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Pre-Course Assignments

Hello friends!

We’re just a few weeks away now from all coming together in LA to launch to the Middle Kingdom. We hope that, in addition to packing and other logistical preparations, you are each taking due time to reflect and sit with yourself in the season it is, the season you are, to feel yourself — be it clarity of purpose or clamoring tugs of indecision, it’s all you. This post is to introduce the pre-course assignments we expect of you. However, we hope you will see that more than “homework” these assigments are designed to guide you in that process of self-reflection, of sitting with yourself. Please see our three assignments below. The first one, the field note, is priority and we hope that you can complete it within the next week (by Friday the 15th, if possible), while the others we ask that you complete on your own clock before course.

  1. Field note. Now that your instructor team Madeleine, Longyun, and Ian have all posted their self-introduction letters on the Yak Board, we want to hear the same from you! Please post a letter – a field note – to help us all get excited to know each other.
  2. Why We Travel Essay. Please read the Pico Iyer’s essay “Why We Travel” that you can find by clicking here. As you read, please underline or take note of a few lines or points that struck you; they may be lines that resonate with you or sentiments you disagree with or find problematic. Much of our course is designed around reflections of what it might mean to travel responsibly and ethically, and how to be a Global Citizen. Thus, we ask you to please consider Iyer’s piece as a departure point and not an end point for disentangling some of these reflections; bring your critical lens.
  3. Letter to your Instructors. Another letter? We ask that you take some time to consider some of the things about you that you perhaps thought twice about sharing on your self-introduction field note to the whole group, and to think about sharing them in confidentiality with your instructor team. What would you like us to know about you that isn’t included in your application or in your field note? What would be most helpful for us to know? Please send your letter (don’t stress too much about this, be natural) to Ian at You may consider some of the questions below:
    • What inspires you, and what can we do to help you feel motivated and challenged? What can we do to make you feel safe and supported in our student group?
    • What annoys you? Do you have any pet peeves that we should avoid?
    • What does it look like when you are struggling or having a hard time? How can we support you when this happens?
    • What aspect of the course most excites you? Is there anything about it that makes you nervous?
    • Do you have any personal goals for the semester? How can we support you to reach these?

We know that you are all busy with packing, goodbyes, and course preparation, but we do hope that you can take a few hours over the course of the next few weeks to complete these assignments. Use them as an opportunity to set some intentions for this course and let us know how we can best support you in meeting your goals.


Looking forward to meeting you all!

Ian, Madeleine, and Longyun