Myanmar

Myanmar
PROGRAM DATES 
Jun 16 to Jul 13
$5950
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION 

Myanmar program is already closed for 2017. Please check out our other sites around the world as great alternatives. VISIONS Myanmar (Burma) is one of the newest programs, but strong relationships have already been established with our Burmese partners and friends. Teen volunteers will live in the heart of the city of Mandalay on a monastery school campus. Novice monk students will be the guides through excursions—including exploring local markets, pagodas, and Buddha statues, and a visit to Bagan, which is home to 2,000 temples—and also on projects relating to school infrastructure and development. 

  • A local girl poses in traditional dress near our home base in Myanmar
  • Our programs in Myanmar focus on construction and youth education.
  • A VISIONS high school student experiencing market culture in Myanmar

Welcomed Service

Education and infrastructure for schools is a focus in Myanmar. VISIONS works with Phaung Daw Oo (PDO), a monastery school that has earned recognition from the Open Society Foundation and international leaders for its success in providing free, high-quality education. PDO is a lively campus with a few thousand young monk students and overflowing classrooms. VISIONS teen volunteers build classroom additions and other needed facilities at PDO and neighboring schools. There also is ample time to help teach in the classrooms, spend time with young kids, and get to know our hosts and translators who are part of PDO’s Pre-College Program.

Full Immersion

From breakfast through bedtime, our days are shared with Myanmar’s children, teachers, school monks, neighbors, shopkeepers and local friends. Monastery schools are bustling and lively places with endless opportunities to play games, learn about Burmese culture, and enjoy quiet moments while classes are in session. You will come to know the small city of Mandalay and its Royal Palace, open-air markets, pagodas, Buddha statues and views from Mandalay Hill. Myanmar’s history and modern times deserve special attention. We take time to listen to a few important guest speakers, tour the countryside, do interviews, eat at local restaurants and participate in daily life whether at the project sites or during outings and excursions.

"Myanmar was so fun! Phaung Daw Oo was the coolest school I’ve ever seen. Everyone within that community was so welcoming and friendly. Also, doing excursions with the Myanmar students was great!"

Andrew Goodrum – Bahamas
Our Home Base 
Mandalay
We live together at the lively Phaung Daw Oo school campus in Mandalay. It is a magical place with hundreds of young monk students, ongoing activity, and constant interaction with our Burmese hosts.
VISIONS Southeast Asia coordinator, Wesley Hedden, has worked with nonprofit and education organizations in Myanmar for several years. We launched our first Myanmar program in 2014, and the experience was a wonderful success. Relationships with local partners are grounded in a mutual desire to work together for years to come.
Explore

Spend a weekend at the ancient Buddhist capital of Bagan, where 2,000 temples and pagodas dot the incredible landscape. Walk across Taungthaman Lake on the world’s oldest and longest teak bridge, U Bein’s Bridge, and then have lunch at a café overlooking the lake. We will walk by bright green rice paddies while visiting rural schools and also take short hikes on mountain paths. We will see some of the world’s rarest wildlife species in Myanmar’s precious but endangered ecosystems.

Daily Life

We live together at a monastic campus, located near Mandalay. There bathrooms, showers, and kitchen facilities, and a bed awaiting each person.

Work days begin after breakfast and continue until mid-afternoon. We usually work five days per week, with each person getting to choose between two or three different worksites each day. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. Your crew makes breakfast and lunch, goes to nearby markets to buy food for the next meals, does laundry, and takes in a “day in the life” of Myanmar.

After work is time for cultural activities and outings. We play games with kids at the school, visit pagodas and temples, ride bikes through nearby rural villages, and more. A few evenings a week, we have group meetings to discuss the cultural experience. In addition to activities during the week, you’ll take part in exciting full-day excursions.

Meals include meat and vegetarian options with plenty of variety and always enough for seconds. There also are healthy snacks available throughout the day.

VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle in to our home base and are part of daily life. The itinerary provides a general overview of just a few of our activities in Myanmar.

Itinerary

First Day
Last Day
Most U.S. departures (lose day in travel to Asia from U.S.)
Arrivals to Bangkok airport met by VISIONS leaders
Fly as a group from Bangkok to Mandalay
Program orientation & getting started
Mandalay Hill & Royal Palace
Bagan weekend
U Bein Bridge & dinner outing
Afternoon trip to nearby villages
Rural bike tour
Full-day outing with PDO students
Goodbye dinner with local friends
Fly with VISIONS leaders to Bangkok
Flights home from Bangkok (gain a day in travel to U.S.)

More Details

Leaders pick each participant up at the Bangkok airport, we stay together at a hotel, and travel to Mandalay the next morning. This is repeated at the end of the program, with leaders flying from Mandalay to Bangkok with participants.
Parents receive a phone call or email once their child is met by VISIONS leaders at the airport. After that, calls home are generally limited to once a week.
We live together as a group at the PDO campus, and boys and girls sleep in separate areas. Beds are provided, and participants bring their own sheets and pillow.
VISIONS has a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio, one of the best ratios among summer programs. The maximum group size is 25, and programs are gender-balanced. Most participants attend alone, and no more than two friends may attend a program together.
We emphasize an inclusive group dynamic. Things like age and grade become less important on a VISIONS program. We eat most meals and do most activities as a large group, and we break into small rotating groups for workdays.
Details such as a packing list, travel notes, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. VISIONS travel agent books flights, which are not included with tuition. Passports and visas are required.
Teen volunteers receive 90 community service hours. Youth summer camp program for ages 14 – 18.
Program Director
Myanmar

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Our staff loves to assist! We are happy to answer questions and discuss the program locations with you.