5:00am wake ups are easier when these mountains call for you to get out of your tent. Photo by Cecelia Palmquist (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest, 1st Place), Nepal Semester.

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Where There Be Dragons

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...even though it may seem like there is nothing better in the whole world than your dog, your bed, or the front door to your house, a hot bath, a Chipotle burrito, or getting re-connected on social media or with friends, I hope that I can convince you that those things won’t be what you actually care about when you get home. You will care about sharing your experience and your changes.
It was finally over. I’d been in China a month, and my life had turned upside-down. My perspective, my experiences, and how I saw myself and others. They’d all changed. It was one of the best things I’d ever done, but I was also ready to be home. I couldn’t wait for cold water (to drink), western toilets, my own shower, and, at the top of my list, some Jamba Juice. Also, I wanted to see all of my friends and family and tell them about my many adventures. These were the type of things I was constantly thinking about one year ago at the end of my first Dragons trip. But then my instructors began to mention a word I had never heard before: transference. At that time, it seemed pointless to help transition us BACK to the United States. Why would I need help with that? That was home; that was what is normal. One year later, and I’m preparing for my second round of Dragons transference. Just like before, I’m having those same fantasies of my own shower, bed, and being able to Google anything anytime I want, but I’m also thinking back on the experience of returning home last time, and I can only describe it as mania. I was given my cell phone back in Hong Kong International Airport, and I immediately and obsessively updated myself on all the most recent happenings, as well as posting on Snapchat and other social media. I only relaxed when I got into my best friend’s car at the Denver International Airport, and then I realized that it was truly over. The transition had happened fast; too fast. My mom and my best friend bombarded me with questions and told me about what had been happening in their lives for the past month. I think I was in shock, and I think that at some point I told them to shut up. I couldn’t make myself be interested in anything that they were saying. I felt awful. I know now that this was the reverse culture shock that my instructors had tried to prepare me for. I hardly remember my first few days back, but I do remember publicly crying at a Jamba Juice. I finally took that hot shower I had been wanting so badly too: it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. Everything I had been dreaming for was right there in front of me— smoothies, hot showers, Western toilets, fresh salads— but I suddenly didn’t crave it the same way I thought I would. I understood then that those 13 strangers that I had just spent a month with, along with other Dragons alumni, might be the only people in the world that could understand what I was going through. On my way home from my previous Dragons program, I had a layover in LAX on my return journey. There was another Dragons student there who had just finished a different Dragons program. I had only said two words to this guy before, and I didn’t know him at all, but we sat together in the LAX airport California Pizza Kitchen as if we had known each other for years. We asked each other “So, how was your trip?”, a question that we would both get asked many more times soon thereafter. But unlike when non-Dragons folks asked me, it was easy to answer him. We had a bizarre common language and a common motivation and objective in traveling to the other side of the world: Where There Be Dragons. I didn’t have an answer for him exactly, but the struggle in trying to package my experience for him, he understood that. Even though I couldn’t fully express it, the trip was life changing. It was spectacular. I could go on and on for hours talking about it, but as I found out during my transition home, people didn’t really want to hear about it. Dragons had told me that when people ask me how my trip was, depending on the person and the circumstances, they will either be looking for the 10 second account, the 30 second account, or, perhaps, an even longer version. The person that wants a full account, a true account, and can understand the account, that type of person is very rare. To this day, a year after the end of my first Dragons course, I’m not sure I’ve really told anyone about it in its entirety, not even my own mother. So this is what I want to share with my current fellow Dragons students: even though it may seem like there is nothing better in the whole world than your dog, your bed, or the front door to your house, a hot bath, a Chipotle burrito, or getting re-connected on social media or with friends, I hope that I can convince you that those things won’t be what you actually care about when you get home. You will care about sharing your experience and your changes. Although your formal Dragons course is soon coming to an end, your experience has just begun. Savor your last few days abroad and welcome into your life the possibility of a new way of looking at the world, because you won’t fit the same in your old one.   NICOLETTE GORDILLO-LARIVIERE is on Dragons Summer: China Language 4-week Program (Group B). She is also a Student Ambassador for Dragons. You can read more on Nicolette's Ambassador Profile.   [post_title] => TRANSFERENCE [post_excerpt] => "...my instructors began to mention a word I had never heard before: transference. At that time, it seemed pointless to help transition us BACK to the United States. That was home; that was what is normal. Why would I need help with that?" 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Featured Post

