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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011


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Today, as we trekked through the Lao jungle, we had to cross a river in the rain. As we slowly walked across with our arms linked I was reminded of the dance "Wade in the Water" from Alvin Ailey's "Revelations." We are like them, I thought, wading in the water. Except instead of a being a bunch of old black people giving a baptism, we were a group of white teenagers trying to cross a river...and we didn't have an umbrella. I am not sure what revelation Mr. Ailey had in mind when choreographing this dance, but I had one of my own. I did not discover the power of teamwork, I knew what strength our group had from the moment we all met at the Hacienda Hoteloutside LAX, but instead I realized that even if I could have crossed that river alone, I wouldn't have wanted to. To conquer that river would not have been the same without all of my friends celebrating with me. In the words of the song that plays as the umbrella lady dances through the flowing blue silk, "wade in the water. wade in the water children..." and hope to God that you'll never have to wade alone.

-Much love,

Alex McNab

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Revelations

Alexander McNab,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Today, as we trekked through the Lao jungle, we had to cross a river in the rain. As we slowly walked across with our arms linked I was reminded of the dance "Wade in the Water" from Alvin Ailey’s "Revelations." We are like them, I thought, wading in the water. Except instead of a being […]

Posted On

07/4/11

Author

Alexander McNab

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Being in Laos, it was only fitting that we explored the biggest source of revenue: rice. Yesterday our Dragons group took a trip to learn how to plant rice with the local people. The Human Genone Project discovered that the average peron is an Asain male whose occupation is rice planting. Most people, myself included, take for granted the rice that is served to us durng mealtime, but after this experience, I will never again leave a grain of rice on my plate! The rice process is not an easy one. First, the rice is planting in water. Then the rice is taken out and replanted about three years later. After this, the rice is dehusked and refined until it is only the grains remaining. These grains are then shipped off to China to be packaged up and shipped around the world for us to purchase in our local supermarkets.

When we arrived at the rice fields we were greeted by many of the local people who were going top assist us. Other locals watched from a hilltop in amusement as we "falang" or foreigners took off our socks and shoes and began to wade into the murky waters. We were taught to grab three or four strands of the rice leaves and pinch them with our thumb and forefinger, then we pushed the stalks into the mud until the root was fully covered. The local rice planters giggled as we struggled to perform this task. "Sabaidee!" we said to them, in hopes of seeming friendly. One girl asked me my name and where I from in English and I in turn asked her hers. That was the extent of our verbal converstation but there was much more being said underneath the surface. Most of these locals had never seen foreigners and our ineptitude to perform their daily tasks seemed strange to them. After we left, the Dragons group joked that the local rice planters were probably replanting the field we had just sown. We also marveled at what we had just done. Can you imagine that maybe, one day, that rice will be dehusked, refined into perfect grains, shipped to China to be packaged, shipped to the United States, delivered to the local grocery store, and just maybe you will pick up that bag of rice that traveled all the way from Laos and eat those same grains of rice that you planted years before. I probably wont be able to eat those grains of rice, but one day, someone else will.

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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The Land of Rice

Elie Sokoloff,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Being in Laos, it was only fitting that we explored the biggest source of revenue: rice. Yesterday our Dragons group took a trip to learn how to plant rice with the local people. The Human Genone Project discovered that the average peron is an Asain male whose occupation is rice planting. Most people, myself included, […]

Posted On

07/4/11

Author

Elie Sokoloff

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    [post_content] => Yesterday we began our two day trek through the jungles of Laos. It was absolutley beautiful. The nature was amazing and the sights were so stunning. As i was looking around all i could see was miles of green vegitiation with the sound of the river in the background. It was very hot and challenging to us, but our leader told us that the farmers from the surrounding villages hike up and down the trail five times a day. And this is of course done in sandals. After three hours and a couple leech bites we made it to camp. One of the first things we did was wash up as best we could. We went down to the river, swam around, and caught fish. Our camp was a very simple hut. We slept on the floor and had a dinner that was made from surrounding plants, sticky rice, and meat. Everything was layed out on banana leafs. The first day was so spectacular and everyone was so excited for the second day. 
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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Jungle Trek

Desiree Samler,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Yesterday we began our two day trek through the jungles of Laos. It was absolutley beautiful. The nature was amazing and the sights were so stunning. As i was looking around all i could see was miles of green vegitiation with the sound of the river in the background. It was very hot and challenging […]

