|Dates:||June 29 – July 30|
|Grade||9th, 10th, 11th & 12th|
(Students Grouped According to Age)
*Airfare for group flight from Los Angeles additional
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- Experience the Diverse Cultures of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand
- Volunteer With Children Affected by Agent Orange
- Work for an Elephant Rescue Organization in Rural Thailand
- Build and Install Giant Water Filters in Cambodian Villages
- Explore the Cities of Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Bangkok
- Overnight on the Stunning Waters of Vietnam’s Halong Bay
- Partner with Villagers Working in a Hill Tribe Community
- 60 Hours of Community Service
Agent Orange is a Herbicide that was used by the U.S. military to clear vegetation during the Vietnam War. The after-effects of its use has impacted up to 3 million Vietnamese people, many of them children suffering birth defects. On the Southeast Asia program, our students tutor and volunteer with an incredibly inspiring organization that supports a village comprised solely of those impacted by Agent Orange. The work done by our students during this section, so appreciated by all involved, is equally rewarding both to those volunteering and those getting the much needed special attention from the ARCC students. Some consider this unique project to be one of the most rewarding experiences of any ARCC program.
Travel into the heart of Southeast Asia where you learn about the region’s rich history, beautiful cultures and breathtaking natural beauty. Step back in time in Phnom Penh as you take in relics from the Khmer Rouge era and journey to Angkor Wat where you wander through ruins built civilizations ago. Build and install Clean Water Filters. Teach English to eager students. Sail a junk for two days atop the turquoise waters of Halong Bay, trying your hand at kayaking and venturing into hidden caves. Navigate the winding streets of the Old Quarter in Hanoi and the bustling metropolis of Bangkok. Ride atop a canoe at one of Thailand’s famous floating markets. Befriend, care and bathe the stately Thai elephant, while working alongside the Mahout, the elephant caregiver, as you learn about efforts to protect these gentle giants. Try your hand at cooking Thai curries and Pad Thai. Experience serenity and Buddhist practices at a Thai Forest Monastery. Volunteer in a hill-tribe village while sharing in traditional daily routines and practices. Your trip concludes over a final feast in Bangkok, where you reflect on the cultures, history and experiences you have lived in the past four weeks.
Acclimatization & Phnom Penh Exploration
We begin our summer program in Los Angeles and board our flight to Phnom Penh, where we jump right into our adventure with an introduction to Cambodian culture. Once the “Pearl of Asia,” Phnom Penh is a city that balances the past and the present. No visit would be complete without taking in the relics of the Khmer Rouge era and promenading along the mighty Mekong River.
Village Service & Angkor Wat
Traveling into Cambodia’s countryside, we make our way to our first service section. For the next several days we lend our hands with constructing much-needed infrastructure for the clean water project taking place. We use cement to mold bio sand water filters, then travel to local communities to install the filters. Having fully immersed ourselves in Cambodian culture through our village stay, we then continue on to Siem Reap, where we experience a breathtaking view of Angkor Wat at sunrise.
Teaching English to Cambodian School Children
Next we make our way to a small school where over 100 students eagerly await the arrival of their new “teachers.” This community service project brings us directly into the lives of Cambodian youth. We arrive with much-needed supplies for their rural orphanage and for two days we offer our help by teaching English to the children. When lessons are done, we have the opportunity to play with the children who have so graciously welcomed us into their home. Our efforts are rewarded by the smiles and laughter of our new Cambodian friends.
Sailing in Halong Bay & Hanoi
Bidding our Cambodian friends behind, we cross into Vietnam, where we embark on a two night excursion on a traditional junk in Halong Bay, where more than 3000 islands jut out from the emerald waters. Hitting the water for some kayaking and exploring untouched islands, we spend our nights on deck of the junk and camping on our own private island. Soaking up our last few days in Hanoi, we relish the breathtaking views around us. Leaving Cat Ba Island and Halong Bay behind, we head to the bustling, lively city of Hanoi, where we explore the Old Quarter, sample the traditional Pho and look ahead to our journey in Thailand!
Bangkok Orientation & Exploration
After a short flight to Bangkok we begin our Thai language and cultural orientation from our Thai hosts. During our time in Bangkok, we stroll through lively markets, visit the revered Grand Palace and Reclining Buddha, and cruise the canals on a traditional Thai long boat.
Village Hill Tribe Service
Glimpsing Thailand’s true cultural origins, we travel north to hill tribe country where tribes have managed to retain their own language, customs, mode of dress, and spiritual beliefs for centuries. In the village, we help with much-needed infrastructure such as building bridges or community houses, or renovating and improving the local school. We spend three days living in a village guest house, helping the community while learning about Thai culture first hand. In Chiang Mai we take a full-day Thai cooking class during which we prepare tasty Thai dishes like spring rolls, Pad Thai, and papaya salad.
Elephant Conservation Center & Buddhist Monastery Stay
Jumping into our elephant service work we start a three-day training course in Kanchanaburi. We learn and practice elephant trainer’s tasks and responsibilities, as well as educate ourselves about conversation efforts in place for Thailand’s elephants. Whether feeding, riding or bathing our new elephant friends, we form bonds that will never be forgotten. We spend a night at the Suwantawanaram Buddhist forest monastery where we learn from monks about Buddhist customs.
