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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013


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Hi Everyone!

I'm so pumped to meet all of you. Only one more month! 

I'm from Washington, DC, and just graduated from a huge public high school. In the fall, I moved down to southern VA to work on a campaign, and after the election I returned to DC to work at a toy store and do some volunteering. I'm so glad I decided to take a year off, its been refreshing to step back and do things simply just because I enjoy doing them.

 It seems appropriate to take a quote from my high school's website, since I never quite understood its value until after I graduated. Hopefully we will be able to live by this quote and remember every moment while we embark on this incredibly adventure.

All the best,

Elise 

"In days to come, it will please us to remember this" 

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Greetings!

Elise Emil,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi Everyone! I’m so pumped to meet all of you. Only one more month!  I’m from Washington, DC, and just graduated from a huge public high school. In the fall, I moved down to southern VA to work on a campaign, and after the election I returned to DC to work at a toy store […]

Posted On

01/9/13

Author

Elise Emil

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    [post_date] => 2013-01-07 11:32:05
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    [post_content] => 

Hey everyone!

I'm writing you from up north in Calgary, Alberta Canada. I just got back from a day of skiing in the beautiful rocky mountains. It's -20C here which sucks, but it's favorable for the conditions of our igloos.

As for my life recently, I work front desk at a hotel here in Calgary, am a nanny to 2 adorable kids, and assistant produce shows for a youth theatre company. After studying in a Performing and Visual arts program for 3 years, I consider myself pretty lucky to be living in the cultural capital of Canada.

I'm so excited to explore the arts, religion, history, and human rights development in all of the places we're going. And, of course, I'm excited to do all of this with you guys!

"Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you" - Aldous Huxley

See ya'll February 9th

Sarah

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Hello

Sarah England,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hey everyone! I’m writing you from up north in Calgary, Alberta Canada. I just got back from a day of skiing in the beautiful rocky mountains. It’s -20C here which sucks, but it’s favorable for the conditions of our igloos. As for my life recently, I work front desk at a hotel here in Calgary, […]

Posted On

01/7/13

Author

Sarah England

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    [post_date] => 2013-01-07 00:00:00
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Hey everyone!

 

I'm writing you from up north in Calgary, Alberta Canada. I just got back from a day of skiing in the beautiful rocky mountains. It's -20C here which sucks, but it's favorable for the conditions of our igloos.

 

As for my life recently, I work front desk at a hotel here in Calgary, am a nanny to 2 adorable kids, and assistant produce shows for a youth theatre company. After studying in a Performing and Visual arts program for 3 years, I consider myself pretty lucky to be living in the cultural capital of Canada.  

 

I'm so excited to explore the arts, religion, history, and human rights development in all of the places we're going. And, of course, I'm excited to do all of this with you guys! 

 

"Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you" - Aldous Huxley 

 

See ya'll February 9th

 

Sarah 

 

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Hello

Sarah England,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hey everyone!   I’m writing you from up north in Calgary, Alberta Canada. I just got back from a day of skiing in the beautiful rocky mountains. It’s -20C here which sucks, but it’s favorable for the conditions of our igloos.   As for my life recently, I work front desk at a hotel here […]

Posted On

01/7/13

Author

Sarah England

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A couple of weeks ago, I was reading Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. The following passage from the introduction left a big impression on me. Read it first, and I will explain why it is relevant to your upcoming experience.

This much I'm certain of: it doesn't happen immediately. You'll finish and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. You'll be sick or feeling troubled or deeply in love or quietly uncertain or even content for the first time in your life. It won't matter. Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you'll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them to be at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You'll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you'll realize it's always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won't understand why or how. You'll have forgotten what granted you this awareness in the first place.

...

You might try then, as I did, to find a sky so full of stars it will blind you again. Only no sky can blind you now. Even with all that iridescent magic up there, your eye will no longer linger on the light, it will no longer trace constellations. You'll care only about the darkness and you'll watch it for hours, for days, maybe even for years, trying in vain to believe you're some kind of indispensable, universe-appointed sentinel, as if just by looking you could actually keep it all at bay. It will get so bad you'll be afraid to look away, you'll be afraid to sleep.

