Reed Harwood became Dragons Executive Director in January of 2017. Here's a short letter of background and introduction...
Twenty-five years ago Chris Yager founded Where There Be Dragons, pioneering an industry now commonly known as Cross-Cultural Experiential Education. He identified a deep need for this kind of education, and has since helped cultivate an understanding that we all need it. In 2005 I happened upon Dragons, and discovered that I needed it, too.
I was called to Dragons in 2005 to work as a field instructor in Tibet. In my late 20’s, it was the perfect job. I had spent years in the field as a wilderness guide, and had recently transitioned back to academia to pursue a graduate degree in Religious Studies. Dragons came along and offered an opportunity to blend my passion for experiential education with meaningful cross-cultural engagement and inquiry. I could continue to ask big questions, not in the halls of academia but with other people in alleyways and mountains. Dragons connected me to the stories of the world, and often the untold stories.
For 10 years I worked for Dragons, as a guide and as an administrator. I balanced my Dragons work with my desire to be a teacher. I taught part time at the college level, and then I left Dragons in 2012 to teach full time as a high school World History teacher. Then I became a father, and I knew that I needed to dedicate my life to Dragons and its founding mission.
My wife and I adopted our son at birth. Like most parents, we transitioned into a new life together. Parenting forced us to sift through what we value in life, and discard any excess. My son is African-American, and it’s no secret that being black in America requires a different kind of skill set to thrive. As a white father living in Boulder, Colorado, it demanded answers to a difficult question: how am I going to educate my son? How am I going to provide an education that will allow him to go off into the world, to discover who he is and that he matters? How can I equip him with the skills to not only survive, but thrive.
Dragons, in part, was my answer. Dragons is a global community bent on discovering something deep, and mysterious, and beautiful. It’s about the thousands of students, instructors and community members who come together to learn what it means to be fully human, to be fully oneself, and to see the majesty in all of life’s expressions. Dragons is part of a historical movement that seeks to resist the marginalization of difference, and offer celebration in its place. This is what I want my son to learn: to recognise all the potential we have and to gain the skills to craft a life surrounded by beauty and meaning. That’s not an easy task, considering all the facts. But it’s possible, and it’s one that Dragons is committed to realizing.
The dream of Dragons is as important today as it was 25 years ago, and my commitment to Dragons is to maintain that uncompromising belief in the inherent potential and beauty of humanity. I’m honored to be a part of this community, to now serve as the Executive Director, and to help Dragons realize its best self.