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Students from St Thomas University VISION program worked in partnership with the people of Napho Village to build a community center.

The center will act as a meeting hall, village office and community library. It also is a source of pride for all involved and a wonderful success story.
the-group

This video is an introduction and overview of the Seuang River project, and its progress so far. Narrated by Graham Harper, it gives a good insight on what to expect when taking part in the Seuang River Journey, the objectives of the project, and an indication of the stakeholders involved.

media design school15 students of the Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand are in the process of building a multi media website with the intention of creating an introduction to the Seuang River Project. With the guidance of  their tutor, Mason Herber, the students have been placed in three teams, and have three weeks to produce a website that  is both creative, interactive and provides information on the project for prospective student groups and sponsors. John Eyles met the students two days into their assignment and described their work so far as being “highly creative and inspiring”, and he looks forward to seeing the results in Mid-February.

Last week I had an inspiring meeting with Pam Minett and Adele Barlow, founders of Ymedia Group. They had been brainstorming ideas around how they could support the Seuang River Communities and proposed helping to organise a three day games development challenge linking industry professionals with young developers. Teams develop games based around the economy, society and environment of the Seuang River . The winning team gets a sponsored trip to the Mekong. Fantastic!

Pam and Adele - Founders of Ymedia

Below is a screenshot of the original brain storm prior to meeting. The ideas are now being developed in consultation with others. All feedback welcome!

ythailand

MESSAGE FROM PAM

I hope you are all well – I know this is an Uber busy time RIGHT before Christmas, but I’d like to share an exciting new project that yMedia are involved with for 2009 and get your feedback/ideas/support.

The attached below sheet has the project in a bit more detail… In a nutshell, we are facilitating a 3 day competition (think full-code-press styles or social innovation camp styles), to bring together gaming and developer professionals with students and young people (who are studying in this area) to develop online games or new/interactive media.

Why?
Our friends at the EON Foundation are supporting/partnering on an initiative with North by North East Travel Services to raise 20k to build an education centre in the Seuang River Communities along the Mekong River in Laos.

The idea of the games/online new media is to support this education centre by creating awareness and providing education for secondary school students in developed nations and to drive traffic to relevant sites where people can volunteer, donate and contribute to different initiatives.

Grand prize idea? Funded flights to the Seuang River village (education centre) for the winning team, as well as some sponsored products, their games in schools, exposure, experience for the students, insight to top talent for the gaming companies etc.

How you can help now –
Ideas and feedback – How can we make this better? What do you like about it? What would you need to see in order for you to get involved?
Support – Endorse it, share it, blog about it, talk about it
Contacts – pass on the details of anyone who you may think could help us out/get involved. People we want to talk to include people at:
Air NZ, House of Travel, STA Travel
Canon, Sony
Nokia
Tertiary Institutes, HODs in gaming/computer science

The Mekong Game - Rough Ideas

PROJECT DATA

Name of organisation: Seuang River Community-Based Tourism

Public / Private Partnership comprising 12 villages in Seuang River Valley and North by North East Travel Services Co. Ltd. / SK Travel Luang Prabang. This cooperative partnership is under the auspices of Luang Prabang Provincial Tourism Authority and Pak Xeng District Authority.

Country: Lao PDR

Location: Luang Prabang, Pak Xeng District

Number of communities/households in project: 12 villages / approximately 600 households

seuang-river-map

SUMMARY

Despite rapid progress over the past decade up to 80% of the project area population live in poverty. Poverty, combined with rapid population growth and unequal distribution of economic development are dramatically increasing demands on remaining forest cover and wildlife.

This project will create capacity and build infrastructure necessary to develop a sustainable community-based, eco-tourism site for use by international high school, university and community-service groups.

The most important and urgently needed portion of the project is an education centre to act as a base-camp and accommodation for international school groups visiting the area. this will allow the 12 villages to benefit directly from the educational tourism activities.

Project partners are committed to the Seuang River Valley communities to achieve such sustainable development. Unfortunately, financial capacity is limited. Support of like-minded individual and organizations internationally is urgently needed.

For some first hand views of the international students in action please visit the following youtube videos:


I met Jan on the ferry last night. We talked about the project, issues of peak oil and implications for the long term sustainability of the Seuang River Community – and the environmental impact of international jet travel to the region. It was a reminder to me that whilst at the moment we can hop around the world in planes, and youth from different parts of the world can visit the Seuang River Communities in person, it may soon become too costly to do this. What happens to the Seuang River Communities that become reliant on eco-tourism when fewer people can travel due to cost or political upheaval such as in Thailand now? Will they be in a worse situation than now, having given up and forgotten traditional ways of living?

Whilst one function of our activity is to support visiting student groups I believe our greater challenge is to seek elegant ways to engage from a distance, to provide virtual connectedness and wealth creation that are immune from a reduction in physical visitor numbers – and that this is achieved with full and empowered participation of the Seuang River Communities.

I had a Skype call this morning with Antonella in London. She had just reviewed the first draft of the Mission Statement and wanted to discuss. She asked lots of great questions. Listening to her confusion raised some important distinctions. Key considerations for me where:

1. That what we are up to is harnessing social media and gaming to support an existing education and eco-tourism project, and that this needs to be articulated clearly.

2. That the project we are supporting is already established, is credible and has the support of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Luang Prabang Provincial Tourism Authority and Pak Xeng District Authority, the Eco Systems Grants Programme from the Netherlands and a Public / Private Partnership comprising 12 villages in Seuang River Valley and North by North East Travel Services Co. Ltd. / SK Travel Luang Prabang.

3. That our goal to raise US$20k for the building of an education centre is just one of many outcomes.

4. That what we are creating is a pilot for use of new media technology designs that are about making a difference and providing connection in a global world. These designs will support the Seuang River initiative in becoming self sustaining through generating visitor groups and funding, and may be applied to other similar initiatives at a later time.

5. That we need to develop a clear pathway for what we are intending to achieve – short and long term -and keep it simple.

Antonella recommended that we look at the tools provided by Keystone Accountability and consider completing ‘A Framework for Accountability and Learning for Social Change