Our amazing group of instructors at our all-staff orientation in the High Sierra mountains, California. Photo by Parker Pflaum.

Posts Categorized:

About Dragons

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    [post_date] => 2020-01-09 13:05:26
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    [post_content] => In an effort to give back to our wonderful network of international partners, Dragons has a Community Grant Fund that awards grants to local organizations based on a comprehensive application process.  Some of this year's grant funds were distributed to support a menstrual health project in Chaukati, Nepal. Thank you to Michael D. Smith MSW/MPH (Nepal Himalaya Studies Instructor) for sharing more about this project via the following report! 

Introduction

For over ten years, Where There Be Dragons has had the pleasure of bringing numerous Gap Semester, Summer, and College Study Abroad student groups for rural homestay visits to Chaukati village in Sindhupalchowk District, northeast of Kathmandu. Travel to Chaukati from Kathmandu takes about four hours by bus on the Araniko Highway to the nearest town of Bahrabise, located just above where the Bhote Khosi (Tibetan River) meets the Sun Khosi (Gold River). Then one must hike three hours up a hill through forests and fields from the highway to the villages above. Chaukati was one of hundreds of communities whose village was completely destroyed in the devastating earthquakes of April and May 2015. Of hundreds of houses, not a single one remained standing. Many families lost most of their possessions, as well as livestock such as chickens, goats, cows and buffalo (the lifeblood of rural Nepal).  Chaukati is a village of mixed ethnicities and castes, including many members of the Thangmi (Thami) community, a small ethnic group known for traditions that reflect a close relationship with the natural world. The Thangmi continue to gather food and medicines from the forest and maintain unique shamanic cultural practices. Most Thangmi elders never received any formal education, and many only speak Thangmi language, of which an estimated 20,000 native speakers remain.

Project Origin

Dragons student groups and alumni instructors, together with local government and some development NGOs, have joined a number of projects in Chaukati, before and after the earthquakes, including construction of a new health center and elementary school, dozens of new homes for marginalized local families, and other assistance such as agricultural development and new stoves. Other organizations, such as Its Her Turn Nepal (Hamro Palo Nepal), have assisted the community with non-tangible social development, such as conducting leadership trainings and empowerment workshops for girls.  In the Fall of 2017, as Dragons instructors interviewed host families about learning service opportunities in the village, the idea of reusable sanitary pads came up in conversation. Some local girls were aware of the benefits of reusable sanitary pads from the previous Its Her Turn project, but there was nowhere to obtain the cotton pads in the area. When one instructor asked the girls if they would be interested to receive a distribution of the pads, they refused, instead suggesting that it would be best for them to organize a training in Chaukati to teach local women to make their own cotton pads, so that they would not be reliant on others to bring them to them. The instructors approached a Nepal-based social enterprise, Dharti Mata ("Mother Earth" in Sanskrit), which runs a small factory that employs village women to sew a variety of sanitary pads from organic cotton. These attractive reusable pads, called "Love Lady Pads," are designed to reduce social stigma in rural areas around menstruation, to support safe and healthy sanitary practices, and to reduce the problem of solid waste from single-use disposable sanitary pads. Dharti Mata was co founded by Claire Lin, an eco-social entrepreneur from Taiwan, and Mithu Dhital, of the Hasera Permaculture Farm in Patlekhet in Nepal (where many Dragons students have studied). The women of Dharti Mata were enthusiastic to partner in the project, so the instructors applied for a $2000 of funding from Dragons Community Grant Fund to support Reusable Eco-Sanitary Pad DIY training workshops in Chaukati.

Project Description

Due to the limited availability of trainers and the onset of monsoon, which is very heavy in Chaukati (as anyone who has been there during that time can attest!), the group of seven trainers from Dharti Mata were not able to conduct the workshops until late October of 2018. A four-hour workshop was held each day for three days. The workshops included sessions on female reproductive health, developing positive attitudes about women's bodies and the menstrual cycles, massage and yoga techniques for maintaining a healthy uterus, discussions of the health and environmental benefits of reusable sanitary cloth pads, and a training session on how to stitch one's own pads that included distribution of cloth, needles, and thread. Each woman was given five pads in total: A pre-made simple pad and two pad components that were stitched during the training (a long pad and a night pad). More about the Love Lady Pads line can be found on their website at www.dhartimata.com In total, 150 local women of a variety of ages, castes, and ethnicities representing all six wards of the Chaukati area attended the workshops. The workshops were supported by the local government and were officially opened by the municipal Chairperson, Man Bahadur Thami. In the Spring of 2019, one instructor returned with the Dragons Nepal College Study Abroad course and visited Chaukati. They interviewed the local Women's Craft Development Committee about asked about their impressions of the workshops. The women reported they were pleased that the workshop had taken place, as it created a safe forum for women to openly discuss issues they were facing. They requested more trainings and workshops in the future, and offered to serve as the local organizing partner. The conversations surrounding women's health in Chaukati inspired one of the Spring 2019 Nepal College Study Abroad students to return to Chaukati for two weeks to study local midwifery practices. While she was there, she participated in the birth of baby, and was able to learn a great deal about taboos and progress in the areas of female reproductive health.