TRANSFERENCE

Posted on

07/28/17

Author

Nicolette Gordillo-LaRiviere

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"...my instructors began to mention a word I had never heard before: transference. At that time, it seemed pointless to help transition us BACK to the United States. That was home; that was what is normal. Why would I need help with that?"
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"The aim is a cross-cultural, experiential education, Vanek said. That means no five-star hotels or fancy buses, but rather home stays with local families, volunteer work, trips on public buses and often, language immersion. The small-group trips "aren't touristic. They aim to broaden students' perspectives about the world and themselves through these really intimate experiences," she said.
You can read the full piece on the ChicagoTribune.com [post_title] => Dragons in the Chicago Tribune [post_excerpt] => We're excited to see our Admissions Director, Eva Vanek quoted in the Chicago Tribune... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-in-the-chicago-tribune [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-21 10:11:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-21 16:11:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 641 [name] => About Dragons [slug] => about_dragons [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 641 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [parent] => 0 [count] => 10 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 10 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/about_dragons/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 651 [name] => Announcements [slug] => announcements [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 651 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [parent] => 0 [count] => 9 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 9 [category_description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [cat_name] => Announcements [category_nicename] => announcements [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/announcements/ ) ) [category_links] => About Dragons, Announcements )
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    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_151415" align="alignnone" width="849"] "A group member stands beneath fluttering prayer flags at Namobuddha, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Nepal."[/caption]
    [post_title] => Featured Instagram Photo From Nepal by T. Whelan
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    [post_content] => Where There Be Dragons resolutely rejects hate, bigotry, and white supremacy, and firmly stands with victims at Charlottesville. As a community of passionate global educators and students, we are committed to teaching and working toward a more just world.
    [post_title] => In Solidarity
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    [post_content] => The first thing I noticed about Ritu was the rhythm that she seems to move to. When Ritu milks the buffalo in the morning, there is a calculated pattern to the way she tugs and switches her hands. When she tailors clothes on an old-fashioned sewing machine, she swings the fabric this way and that with ease. Even when Ritu speaks to me in Nepali, she says her words slow and deliberately, like she is speaking to a beat. Other people have commented as well on the fluidity that Ritu does her daily tasks with, the way she seems to float through the day.

