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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011


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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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Greetings from Hong Kong!

We are all here, healthy and somewhat tired after a 14 hour flight, but ready for the next leg. After a great orientation in LA filled with insights into each group member's interest and committment to full participation in this summer's program, we boarded the plane and were off. All of us instructors were amazing and excited to see how well everyone is getting along already and how supportive they each are of each other. They voiced great intent for personal growth and supporting other's growth as well. We are eager to land in Bangkok, explore for a few hours, then board another plane headed for Chaing Rai. There, we will rest for about 36 hours and continue with workshops and activities to equip the team with important information regarding safety and culture as well as Lao language skills.

We will keep you posted and hope all is wonderful Stateside!!

Emily, Brett, Somsanid and Mandy

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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En Route!!

Emily, Brett, Somasanid and Mandy,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Greetings from Hong Kong! We are all here, healthy and somewhat tired after a 14 hour flight, but ready for the next leg. After a great orientation in LA filled with insights into each group member’s interest and committment to full participation in this summer’s program, we boarded the plane and were off. All of […]

Posted On

06/29/11

Author

Emily, Brett, Somasanid and Mandy

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Finding the group from Lax to the Hacienda:

The directions on the final arrival information will explain how to get to the Hacienda from the airport in LA. Please remember to wear your Dragons T-shirt so you can recognize each other. There will be lots of Dragons T-shirts walking around as all of our Asia and Africa programs fly into LAX. All the students are coming to the Hacienda so feel free to grab anyone and head over. We will be waiting for you in the Lobby. We will do a bag check, some orientation activities, have dinner and set off to the airport.

Your bags are packed! Here a list of ‘last minutes’ to take out and put in:

Please take out unnecessary items-

  • Cell phones- you won’t need them as we will make sure to find the cheapest public phone options to call home. In Laos, the most reliable and inexpensive way to call home will be with Skype, you may even want to spend a few moments with your parents to make sure that they know how to use it. We will be in great contact with the office while in the field and we will all be posting Yak Yaks, which is a great way for our friends and family to hear about our experiences. In the US, we will ask each of you to call home when you meet up with the group in LA and there are pay phones at the Hacienda for that.
  • Ipods: We have already touched base with you on this, but we are looking to create a program where we are really able to unplug from the electronic world we are used to. Please do not bring your iPod, Mp3, iPhone or anything like this.

Please put in:

  • PASSPORT and prescriptions medications!! If you are stressed about packing, really, you can buy anything you need there. Just make sure you have these two absolutely essentials.
  • Any phone numbers you may need. A good way to do this is to copy phone numbers into the front page of your journal. This is also a great place to copy all of your domestic flight information, just to have an extra copy.
  • Regarding Lonely Planets and Laos Readers: We are going to work as a team throughout the program and that begins with group gear. Please make sure you have some extra room in your pack for these things!

Team Labb Bet- (Victor and Leah) Please bring one Lonely Planet each. Nobody else needs to bring one. Two is enough for the group.

Team Bah Dak-(Robert and Phoenix) Please bring your Laos Readers that our office has sent you. Nobody else needs to bring one. Two is enough for the group.

Team Dam Mak Hung- (Madeline and Desiree and Alex) and Team Bing Gop- (Kaelyn)- We will ask you to take care of other “group gear” as we move along. For example, an international soccer association (OneWorldFutbol.com) has asked us to carry over some indestructible soccer balls for remote communities. These will be great gifts for us to give away!

Team Kai Luke (Laura and Elle) We will ask you two to carry our two development readers that we have here with us. This will be a resource that we will all use at different points throughout the program.

Team Kua ge law (Mackenzie and Lindsey) Team support! We will have different times that we may need you to help out with group gear as we move through Laos. Please be prepped to support the team!

Last note….pack your sandals near the top of your pack so that you can switch foot wear easily!

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Last Minute Info

Brett, Emily, Mandy, and Somsanid,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Finding the group from Lax to the Hacienda: The directions on the final arrival information will explain how to get to the Hacienda from the airport in LA. Please remember to wear your Dragons T-shirt so you can recognize each other. There will be lots of Dragons T-shirts walking around as all of our Asia […]

Posted On

06/26/11

Author

Brett, Emily, Mandy, and Somsanid

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By now you should have spoken to one or more of the instructors on the team. One of the topics that we discussed was pre-course homework. We are asking that each student before we embark on our journey spend a little time researching on the topic below. We have put you together in groups and named them after a Lao food dish. Once we embark on our journey and we enter a space that is specific to your topic, we will ask you and your partner to give a little introduction to the area. Below you will find your partner as well as the approximate date that your presentation will be. You do not need to spend hours on research, just come to L.A. with enough information to give us a brief introduction to your topic.

