Southeast Asia Semester

Myanmar in Transition

A 3-Month Gap Year Program

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Duration
83 Days
Description

Witness democracy in action: meet with international development experts and volunteer at the largest monastic school in Myanmar to gain insight on this country in transition.

Spring Dates

Feb 7 - May 1, 2018


Spring Availability

open

Fall Dates

Sep 15 - Dec 6, 2017


Fall Availability

open

Number of Participants

12


Suggested Ages

17-22

Spring Begins In

46 Weeks

Fall Begins In

25 Weeks

Land Cost

$12,860


Estimated Flight Cost

$2,160

Bagan

Mandalay

Kalaw

Yangon

Mawlamyine

Program Overview

Magnetic. Inspiring, Devout. Myanmar is a nation of warmth, beauty, and complexity.


Men still wear traditional longyi and women use the bark of the thanaka plant as a natural sunscreen. President Thein Sen opened Myanmar’s borders to the international community in 2011 after fifty years under a repressive military dictatorship, and students on this unique semester program have the opportunity to engage with Myanmar’s unique cultural heritage, yet untouched by Western influences. Together, we explore complex themes related to cultural preservation, economic development and political transition as they relate to the shifting face of Myanmar today.

We begin our voyage at the tranquil Shewdagon Pagoda, where Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi once asked the world to “Please use your liberty to promote ours.” After soaking in the majesty of this Great Dagon Stupa, we hop on a train for orientation in Bagan, the ancient temple complex in the north. We become acquainted with cultural ‘dos and don’ts’, begin lessons in introductory Burmese and learn more…

Men still wear traditional longyi and women use the bark of the thanaka plant as a natural sunscreen. President Thein Sen opened Myanmar’s borders to the international community in 2011 after fifty years under a repressive military dictatorship, and students on this unique semester program have the opportunity to engage with Myanmar’s unique cultural heritage, yet untouched by Western influences. Together, we explore complex themes related to cultural preservation, economic development and political transition as they relate to the shifting face of Myanmar today.

We begin our voyage at the tranquil Shewdagon Pagoda, where Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi once asked the world to “Please use your liberty to promote ours.” After soaking in the majesty of this Great Dagon Stupa, we hop on a train for orientation in Bagan, the ancient temple complex in the north. We become acquainted with cultural ‘dos and don’ts’, begin lessons in introductory Burmese and learn more about each other, building the foundation of the strong group experience that lies ahead.
The next few weeks find us trekking through the hills of Kayah State and harvesting rice with our first home-stay families in the village of Atar. A combination of foot-travel, ox-carts and bus-rides bring us to Mandalay, where we settle in at Phaung Daw Oo (PDO), the country’s largest monastic school for our first cross-cultural learning service project with the pre-college students a PDO.

Crossing the border into Thailand, we head on to the Thai Plum Village, a Buddhist monastery in the lineage of master Thich Nhat Hanh. We learn more about the key tenets of Theravada Buddhism from the young monks, and draw comparisons to Buddhist practices in Myanmar.

We then return to Myanmar where students take more ownership over their experience, delving into Independent Study Projects (ISPs) and preparing for a final journey to Karen State, a historically contested area along the border of Thailand.

Over the course of three months, students build core competencies as global citizens and discover community-led models for social activism.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

5/5
Comparative Religion

Buddhist and Animist communities. Meditation Study.

5/5
Development Studies

Comprehensive examination of international development issues, complexities of globalization, effects of modernization on traditional livelihoods, minority status and cultural preservation, creative grassroots solutions to global problems.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Community based development, social justice, conservation, and human rights.

2/5
Home Stay

Staying with local rural communities while trekking in Shan state and the Mandalay state dry zone.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Interviews and research on a myriad of topics in rural and urban areas.

2/5
Language Study

Basic Burmese language.

3/5
Learning Service

Partner with Myanmar's largest Monastic school, learn adobe building, rural development projects, education and literacy NGOs.

3/5
Rugged Travel

Buses, trains, ox-carts, boats, and tri-shaws.

2/5
Trekking

3-4 day trek in Shan State, 3-4 day trek in Kayah State.

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