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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.


Hey everybody!

My name is Maia, like many of you I’m also on a gap year right now before I start college in the fall. I’m taking a gap year because I think it’s really important that I have the opportunity to have this year to be on my own and learn independence while challenging myself. I love poetry, belly dancing, and my favorite book is Till We Have Faces by C.S Lewis.

I’m really excited to experience meeting and speaking with local people, seeing amazing nature, and learning about cultures, traditions, and histories different than my own country and heritage. I’m not sure yet what role this course plays in my life, but I hope that it will allow me to be more aware of the world and my place in it. Above all, I know that the next few months are going to be really fun 🙂

This is my favorite poem by Mary Oliver, it’s called Morning Poem.

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches—
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead—
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.