Team Labb Bet- Victor and Leah will be presenting Plain of Jars Folklore on July 20.

Team Dam Mak Hung- Madeline and Desiree and Alex will be presenting Hmong and U.S. relations on July 3 or 4.

Team Bah Dak- Robert and Phoenix will be presenting Theravada Buddhism on July 1 or 2.

Team Kai Luke- Laura and Elle will be presenting information about the Dam project Nam Thern Song

Team Kua ge law- Mackenzie and Lindsey will be presenting information about Lao Music on July 7th

Team Bing Gop- Kaelyn and a friend will be presenting on Land mines in Laos on July 20th.

(Kayelyn, we owe you an apology, we had a slight miscommunication and put three people in one group, we will make sure you have a partner when you do your presentation….on that same note, if there is a student that is interested in Land Mines in Laos we would love for you to step forward and do some research.)

Currently all of your instructors are enjoying their time together in the lovely Sierra Mountains of California, we are planning many exciting adventures for you all. We are excited to meet you in a week and wish you all luck in packing up all of your things at home as well as you bags.

See you soon,

Team Khao Neow -Somsanid, Emily, Brett and Mandy

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Pre Course Homework

Mandy Schneider,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

By now you should have spoken to one or more of the instructors on the team. One of the topics that we discussed was pre-course homework. We are asking that each student before we embark on our journey spend a little time researching on the topic below. We have put you together in groups and […]

Posted On

06/19/11

Author

Mandy Schneider

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Hello everyone,

My name is Victor and I am from San Francisco and i am a senior at a local HS. After reading all of your intros i feel that I will get along great with everyone. If i could describe myself in one word it would always be relaxed. Some say I am too relaxed all the time, but its how I am. A little background on me is that I love the outdoors (spent 28 days in Utah backingpacki, mountain climbing, etc, and ive spent a week in Olympic National Park backpacking, etc), i love to paddle on my dragonbaot team, i love to glove (a form of art where a person uses takes led micro lights and throws them in gloves and gives light shows), I love to eat, and I love electronic dance music.

I am have dreading, loving, hating, anticpating, and just overall worried by this trip. I have always been the person who would jump head first into a new thing without any reaearch or preperation into, but this time it feels very ominous and scary, but I always love the feeling of that fear. This is gonig to be a great trip and I hope everyone has fun. Looking forward to meeting everyone and exchanging whoel life storeies. If anyone is thrown off by my hobbies here is a link to one of my very early gloving shows for my schools talent show, I hope you enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yeSr89Ny4w

Only 16 more days, much love,

Victor

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Hello Everyone, sorry for late intro

Victor Yu,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Hello everyone, My name is Victor and I am from San Francisco and i am a senior at a local HS. After reading all of your intros i feel that I will get along great with everyone. If i could describe myself in one word it would always be relaxed. Some say I am too […]

Posted On

06/13/11

Author

Victor Yu

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    [post_content] => Hi Team!!  

I hope you are all doing well. My guess is that you are all out of school now and perhaps really starting to think about the trip, packing, and leaving home. That is one of the main reasons we are calling you all this week to check-in! As we will talk about a lot on this program, the program starts well before you get on a plane to come to LA and will for sure continue in different forms for each of you after you leave Laos. Please know we are here to support you in this entire process.

Other than that, we just wanted to let you know the type of work we have been putting into the program. In January, Brett and I were trained in Dragons most recent curriculum development work that has been designed to bring the personal development of each student to the next level. In the past several months, the four of us have been meeting over Skype and in person to align our vision for the course, solidify major course components (home stays, treks), explore new avenues for excellent course elements (reaching out to all of our personal contacts as well as all of Dragons' contact in Laos), we hav been on Skype with contacts over in Laos and also meeting in person when possible (see photo, Brett, Mandy and Emily crossed paths a while back in CO and worked for a while). In addition to keeping our focus on the safety and quality of the course, we are looking at new and creative learning opportunities that push us all beyond our comfort zones in different ways. We are looking at solidifying an outstanding itinerary while maintaining a degree of flexibility--an aspect of traveling in the developing world that you will all be very familiar with soon! We are all crafting lesson plans (which will look very different from school-style lectures!) as well as bringing in outstanding guest lecturers. The course and the content will flow in a way that supports and pushes you all.

