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SUMMER & GAP YEAR PROGRAMS | 2020-21 THE LEADER IN CROSS-CULTURAL + EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION SINCE 1993


All images in this catalog were taken by students and instructors on Dragons programs. Cover: A Dragons student group takes in the sunrise as they prepare to hike out of a rural homestay community in Nepal. Arvin Singh Uzunov-Dang

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This spread: Students welcome the rising sun with a celebration on Laguna Chilata in the Cordillera Real, Bolivia. Ryan Gasper


MAPMAKERS ON C E D R E W D R AGON S TO R E PR E SE NT L A NDS UNKNOW N. BOLD EXPLORER S W HO VE N T U R E D BE YON D T HE M AP ’ S E D G E W E R E SA I D TO G O “W HER E T HE R E BE D R AGON S.” W E GO T HE R E ...

will you?

W E H O P E T H I S C ATA LO G H E L P S YO U G E T TO K N OW U S . . . About Dragons

Programs

Resources

WHO WE ARE

5

PROGRAM COMPARISON CHART

14–15

OTHER OFFERINGS

62

WHAT WE DO

7

ASIA SUMMER

16–31

NOTES ON SAFETY

63

LATIN AMERICA SUMMER

32–39

MEET OUR INSTRUCTORS

INTENTIONAL DESIGN

10–11

AFRICA SUMMER

40–45

ALUMNI

66

OUR PROGRAM COMPONENTS

12–13

GAP YEAR SEMESTERS

NEXT STEPS

67

OUR STUDENTS

9

46–61

64–65

3


Thus travel spins us round in two ways at once: It shows us the sights and values and issues that we might ordinarily ignore; but it also, and more deeply, shows us all the parts of ourselves that might otherwise grow rusty." — P I C O I Y E R , W H Y W E T R AV E L

4

Each June, Dragons brings staff in from over 15 different countries to participate in a two week intensive training and staff orientation in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Charis Boke


WHO WE ARE A N I N T E R N AT I O N A L CO M M U N I T Y Dragons offers educational travel programs for high school, Gap Year, and college students in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Our students, led by the best educators in the industry, develop an understanding of critical global issues through immersive travel, meaningful engagement, and empowered student leadership. Over the past three decades, our work has created a global community representing six continents, over 30 countries, and countless languages, villages, NGOs, religions, host families, students, perspectives, and stories. We believe that future leaders will be required to think beyond borders in order to cultivate a more inclusive, collaborative, and just future. Our goal is to help students develop the self-awareness and cross-cultural competencies to be active participants in the world.

We are... •FRO

D•

We are committed to cross-cultural education as a tool for breaking down barriers and enhancing understanding between

B

AR

» A Value-Driven Company

E YA K

O

M

TH

people and communities around the world. » Professional Educators The majority of our staff are multilingual and hold a master's degree or PhD. Over 60% have worked 3+ programs with Dragons. When not guiding with Dragons, our instructors are graduate students, returned Peace Corps Volunteers, U.N. development professionals, veteran wilderness guides, and career teachers.

STRAIGHT FROM THE YAK'S MOUTH The best way for you to understand Dragons is to hear about the experience in the words

» Committed to Equity

of our participants. In this catalog, you can find

We provide financial aid to over 20% of our participant body as well as need-based scholarships via The Dragons Fund, a non-profit 501c3 entity of the COMMON Foundation. For more information, please visit www.dragonsfund.org. » B-Corp Certified Dragons is continually striving to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance and public transparency in efforts to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. » A Preferred Partner of Schools We have designed collaborative programming with Princeton University, Tufts University, Milton Academy, Carleton College and 50+ other esteemed high schools and universities.

stories told directly by students in their Yak Board reflections on pages 21, 24, 35, 38, 44, and 53. Or flip to the back of this catalog (page 66) for post-course reflections on the most valuable insights our students brought home. To read the full range of reflections from students past and present, visit the Dragons Yak Board on our website at

» Experts in the Field of International Education

yak.wherethereb ed rag ons .com

We have over 25 years of experience guiding groups and managing risk in the context of international education and regularly facilitate training programs for teachers and administrators. For more on our institutional reputation and integrity, please flip to page 64–65.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

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There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar; it keeps the mind nimble; it kills prejudice; and it fosters humor." — S A N T AYA N A

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Students hike an ancient trail around the sacred Peruvian peak of Ausungate. Aaron Slosberg


W H AT W E D O A N D H OW W E D O I T D I F F E R E N T LY Students tell us they want real travel experiences, in which they can explore while feeling supported, lean into challenge, and become comfortable with being uncomfortable. These are the spaces we work tirelessly to cultivate at Dragons: spaces where students can learn skills and insight through direct and carefully mentored experiences. Here’s what Dragons uniquely offers:

G E N UI N ELY I MME R S I V E E X P E R IE NCE S

H AND-CRAFTE D PRO G RAMS

DY NAMI C I T I NER AR I ES

We travel like locals, live with families, apprentice with artists,

Each Dragons course is directly infused with the

Many travel programs provide a day-by-day (sometimes

and learn from scholars, factory workers, sages,

experiences, expertise, passions, and local connections

hour-by-hour) itinerary that is reproduced year after year. At

and community leaders alike. We intentionally create

of our instructors, making every course an original creation.

Dragons, each itinerary is specially designed and implemented

spaces for unscripted, serendipitous, and candid

For a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes of

by the instructors leading the course, ensuring that every

moments of surprise and discovery.

program development, please visit page 10.

program is a custom-crafted and responsive experience.

SM A L L G RO U P S & ME NTO R S H I P

ME ANING FU L O FFLINE RE LATIO NS H IPS

ET HI CAL T R AVEL

A typical Dragons group consists of 12 students and 3

We embrace an offline—and fully present—travel

Small groups and longer-term programming reduce

instructors so that each participant receives individual

experience. Group dynamics are carefully managed to

our ecological and cultural footprints. We believe that

support and personalized challenge. To see the range of

foster safe dialogue, an inclusive group spirit, and lifelong

how you engage abroad and what you take home from

professional life experiences and academic backgrounds

friendships. Participants return home with a shared

your travels matters. To see a sample of student

that make our community of international instructors so

experience, language, and connection to the Dragons

take-home skills, please flip to page 11.

exceptional, please flip to pages 64–65.

network of alumni students and instructors.

The manner in which you run your programs—student driven, flexible itineraries, tremendous freedom for the student, small groups, unbelievable student-to-instructor ratio—made this a valuable learning opportunity for Scott, but also facilitated his personal growth in a manner I’m not sure any other program could have accomplished. — PA R E N T O F PA S T D R AG O N S S T U D E N T W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

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The flexibility allowed my group to turn hikes into classes about religion. It allowed for us to get lost, which then turned into lessons on how not to get lost. We were given the freedom to explore like a traveler, not like a tourist.� — A LY S S A H I L B , S I L K R O A D P R O G R A M

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A well-deserved day of group rest and relaxation in southern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Olivia Werby


O U R ST U D E N TS CO M E F R O M M A N Y P L AC E S H E R E A R E S O M E S N A P S H OT S O F R E C E N T D R AG O N S S T U D E N T S A N D T H E I R A L U M N I I N S I G H T S . . . LILLIAN

I VA N

AGE: 16

AGE: 15

HOMETOWN: Seattle, WA

HOMETOWN: Oakland, CA

DRAGONS PROGRAM: China

DRAGONS PROGRAM: Bolivia

HOBBIES: Piano, Coding, Ultimate Frisbee

HOBBIES: Running, Videography, Political Junkie

WORDS: “You won’t be driving to different sights on

WORDS: “...before you know it, the things that once

tour buses. Instead, you’ll experience the country by way

made you uncomfortable will be your favorite stories

of learning the traditions and hearing the stories of the

to tell.”

communities you stay with.”

SAM

EMMA

AGE: 18

AGE: 18

HOMETOWN: Chelmsford, MA

HOMETOWN: Edina, MN

DRAGONS PROGRAM: Senegal

DRAGONS PROGRAMS: Peru, Indonesia

HOBBIES: Basketball, Writing, Music

HOBBIES: Writing, Languages, Travel

WORDS: “I jump at any opportunity to step out of my

WORDS: “I’ve often found that I discover myself only

comfort zone while learning about a place and culture

when I am lost.”

so foreign to my own.”

VA N E S S A

ETHAN

AGE: 17

AGE: 19

HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA

HOMETOWN: San Rafael, CA

DRAGONS PROGRAM: Guatemala

DRAGONS PROGRAM: Peru

HOBBIES: Art, Movies, Beach Volleyball

HOBBIES: Spanish, Environmental Science, Food Justice

WORDS: “I didn’t realize how much I would learn

WORDS: “New experiences allow me to realize how

beyond improving my language. There was never a

little I know about in the world, and how narrow my

moment I wasn’t learning something from my group of

perspective is.”

awesome students and instructors.”

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

9


INTENTIONAL DESIGN H OW W E B U I L D O N E - O F -A- K I N D P R O G R A M S The world is constantly changing and we believe our programs should too. Far from a fixed tourist itinerary, we keep our programs flexible and responsive because many of the best experiences are found in the unscripted and unexpected moments. Here’s how our programs are uniquely crafted, every time.

STEP 1: PEOPLE

STEP 2: PROCESS

ST UD E NTS

ITINE RARY DE S IG N

R ESP ONSI BLE T R AVEL

That means you! Although Dragons

Months before departure, we begin co-

We see responsible travel as environmentally

students come from all different

creating an itinerary based on instructors

conscientious, culturally aware, and

backgrounds, they're bonded by a shared

and Dragons in-country connections,

focused on developing mutually beneficial

sense of curiosity and adventure. All

the goals of the course, and the specific

connections with communities. As travelers,

students undergo a formal application

ambitions of the student group. Program

we ask students to humbly adapt to the

process with references and interviews.

Components break the course vision into

places we visit, rather than asking those

actionable pieces: homestays, language

places to adapt to our expectations.

I N ST RU CTO R S

study, learning service, etc.

We don’t give staff a pre-made itinerary. Instead, instructors’ passions, skill-sets,

CO RE CU RRICU LU M

and experiences drive the design of each

Rather than a series of sightseeing stops,

program. We select three instructors with

each Dragons course is built with a curric-

complementary areas of expertise to best

ular flow underlying the itinerary. Working

meet the course vision.

backwards from our Learning Objectives, we create a progression of appropriate

COM MU NIT Y R E LAT IO NS H I P S Dragons has cultivated a notable depth and breadth of community networks. Our

challenges for students. We employ leadership models that empower student voices, self-directed learning, and engagement.

programs are born out of sustainable connections in the places we travel rather than impersonal contracts with tour operators. Our personal relationships and desire for reciprocal engagement, not travel trends, dictate where we choose to travel.

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STEP 3: EXPERIENCE

The Himalayas greet a group of Dragons students trekking through Nepal. Amrit Ale


GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT » Culturally sensitive & responsible travel practices » Cross-cultural competencies » Community & relationship building

W H AT STUDENTS TA K E H O M E

» Ethical photography & videography » Environmental awareness & advocacy » Exposure to diverse arts, cultures, & traditions » Learning service & social justice

LEADER SHI P Our courses help students clarify their own values,

» Foreign language competency

and discover how to embody those values in the world. We hope to foster self-awareness, global

» Critical thinking & decision making

S E LF-AWARE NE SS

» Conflict resolution & communication skills

engagement, and leadership skills that last well

» Education, career, & life path development

» Engagement with different perspectives

after the course conclusion.

» Growth mindset, grit, & resiliency

» Self-reliance & humility

» Power & privilege awareness

» Giving & receiving feedback

Beyond our time abroad, we help students

» Comfort with discomfort

» Adapting to the unexpected & unfamiliar

integrate the lessons and experiences from

» Reflection & mindfulness practice

their Dragons course into their lives back home.

» Appreciation of “unplugged” time

Here is a sample of just some of the skills and

» Compassion, curiosity, & gratitude

outcomes alumni have reported “taking home” after their Dragons course:

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

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OUR PROGRAM COMPONENTS T H E B U I L D I N G B LO C K S O F E V E RY D R AG O N S CO U R S E We adventure. We explore. We learn. A Dragons course is designed to be a fully immersive journey. We employ nine program components to ensure that every course is a well-rounded experience.

LANGUAGE ST UDY

T R EKKI NG

Dragons students are travelers,

In a Tajik yurt, in a Bedouin tent,

All Dragons courses include

From strolls to the strenuous,

not tourists. We believe in low-

in an apartment in Kunming…

language instruction. We do

some Dragons students hike over

impact travel, and that means

Every Dragons student is

not expect students to arrive

16,000 ft passes in the Andes;

minimizing our environmental

carefully matched with a local

with any level of understanding.

others walk to waterfalls outside

and cultural impact at every

family. Students live in nearby

We do expect students to

a homestay village. Wherever

possible juncture. On course,

neighborhoods, allowing them

interact with locals and build a

you choose to trek, you can be

we respect cultural norms

to build meaningful connections

collection of vocabulary words

assured that Dragons instructors

by staying in family-owned

within the host community and

that enables them to deftly

will guide you into wilderness,

accommodations and taking

group. Students often tell us

navigate a new cultural context.

exposing you to the beauty of

local transportation. The most

that their homestay was the

On our language intensive

nature, mingled with the unique

profound learning moments

most transformative part of their

courses, students can expect

cultural context. Treks provide

often arise in the spaces

Dragons experience. All families

3–4 hours of daily instruction

opportunities for students to

in-between, and traveling

are selected based on the safety

in small groups. Few skills do

assume leadership roles and

like locals creates space for

of their home environments and

more to empower students to

build personal backcountry skills,

un-orchestrated moments of

their genuine enthusiasm for

be independent global citizens

like learning to pitch a tent or

engagement.

cross-cultural engagement.

than language study.

read weather conditions.

Right: Arvin Singh Uzunov-Dang; Micah LeMasters; Photo from Dragons archives

H O ME STAY

Left: Steven Gu; Aaron Slosberg; Michael Woodard

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R U GGE D TRAVE L


L EA RN I N G SE RV I C E

DE V E LO PME NT ST U DIE S

INDE PE NDE NT STUDY PROJECTS (ISPs)

COMPAR AT I VE R ELI GI ON & P HI LOSOP HY

FOC US OF I NQUI RY (FOI )

We take pride in learning first

What variables contribute to a

Dragons students are often

In each place we visit, we con-

Dragons courses are built

and helping second. Students

good quality of life? How does

paired with local mentors to

sider how local spiritual beliefs

around particular academic

rarely arrive in-country with the

privilege shape our sense of

study a particular question, craft,

are employed to interpret daily

themes. This allows students

tools to genuinely ‘help’ another

global responsibility? These

or cultural tradition in greater

reality. Dragons instructors help

to delve into a specific line

community, and we work hard

questions are central to the

depth. Anything is possible, and

students explore the belief sys-

of questioning, exploring the

to dispel such expectations.

conversation about human

as a student, the ISP is a great

tems of their host culture while

impacts of climate change, local

Students use a four-step process

development in the 21st century.

way to tailor the course to meet

living with homestay families,

religious traditions, or the idea of

to listen, assess, act and then

Instructors introduce students to

your specific interests. We’ve

visiting religious monuments,

cultural survival, for example. We

evaluate: a framework that can

local activists who’ve taken a vo-

had students study everything

observing local rituals, and

explore the focus of inquiry by

be applied to future learning

cal stance on the topic of ‘human

from kathak dance in India to the

reading relevant texts. Such an

hosting guest speakers, reading

service ventures. We don’t

development,’ while using local

impacts of exploratory drilling

examination generally sparks

local news, and engaging in

measure our success by the

examples to prompt discussion.

in the Amazon. ISPs are a great

an internal conversation, and

group discussions. Please

number of ‘service hours’ logged,

Students are encouraged to

way to develop place-based

instructors are available to assist

reference individual Dragons

but rather by the number of

challenge their assumptions and

expertise, learn hands-on skills

students as they juxtapose

program descriptions to learn

critical conversations that such

expand their understanding of

from local mentors, and actively

in-country traditions with their

more about the FOI on your

an engagement provokes.

what it means to be “developed.”

engage living cultural traditions.

own belief systems and values.

course of interest.

