Myanmar

Development Studies & Social Transformation

A 4-week Summer Abroad Program

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Duration
29 Days
Description

Explore one of Asia’s last frontiers: discuss the impacts of globalization on local communities, build core competencies in learning service, learn the core tenets of Theravada Buddhism.

Dates

Jun 28 - Jul 27, 2017


Suggested Ages

17-20

Number of Participants

12


Availability

one space

Begins In

9 Weeks

Land Cost

$7,205


Estimated Flight Cost

$2,085

Mandalay

Bagan

Kalaw

Yangon

Mawlamyine

Program Overview

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


Heralded as some of the friendliest people in Southeast Asia, Myanmar’s people are eager to share their country and culture with foreigners, particularly due to the global isolation in which so many have lived for so long.

Dragons’ summer abroad program in Myanmar tackles critical questions related to the Myanmar’s recent democratic transition: How has a country so rich in culture and religion struggled politically and economically for more than fifty years? What has prompted the recent reform process? What impact is reform having on the lives of local people? Extended learning service projects and close community connections provide students with unique insight into the underpinnings of this country in transition.

Our journey begins in Bagan, where we relax by the shores of the majestic Ayerwaddy River and cycle past world-renowned pagodas constructed by kings in the 11th century. We marvel at sunrise over the temples’ golden spires and formulate our intentions for the coming…

Heralded as some of the friendliest people in Southeast Asia, Myanmar’s people are eager to share their country and culture with foreigners, particularly due to the global isolation in which so many have lived for so long.

Dragons’ summer abroad program in Myanmar tackles critical questions related to the Myanmar’s recent democratic transition: How has a country so rich in culture and religion struggled politically and economically for more than fifty years? What has prompted the recent reform process? What impact is reform having on the lives of local people? Extended learning service projects and close community connections provide students with unique insight into the underpinnings of this country in transition.

Our journey begins in Bagan, where we relax by the shores of the majestic Ayerwaddy River and cycle past world-renowned pagodas constructed by kings in the 11th century. We marvel at sunrise over the temples’ golden spires and formulate our intentions for the coming weeks of travel.

Next we travel to Sagaing, the spiritual heart of Burma and living center of the Buddhist faith. We come to rest in one of the 500 monasteries scattered over the hills, and seize the opportunity to explore Buddhism with local practitioners. This experience helps us understand the main teachings of Theravada Buddhism while developing our own sense of self-awareness that serves as a valuable tool throughout our journey.

Pressing even further east we being our first learning service project in Mandalay – Myanmar’s last royal capital. Students may teach in a monastic school that services 6,000 disadvantaged students or volunteer at an organization promoting sustainable approaches to local development.

Next we board a bus for Kalaw, a central gathering place for the many vegetable farmers in Shan State. A four-day trek takes us into the heart of Myanmar’s most pastoral province, peppers and ripe grains lighting up the hillsides in bursts of color by day; brilliant stars beaming overhead at night. Local families welcome us into their homes along the way, and we work alongside with a local sustainability organization to implement appropriate technology projects in our host communities.

The final week of course is called a ‘student-led expedition’. Here, students have the opportunity to design the course itinerary: past groups have traveled to Karen State to explore issues of identity with Karen and Mon minority groups; others have ventured into the Ayerwaddy Delta to discover how local farmers are creatively dealing with water scarcity.

Finally we make our way to Mawlamyine, the short-lived British colonial capital on the Andaman coast, where fishing trawlers off-load their goods as the call to prayer rings out from riverside minarets. Remembered in Orwellian lore, Mawlamyine remains a melting pot of Indian and Bengladeshi merchants, monks and imams, students and farmers all living beneath a massive temple-mount in a colorful port town at the mouth of the Salween river delta. Here the riches of Myanmar come into full view.

Upon returning to Yangon, a final ceremony is held at one of the city’s main temples. At the end of our journey, we turn inward, collecting our thoughts as we consider Myanmar’s great poverty, beauty, controversy and promise.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

5/5
Comparative Religion

A 2-3 day meditation retreat will culminate exposure to one of the most traditionally Buddhist nations in the world.

5/5
Development Studies

Multiple meetings with people in development fields: critical and close look at contemporary and long-term development in a so-far sanctioned and closed nation.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Ethnic Minority Issues, Community-Based Development, Environmental Protection/Conservation.

2/5
Home Stay

Staying with local ethnic minority families while trekking in Shan/Kachin State.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Exposure to many fields, significant independent time for individual interviews, internships, etc.

2/5
Language Study

Basic and introductory Burmese. Classes the first two weeks, optional learning afterward.

4/5
Learning Service

Volunteer opportunities in education (monastic school), rural development, and environmental awareness/conservation. Approximately 10 hours of service credit earned.

5/5
Rugged Travel

Buses, trains, bicycles, tri-shaws, possibly boats: old vehicles on older roads, wooden benches on daylong trains.

3/5
Trekking

A 3-4 day intensive trek through ethnic minority villages.

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