Erewan Falls & Final Days in Bangkok
Leaving the monastery behind we spend a day swimming in the emerald pools of Erewan Falls, before we board our bus for the journey back to Bangkok. We spend our final days reflecting on our experiences these past four weeks and on the new friendships we’ve formed. We enjoy a final celebration and Final Feast and bid a warm goodbye to The Land of Smiles and Southeast Asia.
“She had a wonderful experience and really broadend her perspectives of our world. Fabulous time, and a strong program”— Parent of Olivia P., Nevada City, CA
“A challenging adventure that is a chance of a lifetime! Amazing service projects! I was so beyond happy to help all the places we visited, it was an amazing experience.”— Lacey S., ARCC Student
“Jared had an amazing time and really learned a lot. He hasn’t stopped talking about his trip since he got back. [It was a] great trip!”— Parent of Jared S., Brookline, MA
Group Journal Excerpts
Below you will find several Group Journal excerpts, written by ARCC students during their summer program with ARCC:
We started off the day waking up to a beautiful sunrise at Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Even though we were all sleepy, it was one of the most magical parts of the trip. After a delightful breakfast, we headed over to Angkor Tom to see some more beautiful temples.…
Waking up to the scent of a salty ocean for the first time this trip, we rolled out of bed and saw the paradise we had enveloped ourselves in. After some fun and games, we began our voyage on a rustic Vietnamese boat called a junk. As we came to a stop in the middle…
Today was such an amazing day. We visited the Elma School, which offers free English, sports, and arts education for poor rural families. The kids were unbelievable. They were all so nice, and their English skills were so much more advanced than I ever would have imagined them to be. But oh my Lord, the…
Welcome to Vietnam
Today we visited the Village, which is a learning facility for children and adults affected by Agent Orange, the toxic chemical substance which the US sprayed during the Vietnam War. It was used as an herbicide to kill off the thick jungles, but it has had lasting effects on the population and has left many…
What is the packing list for this program?
Each program has a specific packing list that has been designed to fit the trip’s activities, length, climate and cultural differences. Please click here to view the Southeast Asia Service Packing list.
What is the weather like in Southeast Asia?
Most of Southeast Asia can be described as hot and humid during this time. Day-time temperatures in the summer months usually fall in the mid-80’s, with an average humidity of 66% to 82%. In Cambodia you will arrive in the midst of the green season, where rice paddies glisten and afternoon downpours bring relief from the humidity. In Vietnam you can expect balmy temperatures, cooled off by quick rain showers.
Most of Thailand, with the exception of the mountainous regions in the north, can be described as hot and humid. Day-time temperatures in the summer months usually fall in the mid-80’s, with an average humidity of 66% to 82%. In the northern hill-country, where we will be trekking and rafting, temperatures can fall into the 50s, and it can get quite chilly in the evenings. Also, while it is not quite the rainy season in Thailand when you will be there in July, it has been known to rain frequently in the areas that we will travel. Please pack according to the ARCC packing list; we have taken these climate variations into consideration.
What are the time zones of Southeast Asia?
Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand fall within a single time zone. While on your trip, the time will be 11 hours behind New York (Eastern Time), 12 hours behind Chicago (Central Time), and 14 hours behind San Francisco (Pacific Time).
Do I really need to bring a backpack, or can I bring a rolling suitcase on this trip?
Although you will not be doing traditional backpacking on this trip, it is important that you bring a backpack as your main piece of luggage. During the trip you will be navigating through airports, on and off buses and trains, up and down stairways and walking to various locations. The group will be able to move much more efficiently if all group members are carrying their belongings on their backs.
What is the transportation like once we are in Southeast Asia?
We use a variety of transportation on the Southeast Asia Service program. We travel by train in overnight sleeper coaches, private busses, boats, and local buses.
Do I need a passport?
Yes, you will need a valid passport for travel to Southeast Asia. Your passport MUST be valid for 6 months after the last day of the trip. Passport applications are available at the post office. If you do not already have a passport, you should apply for one as soon as you enroll in this adventure. It normally takes six weeks to process a passport application.
Do I need a visa?
Yes. You will need visas to enter Cambodia and Vietnam. For Cambodia, you don’t need to get it before departure. Upon arrival in country you will buy a visa, which costs $20. For Vietnam you must purchase your visa in advance. There is a visa information section in the forms booklet that you will receive once you enroll in this adventure. You can obtain a Vietnamese visa in person at a Vietnam embassy, or through the mail.
What kind of goods and supplies can we bring to donate for the people we meet?
We have the chance to live amongst some needy people who have the very basics for survival. With education being a tool to better their lives, basic school supplies are welcomed with open arms. Pens, pencils, notepads, calculators and books are widely accepted. Soccer balls are also an incredible way to cross the cultural border and share smiles. Because of limited space on our vehicles ARCC would ask that every person to bring no more than a gym of bag of goods to donate.
I am vegetarian will this be a problem?
No. Vegetarians and medical dietary requirements (i.e. allergies) are catered for. It does help if we are informed of this prior to departure date.
What kind of health precautions should I take before traveling to Southeast Asia?
ARCC recommends that you take some health precautions before your trip to Southeast Asia, which are the same as recommended by the CDC. When you enroll in the program, you will receive more complete information on pertinent travel vaccinations and immunizations. Please also refer to the Traveler’s Health section of the CDC website for Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Our leaders carry a full first aid kit, and are all certified Wilderness First Responders (WFR).