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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013


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As our trip is coming to a close, we have been focusing on meditation and reflection. There are many things to think about at this point in the trip; what it's going to be like at home, what we're doing this summer, what school's going to be like next year... But we have been trying to steer away from that train of thought as much as possible. Recognizing that those thoughts are normal and that they are bound to come up these next few days, our group has been trying to stay in the present and enjoy the wonderful company of our friends and the beautiful surroundings of this peaceful, cobblestoned, historic city. We read a piece called Why I Sit, which discusses meditation in it's simplist form: reflecting and being at peace while sitting. Then, we went off to an old temple in the mountains surrounded by grottos and sat/journalled. This is what I wrote:

 

Why I Sit

To shake off pain. To catch my breath. To breath in life. To accept my circumstances. To let my brain wander. To let my limbs rest. To relax. To feel the wind. To take a bath of sunlight. To look further than my nose. To see. To hear the birds. To sing. To gaze up at the clouds. To feel my heart pumping life into my veins. To know the trees. To make friends with nature. To escape. To think about people. My relationships. My past. My future. To not think about anything. To close my eyes and drink in the stillness. To meditate. To pray. To be thankful. To love. To love. To love. To smile at both nothing and everything. To smell. To fill my lungs and sink deeper into the ground. To balance my own life with the life all around me. To see life as one community. A clock with gears, winding and turning. To be one with all. To be with myself. To imagine the clouds in shapes, and see beauty in all forms. To be beautiful myself. To notice each of my body parts. Know how they feel, notice what they are touching, where they ache. To let my thoughts dance to their own rhythm, and let my problems work out in their own good time. To let go of problems. Annoyances. Aches. Longings. And love the moment. For the moment is all I have.

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Why I Sit

Elise Emil,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

As our trip is coming to a close, we have been focusing on meditation and reflection. There are many things to think about at this point in the trip; what it’s going to be like at home, what we’re doing this summer, what school’s going to be like next year… But we have been trying […]

Posted On

05/6/13

Author

Elise Emil

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Since coming to Bandong Village, everything has become clearer. The day of our arrival, my lungs gulped in waves of the crisp mountain air, cleansing every passage in my chest and filling my head with the smell of pine and tea leaves drying in the breeze. After my roommates and I settled into our small farm house atop one of the many hills that compose this village, we joined a few others on the roof of our pig pen to watch the setting sun smudge pinks, oranges, and purples across the faded blue sky above us. The view from this concrete slab reaches far beyond the village below, and grabs at the surrounding mountains like a greedy child reaching hungrily past the sprawling peaks, all the way to the edges of Tibet. On our third day in the village, we ventured down to once again join our Mother Mekong, which is not even visible from where our homes sit proudly above the clouds. The water was stunning, and clearer than I've ever seen in throughout our three months here in Southeast Asia. The strong current tugged at its smooth surface, sending rapid ripples of transparent blue across the hundreds of colored stones that covered the earthy soil. I can't help thinking that this fresh mountain air and glossy, halcyon water of our Mekong have together cleared my mind as well. When Marguerite prompted us to reflect on those we've met along our journey on the Mekong and what they have taught us in our time with them, I noticed how focused and sharp my thoughts were; it was so easy for me to access my memories of those we've met - Mara, Som, my Laos host mother, and the myriad others who have taught me so many lessons. Placing my leaf in the water, symbolizing my many thanks to those who've changed my life in the past three months, I could hear my thoughts echoing off the sleek surface of water pulsing around my ankles. Thank you for showing me how to love with more of myself. Thank you for welcoming me, and treating me as one of your own. Thank you for showing me how to live with joy, and to spread that joy to others. Thank you for teaching me to never be frugal with love or kindness, for it is never limited.
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Clarity

Louisa Kane ,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Since coming to Bandong Village, everything has become clearer. The day of our arrival, my lungs gulped in waves of the crisp mountain air, cleansing every passage in my chest and filling my head with the smell of pine and tea leaves drying in the breeze. After my roommates and I settled into our small […]

Posted On

05/5/13

Author

Louisa Kane

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    [post_title] => Trekking in China, Part I
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Trekking in China, Part I

Mekong Sages,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Posted On

05/3/13

Author

Mekong Sages

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    [post_title] => Trekking in China, Part II
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Trekking in China, Part II

Mekong Sages,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Posted On

05/3/13

Author

Mekong Sages

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    [post_title] => trekking in China, Part III
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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trekking in China, Part III

Mekong Sages,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Posted On

05/3/13

Author

Mekong Sages

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After four tough days of trekking, we are back and finally clean again! We had a wonderful few days and continued to get to know each other even better than we'd thought was possible! Who would've known that after three months of traveling together that we'd still be learning about each other. But we are! And it is such a joy to keep discovering new things dear friends. On the trek we saw breath-taking views of the mountains and stopped at many temples. There were Buddhism lessons, hiking games, and lots and lots of cheery conversations. I am really sad to have that phase of the trip done because the backpacking was so liberating and our group was all together all the time. One big hiking party non-stop!

