Global Speaker Series

Bring the world into your classroom.

Global Issues At Dragons we see exceptional beauty in diversity. And we believe that the experience of connecting with unfamiliar cultures has something to teach everyone. We are dedicated to cross-cultural learning because we know that future leaders will be required to think beyond borders. Part of our work in this world is to bring what we’ve learned abroad back home to share.

Guest Teachers + Engaging Facilitation With this mission in mind, each year we send our best teachers—with years of international education experience—to schools across the United States to share their perspectives and insights with students ready to engage with critical and compelling global questions.

Bold Conversation We invite you to look at some of the conversations our staff are facilitating in classrooms around the country. Whether you are a teacher of Language Studies, Geography, Science, History, Social Studies, Religion, or Art, we hope to have a topic of interest to you. If one of the following class titles piques your curiosity, please get in touch. We’d be happy to coordinate a visit from one of our teachers to speak to your class on the subject. And if there’s a topic you would like to address that’s not on this list, let us know. It’s exactly this type of question-based collaboration with students, schools, and educators that inspires us.

As part of our educational mission, the Global Speaker Series is funded by Where There Be Dragons. There are no costs associated with requesting a speaker.

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 Global Speaker Series, Topics 2019 -2020

 

So you Want to Help: Critical Reflection in Service Learning
Synopsis: In the last 50 years, volunteering abroad has become an increasingly popular trend amongst young people in the United States. From the origins of the Peace Corp, to today’s all inclusive volunteer abroad packages, we will take a closer look at volunteers’ motivations, and their impacts in the global south. Jesse will draw upon his own experiences and observations as a long term volunteer in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.
Speaker: Jesse Moore, B.A. Occidental College Diplomacy and World Affairs. Current field instructor in Latin America
Dates:  January – February 2020
Location: NJ, PA, DC
***Available in Spanish

 

People-Powered Sustainability in Latin America
Synopsis:Environmental and economic constraints, accompanied by care for Pachamama (mother earth), have propelled members of progressive communities throughout Latin America to develop and implement creative and sustainable solutions to their communities’ needs. In this chat students will learn about permaculture and appropriate technology through the examples of composting toilets, rocket stoves, and biciblenders!
Speaker: Adelaide Nalley, M.A. Sociology, UCLA, B.A. Sociology, UC-Berkeley.  Adelaide has led nearly 20 Dragons courses in Latin America, and has spent over a decade learning about permaculture and cooperative living throughout the Americas.
Dates:  January – March 2020
Location: NM, TX, CA, OR, WA, NY, CT

 

Travel-Induced Paradigm-Shifts
Synopsis: What happens when all of your taken-for-granted assumptions of “the way things are” are put into question? This phenomena is an often unanticipated side gift of travel.  Values, priorities, world-views, understandings of community and relationships, and our connection to the planet are all things that might be challenged, developed, deepened, or shifted during travel.  In this discussion we will explore ways that our paradigms have been shaken while at home and while on the road. We will talk about the difficulty of having our world-views rattled and the importance of the “aha” moments that can come as a result.
peaker: Adelaide Nalley, M.A. Sociology, UCLA, B.A. Sociology, UC-Berkeley.  Adelaide has led nearly 20 Dragons courses in Latin America, and has spent over a decade learning about permaculture and cooperative living throughout the Americas.
Dates:  January – March 2020
Location: NM, TX, CA, OR, WA, NY, CT

 

Feminism: Bettering the Lives of All
Synopsis: Feminism is often thought of as the advocacy for equality among genders. But can the goals of feminism change within impoverished communities that suffer from inhumane working conditions? In Bolivian mining towns and cities, groups of women organize to alleviate hunger and provide alternative work opportunities for all, through empowering women and changing gender structures. Ben discusses Bolivia’s history of exploitation and inequality while asking the broader question: how can a society resist oppression if half of its population is oppressed from within?
Speaker:  Ben Daley, Psychology and Latin American Studies, Lewis and Clark College. Ben is a current field instructor in South America.
Dates: January 2020
Location: OH
***Available in Spanish

 

