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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“Move. Away from wooden rice sifters and thick soil walls. Away from those rice cakes that finished baking on your palette as they steamed and collapsed in your mouth. Away from those sunken paddies and rich landscapes- freckled with cobalt windows and flush with bougainvillea. Move, because you’re in the mountains now. The deep, steep columns that flake under your rubber sole as you climb. Remember to look up- don’t dwell on the shards of Isalo you’re leaving behind. The magisterial pillars you bruise won’t shed off you like flint. Sigh the moment as you climb in the distracted line that is your group because soon you’ll leave it. Just as you left your family in Ambatomanga, and the pousy-pousy drivers before that. Because the more you dip the glorious memories into developer- the more you saturate and remember- the fainter they become. So be careful. Because it’s easy to think Madagascar is a dream. Easy to get swept away by the harsh winds and sparkling oasis’s of Isalo National Park. Easy to lust after campfire nights where the moon winks you to sleep in bug huts as your guides murmur quietly about the group of tents. If ignorance is bliss then ignorance is a shimmering waterfall nestled in rocks and drowned by sandbanks. Ignorance is also, then, a break from our longest hiking day and an exhilarating swim in the sapphire pools of the south. Ignorance is hopping back to camp barefoot to settle for the night and enjoy the laughs of the guides that were now our family. Ignorance is beautiful- until you climb back down. Back the cracked wooden beds of the hotel. Back the debrief we had with our instructor about our head guide’s story- and how he ended up working in Isalo. “He lived in hell.” he said coarsely as he toggled with his hunting knife, “was paid nothing, had to mine ore in nightmare conditions, and was exploited every second he stayed there.” At this point he started flicking bits of wood off the table. “You want to know what they call it? The place where human rights and morality are buried in the same holes Malagasy people are forced to mine? The gemstone village. Pretty name isn’t it.” Move, what’s beautiful isn’t always what’s right.”

- Lula Zeid @lulazeid

PS. WANT DRAGONS BLOG UPDATES SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX? ONE EMAIL A WEEK. NOTHING MARKETY. UNSUBSCRIBE ANY TIME. SUBSCRIBE TO DRAGONS BLOG AND STAY CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY. ❤️
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Featured Post

Featured Student Ambassador Reflection

Posted on

12/05/19

Author

Lula Zeid, Madagascar Summer '19 Alum

View post
“Move. Away from wooden rice sifters and thick soil walls. Away from those rice cakes that finished baking on your palette as they steamed and collapsed in your mouth. Away from those sunken paddies and rich landscapes- freckled with cobalt windows and flush with bougainvillea. Move..."
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We thought you might like to see some sweatered goats. ❤️ which yes, you can have on your own wall. Each year, Dragons South Asia Program Director, Christy Sommers @talkingcentipede produces our favorite calendar with photos of these fashionable gals. More than 50% of the proceeds of the sweatered 🐐 calendars benefits Asha Deep Vidyashram, a school that serves over 200 K-8th grade students in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood in Varanasi, India. In 2019, the calendars raised $12,700 for the Asha Deep School! ✨ Calendars can be purchased on Etsy. . 📸s by @sweateredgoats otherwise known as @talkingcentipede otherwise known as Christy Sommers.

PS. WANT DRAGONS BLOG UPDATES SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX? ONE EMAIL A WEEK. NOTHING MARKETY. UNSUBSCRIBE ANY TIME. SUBSCRIBE TO DRAGONS BLOG AND STAY CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY. ❤️
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Dear Dragons Community,

