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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013


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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

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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 […]

Posted On

12/20/12

Author

Jesse Millett

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Su’sday fellow travelers! I hope all is well with you in your respective parts of the globe. Most importantly, I hope you are as excited about our upcoming journey as I am. I am absolutely thrilled to be one of your instructors this spring. To embark on an expedition of this nature is a challenging and very courageous act. I imagine you are all excited, anxious, curious and eager to know what lies ahead. We are going to expose you to all the beauty we can find, to answer your questions to the very best of our abilities and to challenge ourselves, and each other, in incredible ways.

To tell the story of how I came to Dragons I first have to explain my nomadic tendencies. I have been a wanderer for most of my life. I am the only daughter of very adventurous parents, both of whom are biologists and educators. They decided that I would learn of this world by being thrust into it. Before the age of six I had lived in Texas, Utah, Kentucky, Mexico, Australia and Brazil. I returned to the Rocky Mountains of the western U.S.A. and, with an accent no one can seem to place, “settled” down. However, the world would call and every ten months or so my family would adventure off returning when our passports were full and my mother decided that she needed to tend her garden.

Since 2009 I have been living in Asia leading trips, writing of my adventures, teaching, and trying to find foods spicy enough for my liking. In the landlocked country of Laos in Southeast Asia, near the banks of the Mekong River I met a Dragons group. I was blown away by their experiences and contagious enthusiasm. Then and there I decided that I must be a part of this dynamic family. It has been one of the best decisions of my life.

With that I will say welcome to our family! We are embarking on an experience that will shape our lives in incredible ways. Paulo Freire, a great Brazilian educator, once said that "no one is fully formed, it is through self-experience in the world that we become who we are." I always love thinking about this as I travel. To me, actively engaging with the world and living fully within each moment allows us to pursue beauty to its lair. We will find friends in odd places, we will find joy in learning something we never knew we were interested in and, in the end, we will have the most incredible time.

I look forward to hearing from you all. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

-Hillary

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Instructor Hillary

admin,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Su’sday fellow travelers! I hope all is well with you in your respective parts of the globe. Most importantly, I hope you are as excited about our upcoming journey as I am. I am absolutely thrilled to be one of your instructors this spring. To embark on an expedition of this nature is a challenging […]

Posted On

12/17/12

Author

admin

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Su’sday fellow travelers!  I hope all is well with you in your respective parts of the globe.  Most importantly, I hope you are as excited about our upcoming journey as I am.  I am absolutely thrilled to be one of your instructors this spring.  To embark on an expedition of this nature is a challenging and very courageous act.  I imagine you are all excited, anxious, curious and eager to know what lies ahead.  We are going to expose you to all the beauty we can find, to answer your questions to the very best of our abilities and to challenge ourselves, and each other, in incredible ways.

 

To tell the story of how I came to Dragons I first have to explain my nomadic tendencies.  I have been a wanderer for most of my life.  I am the only daughter of very adventurous parents, both of whom are biologists and educators.  They decided that I would learn of this world by being thrust into it.  Before the age of six I had lived in Texas, Utah, Kentucky, Mexico, Australia and Brazil.  I returned to the Rocky Mountains of the western U.S.A. and, with an accent no one can seem to place, “settled” down.  However, the world would call and every ten months or so my family would adventure off returning when our passports were full and my mother decided that she needed to tend her garden.

 

Since 2009 I have been living in Asia leading trips, writing of my adventures, teaching, and trying to find foods spicy enough for my liking.  In the landlocked country of Laos in Southeast Asia, near the banks of the Mekong River I met a Dragons group.  I was blown away by their experiences and contagious enthusiasm.  Then and there I decided that I must be a part of this dynamic family. It has been one of the best decisions of my life.

 

With that I will say welcome to our family!  We are embarking on an experience that will shape our lives in incredible ways.  Paulo Freire, a great Brazilian educator, once said that "no one is fully formed, it is through self-experience in the world that we become who we are."  I always love thinking about this as I travel.  To me, actively engaging with the world and living fully within each moment allows us to pursue beauty to its lair.  We will find friends in odd places, we will find joy in learning something we never knew we were interested in and, in the end, we will have the most incredible time.

 

I look forward to hearing from you all.  If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. 

-Hillary

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Instructor Hillary

Hillary Sites,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Su’sday fellow travelers!  I hope all is well with you in your respective parts of the globe.  Most importantly, I hope you are as excited about our upcoming journey as I am.  I am absolutely thrilled to be one of your instructors this spring.  To embark on an expedition of this nature is a challenging […]

Posted On

12/17/12

Author

Hillary Sites

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