What We Do
We cultivate meaningful connections through immersive and responsible travel.
Over the past three decades, our work has created a global community representing 6 continents, over 30 countries, and countless languages, NGOs, religions, host families, perspectives, and stories. Read on to learn what makes Dragons different from other providers, how we intentionally build programs, and what participants uniquely bring home from an experience.
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT
We define “responsible travel” as environmentally conscientious, culturally self-aware, and focused on developing mutually meaningful connections with local communities. Small groups and longer-term programming also reduce our ecological and cultural footprints. We believe how you engage abroad and what you take home from your travels matter. Learn more.
Many travel programs provide a day-by-day itinerary that is reproduced year after year, but at Dragons, each itinerary is a custom-crafted experience, infused with the experiences, expertise, passions, and local connections of our instructors. A dynamic itinerary creates space for unscripted, serendipitous, and candid moments of surprise and discovery.
When not guiding with Dragons, our instructors are graduate students, U.N. development professionals, returned Peace Corps Volunteers, veteran wilderness guides, and career teachers. Instructors are selected based on their group facilitation skills, local language fluency, and regional experience. Visit Our People to learn what make our instructors so exceptional.
GENUINELY IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES
We connect participants to a direct experience of a different place through hands-on meaningful engagement. As such, we travel like locals, apprentice with artists, live with families, and learn from scholars, factory workers, sages, and community leaders alike.
A typical Dragons group has a 4:1 participant-to-instructor ratio so that each person receives individual support and personalized mentorship. The intimate group dynamic of this small cohort fosters deep dialogue and friendships that last a lifetime.
MEANINGFUL OFFLINE RELATIONSHIPS
We embrace an offline—and fully present—travel experience. Group dynamics are carefully facilitated to foster safe dialogue and an inclusive group spirit. Participants return home with a shared experience and connection to the Dragons network of alumni participants and instructors.
INTENTIONAL DESIGN: HOW WE BUILD PROGRAMS
The world is constantly changing, and we believe our programs should too.
STEP 1: PEOPLE
Although Dragons participants come from all different backgrounds, they’re bonded by a shared sense of curiosity and adventure. All participants go through an admissions process that tonesets our programming, addresses your questions, and briefs all participants on the pre-trip experience and logistics.
Staff skill-sets, passions, and personal connections combine with course vision and participant goals to define a unique design for every program.
Dragons has cultivated a notable depth and breadth of community networks. Our 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—rather than travel trends—dictate where we travel.
STEP 2: PROCESS
Months before departure we begin co-creating an itinerary based on the goals of the course and Dragons relationships with in-country communities. We break the course vision into actionable pieces such as language study, apprenticeships, community stays, etc.
Rather than a series of sightseeing stops, each Dragons course is built with a curricular flow that underlies the itinerary. We create a progression of appropriate learning objectives for participants, employing group dynamics that foster self-directed learning and community engagement.
STEP 3: EXPERIENCE
We see responsible travel as environmentally conscientious, culturally aware, and focused on developing mutually beneficial connections with communities. As travelers, we ask participants to humbly adapt to the places we visit, rather than asking those places to adapt to our expectations.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS TAKE HOME
Our courses foster self-awareness, global engagement, and skills that last well after program completion. Beyond the time abroad, we help participants integrate the lessons from their Dragons experience into their lives back home. Here is a sample of just some of the skills and outcomes people have reported “taking home” after their Dragons program:
Growth mindset, grit, & resiliency
Compassion, curiosity, & gratitude
Reflection & mindfulness practice
Comfort with discomfort
Appreciation of “unplugged” time
Power & privilege awareness
Education, career, and/or life path development
Responsible travel practices
Exposure to diverse arts, cultures, & traditions
Community & relationship building
Ethical photography & videography
Environmental awareness & advocacy
Learning service & social justice
Social & Environmental Responsibility