Global Speaker Series

Bring the world into your classroom.

Each year our best teachers—with years of international education experience—speak in classrooms  across the United States to share their perspectives and insights with students ready to engage with critical and compelling global questions. We will start booking our 2021/2022 virtual global speaker series that includes a range of talks focusing on topics such as climate change, advocacy through story, and learning service on October 1st.

Global Connection

Our Speaker Series is committed to cross-cultural education. We view it as a tool for breaking down barriers, enhancing understanding between communities across the world, and bringing what we’ve learned abroad back home to share.

Engaging Facilitation

We invite you to look at some of the conversations our staff are facilitating. 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.

Critical Issues

Speakers cover a range of compelling global topics that are designed to push students to challenge their assumptions through real-world insights.

Request a Global Speaker


Opportunities for Your Classroom

  • Free Talks

    Select one of our free 60-min global talks (free talks are listed below) that are funded by Dragons and offer your students the opportunity to engage with critical global conversations.

  • Mini Modules

    Fully customize online programming to fit your classroom needs. Email simon@wheretherebedragons.com for more information. Each session is accompanied by a curated reading or activity. More about Mini Modules.

  • Virtual Experiences

    Dragons also offers week-long intensives for student groups seeking to delve deeper into one of our program areas. Virtual experiences offer 20 hours of synchronous learning over a 6-day period and can be co-authored with teachers to fit your needs. More about Virtual Experiences.


TALKS AVAILABLE FOR 2021/2022

 

The White Saviour Complex: Does Voluntourism Do More Harm than Good?
Synopsis: Voluntourism is a booming and growing industry. Pre-pandemic, it was estimated at $2.6 billion globally and with at least 10 million travelers, and marketed as an accessible way to learn about and contribute to the world. It is such a popular activity for young people that it is almost becoming a rite of passage. However the practice has come under increased criticism for perpetuating neo-colonial ideas and “white saviorism,” as well as being rife with corrupt practices that cause harm to both the community and the students themselves. This workshop offers a new concept “learning service” as a way to think through and resolve some of these ethical tensions, by putting learning at the heart of the service we offer.
Speaker: Claire Bennett, M.A. History, University of Cambridge. Current field instructor in Senegal, Nepal, and Cambodia.
Dates:  Limited availability for 2021 + available January – May 2022

 

Historic Memory: Antidotes for a Struggling Planet
Synopsis: From severe climate crises, to global pandemics and widespread unrest, we are living in unprecedented and troubled times. Yet not all is doomed. The planet’s evolutionary past has gifted us a cultural heritage full of valuable lessons and viable alternatives to address some of the most pressing issues affecting the health of the planet and everything in it. This talk is an invitation to take a deep dive into personal and collective histories to uncover useful antidotes to help a struggling planet.
Speaker: Este Migoya, B.A. in Anthropology & Latin American Studies, Honors – University of Toronto
Dates:  Limited availability for 2021 + available January – May 2022

 

The Fairy Creek Blockades: Frontline Activism and Ecologies of Change
Synopsis: The Fairy Creek Blockades were Canada’s largest act of civil disobedience in history, with over 1000 people arrested for blocking the logging of endangered ancient forests on South Vancouver Island, deliberately violating a Supreme Court injunction in the process. The grassroots intersectional movement brought together the people, causes and spirits of Indigenous Sovereignty as well as radical non-violent settler environmentalism, encountering numerous political challenges and tensions in the context of truth and reconciliation following the genocide and resurgence of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island (North America). ‘Come for the trees, stay for the decolonization’ emerged as more than a catch-phrase. In this presentation and discussion, join Arvin as he recounts experiences and perspectives from the frontlines.
Speaker: Arvin Singh, M.A. University of Oxford 
Dates:  October – May 2022

 

Truth & Existence: Buddhism in Practice
Synopsis: It’s possible to use the leisure time we have had during the pandemic as a way to understand the truth of our existence through Theravada Buddhist doctrines. Somsanid will guide students thorough what he has learned as a lay Buddhist monk and his practice in South East Asia.  The talk will consist of the Dharma (the Teaching of Nature) and Som will share some meditation theory/techniques to help participants detach their minds from clinging on Dhukha (Suffering).
Speaker: Somsanid Inthongdsai, ​​M.A. Graduate Degree. Saimouane Economy College, Khammouane, Laos: English language study.
Dates:  October – May 2022

 

Climate Change’s Cultural Side
Synopsis: Even with 100% renewable electricity and a complete shift to electric cars, the United States would still produce more greenhouse gases per capita than China or any Western European country. The average U.S. resident emits double the average German. Throughout human history, sustainable practices have been primarily cultural, not technological. Out of necessity, communities all over the world develop life ways that match the landscapes and ecosystems they are a part of. This talk is a tour of cultures in the Himalayas, the Andes, the Amazon, and the Mekong River Basin asking what the modern Western world might 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- May 2022

 