Posted On

07/4/11

Author

Desiree Samler

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    [post_content] => I am writting this yak yak in an internet stop in Hiang Rai, Thai Land. We flew in last night to be picked up by 2 pick up trucks to drive us to the Mirror Foundation where we stayed the night. Though we were all extreamely exhausted on the drive over, we had an amazing time sitting in the back of the pick-up trucks. (Something that I had never done before.) We drove into town today on the same trucks, which was even more fun. Sitting in the back of the trucks makes me feel as though I am on an amazing safari! I love watching the different people and sights we pass by and being surrounded by the new friends that I am making. These past few days have been kind of an exhausting blur because of all of the plane rides we have been on, but now we are all beginning to get comfortable with the culture and routines of South East Asia. Yesterday, before flying to Hiang Rai, we spent a few hours exploring Bangkok. I absolutely loved it. We had our first non-air plane meal which was so delicious. The meal was in a classic Thai market and I think we all really enjoyed the scene. After lunch, we walked through a bunch of back roads through the city, on the way to our Thai massages. The massages felt amazing because our bodies were aching from the many hours spent on the planes. I came out even more happy and refreshed. The train ride back to the air port was also amazing. We were able to see so much of Bangkok. So now I have to leave to explore the city more! Bye!  
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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Hello Hiang Rai!

Leah Newman,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

I am writting this yak yak in an internet stop in Hiang Rai, Thai Land. We flew in last night to be picked up by 2 pick up trucks to drive us to the Mirror Foundation where we stayed the night. Though we were all extreamely exhausted on the drive over, we had an amazing […]

Posted On

07/1/11

Author

Leah Newman

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The other day Mr. Somsanid told us that in Laos all foreigners are called "white people" even if they are black. Naturally, being an African-American, I'd never been called a white person before. At first, I wasn't sure I liked being called white because for a while now I have sought to define and distinguish myself as a black individual because, being a student at a predominantly white school, I felt a need to distinguish myself from all of the white people around me. But being here in Asia as a "white person" has allowed me to let go of what I felt was my obligation to be different in order to be black. Being here has taught me that there is a way to be a part of a different culture while still retaining my own. Often times I find that, at least for me, in my pursuit to be more in tune with my black culture I forget that I am more than black. Yes, I am an African-American, but I am a part of a race even greater than that, the human race, and being in Asia has reminded me of that. Having had this revelation only four days into the trip, I cannot wait to see what else I will discover about Laos, my new friends, and myself on this trip.

Sincerely,

Alex McNab

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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We Are All White People

Alexander McNab,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

The other day Mr. Somsanid told us that in Laos all foreigners are called "white people" even if they are black. Naturally, being an African-American, I’d never been called a white person before. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked being called white because for a while now I have sought to define and distinguish […]

Posted On

07/1/11

Author

Alexander McNab

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After a couple full days of orientation and travelling, we have finally arrived in Southeast Asia! We are residing in Chiang Rai, Thailand for a few days before we head into Laos. I had never been to sowtheast Asia before. but within just about a day here, I know that I am going to love this trip. There is a wonderful energy that pulses within this nation. Yesterday a few of us students went to get massages in Bankok, it was so relaxing and much needed after our long travels.

The food here is delicious! They add such great spiceyness to each dish and I love the exotic friuts. If you have never tried rhambutan, you should try to find some! We are travelling close to the ground and trying to take in as much culture as we can. It is a beautiful nation and sleeping on mats in the midst of the Thai jungles beats a resort any day!

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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hello from thailand!

Kaelyn Burbey,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

After a couple full days of orientation and travelling, we have finally arrived in Southeast Asia! We are residing in Chiang Rai, Thailand for a few days before we head into Laos. I had never been to sowtheast Asia before. but within just about a day here, I know that I am going to love […]

Posted On

07/1/11

Author

Kaelyn Burbey

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Hello Yak readers!

After 3 plane rides we have settled in for a short stay in Chieng Rai, Thailand. We are currently staying at the Mirror Foundation in the heart of beautiful and lush Thai vegitation. It is so wonderful to be in this lovely city and everyone is so kind. It's so much fun to simply explore the town and observe the cultural customs of the people here.