Then no matter where you are, in a crowded restaurant or on some desolate street or even in the comforts of your own home, you'll watch yourself dismantle every assurance you ever lived by. You'll stand aside as a great complexity intrudes, tearing apart, piece by piece, all of your carefully conceived denials, whether deliberate or unconscious. And then for better or worse you'll turn, unable to resist, though try to resist you still will, fighting with everything you've got not to face the thing you most dread, what is now, what will be, what has always come before, the creature you truly are, the creature we all are, buried in the nameless black of a name.

And then the nightmares will begin.

What you brave young souls are about to embark on is a profound, yet complex thing to grasp, even after its completion. I am sure you have asked yourself just exactly what it is you will get out of this experience. A Dragons course is dynamic, colorful, and most characteristically, unpredictable. I am no fortune teller, but I can tell you this much with my experiences:

It will grant you a fresh awareness,
And then life will begin.
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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A Nightmare after Christmas

admin,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. The following passage from the introduction left a big impression on me. Read it first, and I will explain why it is relevant to your upcoming experience. This much I’m certain of: it doesn’t happen immediately. You’ll finish and that will […]

Posted On

01/3/13

Author

admin

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 16428
    [post_author] => 30
    [post_date] => 2013-01-03 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-03 07:00:00
    [post_content] => 
A couple of weeks ago, I was reading Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. The following passage from the introduction left a big impression on me. Read it first, and I will explain why it is relevant to your upcoming experience.

This much I'm certain of: it doesn't happen immediately. You'll finish and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. You'll be sick or feeling troubled or deeply in love or quietly uncertain or even content for the first time in your life. It won't matter. Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you'll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them to be at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You'll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you'll realize it's always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won't understand why or how. You'll have forgotten what granted you this awareness in the first place.

...

You might try then, as I did, to find a sky so full of stars it will blind you again. Only no sky can blind you now. Even with all that iridescent magic up there, your eye will no longer linger on the light, it will no longer trace constellations. You'll care only about the darkness and you'll watch it for hours, for days, maybe even for years, trying in vain to believe you're some kind of indispensable, universe-appointed sentinel, as if just by looking you could actually keep it all at bay. It will get so bad you'll be afraid to look away, you'll be afraid to sleep.

Then no matter where you are, in a crowded restaurant or on some desolate street or even in the comforts of your own home, you'll watch yourself dismantle every assurance you ever lived by. You'll stand aside as a great complexity intrudes, tearing apart, piece by piece, all of your carefully conceived denials, whether deliberate or unconscious. And then for better or worse you'll turn, unable to resist, though try to resist you still will, fighting with everything you've got not to face the thing you most dread, what is now, what will be, what has always come before, the creature you truly are, the creature we all are, buried in the nameless black of a name.

And then the nightmares will begin.

What you brave young souls are about to embark on is a profound, yet complex thing to grasp, even after its completion. I am sure you have asked yourself just exactly what it is you will get out of this experience. A Dragons course is dynamic, colorful, and most characteristically, unpredictable. I am no fortune teller, but I can tell you this much with my experiences:

It will grant you a fresh awareness,
And then life will begin.
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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A Nightmare after Christmas

Jacky Li,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. The following passage from the introduction left a big impression on me. Read it first, and I will explain why it is relevant to your upcoming experience. This much I’m certain of: it doesn’t happen immediately. You’ll finish and that will […]

Posted On

01/3/13

Author

Jacky Li

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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2013-01-01 00:00:59
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-01 00:00:59
    [post_content] => Hey y'all - Happy New Year!

I'm writing you from a tent in Oakura Beach Park, Taranaki, New Zealand where I am waiting for the minutes to tick by so that I can begin my night shift cleaning the toilets. I've been in New Zealand for almost three months now, the latest stop on my gap year. Before this, I was in Conway, New Hampshire working towards a Wilderness EMT certification. I'm so excited to get back together with Dragons and meet all of you guys in a little over a month - I was lucky enough to go on the Silk Road trip last summer and those six weeks were some of the best of my life. Just writing this introductory note made me so nostalgic that I popped back to read all of the yaks from that course and at the same time outrageously excited and nervous to tackle the Mekong with y'all.