Is global education a privilege thing? At both Where There Be Dragons and its nonprofit scholarship organization, called the Dragons Fund, we are constantly asking ourselves this question. We work hard to provide students from ALL backgrounds with access to Dragons programs. And we need your help.
Giving Tuesday (12/3/19) is the annual global generosity movement that supports nonprofits.
As you may know, Giving Tuesday (12/3/19) is the annual global generosity movement that supports nonprofits. For 2019, we've set a goal of "Ten in 2020": ten scholarships for students from all backgrounds to participate in a Dragons program next year. We have raised nearly 60% of the funds toward our goal, but still have over four more scholarships that need funding. These scholarships are only possible if we receive enough donations from the Dragons community. Did you know that you can establish a scholarship in your name, or in the name of a student or loved one? We think this makes for a pretty extraordinary holiday gift.
Did you know that you can establish a scholarship in your name, or in the name of a student or loved one?
Giving Tuesday is in ten days, but you don't have a to wait to visit www.DragonsFund.org and donate. Help us reach our Ten in 2020 goal! We'll be providing more details closer to December 3, including an Instagram takeover (11/25-12/3), a few email reminders, and updates on our progress.   The Dragons Fund is proud to offer need-based scholarships so that participants from all backgrounds may experience a transformational global education on a Where There Be Dragons program. None of it would be possible without your support. So, in the spirit of giving, allow us to give thanks to you for making these scholarships possible - and for encouraging global education in an increasingly urgent time.  
ALL donations directly support scholarships for 2020 students who could not otherwise afford a Dragons program.
ALL donations directly support scholarships for 2020 students who could not otherwise afford a Dragons program. To give you an idea, here's how your Giving Tuesday donation to the Dragons Fund increases access to Dragons programs:
  • $25 to $150 provides grassroots support
  • $150 to $999 provides domestic flights and outdoor gear
  • $1,000 to $2,000 provides international flights
  • $6,000 funds a summer program, not including flights or gear
  • $9,000 funds a summer program, including flights and gear
  • $16,000 funds an entire semester program, including flights and gear
  • Learn more about Named Family Scholarships 
Please reach out to my colleague Briana (by phone at 510-990-0271) or myself (by email at [email protected]) if you have any questions about the Dragons Fund. When donating, visit www.dragonsfund.org/donate. Every dollar brings us closer to a more conscious world. Many thanks, Courtney Zenner Campbell & Briana Bellamy
PS. WANT DRAGONS BLOG UPDATES SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX? ONE EMAIL A WEEK. NOTHING MARKETY. UNSUBSCRIBE ANY TIME. SUBSCRIBE TO DRAGONS BLOG AND STAY CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY. ❤️
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We know that Bolivia is on the minds of so many people in our community. We are passing along this article on the current situation in Bolivia written by Jacquelyn Kovarik, one of Dragons current South America semester instructors. The article is titled, Bolivia's Anti-Indigenous Backlash is Growing.

Jacquelyn wrote this article while the group was participating in a rural homestay in Tocaña, an Afro-Bolivian community in the Yungas region north of La Paz. The group has now safety rerouted to Peru.

Jacquelyn, thank you for so skillfully guiding your students through a tumultuous and historic moment in Bolivia's history, all the while crafting a thoughtful journalistic piece and keeping our community informed on this complex situation!

 
PS. WANT DRAGONS BLOG UPDATES SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX? ONE EMAIL A WEEK. NOTHING MARKETY. UNSUBSCRIBE ANY TIME. SUBSCRIBE TO DRAGONS BLOG AND STAY CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY. ❤️
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This weekend we hosted seven Student Ambassadors at the Dragons office-house....

IMG_1961

They worked (and played) around the clock to inform our projects & programming for 2020.

We feel entirely refreshed with their vibe & vision!

There's an Instagram Highlight that captures some of the action.

And if you're curious, you can learn more about about Dragons Alumni Ambassador program.

Ps. Want Dragons blog updates sent directly to your inbox? One email a week. Nothing markety. Unsubscribe any time. Subscribe to Dragons Blog and stay connected to the community. ❤️
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    [post_content] => 
FIRST PLACE: JULIA HALLIN 
North India, Summer 2019
"Taken in the beginning of a grueling, warm day of trekking. There was nothing but a sheer cliff beyond and an endless flat expanse of desert behind. Glorious."
   
SECOND PLACE: VICTORIA SULLIVAN
China, Summer 2019
"My Bangdong homestay sister who loves ping-pong."
 
THIRD PLACE: HOPE LANE
Madagascar, Summer 2019
"Looking out over Isalo before sunset."

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to all that submitted and shared such lovely images with us!

 VIEW ALL PHOTOS 

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    [post_date] => 2019-10-18 12:14:35
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Before Megan Fettig joined Dragons as an administrator, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small rural community in southern Senegal from 2000-2002. Here's a series of black and white photographs she took while living in the community that, over the past 14 years, has welcomed, taught, and cared for over a hundred Dragons students. Her artist’s statement is included with the gallery. 