Ritu is somewhat of a Jack-of-all-trades. Some days, she goes into the jungle and brings back grasses for the buffalo to eat. Other days, she is in the field, harvesting potatoes for her family and for her neighbors. But Ritu’s favorite thing to do is weave on her loom. Ritu lets me help sometimes (even though it would be much quicker if she did it on her own), but I think I prefer watching her weave. The machine has so many moving parts, but Ritu has control over all of them. Her feet press the pedals in time with her hands, pulling and pushing and swinging to create a little song that sounds like “thud tha thud tha thud tha thud…”
Even when Ritu speaks to me in Nepali, she says her words slow and deliberately, like she is speaking to a beat.
Ritu is truly one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. She does whatever chore is at hand with a jolly readiness. She is extremely giving and nurturing. She loves sharing anything and everything with me, whether it is pictures and stories, words in Nepali, clothing, berries, tea, or even some of her chores. But my favorite thing about Ritu is that she loves being an older sister. Whenever I call her “Didi”, her face lights up. When I follow her around in the morning to watch her work on her loom or milk the buffalo, she loves the company and will repeatedly say “Maya Didi madat!” (Maya helps her big sister). Sometimes, we don’t say anything at all, but just smile at each other and share the time together. The more time I spend with Ritu, the more clearly I am able to see the smooth rhythm she follows throughout the days. With her constant positivity and beaming smile, it seems as if Ritu is dancing through life. It seems only appropriate that Ritu, in Sanskrit, means rhythm. [post_title] => Yak Of The Week: Rhythm [post_excerpt] => "When Ritu milks the buffalo in the morning, there is a calculated pattern to the way she tugs and switches her hands. When she tailors clothes on an old-fashioned sewing machine, she swings the fabric this way and that with ease. Even when Ritu speaks to me in Nepali, she says her words slow and deliberately, like she is speaking to a beat." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => yak-of-the-week-rhythm [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-11 16:13:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-11 22:13:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 13 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 13 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) ) [category_links] => From the Field )
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In early August, Dragons Admin will be workshopping the vision for our organizational role in the world moving into 2018. The mission statement that we create will flavor every avenue of our work, from marketing to alumni relationships.   It feels imperative to first invite into the room the voices of our alumni participants and staff. And because we think Dragons mission should be poetic, creative, bold and beautiful, we are inviting contributions to our missi0n-building workshop in all forms. We will gratefully receive a haiku, a dissertation, lyrics, a mission statement, a poem, a paragraph, a first draft essay, or even just a sentence on what the spirit/mission/heart of Dragons is to you.  The below essay was a contribution to this project from Micah LeMasters.  Micah worked with the prompt: "I have found the soul/heart of Dragons in..." If YOU would like to contribute to this project, please send your submissions to: christina@wheretherebedragons.com by August 5th, 2017. 

I found the heart of Dragons along a dust-red road that wound its way out of town toward a thatched, mudbrick hut. An old woman was holding it in her broken smile. She invited me into her home to share the two sweet potatoes she had traded her rice for. I found the heart of Dragons in the emerald green rice paddies where women spend their lives, doubled over at the waist, slowly pulling from the earth and giving to the earth and raising from the earth and taking from the earth and then returning to the earth. I found the Heart of Dragons, not in the mudbrick homes that rise, for a few years, from the red earth, but in the ancient tombs, hewn from the blue granite mountains, where our ancestor’s bones slowly turn to sapphire and gold.   I have heard the heart of Dragons in the clink of a cheap spoon chasing the last grains of rice to the edge of a metal plate. I have heard the rhythm and beat of Dragons heart in the scuff of an old man’s feet as he hauled his rickshaw up a hill on a misty morning in Madagascar. I have heard the beat and rhythm of Dragons heart in the song of the sandal repairman as he made his rounds through an old Javanese city. I hear it in the slow clacking and swaying of Indian trains as I drift off to sleep a world away. I hear it in the cough of worn out engines and the way a grass broom sounds as it scratches the sunbaked earth. I hear it in the heavily greased axels of ox-carts and the way a truly foreign language sounds like every poem and every song ever written. I have seen the heart of Dragons in the smile of an awe-struck child. I have seen the heart of Dragons in my students as they sit, tears streaming down their faces, unable to comprehend the complexity of life and sorrow and joy. I have seen the heart of Dragons, not in the marbled and gilded halls of the world’s palaces, but around the humble wooden tables, lit by candles, in the far-flung corners of the earth.
I found the heart of Dragons along a dust-red road that wound its way out of town toward a thatched, mudbrick hut. An old woman was holding it in her broken smile.
I have seen the heart of Dragons break a million times. I have seen it ache and anger. I have seen it fully comprehend sorrow and pain. I have seen it sit with those things and tremble with emptiness, waiting to be filled. I have seen it put back together. I have seen it heal. I have seen it overflow with joy and wonder and ecstasy. I have seen it skip a beat—and then another! —at the sheer wonder and beauty of everything. …And so we set off, searching for the heart of Dragons down this dust-red road that continues to wind its way into the distant hills. I’ve heard an old man is holding it there and that he keeps it wrapped in his shawl and held close to his own. They say he is waiting there for us, keeping it warm and safe and when we find him he will look at us, with wisdom, acceptance and love in his eyes, and quietly say: “come, sit, share this tea with me”   Micah LeMaster's Dragons Bio Micah LeMaster's Personal Blog  [post_title] => The Heart of Dragons [post_excerpt] => "I found the heart of Dragons along a dust-red road that wound its way out of town toward a thatched, mudbrick hut. An old woman was holding it in her broken smile. She invited me into her home to share the two sweet potatoes she had traded her rice for." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-heart-of-dragons [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-26 11:05:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-26 17:05:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 641 [name] => About Dragons [slug] => about_dragons [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 641 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [parent] => 0 [count] => 10 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 10 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/about_dragons/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 6 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 2 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 6 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons_instructors/ ) ) [category_links] => About Dragons, Dragons Instructors )
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    [post_content] => Hola from the heart of the Incan Empire. Your favorite Peru 6-week course is currently approaching our midway point, which happens to be hitting a few of us kind of hard. Midway points are a time for reflection, as my 50-year old parents might agree (right guys?).