I'd like to take this chance to thank my parents - I don't know if you'll read this guys, but thanks for everything. This year has been so amazing and Ill never even be able to share enough of it with you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience a bit of the world outside of the one I knew - I hope I've done enough to embrace it. Love you and will see you soon.

Looking forward to everything -
Cheers,
Will
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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The Mighty Mekong

admin,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hey y’all – Happy New Year! I’m writing you from a tent in Oakura Beach Park, Taranaki, New Zealand where I am waiting for the minutes to tick by so that I can begin my night shift cleaning the toilets. I’ve been in New Zealand for almost three months now, the latest stop on my […]

Posted On

01/1/13

Author

admin

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 30
    [post_date] => 2013-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-01 07:00:00
    [post_content] => 

Hey y'all - Happy New Year!

I'm writing you from a tent in Oakura Beach Park, Taranaki, New Zealand where I am waiting for the minutes to tick by so that I can begin my night shift cleaning the toilets. I've been in New Zealand for almost three months now, the latest stop on my gap year. Before this, I was in Conway, New Hampshire working towards a Wilderness EMT certification. I'm so excited to get back together with Dragons and meet all of you guys in a little over a month - I was lucky enough to go on the Silk Road trip last summer and those six weeks were some of the best of my life. Just writing this introductory note made me so nostalgic that I popped back to read all of the yaks from that course and at the same time outrageously excited and nervous to tackle the Mekong with y'all. 
I'd like to take this chance to thank my parents - I don't know if you'll read this guys, but thanks for everything. This year has been so amazing and Ill never even be able to share enough of it with you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience a bit of the world outside of the one I knew - I hope I've done enough to embrace it. Love you and will see you soon. 
Looking forward to everything -
Cheers,
Will

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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The Mighty Mekong

William Maas,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hey y’all – Happy New Year! I’m writing you from a tent in Oakura Beach Park, Taranaki, New Zealand where I am waiting for the minutes to tick by so that I can begin my night shift cleaning the toilets. I’ve been in New Zealand for almost three months now, the latest stop on my […]

Posted On

01/1/13

Author

William Maas

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    [post_date] => 2012-12-20 11:39:08
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    [post_content] => 
Welcome aboard everyone!
I will be writing more in the days to come and I invite you to share as much of yourself as possible here. Be authentic, be creative, be YOU. Life is precious. I would like to get to know you so that we could better tailor the program to what you need at this time. Let's start the process of coming together.
The nameless is the origin of heaven and earth While naming is the origin of the myriad things. Therefore, always desireless, you see the mystery Ever desiring, you see the manifestations.
- Dao De Jing, translated by Charles Muller (1997)
I am currently collaborating with the One Asia Projectas a photographerin Delhi, India, where we are providing a platform for artists of different countries to exchange. This year, artists from nine countries are participating and we are offering stage performances, workshops, calligraphy exhibitions, film screenings, and more. Why am I involved in this project? It is because of my firm believe in human unity, the inherent oneness in all things. On a daily basis, I am reminded of the richness of Asia's cultural heritage and witnessing the magic of unity in diversity. As we were saying goodbye after dinner last night to Parvathy Baul (Baul singer from West Bengal), Wang Xinxin (Taiwanese classical musician), spontaneously began singing a farewell song in the Nanguan language. Gathered in a circle on the sidewalk outside the restaurant, we were spellbound by her serene melody. And in that moment, we were realizing the vision for the project: one Asia for one world.
In many ways, human unity has been the thread to my travels in the last three years. There never seemed to be enough pages in my passport. This year alone, I was in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Living this nomadic life has afforded me many opportunities to learn without bound and to grow freely as a human being. While I continue to be mesmerized by the beauty of our world, the practice of yoga keeps me grounded in the heart space and closer to God (in the numerous ways one can spell it with alphabets).
Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt.
- Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
Since signing on to lead this Mekong semester, I would occasionally daydream of rolling rice fields and lush tropical canopy. Everywhere I look, poetry of water would flow, so deeply that it permeates my imaginations. The Mekong river runs from the Tibetan Plateau into many streams and our itinerary will take us up the streams to its source. Along the way, we will cross into three countries, interact with multiple cultures, and partake in a myriad of experiences. As much as we do outwardly, it all rotates around one central axis... and that is our own self. So I hope when this journey concludes, you would have at least caught a glimpse of the nameless through your own experiences and its impact rippling out to the rest of your lives. In the West, much of our time is spent developing the mind. This time, we are going to explore together the many ways we can to expand our heart.
I wish you a cozy holiday season with your loved ones and that you are preparing for an explosion, an expansion... a transformation.
One love,
Jacky
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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One Asia, One World

