Jessica Armstrong

Southeast Asia Instructor

B.Sc. Ecology (first class honours), University of New South Wales, Australia

Jessica’s first trip abroad was to Thailand in 1993 when she was six years old to visit her maternal relatives. For three months, she enjoyed the love and affection of her family, the countless and seemingly boundless tastes and smells of the food piled up around her, and the humid tropical heat that never left her heart. Jessica revelled in the freedom riding in the back of pickup trucks and moto taxis through the bustling city with her aunts and uncles. She set off fireworks in carparks, placed gold leaves on Buddha statues in temples and sat next to crocodiles for photos. And when she was told that she had to go back to Australia, she cried.

Since that first experience, Jessica has felt like she has two feet in two continents, two cultures, two worlds. Appreciating both, she grew up learning two sets of laws and traditions from the East and West, and without knowing it, became a vessel of knowledge for others. Having experienced the transformative power of travel and education for herself, Jessica is an advocate for getting off the beaten path to experience things you “simply cannot Google”. She promotes small scale, ethical and sustainable travel. She seeks to be uncomfortable and present, because it is during these times that she has grown the most.

Jessica graduated with a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours Ecology (equivalent to Masters). Her research on the impact of water resource development and water extraction on the Lachlan river earned her the University Medal. Jessica understands the connective nature of water and the need to protect it. Her passion for water has allowed her to work in many environments around the world, from the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, the rice paddy fields of southern Laos to the desert floodplains in central Australia. She is an anti-dam activist and seeks to educate others about the detrimental impacts of medium and large scale hydro developments.

Jessica has travelled to over 38 countries and has lived, worked and volunteered extensively in Southeast Asia and Central America. Based in Bangkok, she has led programs with Dragons in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and China with some of the best students she has ever engaged with. She feels passionately about the state of the world, she is a keen reader, an avid foodie, and an undeniable dog lover.