What Makes Us Different

If you’re comparing apples to apples…we’re more of a pomegranate.

Dragons demonstrates, at every level, a profound commitment to creating the very best student experience abroad. The caliber of their on-site staff, their tireless attention to risk management, and their truly innovative approach to experiential learning make them a valued program partner.
– John Luria, Director of the Bridge Year Program at Princeton University

What makes Dragons different from other providers? We often get this question. Here’s how Dragons programs are different:


A typical Dragons group has a 4:1 participant-to-instructor ratio. This ensures that each person receives individual support and personalized challenge. The intimate group dynamic of a small cohort fosters deep dialogue and an inclusive group spirit that builds alumni friendships that last a lifetime.


We work with the best international guides and educators in the industry because we know that mentorship matters. Instructors are selected based on their group facilitation skills, local language fluency, and regional experience in the country. When not guiding with Dragons, our instructors are graduate students, returned Peace Corps Volunteers, U.N. development professionals, veteran wilderness guides, and career teachers. The majority of our staff were born outside of the U.S. and are multilingual.


On course, we learn by doing. We travel like locals, live with families, apprentice with artists, and learn from scholars, factory workers, sages, and community leaders alike. Our goal is to connect participants to a direct experience of a different place through hands-on meaningful engagement. We embrace a leadership model of leading-from-behind, such that participants follow their own questions and curiosity.


Dragons itineraries are flexible to create space for unscripted, serendipitous, and candid moments of surprise and discovery. Each program has an intentionally crafted structure, yet the dynamic itinerary allows the group to be responsive to unique realities and opportunities as they arise. Backpacks, not roller bags, are on the packing list because it’s a novel combination of gravel roads, local transportation, and dirt paths that make each program an original adventure.


We are committed to the highest ethical standards in cross-cultural education. Responsible travel is environmentally conscientious, culturally self-aware, and focused on developing mutually meaningful connections with local communities. We advocate for longer-term programming and smaller groups to reduce our ecological and cultural footprints. And we don’t shy away from—but actively engage with—the complex themes of learning service, neocolonialism, and global citizenship that arise in a group dynamic that encourages critical reflection. We’ve published papers expressing our positions on the following issues and encourage you to take a look and share:


Dragons has collaborated to design custom programming for Princeton University, Tufts University, The Thacher School, Milton Academy, and Carleton College, among others. To see a full list of the 50+ schools and universities that have partnered with Dragons and read school testimonials, please visit the Partners section of our website.

Social Responsibility