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P R O G R A M C O M PA R I S O N C H A R T

LOW EMPHASIS MODERATE

ASIA

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE STUDY

TREKKING

LEARNING SERVICE

China: Mandarin Language Intensive, 4-wk

10+ days

40+ hours

Day Hikes

China: Mandarin Language Intensive, 6-wk

15+ days

60+ hours

China & Kyrgyzstan: The Silk Road

10+ days

China: The Yangtze River

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

INDEPENDENT STUDY PROJECT

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

DATES

AGES

PAGE

5+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

15 – 18

p18

Day Hikes

5+ hours

6/28 – 8/8

16 – 18

p18

5+ hours

3+ days

5+ hours

6/28 – 8/8

16 – 18

p19

5+ days

10+ hours

3+ days

5+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

16 – 18

p20

China & Laos: Holy Mountain to Hidden Kingdom

10+ days

10+ hours

5+ days

10+ hours

6/28 – 8/8

16 – 18

p22

Myanmar: Visions of Democracy

5+ days

10+ hours

Day Hikes

10+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

17 – 20

p23

Indonesia: Community & Conservation

15+ days

15+ hours

3+ days

5+ hours

6/28 – 8/8

16 – 18

p25

Cambodia: Peace-Building & Conservation

5+ days

10+ hours

Day Hikes

5+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

16 – 18

p26

Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai

10+ days

10+ hours

3+ days

10+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

15 – 17

p27

Nepal: Traditions of the Himalayas

10+ days

10+ hours

3+ days

10+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

17 – 20

p28

Bhutan: Happiness in the Himalayas

10+ days

10+ hours

5+ days

5+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

16 – 18

p29

North India: Roof of the World, 4-wk

3+ days

5+ hours

10+ days

10+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

16 – 18

p30

North India: Roof of the World, 6-wk

3+ days

10+ hours

10+ days

15+ hours

6/28 – 8/8

17 – 20

p30

Eastern Himalayas: West Bengal to Sikkim

5+ days

5+ hours

3+ days

10+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

16 – 18

p31

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE STUDY

TREKKING

LEARNING SERVICE

DATES

AGES

PAGE

Guatemala: Spanish Language Intensive, 2-wk

7+ days

20+ hours

2+ days

5+ hours

13 – 14

p34

Guatemala: Spanish Language Intensive, 4-wk

15+ days

40+ hours

3+ days

15+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

15 – 17

p34

Guatemala: Spanish Language Intensive, 6-wk

15+ days

60+ hours

5+ days

20+ hours

6/28 – 8/8

16 – 18

p34

Bolivia: Spirit of the Andes, 4-wk

10+ days

20+ hours

5+ days

10+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

17 – 19

p36

Bolivia: Spirit of the Andes, 6-wk

20+ days

20+ hours

10+ days

10+ hours

6/28 – 8/8

17 – 19

p36

Colombia: Stories of Peace & Resistance

10+ days

20+ hours

5+ days

5+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

16 – 18

p37

Peru: Sacred Mountains, 4-wk

5+ days

10+ hours

5+ days

5+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

15 – 17

p39

Peru: Sacred Mountains, 6-wk

10+ days

10+ hours

10+ days

5+ hours

6/28 – 8/8

16 – 18

p39

SUMMER

LATIN AMERICA SUMMER

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RUGGED TRAVEL

HIGH EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

INDEPENDENT STUDY PROJECT

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

6/28 – 7/12 7/14 – 7/28


LOW EMPHASIS MODERATE

AFRICA

RUGGED TRAVEL

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE STUDY

TREKKING

LEARNING SERVICE

Madagascar: Island of Diversity

10+ days

10+ hours

5+ days

Morocco: Crossroads of Mountains & Cultures

10+ days

15+ hours

Senegal: In the Shade of the Baobab Tree

10+ days

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

INDEPENDENT STUDY PROJECT

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

HIGH EMPHASIS

DATES

AGES

PAGE

10+ hours

6/28 – 8/8

16 – 18

p42

5+ days

5+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

16 – 19

p43

10+ hours

3+ days

10+ hours

6/28 – 7/28

15 – 17

p45

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE STUDY

TREKKING

LEARNING SERVICE

DATES

AGES

PAGE

30+ days

60+ hours

5+ days

20+ hours

17 – 22

p48

20+ days

20+ hours

10+ days

10+ hours

17 – 22

p49

10+ days

20+ hours

5+ days

20+ hours

17 – 22

p50

30+ days

30+ hours

5+ days

10+ hours

17 – 22

p51

30+ days

40+ hours

20+ days

20+ hours

17 – 22

p52

20+ days

20+ hours

15+ days

20+ hours

17 – 22

p54

30+ days

30+ hours

15+ days

20+ hours

17 – 22

p55

30+ days

60+ hours

20+ days

10+ hours

17 – 22

p56

30+ days

60+ hours

10+ days

20+ hours

17 – 22

p57

20+ days

30+ hours

5+ days

20+ hours

17 – 22

p58

20+ days

40+ hours

10+ days

10+ hours

17 – 22

p59

West Africa Semester: Rhythms of Senegal

30+ days

30+ hours

5+ days

20+ hours

17 – 22

p60

Independent Spring Experience (Locations Vary)

30+ days

40+ hours

Varies

Varies

18+

p61

SUMMER

GAP YEAR 3-MONTH SEMESTER China Semester: South of the Clouds* Mekong Semester: Tibetan Plateau to the Heart of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia Semester: Spirituality & Resilience Indonesia Semester: Community, Culture, & Conservation Nepal Semester: Himalayan Studies* Bhutan Semester: Environmental Sustainability & Community Happiness India Semester: On the Front Lines of Climate Change* South America Semester: Andes & Amazon* Guatemala Semester: Spanish Language & Social Justice* Morocco Semester: Ancient Cities to the Atlas Mountains Madagascar Semester: Cultural & Ecological Diversity

RUGGED TRAVEL

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

INDEPENDENT STUDY PROJECT

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 9/15 – 12/6 2/7 – 5/1 1/15 – 2/26 2/12 – 3/25

*Students participating on select Gap Semester programs (China, Guatemala, Nepal, South America, India) may choose to take courses for college credit (optional). Give us a call for more information: 303.413.0822

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Bustling street corners. Steaming chai... ...A cacophony of engines, horns and vendors blend into the ambient hum that gives every conversation a sense of urgency and movement.

16


ASIA IS CHANGING EVERYDAY.

Whether you’re in China, where suited entrepreneurs cut deals beneath billboards papered in Communist slogans, or in Cambodia, where monks might friend you on Facebook, the collision between traditions and modernity is evident at every turn. We invite you to join us in this exploration of culture and contrasts. In cities where cows share the bike lane and monkeys slide down the banisters. In mountains where holy men bless the dead and stand guard as vultures return their remnants to the sky. On rivers where pink dolphins swim free, and fishermen rise at dawn to drag their nets to shore.

will you?

Asia is enchanting and full of mystery. We go there... 

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CHINA MANDARIN LANGUAGE INTENSIVE 4-Week & 6-Week Summer Abroad Programs

AGES

Improve your Mandarin language skills through daily instruction in small, personalized classes; live with carefully selected homestays; engage in Independent Study Projects (ISPs).

June 28 – July 28 June 28 – August 8

15 – 18 16 – 18

MORE PEOPLE SPEAK MANDARIN CHINESE THAN ANY OTHER LANGUAGE

mentors about topics ranging from Chinese cooking, calligraphy, traditional Chinese medicine,

the 1.4 billion people who live here, learning Chinese is the first step. Our approach to

martial arts, musical instruments, and

language study is holistic: including group travel,

environmental issues. Students also

homestays, and Independent Study Projects (ISPs)

explore local historic and cultural

Our 4-week and 6-week program options divide their time between Kunming (capital city of Yunnan

AS I A:   S UM M ER

MONGOLIA

BEIJING

XI ’A N

CHINA

HONG KONG KUNMING

Lake Park. During rural homestays, sample activities include organizing pick-up soccer or basketball games

terrain, natural beauty and ethnic diversity—including Naxi,

with village teenagers, foraging for

Mandarin instruction per day, with the option for 1:1 tutoring

LASHIHAI

sessions in the afternoon for hungry learners. Homestay placements

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

Bird and Flower Market, and Green

Province) and one of several small villages in rural

and rural homestays, students meet for 3–4 hours of formal

TIGER LEAPING GORGE

ISPs

sites such as The Golden Temple, the

Yunnan. This is a region renowned for mountainous Tibetan, Yi, Dai, and Miao (Hmong) people. During both urban

LANGUAGE STUDY

While in Kunming, students also engage in ISPs, learning directly from local

IN THE WORLD. For anyone interested in exploring and understanding China’s rich

in addition to formal classroom instruction.

18

HOMESTAY

history and culture, its ever-increasing influence in the world, and what life is like for

RUSSIA

INDIA

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

medicinal plants with local practitioners, visiting Buddhist monasteries, and learning about the work of local NGOs. Students return home with a firsthand

reinforce language acquisition and offer students opportunities to

understanding of China’s diversity and increased confidence in their ability to

practice new vocabulary with their families in the evenings.

communicate and navigate in a rapidly changing China.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Photos from Dragons archives

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Left: Photos by Eric Jenkins-Sahlin

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C H I N A & KY R GY Z S TA N THE SILK ROAD 6-Week Summer Abroad Program

42 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Explore the diversity of China’s cultural traditions: live with herders on the Tibetan Plateau, cross the Taklamakan desert, discuss issues of religious plurality with monks and Imams.

June 28 – August 8

16 – 18

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

SILK ROAD…THE WORDS ALONE CONJURE UP ALL KINDS OF IMAGES:

breathtaking natural scenery, explore historic mosques

CAMEL CARAVANS BRINGING THE TREASURES OF ANCIENT CHINA

and massive bazaars, and confront issues of ethnicity,

ACROSS THE HEART OF ASIA; e  mpires—old and new—vying for power; knowledge

nationality, and power in China today.

and ideas traveling between cultures. Traveling from China into Kyrgyzstan and back, our Silk Road program explores this region’s history of exchange with all of Eurasia, and examines the connections between people living here today, including Han Chinese, Uyghur, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Tajik, Mongol, Tibetan, and Hui communities. Our journey begins in Xi’an, home to the

Continuing even further west, we enter Kyrgyzstan! Outside the city of Osh, on the plains of the Fergana Valley, we live with homestay families and experience

MONGOLIA

URUMQI

K Y R G Y Z S TA N OSH KASHGAR

TURPAN

BEIJING

XINING

XIAN

CHINA

rich in history and offers windows into the Soviet era and post-Soviet politics that shape Kyrgyzstan today. Jalalabad Walnut Forest, said to have originated with

into the Amdo region of Tibet for a

walnuts carried from Western Eurasia by Greek settlers

homestay with rural Tibetan homestay

after the conquest of Alexander the Great. Before

families, learning about how life continues

returning home, we reflect on all we’ve seen and experienced together on this journey made famous by the countless travelers and traders who walked them before us.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

INDIA

ASI A:   S UM M E R

capital. From Xi’an we head southwest

of Xinjiang, we take in some of China’s most

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

RUSSIA

been in operation for more than 2,000 years, Osh is

Our time in Kyrgyzstan concludes with a visit to the

to change for people who were once

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

their legendary hospitality. Home to a market that has

Terracotta Warriors and China’s ancient

nomadic herders. In the far-western province

HOMESTAY

19


CHINA T H E YA N G T Z E R I V E R 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

AGES

Experience life in Asia’s largest river basin: live with families on the Tibetan Plateau, learn about interconnected environmental realities at the Three Gorges Dam, explore the world's largest port.

June 28 – July 28

16 – 18

ASIA’S LONGEST RIVER HAS SHAPED CHINA’S HISTORY, CULTURE, AND ECONOMY LIKE NO OTHER FEATURE OF THE LANDSCAPE. Students on

RUGGED TRAVEL

along the banks of this vital waterway. Beginning in Yunnan Province, where the river

explore the vibrant cultural scene

winds through deep gorges amidst spectacular

and unique history of the world’s

mountain scenery, we begin our exploration of

busiest port. Here we reflect on how this river shapes and has been

Tibetan Buddhist monasteries as well as ethnically

shaped by all of the people who rely

Lisu, Yi, Naxi and Pumi communities.

on it for food, transportation, power,

Our downriver journey takes us next to

MONGOLIA

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

Continuing east, we conclude our journey in Shanghai, where we

China’s ethnic and ecological diversity, visiting

TREKKING

control water resources.

this course will gain firsthand insight into the lives of the 550 million people who live

RUSSIA

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

and inspiration.

AS I A:   S UM M ER

Chongqing, one of the fastest growing cities in

INDIA

20

BEIJING

the world, where porters haul cargo on bamboo shoulder poles, as avant-garde skyscrapers line the

CHINA NANJING CHONGQING

SHANGHAI

downtown.

“This was a truly transformative experience for her. She returned with a broader outlook on life and the world. She has a better understanding of what is important

From here, we travel by boat 360 miles downstream to the world’s largest hydroelectric project, the Three Gorges Dam, learning about issues related to economic development,

to her and not worry about the little things. She’s a much more centered person and this will serve her well as she heads into her senior year of high school. This trip exceeded all expectations for her and that speaks volumes.”

environmental destruction, and China’s age-old struggle to QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

— PA R E N T O F S U M M E R PA R T I C I PA N T

Right: Camille Albouy

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Left: Parker Pflaum; Eric Jenkins-Sahlin

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DESCRIPTION


E YA K

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B Y R YA N S U N G , S T U D E N T Dragons Princeton Bridge Year China

APPLES ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF KUNMING STANDS XUNING TEMPLE, A

When I finally admitted to her that we had never met before, she didn’t show

BUDDHIST PLACE OF WORSHIP SPLASHED WITH TANGERINE

disappointment, but rather smiled with the same enthusiasm from before and

GOLD, NAVY BLUE, AND A STRONG, BOLD RED. Adorning the temple

said “Enjoy them! They’re a gift.”

stands a massive golden Buddha, whose four faces watch in every direction the residents of the homogeneous, concrete dominoes below. Before embarking

After lunch, we were allowed to explore. I approached the central temple,

on what would be a month’s trekking into the rural Yunnan countryside, our

and was greeted by a friendly monk as humble in speech as he was in his

cohort reached the temple for a vegetarian lunch.

appearance, which consisted of plain yellow robes, worn sandals, and a shaved head. He gave me a warm welcome with his limited English, and in turn, and

With some time left before entering the dining hall, I stopped by a small

we spent some time conversing on complex theological topics with my solely

vendor’s stand, which I assumed sold Xuning souvenirs. I found instead that

conversational Mandarin. Before we concluded giving our formal farewells, the

it sold jewelry, but as to not offend and show complete disinterest, I did not

monk unexpectedly pulled out the latest Chinese smartphone from his robes

leave immediately. Running the stand was a woman in her golden sixties,

and said “Add me on WeChat!”

modestly dressed yet luxuriously welcoming. When I approached her, she unveiled a contagious toothy smile and excitedly said Hao jiu bu jian, “long

I left the temple now with four bright red apples, and my seventh friend on my

time no see!” She immediately reached for the box behind her, pulled out

Chinese social media account.

two bright, red apples, and handed them to me. Very much confused, I took the apples, uncertain on what to do with them. I had never been to either

Whether shop or temple, kindness was in no shortage in Kunming. After my

Xuning Temple or China, so I was certain I could not have met the

return to the city in October, I hope to be able to someday give away apples of

woman before. She began to speak enthusiastically to

my own; not with any particular underlying motive,

me about our supposed previous contact, but I had

but for the mere joy that comes with giving apples to a “long lost acquaintance,” or a monk

differed greatly to what I was used to.

with a new foreign friend on WeChat.

ASI A:   S UM M E R

difficulty comprehending because her accent

Visit the Yak Board for course reflections from Dragons students past and present at YA K.WHER ETHER EB EDR AGON S.COM

21


CHINA & LAOS F R O M H O LY M O U N T A I N T O H I D D E N K I N G D O M 6-Week Summer Abroad Program

AGES

Discover the historical, economic, environmental, and cultural mosaic of China and Laos by exploring the communities and landscapes along the upper stretches of the Mekong River.

June 28 – August 8

16 – 18

or Mother Mekong—and a critical

MEKONG RIVER COURSES THROUGH GORGES AND MEGA-DAMS,

source of sustenance, divinity, and

GRADUALLY WIDENING INTO THE TROPICAL RAINFORESTS OF LAOS. The

economic stability.

RUSSIA

families, hike to glacial

traditions, and critical issues connected to life

waterfalls dripping off sacred

along the Mekong River.

AS I A:   S UM M ER

MONGOLIA

22

CHINA

KUNMING JINGHONG LUANG NAMTHA LAOS

LUANG PRABANG

VIENTIANE

into the sparsely inhabited rainforests of northern Laos,

glacial springs, and tumbles southward. Here in

learn from world-class artisans

China, our first three weeks are spent descending

in the tranquil UNESCO World

from the highlands toward the Golden Triangle. Our

Heritage Site of Luang Prabang,

second three weeks are spent in Laos, where the

and meet with inspiring NGOs

the Mekong river as a natural resource and, perhaps more importantly, as a cultural symbol: In China, it is seen as an untamed power source to be harnessed, while in Laos it is nothing less than a living deity—known as the Mae Nam Khong,

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

Kawagebo Mountain, trek

where we meet the river as it gathers Himalayan

Mekong basin swells into jungle streams. We explore SHANGRI LA

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

We live with Tibetan

we explore the diverse landscapes, spiritual

Our course begins on the Tibetan Plateau

INDIA

RUGGED TRAVEL

FROM THE BASE OF SACRED KAWAGEBO MOUNTAIN, THE MIGHTY

Mekong program splits time between China's Yunnan province and northern Laos as

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

in Vientiane, Laos’ capital-village. Offering students an opportunity to explore the region through a transnational lens, the Mekong summer program delves into the historical, economic, environmental, and cultural mosaic of China and Laos.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Photo from Dragons archives; Micah LeMasters

Days

DATES

Left: Parker Pflaum; Photo from Dragons archives

42

DESCRIPTION


M YA N M A R VISIONS OF DEMOCRACY 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

31 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Explore one of Asia’s most diverse countries: learn the tenets of Theravada Buddhism, build core competencies in learning service, hike between the serene farming villages of Shan State.