Traditional Toward Contemporary: From Guqin to China-Style Pop Music Phenomenon
Synopsis: Guqin, is the oldest authentic Chinese musical instrument. Pei’s talk will introduce students to the unique and subtle sounds of the Guqin that have influenced all aspects of China culture. We will trace the use of the Guqin from the story of Confucious learning the instrument to 1977 when Nasa used its sounds as a gift to the galaxy in the Voyager spacecraft mission. Pei will explore how music is an amazing medium for understanding China – from traditional to contemporary life and values.
Speaker: Pei Yuen, B.Des. in Communications Design from Shih Chien University, Taiwan
Dates: October- May 2022

 

Saving Seed & Saving Self
Synopsis: When considering the causes, as well as the potential solutions to many of the universal crises we find ourselves now facing, it is hard to underestimate the importance of seeds. Seeds not only provide us with food, medicine, clothing, materials for shelter, and more, but throughout history they have helped civilizations all over the world define what it ultimately means to be human. In this talk we will look at how one community (an eco-village) in Northern Thailand is regenerating this timeless relationship between human and seed as well as consider its implications on a wider, more global level.
Speaker: Greg Pettys, B.A. Sociology and Environmental Studies, Western Colorado University. Oceania & Asia Global Ecovillage Network. Ecoversities. WTBD Field instructor in Nepal, China, India, Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia
Speaker: Ramphai Noikaew, B.A. in Business English from Uttaradit Rajabhat University
Dates: October- May 2022

 

Modern Perspectives from an Ancient City: Heritage of the Past, Ambitions of the Future
Synopsis: How do cities live and organize themselves over time? This talk will highlight the challenges and opportunities of urban sustainability while encouraging students to draw parallel conversations in their own home town/cities. The concepts will draw on public spaces, belonging, local economy, beliefs and rituals, and evaluate grassroots engagement through city councils and governments. In this talk, Jason will draw experiences from his hometown Patan – an ancient Newar city in Nepal – to evaluate similar concerns of students’ home-cities.The focus topics can shift to include: urban transportation, green spaces, citizen activism, waste management, and youth participation.
Speaker: Jason Shah, BA, International Studies – Diplomacy and International Organizations.
Dates:  October – May 2022

 

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 – May 2022
***Available in Spanish

 

Drinking Water: Stories from Mining Community of the Bolivian Andes.
Synopsis: Water is a sacred commodity that many people take for granted since it’s easy to turn on the tap instead of walking many miles to get potable water. In Bolivia, where the National Constitution says, “La Tierra es del quien la trabaja” (The land is for the one that works in it), this mantra does not apply to many of its mining communities. For centuries, Bolivian miners, who are most often Andean indigenous people, have suffered greatly from their work in the mining industry. This workshop offers a critical look at mining and its effects on people and the environment. Alan will examine issues that miners face just to survive and illustrate many of the challenges of the industry through access to clean, potable water. 
Speaker: Alan Condori Flores, B.A. Tourism, Culture, and Languages; San Francisco Xavier of Chuquisaca
Dates:  January – May 2022
***Available in Spanish

 

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: October – May 2022

 

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: October – May 2022– April
***Available in Spanish

 

The Forbidden Fire and the Role of Community-Based Fire Management in the Peruvian Andes
Synopsis: The need for agricultural expansion has increased fire use throughout the tropics, aggravating local people’s vulnerability to the changing climate. Fire management has been historically addressed from a top-down conservationist approach, when use of agricultural fires should also be integrated into discussions of rural development. This shift would emphasize strengthening local and traditional institutions for adequate fire prevention and control and provide a better fit to the local context of the actors implementing them. In this talk, Vanessa will share her doctoral research in the Tropical Andes, where almost nothing is known regarding the local institutions for fire management and how these rules are adapted to fit changing socio environmental contexts.
Speaker: Vanessa Luna, PhD in Latin American Studies, University of Florida (in progress), B.A. in Biology, Agraria La Monina University, Peru
Dates: October – May 2022
***Available in Spanish

 

The Marriage Between Two Communist Countries: China and Cuba.
Synopsis: Tindy, a Chinese woman married to a Cuban man, will share her personal stories and accounts of China and Cuba. China is known for its 5,000 year history, traditional medicine, and Confucious culture — where the people are considered hard-working and serious. Cuba is famous for its paradise-like beaches, their own traditional medicine, and  salsa dancing. The people are passionate, and they call everyone on the streets mi amor. China has been a Communist Party for 72 years and Cuba for 56 — it’s easy to make conclusions about those two in comparison to politics and economy, but Tindy is more excited to talk about the cultural influence, lifestyle, beliefs, as well as differences and similarities in day-to-day life between the two
Speaker: Tindy Hoating, B.A. in Broadcasting and Hosting from Guangdong Ocean University
Dates: Ongoing
***Available in Mandarin 

 

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
***Available in Spanish

Next Steps

Please reach out to us with questions regarding our specific speakers or to customize some programming that fits your classroom needs. Contact simon@wheretherebedragons.com for more information. Space is limited and we recommend booking soon.


Request a Global Speaker
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