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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Pre-Course Projects

Hello Mekong Dragons!

We hope your course preparation is going smoothly. We will be getting in touch with you to arrange a phone call soon. We know you’ve been talking with people at Dragons a lot, but now you can talk with the people you’re actually going to be traveling with. We like to hear your voices, give you a chance to ask questions, and get to know each other a little. Please check your email so we can schedule a call (some of you have already received calls).

Below you will find a few projects that will help you either prepare for our journey or to contribute a little something of yourself to our collective group experience. A good place to start is the river that will shape our inquiries on course; the Mekong (Lancang Jiang or Langcang River in China).

The Mekong is 4,300km (2672 miles) long and runs through or forms the borders of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. More than sixty-six million people live in the Mekong Basin, and for as long as humans have settled there, they have relied on the river’s seasonal floods to distribute water throughout the watershed and replenish fields with nutrient-rich sediment flows for their crops.

There are more than 1000 fish species alone endemic to the Mekong, of which more than 700 are migratory. Only the Amazon has more fish diversity, yet the Amazon is almost twice as long and its watershed is ten times the size of the Mekong’s.

Cultural practices often depend on specific elements of biodiversity for their existence and expression so that units of biodiversity are often developed, maintained, and managed by cultural groups; biodiversity and culture are intimately linked.

What do you think would happen if we didn’t have biodiversity at all? Why is biodiversity so important?

Watch this video and use the questions to guide a written reflection in your journal. Make sure to bring this with you on course as we will use these during our orientation.

Lost World- Kalyanee Mam

Consider your relationship to where you live. Do you think there is a connection between community, traditions, and place? Do you think there is a connection between where we live and how we live?

Think about your own community. How long has your family lived in that community? What is the geography or the land like in your community? Has there been a moment in your life when you felt especially connected to your community? Or at odds with it? If you had to pick up and move your entire community to a new location, would the community be the same? What might be lost in the move?

Start thinking about a small Independent Study Project (ISP) that you would like to explore during the course. ISPs are one of the 9 program components of Dragons Core Curriculum. We will give you more parameters during Orientation so for now we suggest you enjoy the process of following your curiosity towards a topic you may want to find out more about during our journey.

Finally, when engaging in rugged travel, there is inevitably going to be down time. Please come prepared to lead one fun game or team building activity that we can all participate in. Be creative and pull ideas from anywhere; maybe you’ve played this game at school, camp, or with family and friends. It could last for 5 minutes or 20, or span out over the course of days. Your game could be an icebreaker, used to get to know each other better; or an energizer, to wake us up after a big meal or a long travel day. It could be a card game you can teach your peers and they can then share in their homestays, or a word game we can play while we hike. Games can be active and moving, or stationary and contemplative. They can be educational or just plain silly. Your game should be inclusive of our entire group and perhaps local guides or hosts, so applicable to a group of 14-18 people or smaller groups from that. Please keep games appropriate – if we are grouped up and acting silly we will likely draw an audience, which is totally fine, but let’s be aware and respectful to anyone watching whilst still having fun. Use your game as a way to empower comfort and sharing while still respecting each other’s differences and boundaries.

Thank you for putting your creative energy into our collective experience. We invite you to engage in the themes and stories of the Mekong Program in any way you can before embarking on our journey.

Your I-Team,

-Karlee, Anna, and Gai