June 28 – July 28

17 – 20

TRANSITION. INSPIRATION. DEVOTION. Myanmar is a nation of warmth, beauty,

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

LEARNING SERVICE

area surrounding the village absolutely gorgeous,

be supporting exchange between travelers and local communities. Through engagements

but interacting with our families and really just living

with development professionals, activists, NGOs, and local people, we uncover significant

with them was an experience I will never forget..”

CHINA

— L U C Y WA S S E R S T E I N

where we watch the sunrise over the majestic Irrawaddy River and then cycle among goldenspired temples in a vast complex of ancient pagodas.

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

“The homestay was incredible. Not only was the

and complexity, and despite past unrest, there has never been a more important time to

pieces of Myanmar’s puzzle. Our journey begins in Bagan,

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

M A N DA L AY

unforgettable patchwork fields of Shan State before arriving at our rural homestay community. Here we sleep in stilted

M YA N M A R BAGAN

K ALAW

LAOS

houses, learn from village elders and youth alike, and help out

Next we travel to Sagaing, the spiritual heart of Myanmar and center of the

on the seasonal harvests. From here, some groups choose to travel to Naypyidaw to learn about the transition from a military state; others venture

one of the 500 monasteries scattered over

into the Irrawaddy Delta to discover how local farmers are

the hills, and delve into Buddhist learning

creatively dealing with water scarcity.

alongside local practitioners while also assisting on a community-driven service project. Pressing east, we arrive at Kalaw and enjoy a day-long village to village trek through the

Concluding the course in Yangon, we wander among one of the most striking Buddhist stupas in the world and get a glimpse of the bustling former colonial capital through the eyes of young politicians, activists, and artists.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

MAWLAMYINE

ASI A:   S UM M E R

country’s Buddhist faith. We come to rest in

YA N G O N

THAILAND

23


E YA K

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BY LARKIN BARRON, STUDENT Indonesia Semester

DEAR HOME Dear Non-Quick Dry Clothes, I don’t even remember what you feel like. My shoulders and knees are so used to being covered, the idea of wearing shorts is almost scandalous. I have so much respect for the strong women and men who are able to wear jeans, long sleeves, and head scarves in this kind of heat. That’s some kind of devotion.

Dear Friends, I think of you and smile. Dear Home, I have come to believe that you, home, are a deceptive concept. If home was just one thing then, to me, it could never be a house. I think that it must instead be a state of heart. Not a state of mind or state of being, but a way that your heart feels when you are given ease and joy by your surroundings. That moment when the smile comes from the inside, the outer shells collapse and you

from these chili-filled, rice-mounded bowls of deliciousness. Food styles so

know, in your heart, that you are home. I have had to say goodbye to you Bed,

different I can’t even compare, though I’m starting to realize that not only is it

Shower, Phone, Kitchen, Clothes, Friends. I chose to do this not out of spite but out

possible to eat rice three times of day, but it is, in fact, a cultural expectation.

of an inner compulsion to stretch my boundaries. To expand my mind. To fill my

Dear Bed, You are so much more comfy than I ever appreciated. How could a simple mattress, so much more than 2 inches of padding on a wooden panel, bring so much joy? How I long to sink into your welcoming folds and lie there till all exhaustion has fled from my body and mind. I would jump on you… or just fall asleep. Bed, I miss you most.

heart with the sights and sounds of the unknown, even if it meant squat toilets and bucket showers and fleets of loud motorbikes, or a new language and a new diet and a new state of being. I did it because sometimes one home isn’t enough, and when the heart says it’s time to go exploring, well, who am I to disagree. So, home, I have left you behind.

But in many ways, in almost all the ways maybe,

Dear Shower, Sorry to say it, but I’ve actually replaced you. Yeah, I mean hot water can be nice, maybe calming, maybe relaxing, but I honestly enjoy cold water in a bucket. I’ll pour it over my head slowly and feel cleaner than I ever did with your

Larkin

Dear Phone, Okay. There are times when I wish I could escape to Facebook. Music I especially miss. I wish I was able to use GPS, but sometimes in order to see more you must carry less. I’m relieved not to have you. Distraction, I think, would only be degenerative. I don’t want to be stopped from living fully. I don’t want to miss a flash of color or smell of spice. Any moment lost could be a lifelong memory missed. Visit the Yak Board for course reflections from Dragons students past and present at

24

Love,

YA K.WHER ETHER EB EDR AGON S.COM

Left: Celia Mitchell

AS I A:   S UM M ER

electric spigot. Although—I never was this hot and sweaty at home.

I haven’t left home at all.

Right: Beatriz Schaver Eizaguirre; Katie Loebner

Dear Kitchen, The tastes you’ve given me throughout my life are a world away


INDONESIA C O M M U N I T Y & C O N S E R VAT I O N 6-Week Summer Abroad Program

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Experience the most diverse archipelago on Earth: live with sea nomad communities, harvest coffee, and learn about efforts to protect the world’s most extraordinary rainforests and coral reefs.

June 28 – August 8

16 – 18

42 Days

CHINA

MANADO

BORNEO

LUWUK

TA N A TO R A JA

MOROWALI KENDARI

MAKASSAR

WA K ATO B I

UBUD, BALI

RUGGED TRAVEL

COMPRISED OF OVER 17,000 ISLANDS

nomads.” The Bajau live in stilted houses built over

AND 700 LIVING LANGUAGES, INDONESIA

the open ocean and spend the majority of their

IS HOME TO THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF

lives on the water. We embrace their unique

BIODIVERSITY OF ANY NATION. Whether

lifestyle, snorkeling over fragile reefs, attending

hiking through bamboo forests, spearfishing with your

indigenous ceremonies, and learning about

homestay father, or examining gender roles in the

conservation initiatives from local leaders.

world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia is

of Indonesia, we begin to understand that our

senses. Arriving first in Yogyakarta, students dive

definition of “community” extends far beyond

headlong into Javanese culture, working with street studying the basics of the Bahasa Indonesian language.

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

As we engage with the diverse peoples

sure to challenge your worldview and stimulate your

artists, attending shadow-puppet performances, and

HOMESTAY

the people in our own towns. Diverse experiences help expand our worldview and encourage us to be more mindful of the interconnected relationships.

We then head east to the island of Flores, where students live in the pastoral village of Langa. We meet with local coffee producers, hike amid dormant volcanoes, and learn about local religious traditions with our gracious hosts. A few flights and boats take us to the archipelago AUSTRALIA

“To me, the most special component of this trip is the environment Dragons has co-created with the Indonesian communities...This environment not only fosters, but more importantly promotes the formation of real relationships between homestay families and Dragons students. ”

of Wakatobi, home to the Bajau people, or the “sea W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

—SEAN DOHERTY

ASI A:   S UM M E R

INDONESIA

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

25


CAMBODIA P E A C E - B U I L D I N G & C O N S E R VAT I O N 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

AGES

Examine issues of human rights and international development: engage in the optimism of Cambodian youth, unpack the legacy of the Khmer Rouge and gain insight into Theravada Buddhism firsthand.

June 28 – July 28

16 – 18 RUGGED TRAVEL

KNOWN FOR THE INCOMPARABLE RUINS OF ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA IS

with the Cambodian people, and gain

A COUNTRY THAT EVOKES IMAGES OF OVERGROWN JUNGLE TEMPLES,

context around Cambodia’s present-

BRIGHT ORANGE ROBED MONKS, AND LUSH RICE FIELDS. Our course begins

day political landscape. We meet

in the overgrown temples of Angkor civilization which hold the secrets to the ecological

with activists and artists who call

and architectural wonders of a culture that ruled much of Southeast Asia for nearly a

one of Asia's hippest emerging

thousand years. Here we explore the storied ruins to discover the traditions that have

cities home.

endured throughout the centuries of changing power. Continuing past the floating villages of Lake Tonle Sap, we gain insight into the effects of upriver dams on the L AOS

ecology of Cambodia’s largest body of freshwater

AS I A:   S UM M ER

and discuss environmental issues that are critical

26

to Cambodia’s food security. Our course continues on to the sleepy city

SIEM REAP

CAMBODIA

B AT TA M B A N G

VIETNAM KEP

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

way to the coastal village of Kampot, where we engage in a community-run mangrove restoration project and celebrate the final days of our course reflecting with group members near the sea.

of Battambang where we meet with dedicated NGO representatives working on education, child

“The walls that humans put up between countries, made up of money, skin color

rights, and anti-orphanage tourism initiatives. PHNOM PENH

HOMESTAY

Finally we make our

CHINA

THAIL AND

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

and language are meaningless. Our experiences shape the way that we see the world,

In Phnom Penh, we confront the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge genocide, build empathy

but we are unified on the basis of compassion, love and a thirst for knowledge.”

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

—OONA McDOWELL

Right: Photos from Dragons archives

Days

DATES

Left: Photos from Dragons archives

31

DESCRIPTION


THAILAND THE SPIRIT OF GRENG JAI 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

31 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Explore the idea of reciprocity: a 3-day Theravada meditation retreat in the cool mountains of Chiang Rai, help out on community-driven learning service permaculture projects, and live with marginalized hill tribe communities.

June 28 – July 28

15 – 17

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

CHINA

LEARNING SERVICE

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

MYANMAR MAE HONG SON CHIANG MAI

FROM THE BUZZING METROPOLIS OF

L AOS

BANGKOK TO THE VERDANT MOUNTAINS AND RICE PADDIES OF THE NORTH, THE

SUKHOTHAI

U B O N R ATC H ATA N I

THAILAND BANGKOK

CAMBODIA

— K AT E S PA U L D I N G

STAGGERING BEAUTY OF THAILAND LEAVES living in a region experiencing rampant development while

THE NEXT WONDER. Our program begins in the

maintaining ritual and custom.

Kingdom of Siam’s first capital, Sukhothai. culinary nuances of the Land of Smiles before boarding the slow train north to the art and cultural hub of Thailand,

KRABI

in school). I know now what I want to do and what I love and how I want to live my life.”

ONE ENCHANTED AND YEARNING TO EXPLORE

Here students orient to the cultural, spiritual, and

INDIA

“This trip changed my life and I learned so much about myself (more than I ever learned

Chiang Mai. Here we explore the city’s many temples and meet

monastery in Chiang Rai for a three day meditation retreat where we learn and practice many forms of meditation—insight, walking, eating, silent—to center ourselves. We then venture to a Thai-run eco-village to study permaculture and sustainability practices. We

migrant workers rights, environmental protection, and elephant

learn about seed banking, traditional organic farming,

conservation. We then move further north into the mountainous hill

adobe building, natural medicines, and rice cultivation in a

tribe regions in Mae Hong Son, where we hike from village to village

valley surrounded by picturesque national parks. Our Thailand

through tea plantations and coffee fields staying with ethnic minority

journey culminates with a few day’s exploration of the country’s

communities to catch a glimpse into their traditional way of life. Amid paddies and

colorful and bustling capital, Bangkok, where we say goodbye to Southeast Asia amid

glittering Buddhist temples, we explore some of the dichotomies that come with

the wild sprawl and awe-inspiring skyline of one of the world's great alpha cities.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

ASI A:   S UM M E R

with grassroots NGOs and activists working on gender equality,

From here, we enter into a small Theravada Buddhist

27


N E PA L T R A D I T I O N S O F T H E H I M A L AYA S 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

Days

AGES

Discover the beauty of the Himalayas: experience life in remote mountain CHINA communities, participate in a meditation retreat, and study traditional arts with local masters.

June 28 – July 28

17–20

SINCE ANCIENT TIMES, TRAVELERS, MONKS,

TIBE T DELHI

N E PP OAK LH A R A

MERCHANTS, POETS, ARTISTS, AND WARRIORS K AT H M A N D U

BHUTAN PATA N

INDIA

HAVE PASSED THROUGH KATHMANDU DURING THEIR

JOURNEYS ACROSS THE GREAT HIMALAYAN RANGE.

Here we learn the daily rhythms of agricultural life and have the chance to talk to local

across the Himalayan region all peacefully co-exist in the peaks

pressing global concerns such as climate

and valleys of this dynamic country. Nepal’s rich cultural diversity

change and foreign aid.

AS I A:   S UM M ER

For the comparative religion aspect of this course, we explore the intertwined religions of Hinduism and Buddhism and also go on a

environments and different religious communities as we explore

short meditation retreat, where we have the chance

how ancient traditions can survive in a rapidly developing

to fully immerse ourselves in monastic life. We learn

society. During our time in the Kathmandu valley, we meet with

about the foundations of Buddhist philosophy from a monk and

local activists and experts who share their insights on Nepal’s history, politics, and

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

subsistence farmers in the Himalayan foothills.

people about their lived experience of

Our program weaves a path between rural and urban

ISPs

valleys, before settling into a homestay with

provides a strong foundation for a larger conversation about the

28

HOMESTAY

Some never left, and today a multitude of ethnic groups from

underpinnings of identity, community, and spirituality.

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

participate in a spiritual practice that is both informative and deeply introspective.

culture. They also offer a unique perspective on the socio-political complexities facing a newly-democratic Nepal, and challenges the 2015 earthquake continue to pose to

“Nate scored his trip an “11” on a scale of 1-10. He arrived home dirty and smelly, but more

Nepali society.

mature, thoughtful and with a greater understanding of that part of the world.”

Moving into rural Nepal, we get the opportunity to trek through stunning mountain

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

— PA R E N T O F N AT E Z U C H E R

Right: Jack Greene; Mika Adley

LEH

DATES

Left: Benjamin Felser; Maria Xu

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DESCRIPTION


B H U TA N H A P P I N E S S I N T H E H I M A L AYA S 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

31 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Explore a Himalayan culture where happiness has become a measure of national development. Homestays and intimate community connections help unveil unique Buddhist worldviews.

June 28 – July 28

16 – 18

TIBE T

PUNAKHA

NASPE

THIMPU PARO

URA

B H U TA N

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

on this planet. We seek to understand how these embodied

“GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS”

philosophies impact people’s daily choices. Through

METRICS FOR DEVELOPMENT, Bhutan

listening to local villagers, professionals, and academics, we gain insights into perspectives on the environment,

encourages us to think critically about what

our role in conservation, and the concept of the earth

"happiness" means. It prompts us to ponder,

as an interdependent organism. Since the arrival of

in both Himalayan and personal contexts, what

television in 1999 and a cascade of global influences,

contributes to our quality of life. Our journey into the

Bhutan has experienced a steady increase in foreign

Himalayan nation of Bhutan gives us rare access to the sacredness in the vast and wild landscapes, challenging

tourism which contradicts long-held traditions. How can we understand the pressures and adaptations of Bhutanese

us to reevaluate commonly held notions of our role in the

culture in the face of a globalizing world? In our questioning and

natural world.

exploration of Bhutan, we hope to find a better understanding of the

We learn how Buddhism, as the state religion, has had

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

worldviews and assumptions that shape our lives and happiness back home.

deep social impacts, particularly on the creation of unique government policies on conservation, preservation, and BANGLADESH

"I feel like I got everything possible out of Bhutan and Nepal in 4 weeks...The most

sustainable development. We will also delve deeply

important part of this trip is how learning about these cultures and having these

into Buddhist philosophy, histories, and folk tales to understand different ways of viewing our existence

experiences made me reflect and learn about myself and how I view the world.”

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

—MARGAUX HOLLARD

ASI A:   S UM M E R

INDIA

HOMESTAY

IN A COUNTRY WHERE THE PHRASE LANDS ITSELF ON A LIST OF KEY CHINA

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

29


NORTH INDIA ROOF OF THE WORLD 4-Week & 6-Week Summer Abroad Programs

31/42 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Examine diverse Himalayan cultures, explore Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and trek into the awe-inspiring mountains of Ladakh.

