China & Laos

From Holy Mountain to Hidden Kingdom

A 6-week Summer Abroad Program

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Duration
42 Days
Description

Discover the historic, economic, environmental, and cultural mosaic of China and Laos by exploring the communities and landscapes along the upper stretches of the Mekong River.

Dates

Jun 28 - Aug 8, 2020


Suggested Ages

16-18

Number of Participants

12


Availability

Open

Begins In

23 Weeks

Land Cost

$7,955


Estimated Flight Cost

$1,895

Kunming

Xishuangbana

Luang Prabang

Vientiane

Bangkok

Program Overview

FROM THE BASE OF SACRED KAWAGEBO MOUNTAIN THE MIGHTY MEKONG RIVER COURSES THROUGH GORGES AND MEGA-DAMS, GRADUALLY WIDENING INTO THE TROPICAL RAINFORESTS OF LAOS.


The China and Laos Mekong Summer program splits time between China’s Yunnan province and northern Laos as we explore the diverse landscapes, spiritual traditions, and critical issues connected to life along the Mekong River.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
  • Experience Tibetan village life and visit hot springs in the upper reaches of the Mekong River in China. 
  • Spend three to five days hiking remote trails on the Tibetan Plateau while witnessing the effects of climate change on retreating glaciers.
  • Speak with environmental activists to learn about the disastrous ecological and social impacts of large-scale hydropower dams along the Mekong River and beyond.
  • Cruise down the Mekong River by slow…

The China and Laos Mekong Summer program splits time between China’s Yunnan province and northern Laos as we explore the diverse landscapes, spiritual traditions, and critical issues connected to life along the Mekong River.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
  • Experience Tibetan village life and visit hot springs in the upper reaches of the Mekong River in China. 
  • Spend three to five days hiking remote trails on the Tibetan Plateau while witnessing the effects of climate change on retreating glaciers.
  • Speak with environmental activists to learn about the disastrous ecological and social impacts of large-scale hydropower dams along the Mekong River and beyond.
  • Cruise down the Mekong River by slow boat for two days, camping alongside the river for a night under the stars.
  • Understand the impact of Mao’s Cultural Revolution and the Secret War in Laos, where the US dropped more bombs than all of the Allied Forces in WW1 and WW2 combined.

Our course begins on the Tibetan Plateau where we meet the river as it gathers Himalayan glacial springs, and tumbles southward. Here in China, our first three weeks are spent descending from the highlands toward the Golden Triangle. Our second three weeks are spent in Laos, where the Mekong basin swells into jungle streams.

We explore the Mekong river as a natural resource and, perhaps more importantly, as a cultural symbol: In China, it is seen as an untamed power source to be harnessed, while in Laos it is nothing less than a living deity—known as the Mae Nam Khong, or Mother Mekong—and a critical source of sustenance, divinity, and economic stability.

We live with Tibetan families, hike to glacial waterfalls dripping off sacred Kawagebo Mountain, trek into the sparsely inhabited rainforests of northern Laos, learn from world-class artisans in the tranquil UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, and meet with inspiring NGOs in Vientiane, Laos’ capital-village.

Offering students an opportunity to explore the region through a transnational lens, the Mekong summer program delves into the historical, economic, environmental, and cultural mosaic of China and Laos.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

3/5
Comparative Religion

Gain insight into Tibetan, Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, as well as the influence of animist traditions, Islam and Christianity in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

5/5
Development Studies

Examine comprehensively issues pertaining to international aid and development, the effects of damming on fisheries, wildlife conservation, minority status and forced relocation issues, effects of modernization on traditional livelihoods, and the impacts of tourism.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Examine international water resources as relates to mega-dam projects, ecology and biodiversity, cultural ecology, economics, sustainable development, and regional politics.

3/5
Homestay

Live with homestay families in a Tibetan community in northwest Yunnan and in rural villages along the Mekong River in Laos.

2/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Learn traditional crafts such as bamboo weaving, embroidery, martial arts (Muay Lao), and traditional silk dying from master teachers in Laos' art and cultural hub, Luang Prabang. Explore your academic passions through mentored comparative studies on a topic such as: water rights, public health, education, gender etc. throughout program.

2/5
Language Study

Build basic proficiency in Mandarin and Lao languages, while exploring the linguistic traditions of ethnic minorities groups.

2/5
Learning Service

Acquire a more profound and nuanced understanding of complex social and development issues through community-based workshops and activities with organizations in Laos, and through the rhythms of daily life while in homestays.

5/5
Rugged Travel

Hop on buses, trains, tuk-tuks, boats, trucks and your own two feet to explore the region overland - from the high mountain passes of the Himalayas to the jungles and floodplains of Laos.

3/5
Trekking

Challenge yourself on day and multi-day hikes within the sacred peaks of the eastern Himalaya in China and explore the karst limestone formations and rainforests of northern and central Laos.