Reflections on leading the Southeast Asia Program - Melissa Raftery

Melissa is stepping down from leading our Southeast Asia Semester Program after five years and here shares some thoughts and experiences. Enjoy! Cooling off while trekking in Laos Now in the role of a trip leader for the Pacific Discovery Southeast Asia program, I often re-visit my first experience as a participant. I am forever questioning what exactly made the two months of memories and relationships so monumental? What changed in my deeper understanding of the world… Read more

A Cambodian Casting Call!

I think today was a lesson for me on why my sister is studying drama and I am not...but will definitely be remembered as one of my highlights and most entertaining moments in Phenom Penh, Cambodia. This afternoon, eight of us gathered in the cool AC relief of the office for Equal Access, the home of "We Can Do It," a popular youth radio program. Originally a community development project funded by the US State Department, Equal Access is now in partnership with UNICEF … Read more

Hoi An high fashion

High fashion city meets beach town in Hoi An! Not their fashion, not the Italians fashion, but Your fashion. This small beach town has hundreds and hundreds of tailors and tailoring shops with every cotton, silk, linen and polyester known to man and its up to you to point to something you like in one of their catalogs, bring in your own picture of what you want, or just design it yourself. From suits($60) to shoes($20) to boardshorts($15), they make everything, and qu… Read more

Hue moto adventure

After Hanoi and northern Vietnam, our Pacific Discovery group headed south to warmer waters in Hue and Hoi An. After a long bumpy overnight train ride from Hanoi, we finally ended up in beautiful Hue. A welcome change from the grit of Hanoi's streets, Hue's clear open sky, beautiful riverside parks (complete with ancient and modern sculptures), and less congested streets helped lighten everybody's mood and help us relax. After a nice jog along the river and a little si… Read more

Trekking in Sapa, Vietnam

The group split up for the adventures in Sapa. Kenzie, Emily M, Jeremy, and I (Emily L) chose to go trekking into Thanh Phu Village for an overnight hometay. Our Guide, Mi, was excellent, and very friendly. After a half hour jeep ride, we started our trek... straight downhill. The loose gravel and dirt made it very difficult to walk upright, and I spent much of my time sliding down on my backside, unfortunately. This trek was much different from the others we've be… Read more

Nam Ha Valley Excursion in Laos

100% pure unbridled nature. That's what we got trekking through the beautiful Nam Ha Valley in northern Laos. Two full days of rigorous trekking (most of it seeming to be uphill) brought our group through three Lanten villages and up, down and across more hills and jungles than I can count. But with natures glory bursting with joy out from the ground, and beautiful mountain vistas awaiting at the top of every hill, things weren't so bad. The end of the firs… Read more

New Zealand Australia Program - halfway!

It's been an amazing month in New Zealand! We are now at the halfway point in the program having done two weeks of volunteer conservation work and two multi-day expeditions. Right now we're relaxing in sunny Nelson before our final week of conservation work at Nelson Lakes National Park. Canoeing on the Whanganui River - expedition 2 Riverside cave on our canoe journey Carnivorous snail survey on our second week of volunteer conservation work Jordan enjoying mountain… Read more

Just around the riverbend...

February 9th, three days ago, we said good bye to the quaint Boat Landing Guesthouse in Luang Nam Tha, Laos, with its amazingly soft warm beds and solar-heated showers, to embark on a river adventure. Let's just say it started off on an interesting note before we even set foot on the small wooden boats. The past few mornings I think our group of 15 hungry, French-toast-loving explorers ate not only all the bread in the guesthouse but all the bread in the entire village… Read more

Something New to Try Chiang Mai

Pie in the sky Chiang Mai…finally doing the laundry Chiang Mai…it's good to be high Chiang Mai…buy a lady get a guy Chiang Mai - these are all the names our group thought up to help market the city in the States because, in the words of Tony the Tiger, its grrrrrreat! Chiang Mai is a blast and a half and during the course of the last few days our group got a much needed massage, completed an 'amazing race', visited a Wat (temple), and spent a morning at a Burmese childr… Read more

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