We are exited to be collaborating with new NGO’s this year throughout the country as well as introducing a 3-day stay at a Buddhist meditation center. Because we have so many field visits set up with NGO’s we have decided not to spend anytime in the capital (where many NGO’s have their headquarters, but there is not much else to see or experience). We have also collected feedback from past programs that this was not a highlight, so have decided to skip it. We will definitely keep you posted with any other changes to the itinerary.

Parents, I am sure that many of you are feeling anxious about sending your children off to Asia. Please know that when we consider each aspect of the program, our first focus is on safety. In may ease your mind to also know that our team has a combined 17 years of experience with Dragons so our understanding of the company, the safety policies and procedures, and lessons learned from other instructors runs deep. The Dragons admin will be in Boulder to support you throughout the summer and we will be posting Yak’s as often as possible from the field. Even through I am 33 now, my father still likes to check the Yaks to make sure I am OK so I have compassion for parents at home.

Just to give you advance warning, all of Dragons staff and administration will be camping in the Sierra's starting on June 16th until the 26th. We will be involved in an intensive training and doing finalization of course details. During this time we will have limited cell phone reception and some Internet access, but we will be available. Because we have sessions throughout the day, we will have more limited availability than in the front country, so do not fret if it takes us a day or two to return a call or email. But we are definitely here for you! We are excited to have all four of us together at orientation this year as Somsanid will also be flying over to the US on his first trip out of Laos.

Looking forward to it all!!

Emily, Brett, Somsanid and Mandy

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Planning in Action

Emily, Brett, Somsanid and Mandy,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Hi Team!! I hope you are all doing well. My guess is that you are all out of school now and perhaps really starting to think about the trip, packing, and leaving home. That is one of the main reasons we are calling you all this week to check-in! As we will talk about a […]

Posted On

06/9/11

Author

Emily, Brett, Somsanid and Mandy

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    [post_date] => 2011-06-02 00:00:00
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Sabai dee,

We thought it might be helpful to post a yak explaining the ISP component of our course. As you may have read, one of the tools Dragons has developed to help you find greater depths in your travels is a supported focused study. The ISP is a space where you can hone your curiosity, expand your creativity, and amplify your connection to the travel experience.

The goal of the ISP component is that you find something you are passionate about that combines inspiration from your Head, Hands and Heart.

In many ways the ISP is a glimpse of the magnitude of information you have absorbed over the six weeks of your Dragons course. It combines elements such as, language study, cultural literacy, leadership, and development into a project inspired by your own curiosity and sense of wonder. And it is perhaps one of the few times in your life where you can decide what you want to learn.

It is important that the study is: 1) experiential and 2) pertinent to your place. ‘Experiential’ means that, first and foremost, you are learning from people, places and activities that you encounter in your course area. Do not focus on activities that you could do equally well from your room at home, i.e. internet research, isolated book research, etc. While these may be valuable to your ISP, we encourage you to keep them to a minimum and instead focus on the experience of self-directed learning.

And then, ‘pertinent to your place’ means that it is an appropriate context, so for example in Laos you are not studying yoga. And conversely in India you are not studying Hmong traditional medicine. To build an experiential independent study you must be engaged in an experience that you can continue to have a dynamic relationship with throughout the course.

The key, to make your ISP as rewarding as possible is:

1. Careful selection of something that excites you and will keep you inspired

2. Taking initiative with the project’s creation and direction, and

3. Dedication to your project through all its challenges till its conclusion

At this point, we’d like to focus on choosing a project that is exciting, fun and keeps you inspired. Although you don’t have to decide now, we would like to encourage you to start thinking about your passions and interests. The faster we (your instructor team) know about your ISP, the better we can be prepared for your arrival by already having contacts, mentors and placement lined up.

Please have a look at the following list of ISP ideas and options from past courses;

Past and possible ISPs (and many of these worked as a comparative study):

- Traditional dress

- Musical traditions

- Traditional medicine

- Culinary traditions

- Offerings

- Women’s roles

- Transportation

- Ecosystems and environmental policy

- Family or village structure

- Theravada and Animism

The options are inexhaustible. You will be receiving a phone call from one of us soon, and, we hope by that time you will have a few ideas of what you would like to study.

