From the Founder
The moment a teacher changed my life, I was seventeen and I had just walked out of a calculus class.
Standing in front of me was a philosophy teacher. He asked me to join a class called “Advanced Ideas.” To do so, I would have to drop calculus. And with it, I would have to reconsider a pre-med course of study that was, until that point in time, a certainty.
When people reflect on the teacher, coach or mentor who had an oversized impact on their lives, what do they consider? Was it a shift in vocational direction? Was it a shift in values?
In the twenty-four years that I have managed Dragons, I have been witness to innumerable moments when teachers and mentors have been present during moments of epiphany, when lives have changed… when values have coalesced… when young people have become adults.
I recently attended a meeting at my daughter’s high school in which the school’s administration talked about the two biggest issues at the school: how to teach empathy, and how to educate students to make good choices. I’ve since thought a lot about this question – how to teach empathy and good choice-making on a school’s campus. Each time I engage in this thought process, I trip over something I’ve come to know as a truth: values can’t be taught, but they can be caught. At Dragons, we divorce our participants from their daily routines and drop them down in the middle of an unfamiliar reality. We create spaces in which students are free to self-identify with values of empathy and global citizenship.
As much as empathy is learned experientially, so is learning to make good choices. Developing the skills to make good decisions is, I have found, best derived from mentored practice.
Beyond the school community, global population pressures, limited resources and a changing climate necessitate problem-solving that crosses borders. To address the big issues that are yet to come, future problem-solvers will be required to have competencies in cross-cultural communication, team-building and conflict resolution. For a sustainable peace, they will need to engage thorny problems with a value set that embraces pluralism and is informed by an understanding of consumption-impact and global development realities.
This is what we do: we help students develop empathy, make good choices, and engage in conversations around the critical issues of our day. We seek out teachers and school communities with whom we can share and collaborate, to further innovate in the field of cross-cultural education.
We would like to help you be the teacher that someone looks back on and says, with certainty, that you changed their life.
Founder & Executive Director