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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

A Time of Transference

Before leaving the charming city of Dali a couple days ago, our Mekong family retreated to the soft grasses of Dali University to creatively retrace our epic journey through each of the countries that our feet kissed, our sweat dripped, our voices sounded, and our heads rested. From the coast of Cambodia, through the laid back land of Laos, and on to our final frontier of China, we’ve now been preparing ourselves to leave. In walking away, we will have the waters of the Mekong within us still, sustaining us just as it has all along throughout our time together.

Gathered on the banks of Erhai Lake, we expressed our wishes for what we hope to take with us when we leave Asia and each other and what we hope to leave behind. Among the taking: compassion, patience, intention, wakefulness; and the leaving: judgments of others and ourselves, haste, and close-mindedness. Before departing on our journey by night train to the capital city of Yunnan Province, we gathered in the courtyard of our guesthouse to tell stories from the past three months on love, laughter, happiness, challenge, and sadness. Now, in this large yet delightful city of Kunming, we’ve shared with each other our independent study projects, explored challenges in communicating our experiences back home on the banks of Green Lake, and reflected on each core value embodied in our Dragon’s experience on the campus of Yunnan University.

We may not know now exactly what it will be like once we’re back home, but we do know that if we move forward with intention, we can, like the Mekong, continue to return to the source of light within us all. As a symbol of the great flow of life itself, rivers begin at their source and return to their source, every time. We’ve learned that perhaps the most valuable form of leadership is not in a community, but within oneself; that no matter where we are, if we only take a breathe and listen for the rhythm of our own steps, we will find our way back to the eternal home inside ourselves.

We will surely miss this community. Even though our co-created time together is coming to an end, we hope each student will continue to observe, ask questions, and intentionally connect with the world around them, whether it be across the street or across the globe. We are endlessly grateful to the families of Josie, Izzy, Rob, Myles, Julia, Sarah, Kaia, Wilson, Westby, Robbie, Lina, and Shade for sending us such courageous, strong, thoughtful, and loving young souls and minds to have shared this slice of life with. We feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to learn with them and from them, teach them and explore their passions, and watch them grow and challenge themselves. The world is a better place with each and every one of them in it.

With Love,

Team Mekong