Keep in mind, that the best part of Dragons’ philosophy is that we work hard to adapt the program to the individual interests and have a bunch of flexibility. But have to tell us what excites you and what you envision yourself being really interested in.

So take a minute and a dig into your imagination. You should also dig into the resourced that Dragons has provided. See if you can find a spark of inspiration and share that with us. Feel free to post a Yak with an idea, or just let us know in our phone conversations.

The countdown begins,

Brett, Emily, Mandy, and Somsanid

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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ISP

Brett, Emily, Mandy, and Somsanid,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Sabai dee, We thought it might be helpful to post a yak explaining the ISP component of our course. As you may have read, one of the tools Dragons has developed to help you find greater depths in your travels is a supported focused study. The ISP is a space where you can hone your […]

Posted On

06/2/11

Author

Brett, Emily, Mandy, and Somsanid

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Thanks Maddie for the great question. We are going to do some trekking and you do want to bring comfortable trekking shoes. We will also be in the rainy season something with good traction will be helpful. If you are looking to buy, you might want to check out a light weight trail running shoe. Hiking boots are bulky and a pain to carry if you want to wear something lighter. Salomon makes some pretty cool all around travel, trail, every day trail runners. But if you already have something the most important thing is to break them in before the course. The last thing you want is a painful blister while your trekking through some beautiful Laos countryside. You will be receiving a call from one of us next week so please feel free to ask about specific footwear. We can't wait to meet all of you and we are so excited for an amazing adventure.

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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sneakers or hiking boots

Brett, Emily, Mandy, and Somsanid,Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

Description

Thanks Maddie for the great question. We are going to do some trekking and you do want to bring comfortable trekking shoes. We will also be in the rainy season something with good traction will be helpful. If you are looking to buy, you might want to check out a light weight trail running shoe. […]

Posted On

06/1/11

Author

Brett, Emily, Mandy, and Somsanid

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Hi everyone,

My name is Maddie and I'm from New York City. I'm a sophmore at a boarding school in Connecticut. Like some of you this is my first summer in a long time not going to camp. Although I'll miss it, I'm pretty ready for a change. I'm sure the dense jungles of Laos will be a big change. I've never been out of the country for more that two weeks, so I'm crazy psyched to be completely immersed in a culture so vastly different as Laos for six weeks. At school I play field hockey, lacrosse and ice hockey. I really enjoy all of them, but I wouldn't really consider myself a sports super star. I like photography and music and pretty much all types of art. I'm usually that kid that gets left in the dust on museum trips.

Also just wondering if sneakers or hiking boots are better for this trip?

Hopefully I'll survive finals and see you all in June!!

xoxoxooxo

Maddie

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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hey guys

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

Description

Hi everyone, My name is Maddie and I’m from New York City. I’m a sophmore at a boarding school in Connecticut. Like some of you this is my first summer in a long time not going to camp. Although I’ll miss it, I’m pretty ready for a change. I’m sure the dense jungles of Laos […]

Posted On

05/30/11

Author

Maddie Morris

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Hi everyone! My name is Elie Sokoloff and I am a sophomore living in New York City. I go to school at the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, and for the past seven summers I've gone to a camp in upstate New York called Point O' Pines. Initially, I was upset that I wouldn't be able to return after my 7th and final summer, but now I am really excited to be traveling to Laos with all of you! I've never done a trip as culturally immersive as this one, but I look forward to meeting new people, tasting new foods, and trying new things.

Living in the city, I don't get to do much hiking, which I really enjoy. The most greenery we have here is probably Central Park, which is nothing compared to what I imagine the jungles of Laos will be like. I also like to travel, read, sing, dance (which I'm not very good at), snow ski, listen to music, watch movies and tv, and much more. At school I play on the field hockey team during the fall and the softball team during the spring. I play tennis on the weekends for fun but I'm not competitive.

When my finals are FINALLY over, I will begin to prepare for the trip. I also won four free tickets to the Black Eyed Peas concert in Central Park so that should be fun! I can't wait to be done with school and on the long flight to Laos! See you guys in one month!

-Elie

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Laos: Culture, Conservation, Service, Summer 2011

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Hi everyone!

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

Description

Hi everyone! My name is Elie Sokoloff and I am a sophomore living in New York City. I go to school at the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, and for the past seven summers I’ve gone to a camp in upstate New York called Point O’ Pines. Initially, I was upset that I wouldn’t […]

Posted On

05/28/11

Author

Elie Sokoloff

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