Trade and Travels on the Tea Horse Road
Synopsis: Winding through the snowy peaks and high passes of the Hengduan Mountains and the Tibetan plateau, for many centuries the Tea Horse Road was one of the world’s longest, highest, and most important trade routes. Branching out in several directions, these ancient trails connected the tea-growing regions of Sichuan and Yunnan with Tibet, northern India, and Myanmar. Join Maddie to learn more about how this trade route, now teetering on the edge of obscurity, once rivaled the Silk Road in significance. Explore what life might have been like for the generations of traders who traveled thousands of miles across some of the world’s most relentless mountains, and discuss the historical and cultural impact left behind in their footprints.
Speaker: Maddie Melton, B.A. Anthropology, Chinese, Drama, and Psychology; Rhodes University (South Africa), B.A.H. Anthropology; University of Cape Town (South Africa). Maddie is a Dragons instructor in China. She is passionate about mountains, maps, trails of all kinds, and the history and practice of travel by foot. A enthusiastic hiker, she once walked from Mexico to Canada and hopes to one day walk the route of the Tea Horse Road herself.
Dates:  January – February 2020
Location: TN, GA, DC, VA, MD

 

Why Not to Ride an Elephant in Thailand
Synopsis: Just imagine how incredible it would be to sit atop a massive 9 foot tall, 4 ton beast while lumbering your way through deep rivers and pristine jungle. This is an experience many dream about when planning a visit to Thailand, but have you ever thought about the actual animal you dream of? Where was it born? How was it raised? How was it trained? In this engaging lesson Jessica draws on her experience as a biologist living and working in Asia to discuss the impact of “ecotourism” on elephant populations. She will make you consider your power in preventing the harmful treatment animals all around the world and offer simple solutions to promote sustainable and ethical travel.
Speaker: Jessica Armstong, Southeast Asia program director, B.Sc. Ecology (University Medal, First Class Honours), University of New South Wales, Australia
Dates:  January 2020
Location: SC & NC

 

Damning the Mekong – Gambling with 70 Million Lives
Synopsis: Southeast Asia is rising, and it’s hungry… For power. Damming the Mekong, the second most biodiverse river in the world, has been put forward by several countries as the solution. But what impact will these hydro dams have on the 70 million people who rely on the river for food, income, ceremony and culture? Having worked with some of the poorest farmers and fishermen in the region, Jessica guides students through a series of interactive games and discussions to understand how damming the Mekong is having the greatest negative impact on the people who rely on it the most.
Speaker: Jessica Armstong, Southeast Asia program director, B.Sc. Ecology (University Medal, First Class Honours), University of New South Wales, Australia
Dates:  January 2020
Location: SC & NC

 

From Banana Leaves to Plastic Bags – We are Eating Asia’s Plastic Waste!
Synopsis: 60% of all plastic pollution found in our oceans comes from Asia. Why is that? In countries like the USA following the three RRR’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) is common practice, but in Asia, it’s a different story. Jessica is an avid conservationist who is passionate about protecting our oceans. From countries like Indonesia, to the ocean and onto your dinner plate, Jessica explains why people in Asia are struggling to deal with their plastic waste and how we are eating it.
Speaker: Jessica Armstong, Southeast Asia program director, B.Sc. Ecology (University Medal, First Class Honours), University of New South Wales, Australia
Dates:  January 2020
Location: SC & NC

 

Empathy and Travel
Synopsis: Travel is lauded as a noble pursuit, but what specifically is it about travel that broadens one’s horizons? Arguably, empathy may be one of the greatest tangible benefits of travel.  This talk will examine the connections between empathy and travel, highlighting the latest research into empathy and what it actually is, as well as discussion of “ethical travel,” globalization, and Colleen’s own personal experiences throughout her last seven years of global travel.
Speaker: Colleen Dougherty, MSW, The George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, BA Spanish Language and Literature, BS Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Ohio University 
Dates:  January – February 2020
Location: CT & NY
***Available in Spanish

 

Introduction to Islam
Synopsis: There are 1 billion+ Muslims  spread across the globe from all different backgrounds. The socio-political events of the last decade and a half have made it more important than ever for Americans to have a basic understanding of and a forum to ask critical questions about Islam. Shino provides a quick overview of the 5-pillars of Islam and discusses the different ways in which the religion is practiced across the Middle East and North Africa. Shino draws on her own observations and interactions based on her years volunteering, working, or conducting research in Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and Oman.
Speaker: Shino Yoshen, B.A. International Studies: Concentration in Peace and Conflict Resolution, Minor in Arabic Language – American University – USA, M.A. International Education and Globalization – University of Bath – United Kingdom
Dates:  November 2019- April 2020
Location: NY, CT, NJ, PA, DC, VA, MD, MA, NH, RI