This series of work has been exhibited at the Alliance Frances in Accra, Ghana, the National Museum of Ghana in Accra, Ghana, and PII Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the photos in the series was awarded a second place prize in a juried exhibition at the University of Alaska. Please enjoy this digital version of her gallery! 

Manthiankani: A Photographic Tale of Life in a Senegalese Village

Photos & words by Megan E. Fettig

The roosters crow, there is a consistent pounding of mortar against pestle as the women prepare the morning meal. My neighbors awaken, a baby wails, the men chat across the way in the Chief’s compound. A hot and unforgiving sun creeps above the proud palm trees on the eastern horizon and I rise from my spot of slumber under a growing mango tree. I wander out into the day, to greet each member of my family; my host mother, father, my grandma, my dad’s second wife, my teen-aged brother. My two year old sister spots me and runs in my direction on wobbly legs grinning to greet me as she jumps into my open arms. I greet the Chief and the women whose pounding stirred me out of sleep and then the children who somehow over the weeks turned into months turned into years, became mine. And I decide that the sun is just right, that my adopted family looks so perfectly beautiful in this rising light, that I must hold my clunky old Olympus passed down to me from my own father in a far away land. I hear the familiar click as each frame of film is exposed and the story of my relationship with Senegal unwinds. A story of connection, of beauty, and of how strangers took me into their homes and their hearts, how I became theirs and they, mine.

This is a story that was born of a dream. A tale of my experience living, crying, sweating, laughing, and growing in a small village called Mancankani (pronounced maan-chan-kan-ee) in the southern region of Senegal, West Africa where I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I arrived in Senegal in April of 2000 after having spent a decade yearning to experience life in an African village. I longed to witness something pure, some quintessential elemental way of living that I had not experienced among the materialistic tendencies and the spiritual inadequacies of life in America. I wanted to walk barefoot, to feel deeply connected with people, the cycles of the moon, and the nuances of each season. I wanted to live the naive and romantic ideal of an African life. I wanted to move to the rhythms of an African drum, carry babies on my back, dance in the first falling drops of the rainy season.

Little did I know that I would indeed experience all those things and more. I neglected to imagine the frustration of trying to communicate with people of a different language and culture. My daydreams didn’t include feelings of intense isolation nor the hours and hours of anguished boredom with sweat running rivers down my stomach. Slowly, towards the end of two years, the frustrations eased, the isolation somehow transformed into connection, my expressions learned to lean towards laughter. The strangers I lived amongst evolved into neighbors, friends, and family. Their lives revealed wealth to me, perhaps not the type of wealth we try to cultivate in the West; this wealth is more subtle, it dwells closer to the earth, it’s gem is the sparkle of an African sky on any given night, it’s heart is in family, in simply living close to each other.

My hope is that these photographs build a bridge from one human family to another. View them and set aside the traditional misconceptions of Africa; the idea that only poverty, illness and war stricken lives reside there. Experience the mornings when I picked up my camera as the sun rose over the distant palm trees, now two decades ago. See beauty in the face of simplicity so you can know a people who possess the traits of easy laughter, immense hospitality, and an openness to inviting a stranger into their home and calling her their daughter.

  In 2005, Megan Fettig co-created and guided Dragons first program on the African continent bringing students to her Peace Corps village in Senegal. The holistic, community centered, and off-the-beaten-path style of Dragons programs captured Megan’s heart and in the past dozen years, she has continued her involvement with Dragons in several capacities including Instructor, West Africa Program Director, Marketing Director, and most recently, Co-Director of Adult Programs.    
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[post_title] => Manthiankani: A Photographic Tale of Life in a Senegalese Village - A Photo Gallery by Megan Fettig [post_excerpt] => Before Megan Fettig joined Dragons as an administrator, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small rural community in southern Senegal from 2000-2002. Here's a series of black and white photographs she took while living in the community that, over the past 14 years, has welcomed, taught, and cared for over a hundred Dragons students. Her artist’s statement is included with the gallery.  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => manthiankani-a-photographic-tale-of-life-in-a-senegalese-village-a-photo-gallery-by-megan-fettig [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-18 12:22:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-18 18:22:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [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] => 17 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 17 [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] => 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] => 40 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 40 [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] => Global Community, Mixed Media )
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