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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    [post_content] => On September 14, I said goodbye to home and got on a plane bound for Nepal. I was extremely nervous but so excited to kick off the adventure of a lifetime. I didn’t really know what to expect or what I would encounter in Nepal. What would my group members be like and would they laugh at my jokes? What about my instructors? How will I possibly fit everything I need for 3 months into a backpack? What if I forget something? What about the culture? Would I stick out like a sore thumb? Will my host family understand anything I say? How will I possibly use a squatty potty for so long? Will I get sick of eating rice for every meal? Am I going to enjoy a week long Buddhist retreat? What about living in a rural village? Can I trek for 8 hours a day for almost 3 weeks straight? What about showers and laundry? Will I ever feel clean again? Am I going to sleep on the floor every night? Will I get sick? How sick? Will I return the same person as when I left? How will this experience shape the rest of my life? Should I have just gone to college?

Little did I know the decision to come to Nepal would be one of the best I’ve ever made. Three months later and it’s hard to process everything that I experienced, but it was more than I could have ever imagined. My 11 fellow students turned into more than friends- they turned into family. Together we explored Nepal and in the process learned so much about ourselves. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve hugged, we’ve climbed mountains, we’ve challenged each other to think differently and to be better humans, and there is no way I will ever be able to repay everyone for their immense impact on my life. My instructors are more so much more than instructors. They are friends, mentors, and some of the most driven and inspirational people I have ever met. They have pushed me to question and to never stop learning. My backpack that once felt so small now feels excessive and I regret bringing as many clothes as I did. The culture in Nepal is very different from home, but I fell in love. Temples and stupas everywhere, a deep respect for others and for the Earth, the happiness that engulfs everyday life. Turns out the squatty potty is not so bad and much of my group has even come to prefer them. My host families may not have always understood me, but they taught me so much about gratitude, compassion, simplicity, and community. Daal bhat power 24 hour is a true statement even if we get sick of it at times. The Himalayas left me speechless and in an indescribable state of awe multiple times a day, and the views made all the hard days of trekking absolutely worth it. We learned to embrace our stink but also to really appreciate the occasional waterfall/river shower or an opportunity to hand wash clothes. We all got sick at some point and it often seemed like we consumed more ORS than regular water, but the support of the group made it better.

I know I have grown and changed in the past three months, and I’m proud of all that I have learned on this course. I have learned to lean in to uncomfortable situations and I have embraced a completely different way of life. I have learned so much about Nepali culture and as a result I have examined my own culture in a different light and really reflected on how I live my life. I have become so much more aware of my immense privilege and learned how I can better use what I have been given to create positive change. I have grown so much in my gratitude, especially for things I usually take for granted like clean air, a constant supply or filtered water, and a bathroom inside my house instead of across the street. I have seen and experienced so much in a short period of time and will forever be influenced by my time in Nepal.

On December 9, I will board a plane in Kathmandu and wave goodbye to Nepal. This time, I’m also nervous, but in a way I’ve never felt before. This time, I’m nervous to go home. I’m nervous to return to the place and the people that have shaped the past 18 years of my life. I’m so excited to see my family and friends and share about my time in Nepal, but I’m nervous. I’m nervous about adjusting to a way of life that now seems so foreign to me. I’m nervous I will feel overwhelmed and out of place. I can show my friends and family pictures of where I’ve been and tell countless stories, but there is no way I will be able to completely describe how I felt. How can I describe the feeling of and early morning puja with hundreds of monks at Namo Buddha? How can I share the feeling of complete awe as I looked up at the thousands of stars in the tiny village of Na? How can I reciprocate the strong communities I observed in Chokati and at the Ashram? There is so much I want this share, but I know I will never be able to encapsulate everything that my time in Nepal has taught me and how I’ve changed in the process, and I’m okay with that. At first this thought really freaked me out- would it be hard to prove the validity of experiences that I can’t even describe? I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe the best memories aren’t meant to be shared. And I always know that should I find myself overwhelmed by the transition back home, there are 14 amazing people who understand what a journey this has been and who I can always count on.
    [post_title] => WHEN HOME SEEMS FOREIGN
    [post_excerpt] => I know I have grown and changed in the past three months, and I’m proud of all that I have learned on this course. I have learned to lean in to uncomfortable situations and I have embraced a completely different way of life. I have learned so much about Nepali culture and as a result I have examined my own culture in a different light and really reflected on how I live my life.
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Featured Post

WHEN HOME SEEMS FOREIGN

Posted on

12/08/17

Author

Austin Schmidt, Nepal Semester Fall 2017

View post
I know I have grown and changed in the past three months, and I’m proud of all that I have learned on this course. I have learned to lean in to uncomfortable situations and I have embraced a completely different way of life. I have learned so much about Nepali culture and as a result I have examined my own culture in a different light and really reflected on how I live my life.
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In the spirit of gratitude, we are sharing this photo from our Guatemala & Nicaragua semester of the student group at a Tzu'tujil ceremony at sunrise at San Juan La Laguna, Solola.