So far it's been a wonderful trip full of delicious food, Thai massages, language lessons, and enjoying the culture. Tomorrow we will take a train and cross into the Lao border.I can't wait for the many fantastic journeys ahead!

-Desiree

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Greetings from Chieng Rai!

Desiree Samler,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Hello Yak readers! After 3 plane rides we have settled in for a short stay in Chieng Rai, Thailand. We are currently staying at the Mirror Foundation in the heart of beautiful and lush Thai vegitation. It is so wonderful to be in this lovely city and everyone is so kind. It’s so much fun […]

Posted On

07/1/11

Author

Desiree Samler

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Hi everyone! Everything is amazing here! After what seemed like a week of traveling without sleep, we finally reached our first destination, Chaing Rai, in Thailand. It was crazy riding into the village we were staying in because all you could see was side of the road lighted by the truck, but it sounded like one of those radio sound soothers that play rainforest noises. Everything here is beautiful, and my fellow travelers are all amazing and up-beat. Mom, Dad, you will be pleased to know that I have taken a "bucket shower." and I handled it quite well, in my opinion. The most excitiing moment for me so far is a little silly. Late last night when we had all fallen asleep, we awoke to this loud angry chirping noise unlike any I'd ever heard. It sounded like it was chirping "Too Kay! TOO KAY!" It turns out one of our instructors, Mandy, had stayed in this place before, and the thing that was making that noise was a giant lizard, properly named a tookay. Apparently it's about a foot long and half a foot wide. Forunately, it doesn't attack unless provoked, so we are all safe. If it were a spider, I would have moved my butt right out of there, but I'm okay with giant lizards for some reason. Funny how phobia's work. Anyways, people are very nice here, the food is better than the Thai food in the states (obviously) and I'm working on building up my spicy tolerance. There are a ton of monks here and beautiful golden temples. Did you know that if a monk touches a woman they have to do some sort of cleansing ceremony for six months? That has to be tough. We were walking towardsa monkon the street and he ran as fast as he could towards a wall. We stepped off the sidewalk to let him by, but it was very strange. I wonder how people would react to that sort of tradition in the states.

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Sawasdee from Thailand (We’re still going to Laos Mom, don’t worry)

Sophia Goldberg,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Hi everyone! Everything is amazing here! After what seemed like a week of traveling without sleep, we finally reached our first destination, Chaing Rai, in Thailand. It was crazy riding into the village we were staying in because all you could see was side of the road lighted by the truck, but it sounded like […]

Posted On

07/1/11

Author

Sophia Goldberg

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Hi!

We are currently in Chang Rai in Thailand. Even though we have not been on this trip for long, it feels like we have already done so much! We have explored the back allies in Bangkok, rode through the back country of Chiang Rai in a open back van and eaten lots of local food. Honestly who knew breakfast could be THAT spicy! I have been taking tons of pictures and learned a ton about South East Asian customs. I can't wait to experience all that lies ahead.

I miss you all so much!

xoxoxo

Maddie

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Chiang Rai

Maddie Morris,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Hi! We are currently in Chang Rai in Thailand. Even though we have not been on this trip for long, it feels like we have already done so much! We have explored the back allies in Bangkok, rode through the back country of Chiang Rai in a open back van and eaten lots of local […]

Posted On

07/1/11

Author

Maddie Morris

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So Bai Di-

We're currently having a group Yak sesh from the internet cafe in the Thai city of Chiang Rai, so I'm sure the board is about to be flooded with accounts of all that we've done so far. The afternoon in Bangkok yesterday afternoon was spectacular, complete with traditional massages and exploration of city's street markets and back alleys. The group is meshing extremely well; everyone's entered the experience with an open attitude and much to bring to the table. I'm excited to get into Laos and begin the trip in earnest tomorrow. We're apparently crossing the border on foot, which is something I've never done before.

I'm happy, healthy, safe and mostly grateful (for many things). More to come as we continue this first leg of the journey.

-Robert

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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First Yak

Robert Kutrow,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

So Bai Di- We’re currently having a group Yak sesh from the internet cafe in the Thai city of Chiang Rai, so I’m sure the board is about to be flooded with accounts of all that we’ve done so far. The afternoon in Bangkok yesterday afternoon was spectacular, complete with traditional massages and exploration of […]

Posted On

07/1/11

Author

Robert Kutrow

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