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Final Takeaways

What misconception about Myanmar has been dispelled or challenged over the course? “Myanmar was under a military dictatorship for many years. I expected the people to be exhausted downtrodden victims. I never expected the energy and warmth and joy they would share with me.”

“Before the course, I thought Myanmar was going to be much more poor than it feels to me now. In the beginning of the trip I didn’t think I would ever like the food but look at me now. I miss the food. Myanmar food > Thai food.”

“I think I expected Myanmar to be fairly homogenous. Though I knew that there were different ethnic groups, I expected there to be a shared overall “Myanmar culture,” which really isn’t the case. I thought the various town and villages we visited felt completely different. It was really interesting to see how diverse the different cultures within Myanmar are.”

“I expected religion to play a much less complicated role in Myanmar’s society than it does. Theravada Buddhism is much different from the Mahayana Buddhism I grew up practicing and studying. It requires the state to oversee and structure religious influence. Politics, religion, and culture are all meshed together. To an insider, this is just the way it is. But, to me, as an outsider and a Buddhist, it brings up a lot of mixed feelings.”

“I was under the impression that Buddhism would really be the only religion we would see here, which is definitely not the case. I also didn’t realize how unique and different each ethnic group is.”

“I don’t know if this is more of something I didn’t expect rather than a misconception, but the level of engagement, global awareness, and intellectual curiosity we saw in interactions with the PCP students in Mandalay was inspiring. I was amazed at their drive and commitment to better their communities and at the fact that it surpassed the drive and commitment of students in my own community.”

“I have had to constantly reevaluate my opinion of Myanmar’s government and on Aung San Suu Kyi. Even now, I am unsure of what I believe.”

What should friends and family know about me when I return home?
“That I love them dearly, and that even though I’ve been away from them for 3 months, I feel as close to them as ever. I can’t wait to share my experiences with those who are keen on listening to them.”

“That I have learned the value, or rather just how valuable human interaction is, and how enjoyable a conversation can be. furthermore, I have detached from technology, and I’m not going to be as consumed by it and I hope to show my friends and family the value of even just sitting together and being present in the moment without distraction.”

“Being away for these past three months has made me infinitely more grateful for them. Every time I was able to reach people back home I was left with a smile on my face. I feel so lucky to have such a supportive network waiting for me.”

“That, though I’ve learned so much and my perspective has changed in many ways, I’m still the same me.”

“That I have missed them so much over the past few months and am so excited to see all of them again, that I have learned so much about this place, other people and myself and i can’t wait to share that with them, and that I hope they can allow me more of the freedom and independence I have experienced on this course in order to push myself, explore and continue to learn on my own.”

“Although it might take me a while to adjust to the pace of life back home, I am looking forward to exchanging stories and catching up on what’s going on in all of their loves. I can’t wait to spend time reconnecting.”

“When I come home, don’t be surprised if I hug you a little longer or smile a little wider. Being cross the ocean for the past 3 months has shown me what matters most, and you are it.”

“Friends and family should know that I have become far more independent and have strong desires to explore and go on lots of adventures.”

“Before coming on this trip I didn’t realize the importance of family and connection.Being stripped of my comforts and thrown into situations where I ha to do everything for myself, I finally had an understanding of how much parents do for us. i can’t tell you how grateful I am for you guys. Quality time with the people who matter most is my biggest priority now.

“Know that I am incredibly grateful that I was allowed to come here and have these experiences. I cannot thank you enough.”

How have you been impacted by the itinerary, the experiences, and the discussions that we have had on this trip?
“The discussions have informed my understanding of the world by introducing me to different cultural values and perspectives.”

“I feel extremely humbled by the experiences I’ve had and also the lessons we’ve learned. I feel that discussions with individuals has impacted me more than anything because the things I learn that way feel far more genuine and leave a lasting impact on me.”

“Because of the experiences I’ve had in Myanmar, i’ve become a more empathetic and open-minded person. Having conversations with some of the people here has shown me that everyone has their own reasons for believing what they believe, and that understanding where someone is coming from is the first step to finding common ground.”

“The most impactful experiences I’ve had in Myanmar have been the ones where i found deep connections with people who live here- people who come from a much different background than my own. The discussions have given me the context to understand these experiences. The itinerary was planned to teach me the life changing lessons I will take back home.”

“The times we’ve spend in home-stays and rural villages have impacted me the most. being completely immersed in a culture so foreign to me, destroyed all my preconceived notions and gave me the opportunity to rebuild my perspectives. Not only did I gain independence, I learned the value of human connection, even in the circumstance where no one speaks a work of each other’s languages.”

“I really feel as if this trip has triggered a shift in my perspective that is critical to me beginning to understand my role as a global citizen.”

“This trip has pushed me in ways that I could have never expected. I have learned to appreciate the challenge that is persevering through uncomfortable situations and the growth and self reflection that can come out of it. I have found not only common ground with, but also have become so close with so many people who I would never have met otherwise and who I initially assumed were too different from myself to connect with. The discussions and interactions we have had have given me a deep understanding of the complexities of Myanmar, it’s dynamic history, and its present challenges. I feel a compassion for and familiarity with the people and their culture to a degree that I did not anticipate.”

“I never imagined how different other peoples’ lives could be from mine, and I never imagined how much I could connect with them.”