Jacky Li,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Welcome aboard everyone! I will be writing more in the days to come and I invite you to share as much of yourself as possible here. Be authentic, be creative, be YOU. Life is precious. I would like to get to know you so that we could better tailor the program to what you need […]

Posted On

12/20/12

Author

Jacky Li

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Suksabai, Sabaidee, and Nihao!
I am writing to you all from a family farm in rural New York. I've just returned from leading the Fall Mekong course from China to Cambodia and head back there in a couple weeks to continue preperations for our trip. Being home is always so grounding for me but as I am catching up on some well needed rest here all that I can think about is all the traveling, exploring, and growing we will be doing on our trip up the great Mekong River. I can honestly say we will be diving head first into the beauty and the complexity of the Mekong Region in about six weeks.
I can't tell you how much I am excited for this upcoming program and to meet all of you. You can use this yak board to introduce yourselves to the group, and express any questions or concerns about the program on this Yak Board. As the I-Team (your three instructors) is working hard to put the major pieces of our itinerary together, this is also an ideal time to give your input and tell us what you are interested in, what you're passionate about, and where you might want to go (on our trip or in life).
Let me start by introducing myself:

I excelled in high school, (or at least was really bored with it) and decided to enter college early. It was after two years of intensively studying international politics at a college in Western Massachusetts, that I realized I had no idea how these classes where helping me grow and decided to take a break. I took a year off to explore my interests and one of my trips landed me in China, taking part in an exhibition of photographs taken by my late grandfather in Kunming, China, 1944. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew almost no Mandarin and very little about China, but went into the experience with a clean slate and open mind, aware that it was going to be very different. I had no idea that it was going to change my life. The warm heartedness and generosity of the people, matched by the awe-inspiring nature of the Chinese civilization and culture, helped me decide that I wanted to begin a life bridging the cultures between China and the West. I dedicated the next eight years to learning and exploring these passions, spending at least half the time living and traveling in China and SE Asia.
I have spent a lot of time living, working and traveling in China but my time in SE Asia has been limited to traveling, whether by backpacking on my own, cycling with a group to promote friendship and cultural ties between the two regions, or leading a Dragons trip. This is my fourth time traveling through Laos and Cambodia, and am incredibly excited for this opportunity to explore them again with all of you. I look forward to bringing all of my experiences throughout Asia and my distinct knowledge of Yunnan and China to our group and am excited to see how our team and each student grows over the course of the semester.

The I-Team is planning to show you the world, or at least give you the opportunity to see it through your own eyes. Our experiences, as well as your ambitions, are so vast and diverse, that I feel confident you will have a trip that you will remember for a lifetime, with impressions that will help mold your own worldview. Not only will you look back at the life you lead in the US in a totally different perspective, but on our trip you’re going to meet some amazing people, see some astonishing places, and make life-changing exchanges that will give you the opportunity to pursue your own passions and change the course of your life, (if you let it).

The most important thing that we are asking you to bring is an open mind, wiped clean of all preconceived notions. It is our hope that by the end of our trip you will have shaped your own view and we don’t want them to be clouded by the endless falsities that surround us in the media and society.

