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Myanmar 4-week
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    [post_content] => Hello Friends and Family!

Our entire group has landed safely in LA and we just passed through customs. We look forward to seeing you all on the other side of our domestic connections. Thanks again for all of your support this month-- it feels good to be (almost) home!

 

All the best,

The Myanmar Team
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Myanmar 4-week

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Safely in LA!

Anne Koenning,Myanmar 4-week

Description

Hello Friends and Family! Our entire group has landed safely in LA and we just passed through customs. We look forward to seeing you all on the other side of our domestic connections. Thanks again for all of your support this month– it feels good to be (almost) home!   All the best, The Myanmar […]

Posted On

07/29/15

Author

Anne Koenning

Category

Myanmar 4-week

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    [post_date] => 2015-07-28 20:32:00
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    [post_content] => Family and Friends of Myanmar 2015,

We are at our gate in Hong Kong preparing to board our flight to Los Angeles! We will post another update upon arrival in the United States.

We're all looking forward to seeing our loved ones soon!
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Myanmar 4-week

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Boarding flight to LAX

Anne Koenning,Myanmar 4-week

Description

Family and Friends of Myanmar 2015, We are at our gate in Hong Kong preparing to board our flight to Los Angeles! We will post another update upon arrival in the United States. We’re all looking forward to seeing our loved ones soon!

Posted On

07/28/15

Author

Anne Koenning

Category

Myanmar 4-week

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    [post_date] => 2015-07-28 13:29:16
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    [post_content] => Hi All,

The students have boarded their flight to Hong Kong and are on their way home. This has been an amazing summer and that was certainly reflected in our goodbyes. There were tears at Yangon airport when Ei Shwe Sin and Ko Kyaw stayed back and more in Bangkok when Mark said goodbye to the group. Only one more tearful goodbye to come when Anne says goodbye to the group in LA and everyone goes their seperate ways.

This has been an amazing summer program for us as instructors. We feel honoured and proud to have led such respectful, intelligent and engaged students. Every single parent should be so, so proud of how their child performed and grew this summer. There were many times when every single student was challenged and found things difficult, but even more cases where those students stepped up and pushed through the uncertainty and discomfort to come out the other side that little bit stronger and more aware of the world around them.

Thank at you all for reading, writing and sharing.

The I-Team
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Myanmar 4-week

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Students on their way home

Instructors,Myanmar 4-week

Description

Hi All, The students have boarded their flight to Hong Kong and are on their way home. This has been an amazing summer and that was certainly reflected in our goodbyes. There were tears at Yangon airport when Ei Shwe Sin and Ko Kyaw stayed back and more in Bangkok when Mark said goodbye to […]

Posted On

07/28/15

Author

Instructors

Category

Myanmar 4-week

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    [post_date] => 2015-07-27 22:27:37
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    [post_content] => Dear family and friends of Myanmar students,

We're happy to report that the students are all well and boarding their flight to Bangkok.  We'll send another update once the flight lands in LA. The second leg--Cathay Pacific Flight #898--is scheduled to  depart Bangkok in the early morning of the 29th (1:30am local time) and arrive in LA at 7:55am PST on the 29th.

We'll be in touch soon.

 

Best,

Admin
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Myanmar 4-week

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Myanmar in Flight

Justin Kiersky,Myanmar 4-week

Description

Dear family and friends of Myanmar students, We’re happy to report that the students are all well and boarding their flight to Bangkok.  We’ll send another update once the flight lands in LA. The second leg–Cathay Pacific Flight #898–is scheduled to  depart Bangkok in the early morning of the 29th (1:30am local time) and arrive in […]

Posted On

07/27/15

Author

Justin Kiersky

Category

Myanmar 4-week

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    [post_content] => On our first day on program, we were assigned to take reflection time as we walked to Pansodan Art Gallery. Though being someone who thrives on personal space and self-reflection, I struggled. Thrown into a culture so individualized and distant from any sense of familiarity it seemed I would have a hard time with personal fulfillment in the month ahead. My singular expectation of myself for the trip- to learn how to live in the present-seemed at best unrealistic.

