Dragons Programs are staffed with expert cross-cultural educators.
Our staff speak in local dialects and bring deep cultural fluency and expert facilitation skills to our programs. They are accomplished cross-cultural educators whose in-country experiences, academic backgrounds and personal contacts enrich the program on every level. With over 1,000 past guides to choose from, our Adult Programs are staffed with Dragons’ most experienced and celebrated Instructors. Under the deft mentorship of experienced guides, we use the medium of radical difference to reflect on our own life experiences while we come to a more meaningful engagement with life.
Senegal: Music & Mysticism
M.A. Social Anthropology, Distinction, SOAS University of London
B.A. International Affairs, summa cum laude, University of Colorado Boulder
After spending a carefree childhood at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Jenny first ventured abroad on a college study abroad program in Transylvania, where her tiny world cracked open and started to become a lot more beautiful and complicated. Her curiosity to know more of the world have since drawn her to live, work, and study in 29+ countries. Some of her favorite moments include learning from indigenous spirituality and activism in Guatemala, working as a dance-based sexual health educator in Ghana, and living off the grid in a tipi for three years at a wolf sanctuary in the mountains of southern Colorado.
BA Phonetics & Languages (French, English & Pulaar), Cheikh Anta Diop University
Samba was born and grew up in rural southern Senegal. He moved to Dakar to complete high school and attend university, obtaining a joint degree at Senegal’s Cheikh Anta Diop University. Samba served as a supervisor for CADRE, an education and development NGO and taught French and English for private school. In 1998 he became a language and cross-cultural trainer for the US Peace Corps, where he worked as a language trainer, teaching French and Pulaar before being promoted to worked as a Cross-Cultural Coordinator. In 2004 Samba immigrated to the US, where he has taught English as a Second Language classes for interested staff at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.
Peru: Sacred Valley
Japhy speaks five languages and has a difficult time answering the question: “Where are you from?” Japhy spent his childhood in his native country of Nepal exploring the Himalayan range and his teenage years the inner-city of Los Angeles, setting the stage for a dramatic cross-cultural education. Following his undergraduate studies, he rode his beloved bicycle from the US to Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia. He is a professional member of the American Mountain Guides Association as a Certified Rock Guide, and is a Pro 1 level avalanche educator through the American Avalanche Association. Currently, Japhy works as a full-time mountain guide for the Colorado Mountain School. Japhy has worked as an Instructor, Course Director, and Program Director on over a dozen Dragons student programs in the Himalayas and Latin America.
Siwar Qente is a wisdom keeper and community leader from the Q’eros Nation, a remote, culturally and ecologically rich mountain region east of Cusco, Peru. Known at the “last Incan community” the Q’eros trace their history and traditions to the time of Tawantinsuyu, or the Incan Empire. Siwar has spent his life practicing the living ceremonial traditions of the Q’eros, helping his community and others maintain strong, reciprocal relationships with Pachamama, our Earth Mother and tethered to their strong ancestry. He has guided Dragons students for over 10 years through the communities and animate landscapes of the region, helping expose students to both the beauty and struggles of the Q’eros Nation.
North India: Sacred Landscapes
Max Woodfin, North India: Sacred Landscapes
MA Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy, Naropa University
BA Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic
Max has spent his life blending his passion for the ecological world with the study of world spiritual traditions. He is a faculty member at Naropa University in the Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy program and is a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado. Prior to working in the field of psychology, Max was a high school teacher and an instructor for Where There Be Dragons. In addition to his private practice, faculty position at Naropa, and work with Dragons, Max serves as a psychological consultant for various international organizations in times of crisis and disaster, and is co-founder of Lionpath International, an organization that trains international disaster workers in psychological trauma interventions.
Nepal: Ashrams & Artisans
M.S. Education, University of Southern Maine
B.A. Environmental Science and Biology; Middlebury College
Shannon was first drawn to Nepal as a college student. During that time, she felt a connection with the Nepali people, spiritual traditions and landscapes; a connection that impacted her so deeply that she later settled in the Kathmandu Valley for fourteen years. As an Instructor and Program Director with Dragons in Nepal, Tibet, and India Shannon developed systems and curriculum to maximize student engagement and learning outcomes. Following her time in the field, Shannon helped to steward Dragons accredited college programs on three continents. She also facilitates cross-cultural trainings for organizations and schools in the US to support them in the training, assessing, and mentoring of their staff. Her roots with Dragons run 15 years deep. Currently Shannon is our Co-Director of Adult Programming
Suren has a broad skill base, having worked as a teacher, a school principal, a documentary film maker, and the director of a graphic design company. His five years stint with UNMIN -a special political peace mission in Nepal, as the Chief of the Public Information Office, has provided him with an intimate and nuanced understanding of the political and social transformation of Nepali society from a feudal monarchy to a modern democratic republic. Before coming to Dragons, Suren spent four years as a program coordinator for Sojourn Nepal, a pioneering experiential learning study abroad program based in Kathmandu. Suren loves to share his experience and knowledge of his country with others. Suren speaks Nepali, English, Hindi, Bengali and some Japanese and plays the guitar, harmonica and a Nepali drum called the madal.
Guatemala: Land & Spirit
B.A. Spanish Language and Literature, B.A. Fine Arts, Truman State University
Luis attended Truman State University where he studied Latin American Studies and Fine Arts, then spent his sophomore year of college studying in Mexico and traveling in Central America. A fascination with indigenous culture, language and history led Luis back to Guatemala during the summers and after graduating from college. Before working for Dragons, he worked as a group leader for a non-for-profit in the Kaqchiquel Maya region of Lake Atitlan, organizing and carrying out sustainable and appropriate development projects in indigenous communities. He has also worked as an outdoor guide, a job in which he had the privilege of exploring some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Guatemala. Luis’ current interests include Permaculture and strategies for sustainable living. When not working or traveling he can usually be found playing the guitar somewhere in the farmlands of Northeast Missouri with a smile on his face.
Dhyana became interested in education prior to entering the field of International Development. Her career as a teacher followed a zigzagging path through northern California, central Mexico, New York City, Nicaragua, and Peru. Following her time as a classroom teacher, Dhyana became the founding director of a cultural exchange program. For seven years she coordinated development projects in Nicaragua that brought together youth from different parts of the world. Currently, Dhyana is the New York State Partnership Liaison in Cornell’s Office of Engagement Initiatives promoting community-engaged discovery and learning for students, faculty, and staff in local communities.