As we are getting closer to the start of our trip, my co-instructors and I are working hard to prepare a comprehensive and exciting itinerary that will hopefully leave a lasting impression. It’s our goal to accommodate and foster everyone's interests and passions, while drawing from our own experience, knowledge, and professional contacts. We hope to expand your knowledge of local and global issues as well as help develop personal leadership skills and a build on a worldview that will make you more globally conscious. I really look forward to getting to know each and everyone of you over the next few weeks and I urge everyone to come forward and introduce themselves on the Yak board and express your interests, questions, and concerns. Also feel free to contact us personally anytime.
Hope you are all enjoying the winter and can’t wait to meet you all in Cambodia!
Jesse
jmille03@gmail.com
ps some books I'm reading and highly recommend if you want to get into the Mekong Region spirit!:
The Hobbit (much better book than movie)
Autobiography of the Dalai Lama
The Art of NOT Being Governed - anarchist history of upland SE Asia
Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Diving in head first

Jesse Millett,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Suksabai, Sabaidee, and Nihao! I am writing to you all from a family farm in rural New York. I’ve just returned from leading the Fall Mekong course from China to Cambodia and head back there in a couple weeks to continue preperations for our trip. Being home is always so grounding for me but as […]

Posted On

12/20/12

Author

Jesse Millett

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Welcome aboard everyone!
 
I will be writing more in the days to come and I invite you to share as much of yourself as possible here. Be authentic, be creative, be YOU. Life is precious. I would like to get to know you so that we could better tailor the program to what you need at this time. Let's start the process of coming together.
 
The nameless is the origin of heaven and earth While naming is the origin of the myriad things. Therefore, always desireless, you see the mystery Ever desiring, you see the manifestations.
- Dao De Jing, translated by Charles Muller (1997)
 
I am currently collaborating with the One Asia Project as a photographer in Delhi, India, where we are providing a platform for artists of different countries to exchange. This year, artists from nine countries are participating and we are offering stage performances, workshops, calligraphy exhibitions, film screenings, and more. Why am I involved in this project? It is because of my firm believe in human unity, the inherent oneness in all things. On a daily basis, I am reminded of the richness of Asia's cultural heritage and witnessing the magic of unity in diversity. As we were saying goodbye after dinner last night to Parvathy Baul (Baul singer from West Bengal), Wang Xinxin (Taiwanese classical musician), spontaneously began singing a farewell song in the Nanguan language. Gathered in a circle on the sidewalk outside the restaurant, we were spellbound by her serene melody. And in that moment, we were realizing the vision for the project: one Asia for one world.
 
In many ways, human unity has been the thread to my travels in the last three years. There never seemed to be enough pages in my passport. This year alone, I was in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Living this nomadic life has afforded me many opportunities to learn without bound and to grow freely as a human being. While I continue to be mesmerized by the beauty of our world, the practice of yoga keeps me grounded in the heart space and closer to God (in the numerous ways one can spell it with alphabets).
 
Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt.
- Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
 
Since signing on to lead this Mekong semester, I would occasionally daydream of rolling rice fields and lush tropical canopy. Everywhere I look, poetry of water would flow, so deeply that it permeates my imaginations. The Mekong river runs from the Tibetan Plateau into many streams and our itinerary will take us up the streams to its source. Along the way, we will cross into three countries, interact with multiple cultures, and partake in a myriad of experiences. As much as we do outwardly, it all rotates around one central axis... and that is our own self. So I hope when this journey concludes, you would have at least caught a glimpse of the nameless through your own experiences and its impact rippling out to the rest of your lives. In the West, much of our time is spent developing the mind. This time, we are going to explore together the many ways we can to expand our heart.
 
I wish you a cozy holiday season with your loved ones and that you are preparing for an explosion, an expansion... a transformation.
 
One love,
Jacky
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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One Asia, One World

Jacky Li,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Welcome aboard everyone!   I will be writing more in the days to come and I invite you to share as much of yourself as possible here. Be authentic, be creative, be YOU. Life is precious. I would like to get to know you so that we could better tailor the program to what you […]

Posted On

12/20/12

Author

Jacky Li

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