At our halfway point, the group spent the day with local college students navigating Mandalay in two different languages and climbing up the endless stairs to the top of Mandalay Hill. With each fatiguing new set of stairs, the student that I was paired with and I talked (though minimally understood) what we should expect with the view above. How beautiful it must be. By the time we reached the top and were greeted by a sprawling city soaked in angelic sunlight pouring from the clouds onto the hilltops, I knew it was worth the gallons of sweat permanently etched into the fabric of my clothes. As I looked around and observed the people around me, it was evident I was not alone in a gaping reaction to these mesmerizing distant horizons. This seemed highly expected, the far-off mountains as glaringly enticing as the Washington Monument from the base of the Reflection Pool. But what inexplicably seemed to brisk off people's observations, despite being equally surreal was the ominous swarm of blackbirds, incessantly flying in uneven circles in the foreground of the sight beyond-entirely unexpectedly.

A week later, while sitting and cutting garlic bushels amongst the silent, yet comforting company of my home-stay mom, I thought about the seeming 180 degree difference between Sin Leh and my American life. In my community and among my peers, the focus is always on what's ahead. How to achieve the American Dream, or at least meet the American Expectation. But in the village the mindset was simple: one bushel at a time.

Now, as I sit on our last morning back in the Pansodan Art Gallery we have come to cherish for the last time, trying to process the month behind me, I think back to my expectation for myself to learn to live in the present and now understand its irony. That living in the present is about pushing aside expectations and taking each thing before you as what it is.
And that, just like on Mandalay Hill, it seems so often we get so enamored with the view ahead that we fail to see what meets us at the top.
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Myanmar 4-week

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Final Yak

Maia Brockbank,Myanmar 4-week

Description

On our first day on program, we were assigned to take reflection time as we walked to Pansodan Art Gallery. Though being someone who thrives on personal space and self-reflection, I struggled. Thrown into a culture so individualized and distant from any sense of familiarity it seemed I would have a hard time with personal […]

Posted On

07/27/15

Author

Maia Brockbank

Category

Myanmar 4-week

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2015-07-27 15:54:40
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    [post_content] => This morning, right after Dalia attempted to teach us the art of speaking with one's mouth closed, Anne ended our meeting playing a podcast called "This I Believe." She wanted this statement and idea to inspire our own reflection, hence my Yak title.

I guess there are a lot of things I believe. One of my beliefs is that beliefs and values are fluid, at least for me as I change and grow. I've never really liked the idea of sticking to one set of values my entire life, for me it seemed like that would mean asserting that your belief system is superior, when in reality, if its never really changed and evolved it probably isn't very well-informed or thought out. So yea, throughout my life growth and change have been something I embrace rather than avoid. I think the idea that everything you go through will shape who you become if you want it to is a good motivator to make the best of hard situations.

So anyways, I came in hoping that my experiences would change my views and shape new values. I can't say for sure that this happened until I'm actually back in my normal life doing my normal things either with a new or unchanged frame of mind and approach. But I will say, that I really really do hope that I can bring back all that I've experienced here because I know that my own happiness and the happiness I bring to others will increase exponentially if I pick up on what I've been surrounded by here in Myanmar.

To start, I've been really touched by the sense of community and family here.  As I already rambled about in previous Yaks, families here really do function as a unit and when asked what gives life importance/value, I have yet to meet a Myanmar person who doesn't immediately and confidently answer family.

Whether in the family, community, or among complete strangers, people in Myanmar are extremely selfless and completely respectful. My needs always came first, whether it was a stranger spending his own money to help me make a phone call and get my unlost, or a host mom insisting that you finish two plates of the noodles she spent 3 hours preparing before she even thinks about helping herself to a second serving.

Lastly, I have been most refreshed and inspired by the mindfulness of people here: each moment is lived with intentionality and commitment rather than being half there and half in some other world of anxieties and self-interests.

These are just 3 things that have really stuck out as unique and beautiful to me; they are three things that I hope I can create myself at home. I believe in the power of these things to bring joy and contentment to a community and on a personal level because I have seen their effect on people here and have experienced their effect on my own mental state.

