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Cornell experts lead January 2018 trip to Myanmar

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Joe Schwartz
Exploring the floating gardens at Inle Lake by boat.
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Exploring the floating gardens at Inle Lake by boat.

Alumni and friends of Cornell will have the opportunity to visit sacred and historic sites, plantations and more on a trip to Myanmar over the winter break.

The trip, “Enchanted Myanmar,” also celebrates 50 years of field-based learning in Cornell’s first and longest-running experiential learning course: International Agriculture and Rural Development 602 (IARD602).

“We will learn by seeing, doing, talking and reflecting,” said Marvin Pritts, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), who will lead the trip from Jan. 3-12, 2018. “Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist nation, with a dizzying array of golden pagodas and ancient temples.”

The small group of travelers (the trip accommodates a maximum of 20 people) will visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Myanmar; participate in a Buddhist blessing ceremony for the day of the week on which they were born; visit a planned World Heritage Site in Bagan with more than 3,000 pagodas, many 1,000 years old; and take a boat to the floating gardens of Inle Lake.

Along the way, in the style of previous IARD602 courses, participants will engage with farmers in visits to coffee, tea, banana and mango plantations; interact with craftspeople and artisans, and partake of local food and drink. The itinerary also features a ride in a hot air balloon above the pagodas at sunrise.

“There is something about getting people out of their comfort zone, traveling to places that foster personal growth and facilitating meaningful exchanges, which allows individuals from around the world to get to know and learn from each other,” said Pritts, an international expert on fruit and vegetables.

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon
Provided
The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon which stands more than 300 feet tall and is covered with gold.

Tour guides also include Khin Mar Cho, a Myanmar native and international development specialist, and Alyssa Pritts ’15, who works with the Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development.

Since 1967, participants in IP-CALS’ globally engaged learning course have gone to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, India, Thailand and Myanmar, engaging with students and stakeholders in in-country exchanges facilitated by Cornell faculty.

More than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students and faculty at Cornell and partner institutions have been moved by their experiences in IARD602 – talking to farmers, learning about water issues, harvesting tea leaves with local women, or interacting with street children rescued at a local children’s village.

“IP-CALS is thrilled to offer a trip to Myanmar as part of our IARD 50th celebration,” said Ronnie Coffman, Ph.D. ’71, professor of plant breeding and director of IP-CALS. Now the course’s director, his first association with IARD602 was as a student, on the 1969 trip to Puerto Rico.

“Marvin and his team will focus on production agriculture in Myanmar, but broaden participants’ horizons to include cultural, socio-economic and development issues expanded to provide insights into issues of globalization and transnational communities,” he said.

The deadline to sign up for the course is Aug. 15. Full payment is due Sept. 1. International travel to Myanmar is not included in the $2,800 per person price, nor is the optional balloon ride ($400), but all other in-country expenses are included. Learn more or register here.

Linda McCandless is associate director of communications for IP-CALS.


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