Southeast Asia Program

Applications due November 25, 2017

  • Program dates:

    February 19 - March 3, 2018

  • Program length:

    13 days

  • Cost:


Sensing the diversity of Southeast Asia by contrasting two neighbors

Our Southeast Asia program focuses on two countries, Thailand and Malaysia, which are neighbors but quite different.

    • Thailand

    • Overwhelmingly ethnic Thai people with well-integrated Chinese minority
    • Overwhelmingly Buddhist
    • Now ruled by military which overthrew an elected government
    • Malaysia

    • 3 quite separate racial groups: Malay, Chinese, Indian
    • Malays are (by law) Muslims; Chinese and Indians represent other faiths
    • elected government dominated by the largest ethnic group
I really had a lot to learn during this trip, and I’m sure this experience will be a very important one for the rest of my life!!

What we do to create a deeper learning experience

Understanding begins with experiences and human contacts that would be difficult to achieve if simply traveling alone, with friends or with a tour group

  • Live in a Thai village for several days
  • Trek Malaysia’s rainforest
  • Meet informally with university students
  • Learn about social issues from UN staff (UNICEF in Thailand, High Commissioner for Refugees in Malaysia)
  • Get briefed by a knowledgeable university professor in each country
  • Learn what the world is doing to overcome injustice (for example, talking with those rescuing people from human traffickers)
  • program images
  • program images

How to prepare

Our participants bring the following tools to maximize their learning experience

  • An open, inquiring mind
  • Some reading and other preparation beforehand
  • Enough English to communicate effectively, as it is our only common language within our group and among those with whom we meet. (Note: Perfect English isn’t required but enough to understand and to be understood—and the bravery required to use it.)
Joining this program was perhaps one of the best decisions I made in life. It gave me a new way of looking at things and understanding all kinds of things.

Our typical journey

  • Day 1

    Depart for Bangkok. Transfer from Bangkok Airport to Siam Swana Hotel

  • Day 2

    Afternoon briefing on human rights in Thailand and region by Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division.

  • Day 3

    Explore Wat Po, a much revered Buddhist temple complex on Rattanakosin island, and its famed Reclining Buddha. After lunch: a briefing by UNICEF staff on their efforts to protect children from the dangers of trafficking, HIV-AIDS, and other abuse.

  • Day 4

    Exploration of the NGO community in Thailand. We look at the “underside” of Bangkok life through the work of the Duang Prateep Foundation in the Klong Toey slum. Afternoon: Emma Van Dam of Project Issara explains its fight against human trafficking and the supply chains which uphold it.

  • Day 5

    Free day to explore Bangkok on one’s own.

  • Day 6

    Depart Bangkok for Ta Kha village in Samut Songkram province. Together with three Chulalongkorn University students, we’ll observe life in the floating market and meet our village hosts, with whom we’ll stay overnight.

  • Day 7

    In the early morning, we join the village custom of offering food to monks in order to make Buddhist merit. After breakfast, we learn the process of producing coconut sugar—the main local industry. This is a day to appreciate the pace of life in rural Thailand.

  • Day 8

    We say goodbye to our village hosts and travel to Bangkok Airport. Afternoon flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On to ZON Residences.

  • Day 9

    Morning meeting with staff of the Women’s Aid Organisation, an NGO which protects the rights of women and foreign workers. Afternoon briefing by UNHCR staff on situation of refugees in Malaysia, followed by visit to an informal school for refugee children.

  • Day 10

    On the campus of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, we meet with Prof. Stephen Leong, who surveys Malaysia’s recent history and its place in the world. We join the university’s students for lunch. Afternoon: we explore new media by meeting with the founders of Malaysiakini who explain how they have tapped the power of the internet to create an alternate news source. Evening activity.

  • Day 11

    We travel to a nature preserve to trek in Malaysia’s rainforest—an opportunity to understand firsthand this important Southeast Asia feature and resource. Lunch during jungle hike. Mid-afternoon return to Kuala Lumpur; rest of day free.

  • Day 12

    Morning: Producers and staff of alJazeera’s Asian broadcast center explain their approach to comprehensive, reality-centered news gathering. Afternoon: final reflection session. Farewell dinner.

  • Day 13

    Chartered bus transfer to Kuala Lumpur International Airport for flight home.

  • This schedule represents an example of our typical program schedule. Actual schedule may be subject to change.