I believe that I am unimaginably lucky to have experienced Myanmar this past month with such an incredible group of kids and instructors. I don't want to go home, but I'm comforted by my own belief that a part of my experience will always stay with me and exhibit itself through my own thoughts, lifestyle, and values.
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Myanmar 4-week

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This I Believe

Helena Thomas,Myanmar 4-week

Description

This morning, right after Dalia attempted to teach us the art of speaking with one’s mouth closed, Anne ended our meeting playing a podcast called “This I Believe.” She wanted this statement and idea to inspire our own reflection, hence my Yak title. I guess there are a lot of things I believe. One of […]

Posted On

07/27/15

Author

Helena Thomas

Category

Myanmar 4-week

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    [post_content] => I believe that life is full of wonderful and amazing journeys. Going to Myanmar I have learned that life here is so simple. People here just go about their day in such a timely manner. They arent rushing or worrying about where they need to be or what there going to eat or whats going on in social media. They simply live life to the fullest. Being present in whats going on around them and not worrying about what others are doing.

Being in Myanmar for 4 weeks I have experienced quite a lot. Not many of these opportunities can be encountered again. For example, a scavenger hunt in Bagan and exploring the city with two other members of the group, going on top of a temple to watch the sunset, playing soccer with monks, living with another family who had no idea how to speak English but breaking that language barrier with smiles and laughter, learning how to take a bucket shower for the first time with a Longyi, going into the big city of Yangon for our ISPs and learning how to navigate with the information we had and so many more that I cant write down because the list goes on.As you can see, we had a lot of activities and a lot of different places to see. I also got the amazing opportunity of having such a wonderful group of kind, caring, funny, and adventurous people to get to know and making long-lasting friendships. I had the pleasure of having three great instructors on this trip. They were so energetic and full of surprises.

The most important thing I learned throughout this program is embracing who I am as a person. Living in Myanmar, I realized that not everything has to be rushed. I also grew as a person, taking things slowly and just going with the flow was key during these 4 weeks. It felt nice to not know what was happening and seeing what they had planned for us. And last but not least I experienced something so incredible and so amazing. I was given the chance to take life into a different perspective. To look outside the box and being open to the opportunities life gives to you. To face those challenges and overcome them even if you dont feel comfortable. Trying to step away from that comfort zone knowing that some things may be more challenging and you wont feel accomplished if you arent trying something new.

Being accustomed to the way people lived around here made me feel more adaptable to the atmosphere. Everyone here was so friendly and so welcoming. Even though we were foreigners, it felt like we were being brought in like family. I wasn't afraid to be myself or what others thought of me because it didn't matter. Everything here was so easy going.

I believe I had an experience of a life time. Incredible memories, unbelievable people to spend it with and an indescribable 4 months in Myanmar. Y.O.M.O. You only Myanmar once.
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Myanmar 4-week

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I believe

Alex Manning,Myanmar 4-week

Description

I believe that life is full of wonderful and amazing journeys. Going to Myanmar I have learned that life here is so simple. People here just go about their day in such a timely manner. They arent rushing or worrying about where they need to be or what there going to eat or whats going […]

Posted On

07/27/15

Author

Alex Manning

Category

Myanmar 4-week

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    [post_content] => I believe that summer in Myanmar is a unique and a once in a life time opportunity. It makes me upset to say that there are only a few hours left of the program. As I sit here writing this I am thinking back on every place I visited, everyone I met, and everything I learned. I have a lot of mixed emotions inside of me right now. To be honest, I don't want to go home!!

So looking back on this past month, what stands out the most is how my values have changed. Before coming on this trip I valued kindness and honesty. I still value those things, but in a different way. Kindness has always been very important to me. I believe that a smile goes a long way and here in Myanmar people are always smiling to you and greeting you everywhere you go. People are always willing to help you find your way around the city if you seem lost ( I got lost twice!!). These are the kinds of this I value in people and Myanmar made me want to be more kind to those around me. Now I go home with a more positive view of those around me. Trust is also something I really value. I believe that people who you can trust are the best kind of people and on this trip I learned to trust people. I learned to trust my instructors in making this a great experience, and they did. I learned to trust my group to stay positive, and they did. I learned to trust myself to have a great time out here in Myanmar, and I did. I feel so lucky to have been part of summer in Myanmar 2015!!
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Myanmar 4-week

