pays for all your meals! We’ll also pay for healthy snacks and lots and lots of water. Soda with meals or special treats are on you though. The $50-75 is for medical consultations, souvenirs, calling home, extra internet time (Dragons pays to post yakyaks, evaluations, etc), toiletries, any new clothes you want or need, etc. It’s basically just for personal stuff. $50-75 may seem like a lot right now, but it’s better to have more in your account for emergencies. If you don’t spend it all – great!

5) No sleeping bags? Nope, no sleeping bags. Most every place we sleep in will have sheets for us. If you like to have your own, you can bring a sleeping sheet. But no sleeping bags please!

6) Mekong Reader: this is a separate document from the Course Preparation Manual and should have already been sent to you. Take a look through everything Dragons has sent you and contact the office if you can’t find it. This isn’t something to stress about, as we can totally share Readers (in fact many groups only bring a few readers). But if you can get your hands on it before you leave this is great.

Keep the questions coming!!!

I fly to Phnom Penh tomorrow to meet up with Michael – we’ll send you a message once we’re together!

Best,

Allana

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Answers

Allana Hearn,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

WOW! Guys I just got back from a meeting with Wildlife Conservation Society and it seems we have an INCREDIBLE service learning project set up with them. They have a research centre in the middle of a Laos National Protected Area (protected jungle) where we can stay for a full week! The site itself is […]

Posted On

02/3/10

Author

Allana Hearn

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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question

Taylor Boucher,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

I have a question about the jacket we need to bring for china. shoud it be like a big down jacket? or maybe like a thick fleece? And with the blouses we need, do they need to be collared? should I bring polos or nice shirts?

Posted On

02/3/10

Author

Taylor Boucher

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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mosquito net?

Kimberly Kenny,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

I may have talked with someone about this before, but should we bring mosquito nets? It seems like protection from mosquito bites is really important with it being the main cause of a lot of the diseases we’re at risk for…

Posted On

02/3/10

Author

Kimberly Kenny

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Thanks to all of you who have posted wonderful intros, ISPs and questions. I can't wait to match faces with all of your posts!

As for your recent questions:

1. The "Life Along the Mekong" Reader should have been in your welcome box from Dragons. Its a plastic bound collection of printed articles and essays all relevant to our course. Its about 1.5 inches thick, and has a bright teal cover page. If you for some reason don't have one, please call the office as soon as possible (ask for Kylie) and ask that they send you one.

2. All of your meals are covered by Dragons, and we will eat well. If you want to buy snacks or bevarages along the way, that's on your own but $50-75 a week will be plenty enough to support any coconut shake or river mussel habits you may develop.

3. You will NOT need a sleeping bag. Unless you want to cook yourself like a burrito.

4. In the final weeks of our course, the students will have the opportunity for a group-organized trek somewhere in Yunnan province. As we get closer, Allana, Stew (our 3rd instructor while in China) and I will present you with some options, guidelines and resources to help you in your planning. If you want to travel elsewhere after we have finished our journey, you will need to arrange your flights and travel details on your own.

Hope this helps! Did I miss any questions?

Robin and Robyn...do either of you have a nickname?

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Michael Woodard,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Thanks to all of you who have posted wonderful intros, ISPs and questions. I can’t wait to match faces with all of your posts! As for your recent questions: 1. The "Life Along the Mekong" Reader should have been in your welcome box from Dragons. Its a plastic bound collection of printed articles and essays […]

Posted On

02/2/10

Author

Michael Woodard

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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?

Kimberly Kenny,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

I called United but still wasn’t sure – do we need to buy separate bags to cover up our hiking bags for the flight? The man who helped me at REI said some airlines require it.

Posted On

02/2/10

Author

Kimberly Kenny

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I arrived in Phnom Penh yesterday, for the fourth time now in the past 2.5 years. The airport seems a little more posh now, and the line of tourists at the visa counter gets longer each time I come through, but otherwise the feeling upon arriving in this fascinating land has been the same each time: sensory bewilderment, especially in the nose.

Immediately upon stepping out of the airport and hopping into a tuk-tuk, each breath of swampy air was filled with jasmine, roadside garbage, jackfruit and durian, sewage, the aroma a passing vendor cart selling num cheik ang (grilled banana snacks, for which I have a rather helpless addiction), smoke from gasoline and diesel engines, sugar cane juice, urine, pork and chicken roasting on street vendor carts, and soon after the smell of their live brethren passing on the backs of motos. Etc. Etc. Etc. I suppose it would be trite to say the olfactory sense comes alive here, but the rush and range of intense smells does make you question whether your nose was previously working properly.

As we made the short trip to the guest house, I realized I had forgotten how many businesses were named "Lucky something-or-other" and that this is inexplicably amusing to me. Lucky Supermarket and Lucky Burger are still here of course, but just there is Lucky Hair Salon for Woman and Man, and Lucky Internet World, and Lucky Repair Shop ("Selling all kind of part"), and Lucky Pizza, Lucky Tailor and Lucky Laundry, and perhaps my favorite Lucky Helmets (the brand marketing is seemingly ironic, and yet rational too, to hope for some luck in case of an accident). But the repeated sight of the word lucky was a powerful and welcoming sensation, something that once again signalled how truly fortunate I am to be here, and to have the opportunity to explore this curious place with all of you.

