The Pacific Rim/Asia Study Travel Program is a nine-month study abroad through the University of Puget Sound under the stewardship of the Asian Studies Program. Meticulously organized only once every three years and spanning the world’s largest and most populous continent, it requires a great deal of preparation, independence, flexibility, and commitment from the students involved. The program itself has evolved; each trip has had different itineraries, from the first trip in 1970 (with stays in Fiji, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, India, and Iran) to the current one which includes visits to Korea, Mongolia, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and India.
There are obvious benefits and challenges to traveling as a culturally-aware citizen of the world – enhanced personal responsibility; immersion in different cultures and values; the displacement of the ordinary which allows reflection and improvement; the privilege of witnessing stunning art, architecture, performance, and monuments of human accomplishment and the natural world; intimate rituals; the passing of a thousand unfamiliar faces; maintaining the humility befitting one walking among many who are far less privileged; and, most importantly, learning from all these experiences.
Students will also find themselves privy to the essential thrills, bonds, and tribulations that only come from constant exposure to other peers – both before the trip as classmates in the preparatory academic and social settings; during the trip as travel companions in oftentimes too-close-for-comfort quarters or as islands of solace in a sea of cultural and linguistic isolation; and, after all is said and done, as old friends.
All the while, the students will undergo rigorous academic curricula as they attend classes and work on their independent research project.
This blog features updates from students travelling on the 2011-2012 trip. For security purposes, posts will appear after that portion of the trip has been completed, which means there will generally be about a month’s delay (e.g. posts from September will appear in October, and so on).