Is it safe?
Thailand, Malaysia and all of the areas of Myanmar to which LAB programs travel are regarded as quite safe. (There are some areas of Myanmar which are not regarded as safe; however, those are far from the places where LAB programs take place.)
Are visas required?
Japanese citizens require visas (easily available on the web) for Myanmar but not Thailand or Malaysia. Taiwan citizens require visas for all three countries; these are available in Taipei and, for Myanmar, on the web.
Do I need to get any inoculations or take any other health precautions?
What about additional costs?
Besides the program fee, there are the following: Visa cost and travel health insurance (several levels of coverage are available). The program fee for Myanmar includes all meals and, for the Thailand-Malaysia program, about half of all meals. Meals in Thailand and Malaysia are available at very reasonable cost.
What kind of hotels do we stay in?
Some are older hotels (as in Yangon and Kuala Lumpur), but, like all hotels used, are safe, comfortable and very well located. (The Yangon hotel is in the heart of the historical area and the Kuala Lumpur hotel is an eight-minute walk from the famous KL Twin Towers.) The Bangkok hotel is relatively new and small (a “boutique” hotel) and only a three-minute walk from the Skytrain. The Mandalay hotel is of international standard and is located in the city center. All of these hotels have been used by past groups.
Who will be participating in the program?
Typically, most participants will be Japanese undergraduates (usually from Keio, though students from other universities are welcomed). Usually several students from National Taiwan University’s Political Science Department join the Myanmar program; some National Chengchi University students have joined as well. In addition, several Thai students from Chulalongkorn University participate in the Yangon portion of the Myanmar schedule.
Each year, the group usually includes one or more graduate students or interested people who graduated some time ago and are now working.
The program seeks a diverse group of participants as so much of the learning takes place within the group.
What level of English is required?
The entire program will be conducted in English since this will be the only common language of everyone we’ll be talking with. Thus, the program requires students who feel comfortable (or brave!) in speaking in English; perfect grammar is not important—but the willingness to communicate with others and participate in discussions is important. The program attracts students who want to improve their English ability through a total immersion in English; thus, it is not unusual to find a Japanese speaking privately with another Japanese in English.
Who provides Learning Across Borders (LAB) leadership?
Dwight Clark leads each LAB program. He began his career as Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University and then founded Volunteers in Asia (now called VIA) based at Stanford. Upon retirement from VIA, he created LAB as a means of promoting cross-cultural education and understanding.
Shugo Yanaka, LAB’s Co-Director, participates in many programs and organizes its alumni activities. His career includes roles in consulting/business management, media and education.
LAB also calls on the advice and service of many active members, including its Core Team.
How can I prepare for the program?
Participants will receive at orientation a suggested reading list and a number of useful websites. To fully sense the wide range of topics which be explored, browse the Trans-Cultural Study Guide. It lists thousands of question, organized by topic, which an inquiring visitor in Southeast Asia can ask.