 

Down River: The Flow of Water and Wealth
Synopsis: From the Amazon to the Colorado River Basin, explore the relationship we have with water and how it has shaped our social and political climates. David will relate the environmental impacts dams have had on local ecosystems with the economic benefits that are essential to global economies. David will share his experiences interacting with local communities whose lifestyles are dependent on these meandering giants. This lesson is also available in Spanish.
Speaker:  David Haffeman
Dates: Ongoing
Location: Colorado upon request
***Available in Spanish

 

The Fortune Cookie in America: Consuming a Fabricated Conception of China
Synopsis: Although everyone in an American classroom would recognize a fortune cookie, what if we told you the same is not true in the Chinese world? Evidence shows that fortune cookies actually originated in Japan. Why then has the fortune cookie come to represent China and influenced evolving conceptions of “Chinese-ness” in the United States? Join Marcus for a fun discussion on the impact of language and translation on cross cultural image creation.
Speaker: Marcus Larsen-Strecker, B.A. International Relations and Asian Studies, Tufts University; M.A. Graduate Program in Translation and Interpretation, National Taiwan University
Dates: January 2020
Location: MA, RI, ME, VT, and NH
***Available in Mandarin

 

Urbanization in China and the Biggest City You’ve Never Heard Of
Synopsis: Drawing on more than 11 years of life and work experience in China, doctoral research in Anthropology, and a passion for Chongqing’s local history and economic transformation, Jody will introduce students to this city of 12 million and discuss migration and urbanization in China today.
Speaker: Jody Segar, Jody’s lifelong interest in China began when he first took a Chinese language class in high school…he went on to spend many years studying, working, conducting ethnographic research and living throughout China. Jody is passionate about introducing students to China’s diversity – especially it’s religious traditions, food, music and modern history.
Bonus Topic: For interested Chinese language classrooms, Jody also enjoys performing and discussing Chinese pop songs!
Dates: October 2019 – March 2020
Location: NY, CT, MA, NH, RI, VT, NJ, PA
***Available in Mandarin

 

Foreign Friends, Foreign Devils
Synopsis: What is it like to live in China long-term as a “foreigner”? How do Chinese ideas of nationality, ethnicity, and hospitality shape the ways that Chinese people interact with people from other places and think about other parts of the world? How is being a foreigner in China different from being a foreigner in the US? Drawing from personal experiences during 11 years of life in China and frequent travel to China since the mid-90s, Dragons China Program Director, Jody Segar, will share ideas and anecdotes and engage students in thinking about how being perceived as a foreigner can change and shape they way they might perceive themselves and others, in China and in the US.
Speaker: Jody Segar, Jody’s lifelong interest in China began when he first took a Chinese language class in high school…he went on to spend many years studying, working, conducting ethnographic research and living throughout China. Jody is passionate about introducing students to China’s diversity – especially it’s religious traditions, food, music and modern history.
Bonus Topic: For interested Chinese language classrooms, Jody also enjoys performing and discussing Chinese pop songs!
Dates: October 2019 – March 2020
Location: NY, CT, MA, NH, RI, VT, NJ, PA
***Available in Mandarin

 

Social Cohesion: Diversity vs. Division
Synopsis: The importance of diversity is difficult to argue against: conformity is the enemy of innovation and difference is potentially a catalyst for discussion and growth.  However, difference, as history has taught us, also presents challenges.  This seminar explores some of the nuances behind division versus diversity through the lens of case studies where there have been intentional interventions to promote social cohesion.  Specifically, we will look at the mechanisms behind the relatively peaceful transition out of Apartheid for South Africa and the complex role language has played in post-conflict Sri Lanka.  These discussions will enable us to gain more insight into the complexities of achieving social cohesion and distill strategies, at an individual level, on how to seek and grow from diverse environments.
SpeakerSteve Roberts, BSocSci (Economics & Film), MA (Education and International Development), MA (Digital Technologies, Communication and Education)
Dates: January – February 2020
Location: Southern CA

 