June 28-July 28 June 28-August 8

16 – 18 17 – 20

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

HOMESTAY

TREKKING

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

CHINA LEH

DELHI

NEPAL

sharing meals and learning about village life,

MILES FROM PAKISTAN TO CHINA,

or we pitch tents and sleep outside under

THE HIMALAYAN RANGE BOASTS HALF THE WORLD’S HIGHEST MOUNTAINS. Clinging to the far western flank of the Tibetan

AS I A:   S UM M ER

INDIA

30

the brilliant blanket of stars. The six-week program travels further south into the Himalayan foothills to the

plateau, jagged peaks and windswept valleys have

Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Upon

largely preserved the local cultures of Ladakh. Our

the Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet,

exploration begins close to the regional capital

thousands of devout followers settled

of Leh, where we learn language basics, explore

in Dharamsala, the seat of His Holiness’

pastoral communities, and acclimatize to the 11,500

exiled government. Today, Tibetan language,

ft elevation. We explore local issues in meetings with

traditional medicine, art, and spirituality are

NGO leaders who share their firsthand experiences

preserved here. It is a place that inspires with stories

trying to preserve Ladakhi heritage and environment

of struggle and perseverance and a message of hope and compassion. We stay in a

despite shifting cultural, ecological, and economic patterns within the region. We trek deep into glaciated valleys, passing

Buddhist monastery to better understand the basic tenets of Buddhism before moving onto Dharamsala to live with Tibetan refugee families, work in the fields, and attend classes at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. The North India course is a window

through tiny hamlets as we follow remote herders’ trails. As we pass through some

into diverse Himalayan cultures and landscapes, as the region adapts to challenging

of the world’s most breathtaking mountains, we stay in family homes in tiny villages,

environmental and political climates.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Christina Rivera Cogswell; Photo from Dragons archives

TIBE T

PA K I S TA N

STRETCHING MORE THAN 1500

Left: Caleb Brooks, Photo from Dragons archives

DHARAMSALA


E A S T E R N H I M A L AYA S WEST BENGAL TO SIKKIM 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

31 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Experience the hospitality of remote mountain communities: work with local artists and healers, and gain insight into the myriad spiritual traditions of the Eastern Himalaya.

June 28 – July 28

16 – 18

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

HOMESTAY

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

ISPs

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

CHINA

NESTLED DEEP IN THE EASTERN END OF THE GREAT HIMALAYAN MOUNTAIN

NEPAL

DARJEELING

INDIA

— B R I G E T T E B A R N AT O

ARE INDIAN STATES THAT SIT SNUGLY BETWEEN NEPAL AND BHUTAN. The tension

KANCHENJUNGA GANGTOK

something to hold on to that has sparked a new light, purpose and ambition in my life.”

RANGE, WEST BENGAL AND SIKKIM

TIBET DELHI

“You gave me such an opportunity this summer, not just to travel to this magical place, but

BHUTAN

with local mentors, taking up apprenticeships with artists,

between modern influences and traditional values

musicians, healers, cultivators, and practitioners of

is strikingly apparent in this region, as various ethnic

Hinduism, Buddhism, and types of shamanism.

groups work to safeguard their heritage amidst the

We delve more deeply into Buddhism by

draw of globalization and development. Dragons

sitting in meditation for a short retreat at a

students engage with local communities and explore

local monastery, complementing our more

ancient Buddhist and Hindu traditions, gaining insight

with personal practice. Heading further into the Himalayas,

Our course begins in northern West Bengal, an area renowned for its fine tea that serves as an introduction to the cultures and traditions of the region. Amidst verdant tea plantations ready to be

students witness Sikkim’s incredible biodiversity, with day hikes through lush forests with potential views—when monsoon

plucked, we learn about the living blend of religious and cultural traditions which rival

rains abate—of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world’s

the beauty of the landscapes. In Kalimpong, we live with homestay families and work

third highest peak.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

ASI A:   S UM M E R

into the age-old wisdom that has held Himalayan people together for centuries.

theoretical understanding of the religion

31


Take three coca leaves between your fingers and bless Pachamama.

ASI A:   S UM M E R 32

32


L AT I N A M E R I C A IS ALIVE WITH THE COLOR OF CHANGING TRADITIONS.

Plant a row of seedlings to ensure next year’s harvest. Crest a 15,000 ft pass and give thanks to the Mother Earth. Float by canoe along tropical waterways in the embrace of the jungle. In the folds of the Andes, Quechua communities are learning to cope with the impacts of climate change while staying rooted to traditional ways of life. In Central America, Mayan communities listen to Reggaeton while weaving patterns handed down from centuries past. These landscapes and stories impart valuable lessons about globalization, indigenous identity in our modern world, and natural resource use in some of the most diverse pockets of our planet. Latin America is a land of movers and shakers, of sacred peaks and vibrant community systems, of rhythm and color. Whether you’re interested in learning more about the silver mines in Potosí or the rhythms of marimba in Guatemala, Latin America is a landscape rich with beauty, complexity, and transformation. In Latin America, we are students of community reinventing itself… 

are you?

33


G UAT E M A L A S PA N I S H L A N G UAG E I N T E N S I V E 2-Week, 4-Week & 6-Week Summer Abroad Programs

AGES

Investigate issues of social justice amidst Guatemala’s diverse landscapes and communities while improving your Spanish language skills through personalized instruction.

June 28–July 10 | July 14–28 June 28 – July 28 June 28 – August 8

13 – 14 15 – 17 16 – 18

OUR GUATEMALA COURSE OFFERS THE PERFECT MELD OF INTENSIVE

Todos Santos. Hidden in the clouds, Todos

LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION, LEARNING SERVICE, AND HANDS-ON

Santos is a mystical mountain town that

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING. Known as the “land of eternal spring,” Guatemala is a

challenges definitions of “traditional”

country where towering volcanoes cradle the rich cultural heritage of the colorful and

and “modern.” While continuing with

L AT IN AM ER IC A :  SU M MER

resilient Maya people. Through this lush and textured land we

34

travel to remote communities to study under professional

ME XICO

Spanish instructors in personalized one-on-one lessons while engaging in authentic homestays and meaningful community-driven learning service projects.

TIKAL

BELIZE

TODOS SANTOS

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE STUDY

LEARNING SERVICE

our Spanish language instruction, we meet with shamans and healers, learn traditional cooking, volunteer in local schools, and receive instruction in weaving and marimba.

We begin our course in Pachaj, a small mountain

We then wind our way into the protective

community nestled in the pine forest outside of

folds of the Cuchumantes Mountains to the

Guatemala’s second biggest city, Quetzaltenango. In

community of San Juan Cotzal. Here we join our homestay families in the fields as

Pachaj, we live with generous homestay families, enjoy

they plant their food staples of beans, corn, and squash. Our comprehensive journey

one-on-one Spanish language instruction, and volunteer

COBAN

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

concludes with a few days in the spectacular colonial capital of Antigua.

with the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project. G UATE M A L A SANTIAGO ATITL A N

After a three-day trek from Quetzaltenango to Lake

“We sent our son to Guatemala as a teenager, and he returned as a Spanish-speaking,

Atitlan and a visit to the Mesoamerican Permaculture

thoughtful, sensitive and appreciative young man; a powerful evolution!”

Institute, we travel to the highland community of

SAN LUCAS TOLIMÁN

EL

SALVADOR

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

— R O B I N F E L L , PA R E N T

Right: Mitch Haddad

Days

DATES

Left: Photo from Dragons archives; Juancho Galich

15/31/42

DESCRIPTION


E YA K

AR

D•

•FRO

B O

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TH

BY CAROLINE FENELON, STUDENT Guatemala Semester

A NEW VIEW ON SERVICE CHOOSING TO DEFER FROM COLLEGE AND TAKE A GAP YEAR IS A MAJOR

how to construct a solar composting latrine. While our friends at IMAP led the construction

ABNORMALITY FROM WHERE I COME FROM. The situation was prompting

of the latrine, we helped where we could—from mixing cement to carrying rocks—all while

questions upon questions: What is a gap year? What do you mean you are not going to

taking detailed notes. We were not imposing our building techniques on the locals. No,

college next year? What will you be doing?

they were teaching us.

How do you begin to explain a Dragons course to anyone? I told these people that I would

The reason why we spent that week learning was actually so we could later act as a

be living in homestays in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala and learning Spanish.

bridge. Luis, a few weeks prior, had received a call from the leader of a women’s weaving

Then, I would pause for their reaction: Wouldn’t you be taking Spanish classes in college?

cooperative who inquired on how to get into contact with IMAP to learn how to build a

“Well, yes, but I will also be volunteering.” With that word, “volunteering,” the doubter’s face would light up with a more approving expression of understanding. I was always hesitant to throw around that word (volunteering) because I deliberately did

solar composting latrine. It hit Luis—why not have our group use the skills learned working at IMAP to construct a latrine with the weaving co-op? That is exactly what we did.

not choose a program that’s main focus was service. Yet it was as though because I was

Though those two weeks ended up being focused on

traveling to developing countries, everyone expected me to volunteer—like if I was not

construction, or what many would label as “service,” in reality, we were working and learning side by side our

going to volunteer, I was doing something wrong, being selfish.

I remember being welcomed with open arms into families’ homes; I remember studying Spanish in a thirty-six family town; I remember learning so much about local cultures and life in general from the many characters we met along the journey.

transmitting information from one local institute to another one that had asked for it. It all made me start to think about how I am going to

We have encountered this legendary “service” element on this course; yet the “volunteer work” has been vastly different from what might be imagined. We did not come into a town with the mentality that we were there to help and teach the “less fortunate” how to construct “superior” buildings or live in a “better” way.

explain the past three months when I return home. I could boil the adventure down to being described simply as service work; people would probably be impressed. But the lessons I have learned, and relationships I have formed, go so much deeper. So no, these past three

For example, in our first “service” oriented week, we partnered with IMAP (the Meso-

months have not revolved around service work, and I

American Permaculture Institute), a Guatemalan-founded and run organization, to learn

am not ashamed of it.

LATI N A ME R IC A :  S U MM E R

When I recall the past three months, I do not immediately think of volunteer work. Instead,

Guatemalan friends doing what we could to act as a bridge—

Visit the Yak Board for course reflections from Dragons students past and present at YA K.WHER ETHER EB EDR AGON S.COM

35


“I looked for a course that would challenge me physically, emotionally, mentally yet still teach me about the world. Well I found it.” —JAMES TEJERA

BOLIVIA SPIRIT OF THE ANDES 4-Week & 6-Week Summer Abroad Programs

36

AGES

Immerse yourself in the Andes: perform ritual mountain ceremonies, trek over snow-swept passes, and discuss the impacts of climate change with local communities.

June 28 – July 28 June 28 – August 8

17 – 19 17 – 19

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE STUDY

KNOWN AS A LAND OF EXTREMES, BOLIVIA IS HOME TO SOME OF THE

on a four-day trek in the snow-capped Cordillera Real range, descending into the

MOST STAGGERING CULTURAL AND ECOLOGICAL DIVERSITY ON THE

dense cloud forests on the edge of the Amazon Basin. Observing striking ecological

BR A ZIL

PLANET. Host to 36 distinct ethnic and

transitions, we traverse an original Incan roadway that once served a an important trade

language groups, vast mountain ranges,

route between the high Andes and the tropical cloud

dense Amazonian jungle, and a shifting

forests below. Our journey takes us along the

socio-political landscape, Bolivia provides

base of snow-capped peaks, through misty

a panorama for students to explore the links

montane forests, alongside coffee and

between past and present in the heart of South

coca fields, and into the heart of Afro-

America. Students integrate into several local CORDILLERA APOLOBAMBA

communities through extended homestays, focused

S O R ATA

language study, and direct engagement with local

L A PA Z

activists and landscapes

COCHABAMBA CORDILLERA REAL

BOLIVIA

unique flora and fauna, aquamarine

in a small Quechua farming community. Students enjoy

lagunas, and the largest reserves of lithium on the planet. Summiting

House while learning about the vibrant history of grass-

ARGENTINA

Our final excursion takes us south to the Uyuni Salt Flats, an

daily Spanish language instruction at our Program roots mobilization and resistance in the Andes. CHILE

Bolivian culture in the Yungas region.

otherworldly landscape home to

The course begins in Cochabamba, where we live

PAR AGUAY

TREKKING

Acclimatized to the Andean elevation, we depart

an active volcano, we discuss issues of resource use and environmental conservation in one of the most dramatic locales on the planet.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Nathaly Granados; Sara Monzon

L AT IN AM ER IC A :  SU M MER

Days

DATES

Left: Moriah Kofsky; Photo from Dragons Archives

31/42

DESCRIPTION


COLOMBIA S T O R I E S O F P E AC E & R E S I S TA N C E 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

31 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Learn about community approaches to conflict resolution and peace-building, explore cities and mountains, and practice Spanish through the arts, dance, and music.

June 28 – July 28

16 – 18

EXPERIENCE A VIBRANT AND DIVERSE COUNTRY FROM SNOWY

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE STUDY

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

Our journey begins in a sub-tropical corridor between the Andes and tropical

ANDEAN PEAKS, RAINFORESTS WITH ENDLESS SHADES OF GREEN,

lowlands, where we partner with a cultural and ecological restoration program

ALPINE WETLANDS THAT PRODUCE WATER AS IF BY MIRACLE, AND THE

that is working on the construction of a giant “forest of peace.” From

COLORS AND RHYTHMS OF THE PACIFIC AND ATLANTIC COASTS. with the many traditions of Colombia’s

there, we transition to our first homestay with Guambiano indigenous families in the western Andes, learning about their relationship with land and nature. In Bogotá, we explore one of Latin America’s largest cities, and

indigenous communities, African

practice Spanish through the arts, dance, and

descendants, and people of European

music with young people’s cultural collectives.

heritage create a fascinating

We end our adventure with a trek to the ancient

fusion of landscapes, cultures, and

Lost City in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta,

identities. The history of conflict and

where massive peaks rise up out of the tropical shores

transformation that Colombia has

of the Caribbean to altitudes above 18,000 feet. Our

endured in recent decades, leading to the current Peace Process, offers meaningful lessons around the power of resistance, memory, resilience, and forgiveness in the face of civil conflict.

trajectory connects us to artists and dreamers,

SIERR A NE VADA D E S A NTA M A RTA

VENE ZUEL A

B O G OTÁ

COLOMBIA SAN AGUSTÍN, HUILA

farmers and indigenous leaders, peace builders and musicians, all working to weave together narratives of peace, resistance, and unity for

ECUADOR

their people and nation.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

PERU

LATI N A ME R IC A :  S U MM E R

These spectacular backdrops—along

ISPs

37 BR A ZIL


E YA K

AR

D•

•FRO

B O

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B Y A L LY S O N , S T U D E N T South America Semester

MIND & BODY When you trek, it’s impossible not to be aware of your body. Each day becomes broken up into a set of systems and routines—all of them ways to care for your physical health, your cohesion with the larger group, to care for your ability to continue. Thoughts fly out of my head and all that remains is the way my feet sound on the path, the air whooshing in and out of my lungs, the sun and the clouds and the rain. In those long hours, especially the ones we recently spent in the Valle de Sondondo, it is so obvious to me: The mind and body are intrinsically connected, each dependent on the other. And nowhere is that more apparent for me than on a trek. HEAD I feel my head pound as we ascend, bit by bit, towards the mountain pass

HEART I’m in the kitchen tent, helping cook dinner with Miguel and Teo.

in the distance. When we get there, I know instantly that every step was worth

Miguel shows me how to peel cloves of garlic with a blunt knife. I carefully strip

it. From this viewpoint, Miguel (our guide) tells us we are at the exact midpoint

away each layer of translucent purple skin. When I ask Teo about his cooking

between two districts. Neighborhoods sprawl out before us, encompassing the

experience, he tells me that he has eighteen years of experience in being a

valleys and tapering off into the ridges beyond. Each person in the group finds a

cocinero for treks like these. And when I ask why, he just shrugs and smiles. Es

rock, and together the group builds an apacheta—a structure, a miniature tower—

un acción de amor, no? he asks me with a grin, and continues to stir.

river, feet instantly going numb. Why did I decide to do this, again? I think for a

be contrary, waiting for a way to speak without conflict. But that’s not always

moment, remembering the steamy indoor hot spring I just left to swim in these

possible. On this trek, we’ve had lots of difficult

unforgiving waters. Besides me, Jackson and Michela are gasping and shouting

conversations—about power and privilege, victimization and the framing of history, on

just like I am, striving deeper in the water before their nerves leave them. I grit my teeth and follow. Above us, Rosel calls encouragement. I screw my eyes

foreign aid and development. None were

closed and, sucking in one more breath, dunk my head underwater. In that split

peaceful, but all were necessary. As we

second, everything about what I’m doing right now—the cold pressing in around

continue our descent into the community

me, my hair floating around my head in a halo, my feet firmly planted on the

where we’ll camp tonight, I can't help but wonder: How many conversations and people

riverbed—brings me irresistibly into the present. Here I am, I think. And again: Here I am. And then my head breaks the surface, and I can’t stop smiling.

and experiences have I missed in the past, by choosing not to speak?

Visit the Yak Board for course reflections from Dragons students past and present at 38

YA K.WHER ETHER EB EDR AGON S.COM

Right: Photo from Dragons archives; David Haffeman

FEET Go! Before I let myself think twice about it, I splash into the freezing

THROAT I always have trouble finding my voice in a group—never wanting to

Left: Nina Saligman

L AT IN AM ER IC A :  SU M MER

bringing the height of the pass a few inches higher, all to say: We were here.