Thank you Ti'xar Bazar & Collectivo for sharing this photo and caption with us!

[caption id="attachment_152130" align="alignnone" width="1194"] Photo by @ti.xar, Guatemala and Nicaragua Semester.[/caption]

We give thanks to the sun and to the darkness. To the land, it's fruit, and the wind. From the heart of earth to the heart of sky, we connect with our ancestors for wisdom, power and spirit. We must plant trees because trees give us life - Without them there is no soil, no water, no food, no air, nor beauty. We give gratitude for what we have, because it's worth more than what we have not.

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    [post_content] => 
Waking up
to a different ceiling and scent
is at first a little disorienting.
How can I be 6,000 miles away from yesterday?
How are these people so unaware of the world out there?
Perhaps airports are portals that transport us too quickly,
causing E-motion sickness,
making my stomach feel the loneliness
and longing for what was once in our hands just a few hours ago.
Now, the sand is shaking off the pockets of my daypack,
scent of tea seeping out through my stuff sacks,
the odor of Tide in my hand-washed T-shirts,
red soil continues to penetrate in my boots and skirts,
and memories begin to unpack itself as I emptied my backpack.
 
Poem by Anna Apilado, Summer 2017 Alumni of the Morocco Program
[post_title] => First Night Home: A Poem, by Anna Apilado [post_excerpt] => A lovely poem shared with us by Anna Apilado, Alumnus of the Morocco Summer 2017 Program...  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => first-night-home-a-poem-by-anna-apilado [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-03 10:07:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-03 16:07:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 646 [name] => Alumni Spotlight [slug] => alumni_spotlight [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 646 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [parent] => 0 [count] => 6 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 6 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/alumni_spotlight/ ) ) [category_links] => Alumni Spotlight )
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    [post_content] => 

FIRST PLACE: LUISA ROJO

North India: Roof of the World (4-week)

"Innocence and tradition. Kids playing in the prayer wheel in Takmachik, India."

SECOND PLACE: ELIZABETH SHOUP

China: The Silk Road

"Prayer wheels at a Buddhist monastery in Yushu."

 

TIED FOR THIRD PLACE: JENNA SMITH

Peru: Sacred Mountains (4-week)

"Expensive phone calls from the mountains."

TIED FOR THIRD PLACE: MADDY GRIFFIN

Myanmar: Development Studies & Social Transformation

"A huge statue located at the top of a pagoda in Mandalay."

Visit the WTBD Facebook page to view photos and captions from all of our finalists. [post_title] => 2017 SUMMER PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED [post_excerpt] => Selected by peers, family, friends and strangers via Facebook...we're proud to announce the winners... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => s17-photo-contest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-22 10:37:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-22 17:37:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 654 [name] => Mixed Media [slug] => mixed_media [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 654 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [parent] => 0 [count] => 12 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 12 [category_description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [cat_name] => Mixed Media [category_nicename] => mixed_media [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/mixed_media/ ) ) [category_links] => Mixed Media )
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    [post_content] => Teachers, alumni, students: Did you know you can bring a Dragons Instructor right into your classroom for engaging conversations on critical global issues? This might be one of the best things we do. We call it our Global Speaker Series. (And ps. it's free.)