Advocating Through Story
Synopsis: Stories can change the course of history.  We all have them and are often touched and influenced by the tales of others.  From advocacy to entertainment, stories have the power to influence, amuse and evoke an emotional response within the listener.  This workshop looks at the social and economic impact of selection of stories, explores ways to structure a story for engagement and impact, and gives participants the opportunity for practice.  Drawing on the concepts of global citizenship and leadership, we will reflect on the impact individuals wish to have on the planet and the role story can play in advocating for this.
Speaker: Steve Roberts, BSocSci (Economics & Film), MA (Education and International Development), MA (Digital Technologies, Communication and Education)
Dates: January – February 2020
Location: Southern CA

 

Well Being: Enabling and Sustaining Bliss
Synopsis: Nurturing wellbeing and sustaining it involves a synergy between our internal landscape and the external world in which we live.  The systems in which we find ourselves living our day-to-day contribute significantly to our ability to foster skills and strategies to manage how we interface with our environments.  This interactive workshop discusses what wellbeing means, explores several global environments and how they have (or haven’t) created a socioeconomic foundation for citizens to achieve wellbeing, and enables participants to draw inspiration in order to promote both their own and others’ ‘bliss’.  Concepts of global citizenship, awareness of self and responsible leadership will be addressed.
Speaker: Steve Roberts, BSocSci (Economics & Film), MA (Education and International Development), MA (Digital Technologies, Communication and Education)
Dates: January – February 2020
Location: Southern CA

 

Choosing Happy: Positive Psychology Research in Practice
Synopsis: Stress, anxiety, and struggle can leave us feeling overwhelmed and under empowered. How can we source happiness amidst the challenges and pressures of daily life? Pulling from the latest research in positive psychology, Aaron offers practical and proven tools to understand and foster a more positive mindset. A popular talk with students and teachers, attendees will walk away with an awareness of our power and choice to create happiness in myriad small yet important ways.
SpeakerAaron Slosberg, M.A. History, University of California. B.A. Religion and History, University of California. Aaron has spent 600+ days in the field as a Dragons Instructor in Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, and Indonesia.
Dates: Ongoing
Location: Colorado and California
***Available in Spanish

 

The Living Inca: Reflections from La Nacion Q’eros
Synopsis: What happened to the Inca? This is common question for anyone interested in the history behind Machu Picchu. The people of la Nacion Q’eros would simply reply, “we’re still here.” Nacion Q’eros offers a colorful glimpse into traditions surviving in the direct lineage of the Inca. And yet, it also represents a complex world struggling with the sacrifices and adaptations mandated by globalization and development. Accompanied by incredible images, Aaron shares stories from his time visiting the communities of Q’eros.
SpeakerAaron Slosberg, M.A. History, University of California. B.A. Religion and History, University of California. Aaron has spent 600+ days in the field as a Dragons Instructor in Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, and Indonesia.
Dates: Ongoing
Location: Colorado and California
***Available in Spanish

 

Over the Sea: Living with Sea Nomads in Southeast Asia
Synopsis: For millennia the Bajau people have roamed the tropical waters of southeast Asia. With stricter immigration laws these historically nomadic peoples are being settled into floating fishing communities around the archipelagos of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Aaron shares incredible stories and images from his 6 years of visits to one Indonesian Bajau village completely detached from land. Learn about the colorful mixture of Islam with local beliefs, traditional spear fisherman who can dive to over 80 feet without oxygen, the impacts of global warming on coral reefs and communities, and the fascinating realities of a people far removed yet still connected to our daily lives in the US.
SpeakerAaron Slosberg, M.A. History, University of California. B.A. Religion and History, University of California. Aaron has spent 600+ days in the field as a Dragons Instructor in Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, and Indonesia.
Dates: Ongoing
Location: Colorado and California
***Available in Spanish

 

Questioning Consumption and the Truth Behind Waste Management
Synopsis: For years we have been told to reduce, reuse, recycle. But how much truth lies in the assumption that recycling is going to help salvage the immense damage that has already been done to our earths water systems, forests, and atmosphere? And where exactly does trash go after we throw it into the bin? Discover the complex and integrated systems of waste management across borders. We will reflect on how much is “enough” and question our own deeply rooted habits around consumption.
Speaker: Keshet Miller
Dates: January – March 2020
Location: Northern California