PERU S AC R E D M O U N TA I N S 4-Week & 6-Week Summer Abroad Programs

31/42 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Celebrate Peru’s unbelievable diversity: paddle the Amazon River Basin in a dugout canoe and live with Quechua families in the heart of the Andes.

June 28 – July 28 June 28 – August 8

15 – 17 16 – 18

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

TREKKING

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

ECUADOR

PERU

BR A ZIL

PERU, ANCIENT SEAT OF THE INCA IS A LAND OF

Plaza, listening to tales of Incan rulers

TOWERING PEAKS AND STEAMY JUNGLES, OF

and the Spanish conquistadors that

MODERN URBAN CENTERS AND HIDDEN VILLAGES.

came before. A short trek takes

The radical juxtapositions in landscape and culture of

HUARAZ

this majestic country are mirrored in the striking socio-

CHIQUIAN S ATI P O

CUSCO

economic disparities that pervade society. Students dig

PUNTO M A LD O N ATO

in for a four-day homestay in the

into critical development issues by living with

Parque de la Papa. We rise with

families in remote indigenous communities

our homestay siblings, harvest

and exploring seldom-visited regions of BOLIVIA

quickly skirt the crowds and settle

potatoes, herd and milk livestock,

the sacred Andes Mountains and lush

and participate in a learning service

Amazonian forests.

project led by local leaders.

Our journey begins with a short flight into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. A small boat takes us up the Madre de Dios River,

By the end of the course students are equipped with basic wilderness skills, and a deeper understanding of regional environmental issues and the mysticism of Andean cosmology.

where we learn about forest ecology while listening to a symphony of tropical birds and jungle calls. We meet with local elders who share their

“Q’eros changed something big inside me. What I value has changed;

hopes and fears about regional development initiatives.

so has my definition of happiness.”

We travel overland to Cusco, exploring the relics of Sacsayhuamán and the central

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

—JULIA LOTVINA

LATI N A ME R IC A :  S U MM E R

LIMA

MACHU PICCU

us to Machu Picchu, where we

39


The beat of a djembe. The call to prayer. A warm chuckle as your nene pulls up her chair and serves you another plate of ceebu jen.

40


AFRICA HAS ITS OWN RHYTHM.

Sounds announce our arrival in a new place, and slowly their rhythm reminds us that we’ve landed in Africa. In urban Senegal, you’ll find young entrepreneurs huddled in high-tech co-working spaces just as readily as you’ll stumble upon an open-air market selling fish from the morning haul. Get lost among techni-colored mounds of spices or the snow capped Atlas mountains in Morocco. Find the meaning of biodiversity among the Baobab trees of Madagascar. Whether you’re dancing to the beat of a drum, paddling a pirogue out to sea or sipping black coffee in a souq, there are stories in the lands of our ancestors and wisdom in the echoes of their laughter. Come ready to hear Arabic, French, Wolof, Malagasy… there are stories waiting to be heard. We’re listening…

are you?

41


MADAGASCAR ISLAND OF DIVERSITY 6-Week Summer Abroad Program

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Explore Madagascar’s biological and cultural diversity, economic challenges, environmental conservation efforts, and the stories of the Malagasy people.

June 28 – August 8

16 – 18 RUGGED TRAVEL

MADAGASCAR: THE EIGHTH CONTINENT.

MADAGASCAR

rainforest. Next, we travel to the coast of the

of the plant and animal species in Madagascar are not

Mozambique Channel for our first homestay.

A NTA N A N A R I VO AMPEFY A M BATA M A N G A

MOR ANDAVA

ANTISRABE

R ANOMAFANA PARK

AF R IC A:   SUM M ER

ISALO PARK

42

are similarly unique. Two thousand years ago, voyagers from Polynesia traveled across oceans in outrigger canoes to settle in Madagascar, settling a previously unpeopled

This community is grappling with the impacts of overfishing and marine habitat destruction, and local environmental activists share unique perspectives on these global issues.

land. Since that time, other travelers arrived from Southeast Asia and from across the Mozambique Channel to form a distinct Malagasy identity. Over the course of the summer, we uncover the diverse narratives of the Malagasy people, as well as the diverse species that inhabit this incredible island.

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

search for lemurs in Ranomafana's lush mid-altitude

Stunningly diverse and colossal in size, more than 80% found anywhere else in the world. The Malagasy people

HOMESTAY

The rest of our journey takes us on a rugged, winding path through rural homestays and breathtaking landscapes. Whether we’re meeting with policymakers in Antananarivo or looking for chameleons in

Our journey begins in Ampefy, a village nestled in the shadows of a booming waterfall. A short orientation provides the

Andasibe National Park, we come to realize that each creature has a role to play in shaping the future of Madagascar.

foundation for our future travels, as we learn to navigate local transportation, speak with homestay families, and examine the influences of globalization with a more critical eye.

“This trip was incredible. The fact that we fit so much into six weeks and were able to explore so many different aspects of Madagascar from rainforest to beach to sandstone

We journey south to camp in the sandstone canyons of Isalo National Park and

canyon was amazing. Everything was an experience. I loved it.”

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

—ELSA BECHU

Right: Cara Lane-Toomey; Gigi Crouch

Days

Left: Eloise Schrier; Bella Heffer

42

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS


MOROCCO C R O S S R O A D S O F M O U N TA I N S & C U LT U R E S 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

31 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Discover the famed hospitality, faiths, and languages of Morocco across mountain ranges, ancient cities, and rural villages.

June 28 – July 28

16 – 19

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

HOMESTAY

WANDERING THROUGH A MOROCCAN SOUQ (MARKET PLACE), FRAMED BY THE ANCIENT WALLS OF CITY MEDINAS, YOU ARE SURE TO THINK THAT YOU HAVE ENTERED ANOTHER ERA. Hiking along ancient trade routes and current nomadic enclaves, we experience a Morocco that few travelers

LANGUAGE STUDY

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

“The rural homestay taught me the most. I learned so much in terms of spoken and comprehensive language, Moroccan culture and way of life, and friendship and hospitality. I also learned a lot about myself, as I was surprised I was able to thrive so well in an environment I never could have imagined myself being in.” —JACKSON KENNA

encounter. Our time in remote villages immerses us in Morocco’s unrivaled hospitality; families welcome us as kin and our tea cups are never left empty. Throughout the country we

Though Morocco shows us a land of great differences, we come to see how religion and culture unite indigenous provides us wonderful opportunities to learn about

budding Arabic language skills. In the

the history and tradition of this, often mystical, Muslim

imperial cities of Fes and Marrakesh,

culture. Whether outside an intricately decorated mosque in

the sounds of people bargaining in

Casablanca or walking an unpaved road in a quiet mountain

Arabic fill our ears as the smells of

town, we often hear the call to prayer, and are reminded

exotic spices fill your nose. Yet only

five times a day that among the vastly disparate lives of

cities and to a village of peaceful mud huts in the mountains.

Morocco’s people, Islamic culture, faith, and devotion continue to bring families and communities together as it has for over 1300 years.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

FES CASABLANCA MIDDLE ATL A S M O U NTA I N S

ESSAOUIRA MARRAKESH

H I G H ATL A S M O U NTA I N S

MOROCCO

AF R IC A :  S U MM E R

engage with locals using our

a few hours hike takes us out of the

SPAIN

Amazigh and Arab peoples. Our time in Morocco

43


E YA K

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BY ZANDRA CAMPBELL, STUDENT Dragons Princeton Bridge Year Senegal

SOME THOUGHTS ON RELIGION A WEEK AGO, AS I POSTULATED BEFORE ALLAH

motions of a prayer that didn’t mean anything to me at face

IN A SUFI SERVICE FOR TABASKI (A CELEBRATION

value, we shared something. We were sharing an experience—

OF THE SACRIFICE OF ISHMAEL), TEARS ROLLED

the sun on our faces, the feeling of the plastic woven mat

DOWN MY CHEEKS. The tears surprised me, but I soon

under our knees, and the feeling of jàmm (peace). We were

recognized that I was crying because the practitioners’

connected through these moments in the universe that we

prayer was so beautiful, and they were so united, and I wasn’t

share.

a part of it. Their faith in Allah connected them, and I felt that, despite my love for Judaism, my disbelief in a god

Faith in a god can be a beautiful thing, but it isn’t some

isolated me from that community experience. Afterwards,

magic ingredient for joy—you don’t need faith to do good

the group conversed about their faiths, and members of my

or be connected to people. And in any case, I do have faith. I

team expressed that although they did not subscribe to Islam,

have faith in people to be and do good. The teranga (spirit of

joining in the prayer connected them both to their own faiths

hospitality) pervasive through Senegal gives me hospitality.

and the community. My sadness deepened; everyone’s faith

On our last night in Dene, the spiritual community in which

seemed to be such a part of that community experience that

we stayed during Tabaski, the community threw a goodbye

I so desperately craved. I felt that I must be missing out on

party for us. We danced around a bonfire singing in Wolof,

some of the world’s joy, but you can’t force yourself to believe

and to close the night, one of the woman of Dene sang the

in something, right?

national anthem of the United States in Wolof for us. I was so

With or without God, the world is an amazing place.

taking selfies, and they begged me to pick them up and spin

Statistically, the chances of our own existences are so

them around again and again until I grew so dizzy, I could

infinitesimally small, and the chances of that many people

barely stand. I realized that not sharing the same religion

equally as improbable of existing as I should come together

or even the same god didn’t mean I couldn’t take part in

and stand in that circle around that bonfire is practically

the community. Even going through the seemingly empty

impossible. Yet there we were, and that’s miraculous.

Visit the Yak Board for course reflections from Dragons students past and present at 44

YA K.WHER ETHER EB EDR AGON S.COM

Right: Angelica Calabrese; Nicos Christou

Later on in the day, however, I was playing with all the children as they helped sacrifices the rams. We were laughing and

Left: Christy Sommers

AF R IC A:   SUM M ER

touched, I teared up again.


SENEGAL IN THE SHADE OF THE BAOBAB TREE 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

31 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Discover true generosity: live with Senegalese families, learn a new craft, drum yourself immersed in a new worldview.

June 28 – July 28

15 – 17

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

and dance, MAU RIT A N I A find

RUGGED TRAVEL

HOMESTAY

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

SAINT LOUIS DENE DAKAR

YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN NDEM THIES

SENEGAL TA M BACO U N DA

TEMANTO SAMBA KOLDA KEDOUGOU

GUINE A

MALI

Heading south, we watch the flat desert

IN SENEGAL. Enter a fortuneteller’s hut and ask a

landscape scattered with ancient baobab

question about your future. Spin and dance with Sufi

trees turn into lush, green forest. We

mystics. Discover fluent Spanish speakers on a man-

trek through the foothills of the

grove island. Speak with a young man preparing to

Fouta Djallon mountains, visiting

cross the Strait of Gibraltar to find work in Spain. This

Pulaar villages, traditional healers,

country is a collision of influences: French, Islamic,

and environmental activists

African, and increasingly, American and Chinese. Renowned for its hospitality and tolerance, Senegal makes room for all.

for a week of homestays, where students live in traditional thatched-

tchieb-u-dien, Senegal's national dish, and explore colorful

hut family compounds. Students

markets, dance and drum with local teachers, and begin to

spend the day as locals do, working

examine issues surrounding the term 'development.' From Thies

in the fields, milking cows, partaking in

we travel to the sandy shores of Dene, where we study comparative religion amongst

drumming and dance lessons, and listening to

a community of Islamic scholars, practice French and Wolof greetings and learn new

village meetings.

cultural norms, and possibly stay up late drumming and dancing under the stars. This

As we sink into the rhythm of Senegalese life, we see that the tradition of teranga

week sets the stage for an in-depth exploration of issues related to public health,

(the culture of giving) offers us many lessons about community and the web of

gender, education, social justice, and human migration.

connections we share. W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

AF R IC A :  S U MM E R

Our journey begins in Thies, where we get our first taste of

along the way. We come to rest

45


Take a breath. Listen for the rhythm of your own steps.

46


GAP YEAR SEMESTERS CAN TURN THE WORLD INTO A CLASSROOM.

Beyond well-worn routines, discovery of new perspectives awaits. You might find it from a snow capped peak in the Andes or from a sleepy fishing village in Laos. You could feel moved by an impromptu drum circle in Senegal or a meditation retreat in the Himalayas. This is your time to revel in awe. To find joy in unexpected places. To reconnect with curiosity. To use your voice. To consider critical issues and be optimistic about cross-cultural solutions.

are you ready to let the world teach you?

You don't need a classroom to be a student… 

47


RUSSIA

MONGOLIA

BEIJING

CHINA

XI’AN

XIAHE

CHENGDU

SOUTH OF THE CLOUDS

KUNMING

NDIA

3-Month Gap Year Program

Days

DATES

AGES

Improve your Mandarin, practice a traditional Chinese art form, and explore ethnic minority communities throughout China.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22 HOMESTAY

THROUGHOUT ITS LONG HISTORY, CHINA—LIKE FEW OTHERS—HAS

hear from visiting scholars, and meet as a group

INSPIRED CURIOSITY AND FASCINATION IN TRAVELERS, SEEKERS,

to plan our adventures and investigations.

MERCHANTS, AND DREAMERS. Our semester in China does more than introduce

GA P Y E AR   SE MEST ER

LANGUAGE STUDY

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

ISPs

Building on all we've learned and

the contemporary China that is seen in the country’s ever-expanding cities; we gain a

experienced in Kunming, we begin five

firsthand understanding of the country’s diverse peoples and cultures, moving through

weeks of travel through China's western

lesser-visited urban and rural landscapes.

corridor with unique itineraries that

Immersive travel experiences are balanced with a strong language curriculum and a

48

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

may take us through Guizhou, Sichuan,

comprehensive, interdisciplinary exploration of modern Chinese history and economic

Qinghai, Ningxia, or Gansu Provinces.

development, society, and cultural traditions. Kunming—located southeast of the

With a broad curriculum and an

Tibetan Plateau—is our home for five weeks of the program. This “city of eternal spring”

itinerary designed to explore the variety

is the capital of China’s Yunnan Province; an ideal location from which we explore

this country has to offer, our semester

ethnic diversity, environmental issues, and the dramatic changes that people in China

program offers an unparalleled overview of

have witnessed in recent decades. Through guest lectures, discussions, and mentored

China today.

community engagement, we explore traditional Chinese approaches to healing, cooking, exercise, art, and music.

"Some of the best most impactful and enjoyable [memories] were actually unplanned

While in Kunming, students live independently with homestay families, many of whom represent the “new middle class” in urban China today. At the Dragons Program

or even unintended. They just happened on the road or were bumps along that road, and those are probably the ones which leave the biggest impressions."

House, we gather for language classes, work on Independent Study Projects (ISPs), QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

—ROBERT BURNS

Right: Sampor Burke; Emma Hoffman

83

DESCRIPTION

Left: Photos from Dragons archives

CHINA


KUNMING

CHINA

XISHUANGBANA

VIETNAM LUANG PRABANG

LAOS

MEKONG

VIENTIANE

THAILAND

T I B E TA N P L AT E A U T O T H E H E A R T O F S O U T H E A S T A S I A

BANGKOK

CAMBODIA

3-Month Gap Year Program

K R AT I E

PHNOM PENH

83 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Examine issues of transboundary resource management within Southeast Asia’s largest river basin, explore diverse belief systems, and participate in community-driven learning service.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

FROM ITS SACRED HEADWATERS IN THE TIBETAN PLATEAU, THE

the idyllic river island of Don Dohn, relaxing into

MEKONG RIVER FLOWS 4,800-KM TOWARDS THE SOUTH CHINA SEA,

“Laos time” as we prepare for the final leg of

CLEAVING A BOUNDARY BETWEEN MYANMAR, LAOS, AND THAILAND.

our journey.

