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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

The Power of Community and Deep Roots

As we have travel up the Mekong, a major focus for me has been free speech and an individual person’s power. I have been exploring individual’s rights to free speech, freedom of information, and education about their place in the world or even their country.

While most individuals I met have been lacking education on global politics or issues, a major theme I have seen as we traveled up the Mekong is a strong knowledge of local, environmental, and community issues.

From sped up water flow causing land erosion, illegal fishing and dams causing a lack of fish in the river, to trash buildup and how to get rid of it without affecting the environment both locally and on a global scale.

Communities know what problems are facing them and threaten their way of life and are willing to do what it takes to face those problems.

The easiest example of community strength so far on our trip is Ban Ta Mui, a small community along the Mekong in Thailand. This village, along with many other farming and fishing communities in Thailand have formed the “Assembly of the Poor” who work together to educate each other on the issues facing them and to stop projects that will negatively impact their communities.

The reason I have focused so much on this is it reminds me of the Unions and the Civil Rights movements that have defined the US so much in the past, and how now these types of movements are quietly becoming so important on a global scale.

As communication and information becomes more easily available it seems the world is using it to let people work together to solve issues.

I feel that the Deep Rooted strength of community bonds are what is needed to stand up to many of the problems that face our modern word, and I hope that organizations like the Assembly of the Poor continue to form world wide and fight for themselves and their environment!