 

Finding Hope Among the Coral Reefs of Indonesia
Synopsis: Coral reefs are known as the “forests of the sea” and essential ecosystems to earth’s overall health. Learn about the beauty and magic of Indonesia’s coral reefs, as well as the impending threats to this very delicate bionetwork. We will look into the rich wildlife of Indonesia’s oceans within the coral triangle, as well as the brutal illegal wildlife trade in this corner of the world.
Speaker: Keshet Miller
Dates: January – March 2020
Location: Northern California

 

Climate Change’s Cultural Side
Synopsis: Even with 100% renewable electricity and all electric cars, the United States would still produce more greenhouse gases per capita than Western Europe or China. Our emissions right now are double what Germany’s are. Out of necessity, communities all over the world have come up with cultural solutions to reduce their consumption and environmental impact. We take a tour of cultures in the Himalayas, the Andes, the Amazon, and the Mekong River Basin to ask what we can learn about solving environmental problems from communities that live more in touch with the natural world.
Speaker: Jeff Wagner, B.A. Environmental Studies, Western American Studies, and Geography – University of Colorado
Dates: October 2019 – January 2020
Location: Colorado

 

Vivir Bien: Bolivia’s Revolutionary Way of Defining Success
Synopsis: Looking at GDP (the standard we use to measure success) Bolivia the poorest country in South America. But Bolivians have another way of looking at things. Vivir Bien is a Bolivian philosophy of life, politics, and spirituality that rejects Western ideas of success. In Bolivia, the energy of idealism is alive and well, and people are using Vivir Bien to update their country’s ideas about development and success to include social justice, economic equality, ecosystem health, and cultural preservation.
Speaker: Jeff Wagner, B.A. Environmental Studies, Western American Studies, and Geography – University of Colorado
Dates: October 2019 – January 2020
Location: Colorado
***Available in Spanish

 

The Forces Behind Migration from Central America
Synopsis: Every month, thousands of people from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador embark on a perilous journey to reach the United States. Rich will draw on five years of work as a reporter based in Central America to explore why people come to the US, the dangers they face along the way, and the social, economic, and historical factors that have led to recent waves of migration. He will share original interviews with community leaders, academics, and participants in the October 2018 migrant caravan.
Speaker: Richard Brown. Rich worked for five years in Guatemala as a multimedia reporter, editor, and translator. Now in Washington, D.C., he translates for Amnesty International and the DC Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. He also leads Dragons summer programs to introduce students to inspiring Guatemalan communities.
Dates: January – February
Location: PA, NJ, NY, CT, MD, VA, DC
***Available in Spanish

 

The 500-Year Struggle Heats Up: Native American Activism in Guatemala and Honduras
Synopsis: Rich draws on five years of work as a reporter in Guatemala – a majority-Native American country – to bring Central American voices into the classroom with original videos and interviews. Central America is the most dangerous region of the world for environmental activists, but Indigenous movements are having a greater impact than ever in their struggle to overcome centuries of marginalization and oppression. The presentation explores the goals and perspectives of Native American social movements in Central America, the dangers they face, and the role of the United States in the region.
Speaker: Richard Brown. Rich worked for five years in Guatemala as a multimedia reporter, editor, and translator. Now in Washington, D.C., he translates for Amnesty International and the DC Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. He also leads Dragons summer programs to introduce students to inspiring Guatemalan communities.
Dates: January – February
Location: PA, NJ, NY, CT, MD, VA, DC, OH, IL, MI
***Available in Spanish

 

Voices from the Caravan: Migration and the Political Crisis in Honduras
Synopsis: Every month, thousands of Hondurans begin a perilous journey to the US. But what’s driving their exodus? Using original interviews with participants in the October caravan, Rich draws five years of work as a reporter based in Central America to explore how caravans are organized, why people are fleeing Honduras, and the country’s fascinating historical relationship with the US.
Speaker: Richard Brown. Rich worked for five years in Guatemala as a multimedia reporter, editor, and translator. Now in Washington, D.C., he translates for Amnesty International and the DC Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. He also leads Dragons summer programs to introduce students to inspiring Guatemalan communities.
Dates: January – February
Location: PA, NJ, NY, CT, MD, VA, DC, OH, IL, MI
***Available in Spanish

 

 

 


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