To Tibetans, the Upper Mekong is a powerful spiritual entity. To the Chinese, the river

In Cambodia, we meet with NGOs in

is a means of economic development. By focusing on the interdependence of people

Phnom Penh and stay with communities

and the natural world, The Mekong Semester examines how the demand for electricity

living on the banks of the sacred river. A

and anthropocentric needs are causing irreparable damage to delicate ecosystems and

highlight of our time is the homestay situated

traditional ways of life.

on an island in the Bassac River where we

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

settle into village life and work side-by-side with

Tibetan Buddhist landscapes and examine the impacts of China’s controversial

families, cooking together, sharing our stories and

mega-dam projects. In border villages, we explore transnational trade and China’s

feeling what it’s like to live in rural Cambodia. Near the

impact on the cultural integrity and economic security of the Greater Mekong

mouth of the Mekong Delta we conclude with reflections on

sub-region. Crossing into Laos, we explore the province of Luang Namtha on treks

the long-term health of the river ecosystem and bring our great journey to a close.

beneath the jungle canopy and travel through some of the most remote regions in Southeast Asia, where cross-border trade and a booming ecotourism industry are contributing to rapid modernization and environmental degradation. In Vientiane, we turn our focus towards public health initiatives, visiting an international NGO working to

“Dragons strengths are in the authenticity of where they go, what they choose to do and see, where they stay and how the participants are involved along the way. Dragons does not just lead students by their hands and guide them, they let them figure things out.”

clear unexploded mines leftover from the US' Secret War. We enter rural homestays on W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

— PA R E N T S O F N I T S A P L AT I S

GA P Y E AR S EM E STE R

Our journey begins in China’s Yunnan Province where we trek through sacred

HOMESTAY

49


CHINA

M A N DA L AY

M YA N M A R BAGAN

K ALAW

LAOS

SPIRITUALITY & RESILIENCE

YA N G O N

MAWLAMYINE

THAILAND

83 Days

SOUTHEAST ASIA 3-Month Gap Year Program

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Volunteer at a Buddhist monastic school, meet with international development experts, explore issues of migration and human rights, and immerse yourself in meditation practices.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

HOME TO OVER 135 ETHNIC MINORITY GROUPS, THE THAI-MYANMAR BORDER IS A MELTING POT OF SPIRITUAL AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY. The post-WWII decolonization of Southeast Asia led to new land borders. Overnight,

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

LEARNING SERVICE

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

“At a difficult moment in Myanmar’s history, there has never been a more important time to foster intentional exchange between travelers and local communities.” —JESSICA ARMSTRONG, SOUTHEAST ASIA PROGRAM DIRECTOR

entire communities along the Thai-Burma border found themselves divided by an

GA P Y E AR   SE MEST ER

remained strong and unchanged.

50

Students on this semester program explore themes related to human migration, spiritual resilience, and cultural preservation. Starting in Bangkok, we board a train to Sukhothai,

of traditional Buddhist life. The next few weeks are spent meeting and living with several ethnic Karen and Dara’Ang minority tribes who face hardships relating to land ownership, access to healthcare, and discrimination in schools. We take part in unique Buddhist and Animist ceremonies and discuss the importance of spirituality as a form of resilience. At the end of our first month we enter a multi-day meditation retreat to sharpen our mindfulness practice. Crossing the border into Myanmar, we spend two weeks living in a rural monastic

Thailand’s first capital and begin

school alongside local students. Here, daily meditation as well as classes co-facilitated

lessons in introductory Thai, Theravada

by Dragons instructors, local school teachers, monks, and students, foster meaningful

Buddhism, and the ethnic, historical, and political landscape of MyanmarThailand. Traveling further north to Chiang Mai we meet with local NGOs and activists

exchange. After a rural homestay, we travel to Yangon to see the country through the eyes of entrepreneurs and young activists who aim to redefine the way the world views Myanmar. Concluding in Bangkok, we get a glimpse of the megacity from the perspective of migrant workers living thousands of kilometers from home.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Sadie Fischbeck; Photo from Dragons archives

the physical boundaries, their spiritual beliefs

working on human rights, and sit with monks and laypeople to unpack the complexities

Left: Micah LeMasters; Danny Wood

invisible line that dictated movement. But despite


CHINA

MANADO

BORNEO

INDONESIA

LUWUK

MOROWALI

TA N A TO R A JA

KENDARI MAKASSAR

WA K ATO B I

C O M M U N I T Y, C U LT U R E , & C O N S E R VA T I O N 3-Month Gap Year Program

INDONESIA UBUD, BALI

AUSTRALIA DESCRIPTION

83 Days

Experience the majesty of the most diverse archipelago on Earth: explore Javanese arts, trek to hidden jungle hot springs, spearfish with sea nomads, and discuss conservation initiatives with local experts.

DATES

AGES

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

SPANNING FROM MALAYSIA TO AUSTRALIA, WITH OVER 17,000

ecosystems, and look at the nuances of environmental

EQUATORIAL ISLANDS,Indonesia hosts the world’s highest level of biodiversity

conservation.

and one of the richest cultural tapestries on Earth. Our program begins in Yogyakarta

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

a source of nutmeg and cloves. Featuring dramatic

have been for centuries. With our Program House as a base, students engage in arts

volcanic formations draped in luxuriant vegetation

study, language instruction, and topical discussions on the course’s themes of religious

and uninhabited islands wrapped in white sand

diversity, creative expression, and cultural and environmental conservation, all while

beaches, the Bandas boast incredible marine

living with carefully selected homestay families.

diversity and a fascinating history at the center of the spice trade. We return to Yogyakarta to conclude a course that is

coffee production, hike spectacular dormant volcanoes, explore topics in spiritual

rugged and comprehensive, and that introduces students to some

plurality, and develop a deeper understanding of traditional farming.

of the most significant ecological, cultural, and geo-political conversations of our time.

We then travel to the southeastern archipelago of Wakatobi, an extraordinary National Marine Park and home to the Bajau people (also known as “sea nomads”).

“Each place we went to and family I stayed with showed me something about life.

Staying in the stilted bamboo huts of Sampela, students learn about Bajau culture,

Spear fishing in Sampela. Playing soccer in Langa. Playing gamelan in Java.

practices, and religion. We snorkel world-class coral reefs, learn from host fathers how to fish with spears and nets, attend indigenous ceremonies, visit endangered mangrove W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

There were so many impactful and enjoyable activities.” — W I L L I A M D U FA U LT

GA P Y E AR S EM E STE R

Bandas, a small group of volcanic islands famous as

orchestra), Javanese dance, and shadow puppetry are studied and performed as they

From Java, we head east to the island of Flores where students live in the pastoral

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

Heading east we may travel to the mysterious

on the island of Java. In this center for arts and culture, ritual crafts of gamelan (bronze

village of Langa. Here students stay with generous homestay families, learn about

HOMESTAY

51


CHINA LEH

N E PA L

TIBET L A N G TA N G

NEPAL

DELHI

K ATH M A N D U

KANCHENJUNGA

BHUTAN

H I M A L AYA N S T U D I E S 3-Month Gap Year Program

INDIA

83 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Experience the enchantment of the Himalayas: trek on the roof of the world, study traditional arts with local masters. Live in a farming village, and sit for a Buddhist meditation retreat.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

THE HIMALAYAS. SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL,THESE COLOSSAL PEAKS WITH THEIR VAST WEB OF RUGGED, ISOLATED VALLEYS AND DISTINCT ETHNIC GROUPS HAVE DRAWN ONLY THE MOST INTREPID TRAVELERS

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

HOMESTAY

TREKKING

ISPs

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

"I learned how to harvest barley, milk cows, and sort flax seed. I learned about Ayurvedic healing and took a jungle hike to find herbs. I had private lessons on the Bhagavad Gita. I witnessed the true meaning of community and felt a deep connection to humanity.”

FROM DISTANT LANDS. Through rural and urban homestays, a retreat in a

—ISABELLE GRANT

Buddhist monastery, high mountain trekking, and in-depth independent study, Dragons

52

deep roots in a mystical land. Our Himalayan Semester is based in the

range of concepts in Buddhism and Hinduism and how these blend and co-exist in a beautiful patchwork. From academic discourse to hands-on study, students find areas of personal interest to explore during our time in our urban homestays. Bronze casting, jewelry making, stone carving, thangka (Buddhist iconography) painting, and music

Kathmandu Valley, an ancient crossroads

are just a few of the apprenticeship opportunities available. Students critically reflect

and melting pot of Himalayan peoples.

on their place in the world through exploring concepts of service, visiting grassroots

While living with host families and

development projects, or participating in the daily workings of an ashram.

studying Nepali language, students

We leave the Kathmandu Valley for the foothills to explore rural Nepali village

meet with local scholars and activists

life. We settle into a calmer pace of agrarian life, living simply while learning about

and learn about Nepal’s history, politics,

subsistence living. We also venture high into the Himalayas for an unforgettable trek

and culture. The study of spiritual traditions is a central component of our Nepal semester, introducing students to a

amid the earth’s tallest mountains. Hiking over high elevation passes, we enjoy two weeks of active exploration through one of the most ruggedly beautiful and dramatic areas on earth.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Iris Kim

GA P Y E AR   SE MEST ER

encountering ancient spiritual traditions with

Left: Maria Xu; Scott Diekema

Nepal students explore this remarkable region,


E YA K

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FROM THE STUDENT GROUP JOURNAL Nepal Semester

I N N E PA L . . . "AS OUR STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM COMES TO A CLOSE, THE GROUP WANTED TO ANONYMOUSLY SHARE SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THAT WHICH WE EXPERIENCED, OBSERVED, AND LEARNED OVER THESE MANY MONTHS... “In Nepal...I experienced a supportive, inclusive, and compassionate group culture.

“In Nepal...I experienced what it is like to be a part of a true community.

I had the chance to step up as a leader, take on significant autonomy, independence, and

Everyone addresses each other as “brother” or “sister” even if they are complete strangers,

decision-making responsibility. I experienced life in a Buddhist Monastery, hiked in Gaurishankar

and they will not hesitate to go way out of their way to help each other out. The communal

Conservation Area, lived in Patan in the Kathmandu valley, solo traveled, and much more.”

mentality reminded me how important it is to be connected to others...”

“In Nepal...I learned how to braid momos, how to cut tiny tomatoes with a very dull knife,

"In Nepal...I stepped outside my comfort zone in various ways and consequently,

and how to walk along the edges of a terraced bean field, holding up the hem of a scarlet sari.”

experienced many different ways of thinking, viewing the world, and living. We met a diverse range of Nepalis: Tami farmers, permaculture practitioners, young

"In Nepal...I learned that culture exists in the grit and grime. In the dust created by

urbanites striving for change, Newari artisans, Kagyu Karmapa Tibetan Buddhist lamas,

civilizations. Its in the magenta and bright coral smeared across my hair playing Holi.

hiking guides, influential fixers and liaisons, and travelers. That access allowed

In the cracks between stones of a temple, in the carved hands of a goddess on a roof strut.

us to problematize and nuance our understandings of this country that is increasingly

It’s in the crimson, auburn, and ocher spices thrown over chopped potatoes frying in a

connected with the global community and navigating its way through complex questions.”

pan of sunflower oil. It’s even in the dust over Kathmandu, a specter so vast and omniscient and sentient that it has become its own character in the story."

“In Nepal...I experienced earth-shaking thunderstorms, bruised hips from terrible jeep

“In Nepal...I experienced sadness as I learned how fast the aquamarine glaciers

I experienced sharp pain followed by instant relief as I washed my aching feet in frigid

overhead were receding, and when I sat with women, tears streaming down their faces

opalescent pools, and stifling silence when we awoke to a fresh blanket of snow

as they relayed their life’s unimaginable hardships."

covering the small Tibetan village”

GA P Y E AR S EM E STE R

rides, and countless red rhododendron bushes, growing smaller as the altitude increased.

Visit the Yak Board for course reflections from Dragons students past and present at YA K.WHER ETHER EB EDR AGON S.COM

53


CHINA

TIBE T

PUNAKHA

PARO

B H U TA N

NASPE

THIMPU

URA

B H U TA N

INDIA

E N V I R O N M E N TA L S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y & C O M M U N I T Y H A P P I N E S S 3-Month Gap Year Program

BANGLADESH

54

AGES

Experience this secluded Himalayan country where “happiness” and Buddhist belief systems are the guiding principles underlying economic, environmental, and community development.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

HOMESTAY

CLOISTERED AMIDST THE DRAMATIC BACKDROP OF THE HIMALAYAS,

border with Tibet, we continue to immerse ourselves

BHUTAN HAS CAPTURED THE IMAGINATION OF EXPLORERS AND

in the lesser-explored cultural heartlands of Bhutan

SCHOLARS ALIKE. Part of its allure can be found in Bhutan’s intentional seclusion

through extended treks in Himalayan peaks,

from the world beyond its boundaries. Up until very recently, the royal monarchy

community homestays, attendance of religious

carefully controlled external influences, only allowing television into the country in

festivals, and Independent Study Projects (ISPs)

1999. Even today, travel to Bhutan is tightly monitored by a deliberately restrictive visa

with local masters in traditional arts and crafts.

program for foreign visitors. Bhutan’s seclusion, however, has resulted in an unparalleled

Our semester concludes back where we started,

conservation of long-held values, Buddhist beliefs, and cultural practices. Through

spending the last two weeks of the program back

homestays, community engagement, and immersion in cultural practices, our semester

in Nepal, using the opportunity to better understand

explores how Bhutanese traditions have created a society uniquely centered on the

our time in Bhutan in contrast to its Himalayan

values of community happiness and environmental sustainability.

neighbor, and concluding our course with a reflective

Starting in neighboring Nepal, we spend our first three weeks in the Kathmandu Valley learning about the shared geographic and cultural foundations common to

TREKKING

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

retreat to bring perspective and closure to our time together. Throughout our travels in Bhutan, we gain new perspectives on our relationship with

this Himalayan region before flying into Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. Partnering with a

the environment, broadened understanding of sustainability, and awareness of how our

Bhutanese environmental NGO, we explore how Buddhist traditions have given rise to

underlying values can influence individual and societal choices. In a country where the

a belief in the inherent sacredness and non-economic value of Mother Nature. We live

phrase “Gross National Happiness” has become a key metric in national development,

in homestays, engage with thriving Buddhist monasteries, and explore the many sacred

Bhutan presses us to ask how our own “happiness” can contribute to the sustainability

sites in the regions surrounding Thimpu. Moving to more remote regions along the

of our communities and shared resources.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Stefanie Daehler; Stew Motta

GA P Y E AR   SE MEST ER

Days

DATES

Left: Chelsea Ferrell; Rishi Bhandari

83

DESCRIPTION


CHINA

TIBE T

A K I S TA N

KANCHENJUNGA

NEPAL

DELHI

GANGTOK

INDIA

KALIMPONG S A NTI N I K E TA N KO LKOTA

INDIA

SUNDARBANS

O N T H E F R O N T L I N E S O F C L I M AT E C H A N G E 3-Month Gap Year Program

83 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Trek and meditate in the Himalayas, focus on the practical impacts of climate change, and access the vast diversity of India’s people, cultures, and landscapes.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22 HOMESTAY

FROM THE EXPANSE OF THE GANGETIC PLAINS TO THE HIGHEST

about the fragile ecosystem and the impact of

HIMALAYAN PEAKS, WATER DICTATES THE LIVES AND LIVELIHOODS OF

decades of river damming, listen to enchanting

MILLIONS. As the Earth’s climate changes, warming temperatures at altitude result in

local folklore, and day hike through lush forests.

higher glacial melt in the Himalayas, while more unpredictable weather patterns leave

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

ISPs

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

An extended trek with majestic views of the

millions vulnerable to drought and cyclones or other tropical storms born out of the

mighty Kanchenjunga—the world’s third tallest

Bay of Bengal. Dragons India semester offers students the opportunity to live and learn

mountain—allows students to witness the exquisite

alongside communities on the front lines of this era’s climate crisis.

beauty and power of the Himalayas. Off the trail,

Students navigate from verdant tea plantations to high Himalayan passes; from

TREKKING

the group settles into an intensive meditation retreat at a local Tibetan Buddhist monastery,

Ganges river. We experience how India’s emerging global economy and changing

gaining insight into Buddhist philosophy and practicing

climate patterns have generated riches for some and displaced others. Two extended

contemplative techniques, as well as questioning the role

homestays—one in the Himalayan foothills and another in an idyllic Bengali plains

that religion has to play in generating environmental awareness

town—allow students to participate in the daily rituals that underpin the rich

and social change. Following waterways all the way out to their end point in the Bay of

cultural and spiritual traditions of the region. Community leaders and experts share

Bengal, a visit to the Sundarbans mangrove forest reveals the tensions between tiger

perspectives on Indian politics, climate change, and culture, and Independent Study

(and other) wildlife conservation and development for the human communities that call

Projects (ISPs) engage students with artists, musicians, mystics, and farmers.

the forest their home. Following the water that provides a lifeline to millions from glacial

Traveling north to the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Sikkim in the heart of the Himalayas, students settle into a group stay with an indigenous community learning

melt in the Himalayas to the ocean, India semester students are witness to some of the quickest and most consequential environmental changes of our time.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

GA P Y E AR S EM E STE R

mangrove forests lining the coast to expanses of lush rice paddies fed by the sacred

55


BR A ZIL

PERU CUSCO CORDILLERA APOLOBAMBA

SOUTH AMERICA

PUNO S O R ATA L A PA Z COCHABAMBA

ANDES & AMAZON 3-Month Gap Year Program

CORDILLERA REAL

BOLIVIA

CHILE

83 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Examine social movements and environmental conservation efforts in the mountains and jungles of Bolivia and Peru.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

INDIGENOUS WOMEN IN COLORFUL FLOWING SKIRTS. THREE COCA LEAVES PRESSED TOGETHER FOR PACHAMAMA. Fresh snow on a ridge of the

HOMESTAY

TREKKING

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

"The most wholesome, frustrating, nourishing, enriching program. This journey came full circle, and the experiences we had on our own, as a group and within Bolivia and Peru