Class Topics with our Guest Teachers Include:
  • The Forces Behind Migration from Central America
  • Introduction to Islam
  • Good Intentions with Complicated Outcomes
  • Urbanization in China
  • Structural Violence
  • Seeds of Culture
  • The Flow of River and Wealth
  • Woven Stories
At Dragons we see exceptional beauty in diversity. And we believe that the experience of connecting with unfamiliar cultures has something to teach everyone. We are dedicated to cross-cultural learning because we know that future leaders will be required to think beyond borders. Part of our educational mission is to bring what we’ve learned from remote corners of the world back home to share. With this mission in mind, each year we send our best teachers to schools across the United States to share their experiences, perspectives, and insights from years living abroad with students ready to engage with critical and compelling global questions. We invite you to look at some of the conversations our staff are facilitating in classrooms around the country. Whether you are a teacher of Language Studies, Geography, Science, History, Social Studies, Religion, or Art, we hope to have a topic of interest to you. If one of the following class titles piques your curiosity, please get in touch. We’d be happy to coordinate a visit from one of our teachers to speak to your class on the subject. And if there’s a topic you would like to address that’s not on this list, let us know. It’s exactly this type of question-based collaboration with students, schools, and educators that inspires us. The Global Speaker Series is sponsored by the Dragons Global Education Fund, in partnership with The Futurity Foundation 501(c)-3. PLEASE SHARE THIS BOOKLET with your teacher or school or call us to have one sent to you. Or just get directly in touch to learn more about our Global Speaker Series: 1800.982.9203
 
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    [post_content] => Loving this shot shared with us by Ellie Happel from the South America, Andes & Amazon Semester...

See more photos on Dragons Instagram feed. Updated weekly.
    [post_title] => Featured Instagram Photo From Ellie Happel
    [post_excerpt] => Loving this shot shared with us by Ellie Happel from the South America, Andes & Amazon Semester.
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    [post_content] => 

Dragons Community Grant Fund

In an effort to give back to our incredible community partners, Where There Be Dragons has created a Community Grant Fund. This fund awards grants to community organizations based on a comprehensive application process. Ultimately, the goal of the fund is to provide community organizations with financial support for local projects and to provide a mechanism for Dragons administration, instructors, and students to give back to the places that so generously welcome Dragons participants. All applications are reviewed by a committee and awarded on an annual basis. The Dragons Community Grant Fund is supported by under-budget funds from student programming. At the end of each term, 100% of seasonal total under budget funds will be designated to support the Dragons Community Grant Fund.

Community Grant Committee

Each year, 3-6 members of the Dragons community will be designated by the Executive Director to serve on the Dragons Community Grant Fund Committee. At least two of these members must be full-time administrative staff. The committee will be responsible for: » Messaging Community Grant opportunities on the website, social media, newsletter, and other venues. » Managing how awarded grants/projects are highlighted and shared with the Dragons community (e.g. on the website or blog). » Reviewing the Grant Proposal Guidelines on an annual basis and updating as appropriate. Reviewing grant applications one time per year, unless special circumstances merit an alternative award schedule:

1. Prior to application review, the Executive Director will inform the committee members of the total available funds that may be awarded in the current cycle.

2. Committee members will review all current grant applications and provide feedback to other committee members.

3. Committee members will review submitted materials to ensure that applicants meet all criteria. In addition, applications will be assessed based on the following criteria:

• applicant’s relationship with Dragons;

• the potential impact on a local community - including the number beneficiaries, the community-oriented nature/leadership of a project, and the potential for continuing benefit to the community;

• clarity of application and project plan.

4. Committee funding decisions will be made using a consensus decision making model and if consensus cannot be reached, the Executive Director may make a final decision on awards.

5. The committee may decide to award all, some, or none of the available Community Grant Funds in any given year.

6. Unused funds will be rolled over to and be made available for future community grant applications.

» Messaging Notifying all applicants via email of committee decisions related to applications. » Monitoring fund distribution. » Monitoring project follow-up for all awardees and developing a mechanism to share updates with the Dragons community. » Providing the Executive Director with accurate accounting of all grants awarded.

Giving Philosophy

Through these grants Where There Be Dragons hopes to help address needs and opportunities in the communities in which we work, and thereby better fulfill our organization’s mission statement and core values. Emphasis is placed on supporting projects that will have many beneficiaries, are community-oriented, and will have a continuing benefit to the community.

Funding

Grants range from $500-$5,000 per applicant. Dragons reserves the right to adjust the amount awarded to grantees at their discretion.