I am eager to meet all of you and embark on our journey. Allana and I will be monitoring the Yak board over the next week for your questions and ideas...please keep them coming and let us know how we can continue to help you prepare.

And hurry up and get here already!

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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The Land of Lucky

Michael Woodard,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

I arrived in Phnom Penh yesterday, for the fourth time now in the past 2.5 years. The airport seems a little more posh now, and the line of tourists at the visa counter gets longer each time I come through, but otherwise the feeling upon arriving in this fascinating land has been the same each […]

Posted On

02/2/10

Author

Michael Woodard

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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?

Paige Montgomery,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

No sleeping bags?

Posted On

02/1/10

Author

Paige Montgomery

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First question, I know I missed something or am just out of the loop lol but what is the Mekong Reader?? And why do I not know about it? lol o boy.

And second,does Dragons pay for ourmeals each dayor is that why we are told to bring$50-75 per week,because we are paying for our own meals? I'm only asking because in our last semester we only brought $300 for 3 months, and that worked out great. But they did cover our food costs.

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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?s

Robyn Reeder,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

First question, I know I missed something or am just out of the loop lol but what is the Mekong Reader?? And why do I not know about it? lol o boy. And second,does Dragons pay for ourmeals each dayor is that why we are told to bring$50-75 per week,because we are paying for our […]

Posted On

02/1/10

Author

Robyn Reeder

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Howdy everyone, I hope all of our preparations go smoothly! ;=)

Is the Mekong reader a periodical, or is it part of the preparation material we have received? I can't seem to find it, but perhaps I have been looking in the wrong places.

For the ISP topics I would like to do either, "Individual meditation" or political "Corruption". One being the more serious choice, and the other being more light-hearted! I would gladly accept any advice/thoughts :P

And finally, a big warm thank you to Allana and Michael!

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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ISP/ Questions

Robin Bartels,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Howdy everyone, I hope all of our preparations go smoothly! ;=) Is the Mekong reader a periodical, or is it part of the preparation material we have received? I can’t seem to find it, but perhaps I have been looking in the wrong places. For the ISP topics I would like to do either, "Individual […]

Posted On

02/1/10

Author

Robin Bartels

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    [post_date] => 2010-01-31 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Thanks for the advice, Chris. I loved reading about your solo adventures after the program was over so thanks for that too!

Taylor - as far as recommendations for programs go, I had a great experience with the School for Field Studies. They focus mainly on environmental studies and they've got programs in Costa Rica, Turks & Caicos (where I was), Kenya, Mexico, and Australia. One of the things I loved about it was all the hands-on work we did, and the fact that I got to apply what I was learning in the field. For my gap year I also looked at doing a JET program - I think the stints they do are 2 years, but you teach English in Japan (maybe you want to spend more time in the Eastern hemisphere?). I have a friend taking a gap year who is working for AmeriCorps and she says its been great for her - I could give you her name and email if you wanted to ask her any questions. Another friend's taking a gap year and she's doing a 5th year of high school in Belgium through AFS (American Field Service) and she's loving it. Same deal with name and email if you're interested in learning more. Sorry to be rambling, but it seems there are so many great things to do on a gap year. I heard from somewhere or someone with Dragons that we shouldn't find each other on facebook before the program (and I think its kind of a cool idea to let our first impressions be in person rather than an internet personality that isn't always accurate), or otherwise I would friend you!

Student Lesson:

I was interested in "River at Risk; The Mekong and the Water Politics of China and Southeast Asia" by Milton Osbourne. I think China's impact on Southeast Asia and the effects of dams upstream are really interesting, so I'd love to talk about that.

Will each of us be giving a lesson each week, or does one person give a lesson a week?

ISP:

I was really interested in "Impact of dams and hydropower," "China's influence in SE Asia," Religion (esp. Buddhism), and Language (particularly reading/writing). I was thinking I'd love to do a survey project of peoples' opinions about the water situation. Would I be able to do casual interviews? Will we get a chance to interact with a variety of people including officials and govt people? I really want to do something with photography, but I'm not quite sure how to integrate it. Any ideas?

I was wondering about traveling at the end of the program. We get to organize our own trip right? Would it be possible for me to arrange a visit with my friends mom in Thailand? Thanks Allana for your answers to my other questions. And thanks to both of you, Allana and Michael, for working so hard with the prep work! Only 9 more days!

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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student lesson, ISP, questions

Kimberly Kenny,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Thanks for the advice, Chris. I loved reading about your solo adventures after the program was over so thanks for that too! Taylor – as far as recommendations for programs go, I had a great experience with the School for Field Studies. They focus mainly on environmental studies and they’ve got programs in Costa Rica, […]

Posted On

01/31/10

Author

Kimberly Kenny

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