Cordillera Apolobamba. Gold miners bent over trays alongside the Madre de Dios…

seemed to be exactly what we all needed. I would not change a thing.” — F A R I D A H N D I AY E

These scenes all speak to the many walks of life in Bolivia and Peru. Whether it’s a

56

this display of collective creativity in action,

the Andes & Amazon semester have the opportunity to learn about issues of social

we strike out on our first trek, circling up

justice and environmental activism, while the warm culture of ayni (reciprocity) makes

at night to discuss the impacts of climate

them feel at home throughout their journey.

change as we witness glaciers receding

The semester begins in the agricultural town of Tiquipaya in Central Bolivia. Here,

before our eyes.

students live with local families, largely of Quechua descent, and settle into the rhythms

In Peru, we re-trace ancient Incan

of daily life. Our time is characterized by intensive Spanish instruction, exposure to local

trekking routes to Machu Picchu, and

activists in Cochabamba, and Independent Study Projects (ISPs). This first month lays

venture into the Amazon basin where

the foundation for our future travels, helping students develop critical language and

we listen to indigenous leaders recount

leadership skills. Ready for the next challenge, we set off for the twin cities of La Paz

the impacts of natural resource extraction

and El Alto, dramatic urban centers that sit above 13,000 feet amidst the snow-capped

on their communities. Traveling along tropical

peaks of the Cordillera Real. Here we partner with Teatro Trono, a local theater group

waterways, we conclude amidst a symphony of birds

that empowers youth to engage with issues of social justice on stage. Charged up by

and the embrace of the most bio-diverse forests on the planet.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Laila Skramstad; Photo from Dragons archives

that resonates from this sacred land seeps into every aspect of daily life. Students on

Left: Grace Powell; Julianne Chandler

GA P Y E AR   SE MEST ER

remnant of the Spanish empire or a tribute to Aymara gods, the magic and mysticism


ME XICO

TIKAL

BELIZE

G UAT E M A L A

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS

TODOS SANTOS

PACHA J

G UAT E M A L A

S PA N I S H L A N G UAG E & S O C I A L J U S T I C E 3-Month Gap Year Program

SAN JUAN LA LAGUNA ANTIGUA

EL SA LVA D OR

83 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Build Spanish language fluency, examine models of political activism, and engage with diverse Mesoamerican communities and cultures.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

HOMESTAY

LINKING TWO MASSIVE OCEANS AND CONTINENTS, CENTRAL AMERICA

the state of Chiapas in Southern Mexico to explore

IS A CAUSEWAY OF MESOAMERICAN CULTURES AND ECOLOGICAL

the common Mayan cultural heritage which

DIVERSITY. Today, the communities sharing in this Mesoamerican heritage continue

transcends national boundaries. While living

a legacy of adaptation to rapid environmental and social challenges. The Guatemala

with farming communities and further

Semester takes a hands-in-the-dirt approach to understanding the indigenous cultures

honing our Spanish skills, students learn

of Mesoamarica through extended rural homestays, personalized language study, work

about Chiapas’ history of revolution and

on community learning service projects, and examination of grassroots activism.

resistance, participate in agricultural

In the western highlands of Guatemala, over eighty percent of the population is

LEARNING SERVICE

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

initiatives, climb mystic ancient temples, and explore the delicate encounter

pressures. Living in with indigenous families, we work in el campo, learn Spanish

between past and present. Through a rugged and authentic

healers, weavers, and community leaders share their knowledge through Independent

exploration of some of the most remote

Study Projects (ISPs) while conversations with local NGOs working in human rights,

regions of Guatemala and Mesoamerica, our

community health, and development provide opportunities to get involved in

semester unearths the complex issues facing indigenous

contemporary struggles for continuity and change in Guatemalan society. Beyond

communities working towards sustainable development in a

intensive community engagement and homestays, we explore Guatemala’s geographic

globalizing landscape. With intensive Spanish lessons, rural homestays, and thoughtful

and cultural diversity through extended travel and hiking expeditions.

learning service engagement, students gain an immersive perspective on our

The final phase of our itinerary has the option to take us across the border into

relationships with land, tradition, and community.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

GA P Y E AR S EM E STE R

indigenous Maya, maintaining a legacy of rich cultural strength in the face of external in personalized classes, and immerse ourselves in Mesoamerican culture. Herbal

LANGUAGE STUDY

57


SPAIN

FEZ

MOROCCO

H I G H ATL A S M O U NTA I N S MARRAKESH

MOROCCO

A N C I E N T C I T I E S T O T H E AT L A S M O U N TA I N S 3-Month Gap Year Program

ALG ERIA

83 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

From forested mountains to the Sahara desert, study the languages, faiths, and diversity of culture that make up the western-most outpost of the Arab world.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE STUDY

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

ISLAMIC ART AND DIVERSE TRADITIONS COMBINE IN THE ENCHANTING

"Jennifer loved everything about the group, the instructors, the people of Morocco and

CITIES WHOSE VERY NAMES STRIKE COLORFUL CHORDS IN THE IMAGI-

Morocco...It opened her mind about what she would like to do with her life...”

NATION: CASABLANCA, MARRAKESH, AND FES. Within and beyond the city

— S A N D R A L E M U S , PA R E N T O F J E N N I F E R L E M U S

walls we explore incredible sites, tastes, and experiences, accessible only to the intrepid opportunity to explore philosophical and political

58

Islam, as well as progressive approaches to gender issues and ethnic diversity.

youth and elders, urban and rural dwellers, Arabs and indigenous tribes, farmers and

Our journey will allow us to compare

academics. Through rugged travel and authentic interactions, we examine the dominate

the vastly different rural and urban

issues of this diverse society standing at the crossroads of Middle Eastern, African, and

Moroccan lifestyles, as well as see

European cultures.

first hand the varying degrees

We stay with urban families in cool cinder-block buildings and indigenous families

to which history and religion

in warm mud-homes, help host communities with daily activities, travel through

impact daily duties, culture, and

striking natural settings, and walk through an endless series of canyons in search of

understanding of the world beyond

the opportunity to camp alongside nomadic families. Our time in urban environments

Morocco. In the western-most outpost

and remote villages immerses us in Morocco’s unrivaled hospitality, as people

of the Arab world, we explore a culture

welcome us as kin and our cups are never left wanting for sweet mint tea. In a world

which will embrace us at every opportunity

where understanding Islam becomes increasingly relevant, we are given the unique

with its famed hospitality and kindness.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Photos by Steven Gu

GA P Y E AR   SE MEST ER

We travel through the most ecologically diverse country in North Africa. Buses and pack animals help us wind through the great diversity of people who make up Morocco:

Left: Stefan Reutter; Ami Li

traveler fueled by a curious spirit.


AMBANJA

MAHAJANGA

MADAGASCAR

A NTA N A N A R I VO AMPEFY

MADAGASCAR

A M BATA M A N G A

MOR ANDAVA

ANTISRABE

C U LT U R A L & E C O L O G I C A L D I V E R S I T Y

R ANOMAFANA PARK

3-Month Gap Year Program

ISALO PARK

83 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Study endangered landscapes and cultures, witness the competing interests of economic development, and discover the natural wonders of the "8th continent."

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

SET APART FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT, MADAGASCAR IS THE

production while working alongside

FOURTH-LARGEST ISLAND AND ONE OF THE MOST BIOLOGICALLY

local farmers.

DIVERSE ECOSYSTEMS IN THE WORLD. Historical and geographic isolation have

taxi-brousse, through the candlelight

nowhere else on earth.

of family dinners, or under the canopy

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

of a lush rainforest, our semester exposes us to the stories that make Mad-

alongside wildlife researchers. We learn about the many species of lemurs, an endan-

agascar a place unlike any other. Alone at

gered primate well-known for their catlike faces and playful sounds and behaviors.

the bottom of the Indian ocean lies a beautiful and wild island waiting to be explored.

homestay families and exploring the natural wonders of tsingy (limestone pinnacles) and the Avenue of the Baobabs. After watching the dancing shadows of the majestic baobab

“The most powerful aspects of the Madagascar course were incredibly small things...

trees at sunrise, we travel north to a quiet highland village near the capital. Electricity is

These moments are what make Dragons special because in order to really experience

rare and time passes quickly as we spend our days with families tending to daily needs:

these simple and profound things, one needs to...step out of the ideal and into the

planting crops, fetching sticks for cooking, or washing clothes in the river.

real. Open your mind and let go of the previous, secondhand judgments. Let go of

Even further north, on red dusty roads of the desert, we arrive in a place where the

convenience and complaints. Stop taking everything for granted. Open your mind and

rainforest touches the coast and the scent of vanilla fills the air. Here we spend the final weeks of the program volunteering in local villages and learning about cacao and vanilla W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

listen and look and let everything wash over you.” — AV A W E I L A N D

GA P Y E AR S EM E STE R

We trek in two of the country’s most famous national parks and conduct animal surveys

In the eastern region of the country, we practice the Malagasy language with

TREKKING

From the bumpy back seat of a

made Madagascar a place where almost all of what you see, hear, and do are possible Early in the program, we set out to explore some of the country’s unique ecosystems.

HOMESTAY

59


MAURITANIA

SAINT LOUIS

DAKAR THIES

SENEGAL TA M BACO U N DA

KOLDA

THE

MALI

G AMBIA KEDOUGOU

WEST AFRICA RHYTHMS OF SENEGAL 3-Month Gap Year Program

LABE

GUINE A

60

AGES

From agricultural villages to mangrove islands, explore West Africa while delving into artistic and musical traditions in a culture renowned for its generosity and hospitality.

Sept 15 – Dec 6 February 7 – May 1

17 – 22

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

RUGGED TRAVEL

AS YOU WALK DOWN THE STREET IN SENEGAL, PEOPLE GREET YOU WITH

for dinner and keeping our eyes peeled for the

THE WORD “PEACE” AND STRANGERS INVITE YOU INTO THEIR HOMES

dolphins, manatees, and flamingos that call this

FOR A CUP OF TEA. It's a country of contrasts where new development occurs

unique environment home. Returning to the

beside centuries-old traditions. The Muslim call to prayer sounds five times a day

mainland, our feet carry us to breathtaking

when hundreds of people stop to worship on the city’s sidewalks. Senegal’s famous

waterfalls and plateaus, where we speak

hospitality, called “teranga,” is in the air from the moment we set foot on the sandy

with local environmental activists and

streets of Dakar.

explore the home of some

The semester takes us from the French colonial outpost of St. Louis, to the fastpaced capital of Dakar, all the way to a Sufi Islamic coastal village on a white sand

HOMESTAY

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

of West Africa’s last chimpanzees. We conclude in an artist enclave

stretch of beach. With possible multi-week excursions to neighboring Guinea and

perched on rocky cliffs above the sea,

Gambia, students stay almost exclusively with local families and have the opportunity

leaving with the stories we've earned, and

to meet with leaders, traditional healers, regional development specialists, and other

will re-tell for years to come.

experts in West African history, geography, and philosophy. Students study Wolof and French throughout the semester, using their new language skills at the market, in service work, and with the community.

"Amazing and transformative! Eve learned so much about global issues...She became

Casting off in a pirogue (a Senegalese fishing boat), the group sails to an island

sensitized to how people live outside the US and the challenges they face. All this

community where students are welcomed by host families. We serve alongside a local

learning and growing took place within a joyful, warm and welcoming environment."

women’s cooperative to replant mangroves and camp on nearby islands, catching fish

— PA R E N T S O F E V E S T E I N

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

Right: Tavinee Maithai

GA P Y E AR   SE MEST ER

Days

DATES

Left: Zach Witkin; Nicos Christou

83

DESCRIPTION


INDEPENDENT SPRING EXPERIENCE AN INDEPENDENT GAP YEAR OPTION 6 to 12 Weeks; Locations Vary

42-84 Days

DESCRIPTION

DATES

AGES

Looking for a more independent next step in your Gap Year? For those who have completed a group program (+1 month, any provider), we offer more autonomous and self-directed travel options over the spring semester.

Starts: January 15 Starts: February 15

18– 25

PROGRAM COMPONENT EMPHASIS

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE STUDY

ISPs

MAYBE YOU’VE DONE A GROUP TRAVEL PROGRAM WITH DRAGONS OR

LOCATIONS

ANOTHER ORGANIZATION. Maybe you’re feeling ready for a more independent

ISEs are offered in places where Dragons has long-established and active community

experience abroad…but here’s what you’re wondering: How can I avoid the backpacker

networks: Guatemala, Bolivia, China, Senegal, Nepal, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

tourist traps? How do I build authentic connections when I don’t know anyone there? Who do I call on for support when I have questions or if something goes wrong? It can be hard to know where to even start. We’ve heard from many past Dragons stu-

ON-SITE SUPPORT Each program site is staffed by a Dragons On-Site Coordinator: a veteran Dragons instructor with extensive in-country expertise and experience. The On-Site Coordinator

feeling lost, unsupported, or even conflicted about the ethics and efficacy of their presence

has weekly face-to-face meetings with each student, conducts a multi-day orientation

and projects. So we’ve launched the Dragons Independent Spring Experience (ISE).

focused on safety, cultural norms, and strategies for engagement, and acts as a cultural facilitator and mentor throughout. Participants are placed with a vetted homestay

ISE PROGRAMS OFFER

family for the program duration, receive intensive language instruction (as desired), and

» Meaningful cross-cultural engagement outside the structure of a group semester,

are paired with local mentors for an Independent Study Project (ISP). Participants also

but still with the support of Dragons local (in-country) resources and mentorship.

have 24/7 access to our in-country and international emergency response resources.

» A co-created, personalized, and self-directed Gap Year or study abroad experience. » Direct Support from Dragons international network of trained in-country staff and vetted resources.

ISE programs have two start dates with a 6-week minimum length and weekly exten-

» Access to Dragons Administrative Team & our decades of expertise in managing international risk and emergency response.

DETAILS & ELIGIBILITY sion options (up until May 1). ISE programs are for those who have previously completed a group travel program (international or domestic of 1+ months) with any provider.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

GA P Y E AR S EM E STE R

dents that some of the travels they pursued on their own after a group program left them

61


OT H E R O F F E R I N G S T H E R E A R E M A N Y WAYS TO E N G AG E W I T H D R AG O N S P R O G R A M M I N G Dragons offers programs for different audiences. Whether you are a parent, teacher, college student, or business leader, Dragons has opportunities for inspired community engagement,

62

COLLEGE STUDY ABROAD

EDUCATOR PROGRAMS

ADULT TRAVELERS

PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS

Credit-Bearin g Academic Courses for Col lege Students

For Teachers, Administrators, & Professional Educators

For Individuals, Small G r o u p s , & Fa m i l i e s

For Schools and Organizations

An alternative approach to college study

International and domestic professional

Culturally immersive small group and

Customized travel programs for schools,

abroad through cultural exploration,

development courses that deliver a

custom-designed programs for adult

universities, businesses, and organizations.

regional and intercultural studies,

core curriculum in cross-cultural and

travelers and families. Created to

We also offer consulting and training

independent study projects, language

experiential education while immersing

inspire curiosity and cultivate profound

in ethical cultural engagement and

courses, and a small-group experience.

educators in critical global issues.

relationships with people and place.

program development.

WTBDRAGONS.COM/COLLEGE

WTBDRAGONS.COM/EDUCATORS

WTBDRAGONS.COM/ADULTS

WTBDRAGONS.COM/PARTNERS

This Page: Elizabeth Causey; Amrit Ale

facilitated experiential learning, and immersive cross-cultural travel. Here are a few more ways to go Where There Be Dragons...


N OT E S O N S A F E T Y U N D E R S TA N D I N G O U R R I S K M A N AG E M E N T SYS T E M S At Dragons we challenge our students intellectually, emotionally, and physically because we believe growth and discovery are often found outside of their comfort zones. Our job is to create opportunities for meaningful challenge while safely, professionally, and transparently managing the inherent risks of travel. In our 25+ years of experience in the field, we’ve successfully trained over 1,000 Dragons instructors and stewarded over 300,000 “in-field” days. Over time, we’ve built robust risk management systems, extensive local contacts, and a practiced understanding of regional safety issues that help us to offer innovative and intentional programming.

THERE ARE FOUR FOUNDATIONAL ASPECTS OF OUR RISK MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS THAT ENSURE SAFETY IS ALWAYS OUR TOP PRIORITY:

1

W E H I R E E X P E R I E N C E D I N ST R U C TO R S Typically, a Dragons instructor team collectively represents multiple languages, ten or more years of in-country experience, and years managing groups in remote settings. Every instructor

team has Wilderness First Aid/Responder, or higher, medical certifications. Instructors are also adept at working with students to manage medical issues.