Eligibility

Grants range from $500-$5,000 per applicant. Dragons reserves the right to adjust the amount awarded to grantees at their discretion. » An individual/organization must submit a completed grant proposal by the stated deadline. Applications may be submitted on behalf of an organization by non-affiliated individuals. » The individual/organization must demonstrate recent (within the last 2 years) and/or ongoing interaction/relationship with Dragons as an organization. » If an applicant is a current member of Dragons administrative staff or a member of the staff’s immediate family, then the administrative staff may not serve on the the Community Grant Committee for the funding cycle when that application will be considered. » The proposal request must be for a discrete project or a specific phase of an ongoing program, where the start and projected end date are determined. » The objectives of the project and projected cost must be shared in the application process. The review process will assess the viability of the objectives and the clarity of the cost structure. » Applicants agree that if a grant is awarded the individual and/or organization will acknowledge Dragons as a sponsor of their project.

Application Deadlines

Proposals and/or requests for information should be emailed to hr@wheretherebedragons.com. Applications are due by February 1 of each year for consideration of awards to be reviewed in February and awarded in May. Applications may be submitted at any time during the funding cycle. A maximum of 2 applications per individual/organization is permitted per year. Submitting a proposal does not guarantee funding. RESTRICTIONS The Dragons Community Grant Fund does not provide funding for: » Academic research » Individual scholarships » Fundraising events, sponsorships, or advertising » International travel for applicant » Endowment or memorial campaigns » Government agencies NOTE: If a need is identified within the above categories, please reach out directly to the Program Director of that region to begin a conversation of how Dragons might be able to support.

Application Procedures

Applications may be submitted either directly by a community member/organization, or by a Dragons instructor, alumni instructor, or former student on behalf of a community member/organization. Applications are more likely to receive funding if they are thorough and clearly-written, express and address a true community need, demonstrate a high level of community involvement and leadership of the project, and involve a continuing community benefit after the project has been completed. Individuals wishing to apply for an award through the Dragons Community Grant Fund should submit a written proposal, which includes all of the following points: 1. Applicant’s name and contact information, including email (note that email will be our primary means of communicating with applicants unless a different preference is indicated by the applicant) 2. Description of the eligibility of the applicant and/or project stakeholders (i.e. history of affiliation with Dragons) Note: If the applications is being submitted by an instructor or student on behalf of a community organization or individual, the applicant must indicate both their and the organization’s affiliation with Dragons and also provide an outline of how the parties will work together to administer the project if a grant is awarded. 3. Name and contact information of two stakeholders involved with the project in the local community 4. Location of the project country and specific site where the project will take place 5. Project scope and objectives, including:

• Project start and end dates

• Overall description of the project

• An outline and description of the stakeholders involved with the project (e.g. the community organization, individuals, or institutions involved in the project and their relevant experience related to the project)

• Specific goals and anticipated outcomes of the project, including the number of beneficiaries

• Description of how the project is relevant to the community’s needs, how those needs were identified, and how the project directly benefits the local community

• Performance measures (how the project’s success will be determined/measured)

• Description of the overall sustainability of the project

6. Schedule (plan of action and time frame) 7. Budget

• Include the overall cost and specific expenses

• Indicate any community contribution (in-kind and/or financial)

• Indicate any amount requested from other sources (if any)

• Indicate the total amount requested from Dragons in USD.

8. Any potential conflicts of interest the applicant may have if grant is approved 9. A list of other donors or project contributors (if applicable) 10. Detailed explanation of how to transfer money for the project

Award Process

Designated Community Grant Fund Committee members will review grant proposals each February to select which, if any, projects to fund. Applicants will be notified via e-mail about the decision related to their proposal after application review is complete. Awards will typically be made in May of each year. NOTE: At the Committee’s discretion, time-sensitive proposals may be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Reporting Process

Award recipient(s) are expected to: 1. Send an email to hr@wheretherebedragons.com on a monthly basis with a short paragraph update on the project until the project is completed. • Upon completion, the award recipient will submit: • A two-page final report upon completion of the project detailing accomplishments and any challenges that might have affected the project • A detailed expense report • Several photos of the project site and project stakeholders [post_title] => Dragons Community Grant Fund [post_excerpt] => In an effort to give back to our incredible community partners, Where There Be Dragons has created a Community Grant Fund. This fund awards grants to community organizations based on a comprehensive application process. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons_community_grant_fund [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-26 12:34:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-26 18:34:06 [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] => 653 [name] => Global Community [slug] => global_community [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 653 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [parent] => 0 [count] => 6 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 6 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/global_community/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 669 [name] => Engage [slug] => engage [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 669 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [parent] => 0 [count] => 7 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 669 [category_count] => 7 [category_description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [cat_name] => Engage [category_nicename] => engage [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/engage/ ) ) [category_links] => Global Community, Engage )
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