 

And I absolutely cannot believe that we are now down to less than 10 days. No no no n o nonononono!!! Im going to miss everyone on this trip so much, and there is no way that I will ever let any of you guys out of my life(to the Mekong groupies). I hope we stay in touch forever and ever and I can't wait to see what all of you do with your ambitious and exciting lives. I love you guys a ton. 9 more days, let's make them the best of our lives. 

xoxoxo,

Elise 

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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This one’s dedicated to you guys

Elise Emil,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

After four tough days of trekking, we are back and finally clean again! We had a wonderful few days and continued to get to know each other even better than we’d thought was possible! Who would’ve known that after three months of traveling together that we’d still be learning about each other. But we are! […]

Posted On

05/3/13

Author

Elise Emil

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Today we are back in Dali and after our 4 day and 40 some kilometer trek. We made it to the top of Jizu Mountain where we spent the night in a temple and marvelled at the unbelievable view of rolling mountains below and vast pine forests. We woke high above the clouds and spent the morning in the mist watching ancient prayer flags wave in the high winds. This temple was built for one of Buddha's four deciples to exist in a state of rest until the next Buddha comes into the world and reaches enlightenment. We consider ourselves lucky to have experienced such a an amazing place in such an unforgettable atmosphere.
Now we're off to Shaxi, but tonight we will sleep at a temple atop a mountain outside the city. In the morning we will hike down and reach Shaxi around mid-day. There, we will present our Independent Study Projects and participate in Transference among the beautiful arcitecture. 
After Shaxi we're off to Kunming on the 9th. There will spend our last two days together, explore the city, buy some gifts, and enjoy eachother for our remaining days!
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Program Assistant’s Update!

Jane Jordan,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Today we are back in Dali and after our 4 day and 40 some kilometer trek. We made it to the top of Jizu Mountain where we spent the night in a temple and marvelled at the unbelievable view of rolling mountains below and vast pine forests. We woke high above the clouds and spent […]

Posted On

05/3/13

Author

Jane Jordan

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This week on Dragons.

We just finished a homestay in Bangdong village 3 hours outside of Lin Cang. The village was beautifully tucked in side of a valley in the Himalayan foothills. After a couple days of fresh mountain air we traveled to Dali where we are now and were about to embark on another trek for 4 days into the mountains surrounding Dali.  We aim to get to the top of Jizu mountain and back down! where we will then head to Shaxi for Transference. We will see you soon.

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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What the group is doing.

Neel Cole,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

This week on Dragons. We just finished a homestay in Bangdong village 3 hours outside of Lin Cang. The village was beautifully tucked in side of a valley in the Himalayan foothills. After a couple days of fresh mountain air we traveled to Dali where we are now and were about to embark on another […]

Posted On

04/29/13

Author

Neel Cole

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What a beautiful world we live in. 
I am lying on the roof of my homestay family's house, listening to crickets, frogs and other sounds of the night. Below me, I can hear the soft voices of my host family speaking to one another by firelight in their kitchen. A cool breeze comes across the valley, smelling of freshness, a touch of the Mekong that flows at the bottom of the valley, and and something I don't quite recognize. It smells of isolation, independance, wilderness, risk, a touch of lonleiness but also of peace, and of the passage of time. The mountains that the wind touches seem to go on forever. Their stoic and rugged beauty takes my breath away, and each time I gaze out at them I get lost. They seem to go on forever- each layer a lighter blue than the next, until they seem to become one with the sky. The moon is full tonight,illuminating the terraced mountain sides and scattered houses of the village. The ridged horizon line to the west still holds some of the lightness of the day, brilliant tourquoise accentuates the silouette of the moutntain. Stars come out. Clouds drift across the sky.  I recognize constallations: Orion- the hunter, Cassiopeia, and the Big Dipper. Somewhere in the hidden valley below me, the Mekong flows- swift and strong. Our mother river. We have spent the last few months following this incredible body of water from the sea to the sky. The water that flows through this beautiful mountainous valley is the same water that will flow downstream to all the amazing places and wonderful people who have touched our hearts through out this amazing journey. We live in a beautiful world, yes, but we should never forget that we have the power to add so much beauty to the world we are a part of, simply by sharing love. It doesn't have to be something big- simply smiling at a stranger makes the world a more beautiful place. One of my favorite children's books is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. In the book a little girl dreams of living in far away places and coming home to live by the sea. Her great aunt tells here that that is all very well, but there is a third thing she must do- she must do something to make the world more beautiful. I would like to do something to make the world more beautiful, but like the little girl in the children's book, I do not yet know what that will be. I will do my best to appreciate the beautiful world I am a part of and try to send love downstream and to the world. I apologize for the nonsensical ramblings and I will leave you with a quote from The Alchemist,
"It's not love to be static like the desert, and it's not love to roam the world like the wind. And it's not love to see everything from a distance, like you do. Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World."
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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Mountains and Rivers and Stars

Marguerite Wiser ,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

Description

What a beautiful world we live in.  I am lying on the roof of my homestay family’s house, listening to crickets, frogs and other sounds of the night. Below me, I can hear the soft voices of my host family speaking to one another by firelight in their kitchen. A cool breeze comes across the […]

Posted On

04/29/13

Author

Marguerite Wiser

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Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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Five Photos From the Last Five Days

William Maas,Life Along the Mekong Semester, Spring 2013

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04/28/13

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William Maas

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