Today, my lovely instructor Matt recommended that midcourse would be a good time to think about the following question in particular: “Who was I before I got to Peru, and who will I be after I go home?” As standard as this question may seem, Matt, I’m kind of mad at you for making me look so deeply inside of myself… because I found quite a hefty amount to unpack.

But even so, my answer came to me pretty instantly: Before I left for Peru, I lived in the United States… When I return, I will live on planet earth.

The difference is incredibly substantial, and not to be overlooked. I have met so many incredible people here, and they have taught me that we are part of a shared seven-billion person family that transcends borders, as cliche as that may sound. We hear a lot about the importance of our place within our country: how to serve it, how to better it, how to learn about it, and all of these things are certainly important… but they also leave billions of brothers and sisters out of the equation.

For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about social and humanitarian work, and I looked at this work in two categories: at home, and abroad. At home, I saw opportunities to actively participate in politics and tackle systems of injustice. Abroad, I saw a different kind of set up: “service” trips, “development” work, that whole lot. I now understand that these two categories have no basis in reality. There is no need for there to be a difference.
Before I left for Peru, I lived in the United States… When I return, I will live on planet earth.
To serve individuals in one country is to serve the entire world, because all humans are connected. Right now as I write this post, my host mother is across the room playing with her two year old son, and when I look at them I know that we are connected in a way with which borders can not meddle. To participate in mutual acts of kindness with her will not only benefit the two of us, but the entire world. Perhaps our good energy will seep into interactions with others, perhaps she will teach me something that I will use positively for the rest of my life, or perhaps there will be a positive effect that is too abstract for us to even wrap our heads around. But no matter what, that goodness is going to spread far and wide. These effects may seem relatively small, but the catch is that this global human connection is not only true on a metaphysical and emotional level, but on a systemic and institutional level as well. For one thing, institutions and individuals come intertwined in a knot that can not be broken; social systems and personal emotions exist to define each other. Always. But to speak even more specifically, the past century has seen an incredible rise in globalization, and because of this, choices that I make in the United States touch every corner of the globe. I notice this the most every time that I reach for my wallet. This is something that I think American culture has us doing a little too often, which was made clear to me when I saw what my consumer’s footprint looks like in the Amazon Rainforest. There, I saw the trees that were destroyed in order to bring me the dinner table that I frequently find myself missing, and I learned that along with those trees fell entire cultures, economies, well beings, and ways of life. The fact is: every action that I do touches every stretch of the earth, and within that statement comes incredible power. I can use it for good and I can use it for bad, and it might take me an entire lifetime to figure out what that looks like… But to get back to Matt’s prompt: my time in Peru has made me a person who is going to embrace that journey with open arms. [post_title] => Yak Of The Week: So Who Am I? [post_excerpt] => "For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about social and humanitarian work, and I looked at this work in two categories: at home, and abroad. [...] I now understand that these two categories have no basis in reality." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => yak-of-the-week-so-who-am-i-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-25 10:15:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-25 16:15:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 13 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 13 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) ) [category_links] => From the Field )
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