2

W E P L AC E A P R E M I U M O N I N S T R U C T O R T R A I N I N G A N D P R O F E S S I O N A L D E V E LO P M E N T Each year, we facilitate a 2-week all-staff training focused on student group management, physical and emotional safety, cross-cultural communication, experiential education, leadership

development, and international risk management. We also lead trainings on best practices in international programming for outside faculty, schools, and organizations. For these reasons, schools and universities such as Princeton University, Thacher School, Milton Academy, and over 50 other institutions have chosen Dragons to design and facilitate custom programming.

3

W E H AV E A N E X P E R I E N C E D 2 4 / 7 F I E L D S U P P O R T T E A M With experienced administrators based domestically and internationally, Dragons Risk Management Team is dedicated to ensuring the highest-quality international programming, with careful

attention to the safety and security of our students, instructors, and in-country partners. This team is on-call 24/7 to support our groups in the field.

4

W E H AV E A R O B U S T N E T W O R K O F I N T E R N AT I O N A L R E S O U R C E S Our organization is built on 25+ years of personal connections, and we often receive word of security issues before they are taken to press. We supplement word-of-mouth

updates with reports from the US State Department, the Overseas Security Advisory Council, the World Health Organization, and the Center for Disease Control. We work closely with International SOS to receive access to 24/7 medical consultation and emergency support services. We have carefully researched in-country medical facilities and our instructors go into the field with comprehensive emergency management tools.

?

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT DRAGONS SAFETY AND SECURITY POLICIES PLEASE CONTACT US. WE WOULD BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO DISCUSS THE FINER POINTS OF OUR RISK MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS WITH YOU.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

63


M E E T A F E W O F O U R I N S T R U C TO R S T H E Y A R E E X P E R I E N C E D E D U C ATO R S . T H E Y A R E CO M M U N I T Y B U I L D E R S . T H E Y A R E M E N TO R S . With an average of 4+ years living abroad and local language fluency, our instructors have developed the skills to return to communities as cross-cultural liaisons. Our instructors draw upon personal networks to create opportunities for connection and guide students as they navigate inter-cultural nuances. We feel honored to work with this incredible community of global educators. We hope you’ll take a moment to get to know them.

4: 1 RAT I O

H IGH R ET E N TIO N RATE

E DU CATIO N

LI FE EXP ER I ENC E

DI VER SI T Y

A typical group consists of 12 students and 3 instructors

On average, over 80% of our instructors return each year; over 60% have worked 3+ programs

The majority of our instructors hold a master's degree or PhD

Dragons instructors average 30+ years of age and have a wide range of professional backgrounds

51% male, 49% female; the majority were born outside of the U.S. and are multilingual

Shuier Zhang China

Anna McKeon Cambodia

Shuier's parents have been Dragons homestay parents for over a decade in Yunnan. She spent the last 10 years studying in the London area, where she works as a professional translator and interpreter. She loves using her language fluency to bridge cultures and facilitate communication. When she is not leading Dragons students or working on translation projects, Shuier works as a freelance art journalist, writing about art exhibitions in London for publishers in China.

Anna left university intending to be an actress and singer in London’s West End, but ended up working on social change initiatives in Cambodia. Anna's experiences along the way have given her a unique skill set that she finds particularly useful for introducing young people to new cultures, challenges, and perspectives as they explore the world and their own identity. Now a freelance communications consultant based in Phnom Penh, Anna spends most of her time working for the Better Volunteering, Better Care initiative, advocating against volunteering in orphanages and promoting ethical and responsible volunteering alternatives.

Joseph Vincent China

Uttara Pant India

Joseph first began learning Chinese at the age of sixteen when he moved to Taiwan as a Rotary exchange student. He continued to study Chinese literature, history, art, and religion at Reed College before completing his MA in Chinese Literature at National Taiwan University. Joseph came to Dragons after two years working as an instructor at the Chinese summer programs at MiddleburyMonterey Language Academy and when not instructing for Dragons, works as a translator for Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist NGO based in Hualien, Taiwan.

Uttara’s love for the mountains began in the Palani Hills of India. Here, among eucalyptus trees and bison, she attended an international boarding school with students from around the world. Moving to the US, she attended Sarah Lawrence and Harvard Universities while focusing her studies on psychology, geography, and development economics. After graduation, she found her way to SECMOL, an alternative school in the remote Himalayan communities of North India, and later worked at Navdanya, an India based NGO working to preserve traditional agricultural methods through seed banks and advocacy for women farmers’ rights.

Talia Brooks-Salzman China

Ming Jiu Li China, Southeast Asia

M.Sc. in Translation Studies, University of Edinburgh M.A. in Interpreting and Translation, University of Westminster

B.A. Chinese Literature and Language, Reed College M.A. Chinese Literature, National Taiwan University

B.A. East Asian Studies, Oberlin College M.S.O.M. Acupuncture & Chinese Herbalism, SW Acupuncture College A past Dragons student, Talia majored in East Asian Studies at Oberlin, concentrating on Mandarin, Chinese religion, and politics before recently completing a 4-year graduate degree in East Asian Medicine. She has worked and lived in Cambodia, Laos, Japan, and China as a cross-cultural educator with US and international students. In her native New York City, Talia has worked in education and advocacy around issues of body awareness and identity through The Body Positive. She is a Wilderness First Responder, yoga teacher, and acupuncturist. 64

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822

M.A. University of Cambridge: English Literature P.G.Dip GSA Conservatoire, Musical Theatre

B.A. Liberal Arts, Sarah Lawrence College M.A. International Education Policy, Harvard

B.S.E. Environmental Engineering, Duke University Ming was born in southwest China, but spent most of his youth in Singapore. After finishing high school, and two years of mandatory military service, Ming moved to North Carolina where he obtained his engineering degree from Duke University while working on issues of gender and social justice with the Women’s Center. Ming has led over 5 courses in China and Southeast Asia with Dragons. As an educator, he is guided by Simone Weil’s quote that “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”


Caitlin McKimmy North India

Irene Platarrueda Latin America

Caitlin has led courses in the Himalayas and the Andes. Caitlin speaks Tibetan, Hindi and Spanish. She has lived in a Buddhist monastery in central India, taught English in Northeast Tibet, interviewed Sri Lankan forest hermits about love, and worked with the Tibetan community in exile to understand their conception of “Buddhist Ecology.” Caitlin believes that the upheaval of conscientious travel can unearth something inexpressibly rich within us.

Irene spent her early childhood in the Colombian Amazon forest where her mother worked with indigenous communities. Later, her family moved to the shores of Lago Atitlan in Guatemala. As she grew up, Irene came to believe that the real richness of our planet lies in the diversity of the human experience. Irene has since worked with the United Nations Development Program on a joint peacebuilding initiative with the Colombian government. Irene is committed to holistic community building, and works with Dragons students to help them realize the fullness of their potential.

Japhy Dhungana Nepal

Richard Brown Guatemala

B.A. in Religion and Neuroscience, Carleton College M.T.S. in Buddhist Studies, Harvard Divinity School Ph.D. Candidate, University of Colorado Boulder

B.A. Summa Cum Laude, with Honors in Anthropology from the University of California Los Angeles. Japhy speaks five languages, and always has a difficult time answering the question: “Where are you from?” Raised in Nepal, Japhy spent his childhood exploring the Himalayas and dreaming of exploration and adventure in distant places like California. As a teenager, he immigrated to inner-city Los Angeles with his family, setting the stage for a dramatic cross-cultural education. After completing his undergraduate studies, he rode his beloved bicycle, “Bucephalus,” from his mother’s front door in the US all the way to Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia. Japhy is an accomplished alpinist and rock climber.

B.A. in Socio Cultural Anthropology from the National University of Colombia

B.A. Anthropology, Columbia University Born in South Africa to a journalist and a diplomat, Rich has lived in Guatemala since 2013. After graduating from Columbia, he worked with miners and activists in rural Appalachia to combat mountaintop removal coal mining. Rich is an editor and journalist for EntreMundos, a bilingual magazine in Guatemala focused on human rights and social development issues. Rich is just as passionate about identifying bird and plant species as he is about fostering intercultural dialogue.

Nick Gredin Nepal, North India

Micah LeMasters Madagascar

Nick found his passion for cross-cultural education and Buddhist studies as a past Dragons student in Nepal. After completing an undergraduate degree in sociology, Nick went on to earn his master’s degree in religious studies with a focus on Sanskrit language and the spiritual traditions of the Himalayas. He then trained as a Wilderness EMT before returning to Nepal in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes to work for a year with Helping Hands Health Education, an NGO that provides medical and educational aid in rural Sankhuwasabha District.

Micah first traveled outside of the US after buying a plane ticket to London on a whim. Immediately falling in love with the idea of ‘other’, he spent a year living in Australia studying Aboriginal history and Australian literature. After several backpacking trips through Europe and the US, Micah joined the Peace Corps in Madagascar, where he taught high school, conducted adult literacy classes, and worked with the World Wildlife Federation. He then enrolled in a Master’s course where he studied the implications and effects of multi-modal literacies, cultural nuance and language on educational processes and experiences.

Claire Bennett Southeast Asia, Himalayas

Babacar Mbaye Senegal

Claire is driven by a passion for global equality and social justice. She first ventured to Asia as a volunteer in Nepal and later returned to found a rural development organization, PHASE. Since then, she has spent time volunteering in Cambodia, coordinating regional strategy for “global education” within the UK school system, and facilitating Global Youth Action—a global work project for disadvantaged youth. Claire is an incurable optimist and has boundless energy—mainly fueled by caffeine from her British tea-drinking habit. Claire is the author of the book Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteer Travel.

It takes a wise man to know one, and sometimes it feels hard to quantify all that Babacar brings to a Dragons program. Babacar is an educator at heart, and has worked as an English teacher in Senegal since 1997 after receiving his MA in English. Babacar has been working with Dragons since 2006, first supporting Dragons summer courses and more recently moving into a full-time position with our Princeton Bridge Year program. Although students see Babacar as their fearless leader, he maintains that he is first and foremost a student of their unique perspective and wisdom.

Juan Salvador Galich Guatemala

Sidonie Emerande Madagascar

M.A. Religious Studies, Naropa University B.A. Sociology, University of Southern Maine

M.A. History, University of Cambridge

Proud of being the son of artists and a true nature lover, ‘Juancho’ has worked as a professional guide and educator in Antigua Guatemala for over 10 years. When he is not climbing volcanoes or guiding film crews on adventures, he is collaborating on musical projects with local and international artists. Juancho discovered the beauty of Guatemala through his passion for mountain biking and outdoor adventures, and was inspired to work as a local activist campaigning to help support communities as they endeavored to preserve nature and improve their lives. Juancho is a trained chef who traveled and lived in the U.S. for two years before following his heart back to Guatemala—where he continues to pursue a lifestyle that is deeply connected to the natural landscape.

B.A. with honors, American history/English, University of Indianapolis M.S.ed, Literacy, Language and Culture studies from Indiana University

M.A. English, Cheikh Anta Diop University

B.A. Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching M.A. Studies in Civilization on Gender/Social Issues, Antananarivo University Growing up in Madagascar, Sidonie moved around the country for her parents’ work. At 19, she participated in an international exchange program that sparked her passion for exploration and adventure. She started her teaching journey with Peace Corps in Madagascar as a Malagasy language and cross cultural facilitator. Sidonie’s work with Peace Corps allowed her to collaborate with US volunteers, NGOs, and local authorities. Sidonie is also a lover of languages and speaks Malagasy, English, French, German, and passable Arabic and Spanish.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

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A L U M N I S TO R I E S W H E R E A R E T H E Y N OW ? Extraordinary students go on to live extraordinary lives after Dragons. Our alumni have been the heart of our community since 1993. Here are a few recent alumni stories.

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OLIVIA SOTIRCHOS

D AV E F U C H S

EMMA SCHINDLER

NORTH INDIA PROGRAM 2011 & HIMALAYA SEMESTER 2012

SOUTH AMERICA SEMESTER 2011

GUATEMALA PROGRAM 2008

B.A. Candidate NYU, Global Health & Social Impact Aspiring Designer & Researcher for Social Good

B.A. Geography, Middlebury College Southwest Bureau Reporter for NPR Utah

J.D. Stanford Law School; B.A. Humanities, Yale University NYC Public Defender

My travels informed my perspective on the world around

Doing the Andes and Amazon Semester when I was

More than a decade after my Dragons program, I still credit

me, as well as my path in life. I learned that community is

eighteen had a huge effect on me. I had never spent

my three remarkable instructors with modeling for me what

a powerful tool when harnessed for good, that momentary

so much time away from home, or been in a place so

honest and intentional self-reflection looks like. With the

discomfort can lead to individual growth, and how

utterly different from where I was raised, or traveled

utmost sincerity and kindness, they pushed us, every day,

important it is to be unrelentingly curious about the

in the rugged, spontaneous, and engaged style that

to question our assumptions and think about our impact on

world. Since my last Dragons program, I've been lucky

is characteristic of Dragons courses. The semester

the world. I returned home in love with the beautiful people

enough to work in a bunch of amazing roles: for a climate

showed me how powerful it is to step outside your

and landscapes of Guatemala, but also deeply committed to

change documentary company; alongside a landscape

comfort zone, gave me a lifelong thirst for adventure,

learning from those with life experiences different from my

architect; with an urban agriculture nonprofit; and I even

and humbled me in respect to how much I could learn

own. Dragons helped me articulate a set of values that have

served as the director of an environmental education

by exploring new places and listening deeply to new

guided me ever since; the same values that led me to law

nonprofit that empowers the next generation of youth

people. I don’t think I would be the reporter, or the

school and to pursue a career as a public defender. Values

environmental stewards here in NYC.

person I am today without my experience with Dragons.

that will continue to shape my advocacy for years to come.

QUESTI ON S? GI VE US A CA LL AT 303.41 3.0822


NEXT STEPS

S O W H AT N O W ?

F I N D I N G T H E R I G H T P R O G R A M S TA R T S W I T H A S K I N G G O O D QUESTIONS.

VISIT OUR WEBSITE Visit Dragons website to see photos, videos, more specific program descriptions, and read participant reflections from the field via our Yak

With so many travel programs out there, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are some questions for you to consider and ask of different providers as you do your research:

Board. If you have questions while exploring our site, just send a message to us via Live Chat.

SPEAK WITH DRAGONS STAFF

» How many years have you been running international programming?

Give us a call! We love hearing from prospective students and

» What is your ratio of instructors to students?

parents. Our staff is ready to answer any question, no matter how big or

» What are the typical professional qualifications and ages of your field staff?

small. And we’re always happy to put you in touch with alumni students for their perspective on specific programs.

» Do your field staff speak the local languages and have extensive in-country experience?

MEET A DRAGONS INSTRUCTOR

» How many of your field staff return year after year?

We have Dragons instructors touring the country and meeting with prospective students and families. Connecting in-person is a great way to

» What type of trainings do you provide your field staff?

hear about programs and find out if Dragons is right for you.

» How do your mitigate and respond to risks on course?

READY TO JOIN US?

» How are your programs and itineraries designed?

Don't wait too long. Our most popular summer and semester

» How do you approach the theme of “service” and manage the dangers of “voluntourism”? » How do you ensure the sustainability of your programming with local communities?

programs generally start to fill up 3–6 months before departure. Students are admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis, so get in touch to hold your place on a program. Or check our website for updates on the spots remaining on a specific program.

» How do you help students apply what they've learned after they return home?

T H E A P P L I C AT I O N P R O C E S S

To hear our responses to these questions, and more, give us a call at 303.413.0822.

WHERE THERE BE DRAGONS ON INSTAGRAM

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INTERVIEW

FINANCIAL AID Any student that demonstrates reasonable financial need is eligible to apply for financial aid. When awarding financial aid, we look for applicants who are curious, driven, and ready to fully engage with communities around the world.

Follow us on Facebook for community news and reflections, photos, and videos from around the world. facebook.com/WhereThereBeDragons

Approximately 20% of our students go abroad with some level of financial assistance each year. Check out our website to find out more.

W W W.W H E R E T H E R E B E D R A G O N S . C O M / S T U D E N T S

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MAPMAKERS ONCE DREW DRAGONS TO REPRESENT LANDS UNKNOWN. BOLD EXPLORERS WHO VENTURED BEYOND THE MAP’S EDGE WERE SAID TO GO

“ where there be dragons ”…

There are people who live their lives for adventure, exploration and knowledge… people who are willing to venture into the unknown for the sake of discovery. For those people, we offer incredible experiences. We hope you are one of them.

RUGGED TRAVEL

HOMESTAY

LANGUAGE

TREKKING

STUDY

LEARNING SERVICE

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

INDEPENDENT STUDY PROJECT

COMPARATIVE RELIGION

741 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Phone: 303.413.0822

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800.982.9203 | Email: info@wheretherebedragons.com

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FOCUS OF INQUIRY

Dragons 2020 Catalog: Summer & Gap Year Programs  

Dragons offers educational travel programs for high school, Gap Year, and college students in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Our students,...

Dragons 2020 Catalog: Summer & Gap Year Programs  

Dragons offers educational travel programs for high school, Gap Year, and college students in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Our students,...