Participants on the Summer 2018 Thailand Summer course~
As the days grow hotter (hopefully preparing you for the heat of Thailand) we want to offer you a glimpse into the tentative schedule of our four weeks together and give you a better understanding of the course vision and the geographic regions in which we’ll be traveling this summer. Our itinerary is based exclusively in the gorgeous northern realms of Thailand, where an abundance of cultural and biological diversity awaits us. As you look through the descriptions of each location, please note that like all Dragons’ programs we intentionally remain open to spontaneity and it is likely that our plans will change slightly somewhere down the road. As anyone who has experienced the joys of travel will attest: “man makes plans and god laughs!”
With this in mind, we hope you are all getting excited and starting to feel the pre-course butterflies. As one of our instructors likes to say: “Try to make the butterflies fly in formation.” So without further adieu, enjoy a glimpse into the summer to come…
June 30-July 2: Orientation in Sukhothai: We will first gather in Bangkok for an evening together to rest and get to know each other before heading to the ancient city of Sukhothai. In Sukhothai, we will really begin diving into our orientation phase. Students will have a chance to learn survival Thai, to practice meditation in the mornings, to explore the ruins by bike and to build bonds as a group.
July 3-5: Intro to Northern Thailand in Chiang Mai: After orientation we will travel north by train to Chiang Mai, cultural capital of northern Thailand, where we will begin looking into issues pertaining to tourism, refugees, indigenous land rights, climate change, comparative religion and more. We will be staying with an NGO that works with nearby hill-tribes and this will set the tone for our next journey into the lush mountains surrounding the city.
July 6-10: Village-stay and Learning Service Project in Pun Pun: From Chiang Mai, we will head to the sun Pun Farm Organic Farm and Seed Saving Center, just two hours north of the city. Here we will look at why saving seeds is so important not only for the people of Thailand but for all people around the world while getting our hands dirty working in gardens, planting trees and helping to build an adobe house! This is time for students to settle into the slower rhythms of agricultural life and to absorb the customs of northern Thai “Lanna” culture.
July 11-15: Homestay in ethnic Karen village: After our time at Pun Pun we will be heading into our homestay at the Indigenous Dialogue Center where we will have the enormous privilege of living within the homes of Karen people along Thailand’s largest mountain, Doi Inthanon. Here we will learn about local handicrafts, agricultural systems, spiritual beliefs and ethnic history. The Karen live on both sides of the Thai-Myanmar border and through their experiences we are offered insight into both human diversity transnational politics in Southeast Asia.
July 16-21: Chiang Rai: Following our stay at the Indigenous Dialogue Center we will, head north near the border of Myanmar for a multi-day trek through the mountains of Chiang Rai. Here we will witness the impressive biodiversity of Thailand’s far north as we visit with Akha, Lisu and Lahu hilltribes. During the trek we’ll come face to face with monsoon waterfalls while learning about conservation efforts attempting to combat threats to the ecological integrity of the region.
July 22-24: Monastic Retreat in Pai: After returning from our trek, we will familiarize ourselves with the noble teachings of the Buddha as we enter into a three-day Theravada meditation retreat together near the beautiful town of Pai. While students will be challenged by the rigors of monastic traditions, this retreat is specifically designed as an experiential introduction and a teaching tool to Theravada Buddhist philosophy for young learners.
July 25-26: Student-led X-Phase: After emerging from the retreat, students we have an opportunity to design a Student-led expedition which at times has led teams to explore national parks or to visit elephant sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers in the remote jungles. Students will work as a group to design a dream mini-itinerary and be tasked with special roles meant to promote the practice of skills they’ve built on course.
July 27-28: Bangkok Upon completing the X-phase, we will begin our travels back south toward Bangkok, where we’ll wander the streets of one of the world’s most modern and bustling Alpha cities before ultimately boarding flights for our journeys home on the late afternoon of July 28th.
Can’t wait to see you all in a few weeks. Keep posted to the Yak board for more updates this week!
Ramphai, Greg, Somsanid