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I believe…

Guadalupe Sanchez,Myanmar 4-week

Description

I believe that summer in Myanmar is a unique and a once in a life time opportunity. It makes me upset to say that there are only a few hours left of the program. As I sit here writing this I am thinking back on every place I visited, everyone I met, and everything I […]

Posted On

07/27/15

Author

Guadalupe Sanchez

Category

Myanmar 4-week

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    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-27 21:53:25
    [post_content] => When I embarked on my journey to Myanmar, I had more than a few presumptions. I assumed the people would be kind, the food would be delicious, the days would be action-packed, and the landscapes would be breathtaking. This I assumed. I assumed the nights would be glowing, the pagodas would be many, and the experiences would be life-changing. This I assumed. I assumed the instructors would be experienced, the cities would be different, the hills would be endless, and the language would be challenging. This I assumed. I assumed the leprosy clinic would be difficult, the home stay would be scary, and the end of the trip would be upsetting. This I assumed.

After my first couple of weeks this incredible country, I had more than a few thoughts.  I thought the locals were outstandingly kind and generous, the pagodas of Began were surreal, and although Myanmar was still developing, it was starting to Westernize. This I thought. I thought the instructors were knowledgeable and that monks were the coolest group of people on the planet. I thought my group of students were especially kind and caring, the dirty streets added to the country's appeal, and a horse and buggy was the best possible form of transportation. This I thought. I thought I was capable of navigating the busy streets of Mandalay, I could connect on a deep level with local Myanmar students, and that making bricks with a gigantic group of monks surrounding me was more than invigorating. This I thought. I thought my homestay mother was kind, cutting garlic was an enjoyable yet rather monotonous pastime, and that rice patties are especially beautiful. This I thought.

As this program comes to a close and I start to pack my bags for the long journey home, I have gained an incredible amount of insight. I know Myanmar people are thoughtful, caring, insanely kind, and shockingly friendly. This I know. I know my instructors are wonderful people with years of experience, hearts full of love, and brains full of knowledge. This I know. I know it is possible to poop in a squat toilet for four weeks straight, the country of Myanmar has more beautiful landscapes than any place I have ever been before, and playing soccer with a bunch of little monks is probably the most fun thing one could ever do. This I know. I know staying with a family that does not speak the same language as you is more than challenging, water buffalo are awesome pets, and the views from the top of Mandalay Hill are spectacular. This I know. I know how wonderful silent treks through ethnic villages are, how difficult it is to see kind and loving people suffer from the horrible illness that is leprosy, and that although at times the group may disagree, we always end up working our issues out. This I know. I know how amazing truck rides are, how wonderful it is to listen to Ko Kyaw sing, and how much I love my group. I know how insanely upset I am to leave. I know how spectacular, special, amazing, breathtaking, surreal, and incredible this country is. This I know.
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Myanmar 4-week

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This I know

Dalia Bresnick ,Myanmar 4-week

Description

When I embarked on my journey to Myanmar, I had more than a few presumptions. I assumed the people would be kind, the food would be delicious, the days would be action-packed, and the landscapes would be breathtaking. This I assumed. I assumed the nights would be glowing, the pagodas would be many, and the […]

Posted On

07/27/15

Author

Dalia Bresnick

Category

Myanmar 4-week

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    [post_content] => On this trip I learned a ton about myself and how I can control my energy and mood. I learned how to go with the flow 100 percent and chill when the moment is right. I think the home stay and monastery especially helped me figure this part of myself out. The meditation and scheduled days were amazing ways to live for a few days. I definitely feel changed as a person and feel like I can use many things I learned in everyday life.
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Myanmar 4-week

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Final Yak

River Castaneda,Myanmar 4-week

Description

On this trip I learned a ton about myself and how I can control my energy and mood. I learned how to go with the flow 100 percent and chill when the moment is right. I think the home stay and monastery especially helped me figure this part of myself out. The meditation and scheduled […]

Posted On

07/27/15

Author

River Castaneda

Category

Myanmar 4-week

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