Importance of Menstrual Health Projects in Nepal

In the contemporary Nepali context, programs such as this DIY Reusable Eco-Sanitary Pad training take on a larger significance than merely environmental or economic benefits. In many sectors of Nepali society, especially in rural areas, menstruation and female reproductive health issues have been considered taboo subjects. Myths and stigma surrounding ritual pollution from the touch of a menstruating woman prevails. In some areas, chapaudi, a practice where women move to a shed behind the house during menstruation, is still practiced. Though this tradition has been banned in Nepal, recent incidents of young women or teenage girls dying in their 'menstruation sheds' due to snakebite or other hazards have highlighted the persistence of these practices. Even in communities like Chaukati where Chhaupadi is not practiced, taboos surrounding menstruation still affect Nepali women and girls. Many households in Kathmandu still prohibit menstruating women from entering kitchens, temples, eating with the family, and sleeping on their beds. These practices can condition women to view their bodies as unclean and  devalue themselves because they take  blame for any misfortune their families experience. Chhaupadi’s legacy contributes to a wider disregard of women and girls that places them in danger. Nepali news outlets have been raising  awareness of this issue, and there are some indications that the media is in general, reporting more stories of female reproductive and gender related issues. Recent incidents of women dying in menstruation sheds have even been covered in international media such as the New York Times. Encouraging projects that support local women to advance the conversation about female reproductive health, helps de-stigmatize harmful attitudes and given women the space to voice experiences previously neglected in formal and public spheres.  Michael D Smith Dharti Mata and the organizers of the Chaukati Reusable Eco-Sanitary Pad DIY training workshops are grateful for the support of the Dragons Community Grant Funds for this project. It would not have been possible without the creation of the Fund or the instructors who carefully managed program budgets in order to contribute money to the fund. Thank you!      
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    [post_date] => 2020-01-01 11:35:19
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    [post_content] => In addition to taking on everything from chaos theory to Rosa Parks, trusty and entertaining hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have addressed ALL the questions associated with Gap Years in a recent episode of the Stuff You Should Know Podcast.

In 55 minutes they banter with hard research and humor on subjects including:
  • The history & evolution of the Gap Year
  • The risks of schooling burn out
  • Stats that will soothe parent concerns regarding a child's wish to do a Gap Year
  • Different ways to approach planning & doing a Gap Year
  • How colleges are responding to incoming students who want to do a Gap Year (#positively!)
  • How to offset the costs of a Gap Year
  • and lots more.
Bonus?! Chuck & Josh giggling over the name, "Where There Be Dragons" at the 13-minute mark! :) Head over to the podcast to listen to the full (and fun) episode. You can also check out the show notes in this article in which the author, Clint Pumphrey, comments:

"I've always thought asking 18-year-olds to pick a college major is a recipe for disaster. How can we expect anyone with such little life experience to know what they want to do for the next 40 years? After writing this article, though, I can definitely see how a well-planned gap year might just help some people make better decisions about their future. I think it's great to take a year after high school to learn more about yourself and your interests, and even have a little fun in the process. It certainly beats switching gears when you're a few years into college, or worse, saddled with the responsibility of a family, career and mortgage!"

If you have more questions after listening to the episode, feel free to post them in the comments and we'll answer them.  
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_date] => 2019-12-23 12:58:09
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    [post_content] => Dear Community,

Value Statements are the guiding and aspirational principles that unite a community, inform direction, and help a group make tough decisions in times of ambiguity.

Dragons began the work of crafting new Value Statements over a year ago. It started with a call to the community (staff, student, and admin) for essays in response to the prompt: "What is the heart of Dragons?" From those qualitative responses, a Word Cloud was born.

Dragons admin then used 237 phrases taken from the "Heart of Dragons" essays to create 50+ first draft Value Statements. With the help of our student ambassadors, we have narrowed the list down to 9 statements.

The aim of this survey is to find out if we're on track with these value statements, or need to further refine or build them. Just as we started with our community, we now turn to you again for your feedback in this final stage of review and revision.

Will you please take a few minutes to share with us your level of RESONANCE & INSPIRATION in response to the following proposed Value Statements?

TAKE DRAGONS VALUE STATEMENT SURVEY

There's space at the end of the survey to offer more feedback or write/add your own Value Statement if you feel something essential is missing. Thank you so much for sharing your time, insights, and feedback with us. Gratefully, The Humans @ Dragons HQ
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. ❤️
[post_title] => Dragons Value Statement Community Survey [post_excerpt] => Value Statements are the guiding and aspirational principles that unite a community, inform direction, and help a group make tough decisions in times of ambiguity. Dragons began the work of crafting new Value Statements over a year ago.... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-value-statement-community-survey [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-01 11:44:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-01 18:44:25 [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] => 19 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 19 [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] => 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] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 38 [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/ ) ) [category_links] => Global Community, About Dragons )
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    [post_date] => 2019-12-16 11:58:55
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    [post_content] => 

Dragons Podcast

You asked for it. And here it is:

THE DRAGONS PODCAST

hosted by Alum Student Bub Vernon

  • EP. 6 PEPY's Executive Director Sarakk Rith on hope and struggle for education in Cambodia.
  • EP. 5 Dragons Executive Director, Reed Harwood, on the role of Dragons in the lives of students and communities.
  • EP. 4 Two Dragons fund students on "ah ha" moments and advice for future students.
  • EP. 3 Veteran Instructor Rich Brown on the realities of immigration across the southern US border.
  • EP. 2 Veteran Instructor Claire Bennett on "voluntourism" and an alternative approach to service.
  • EP. 1 A mother & daughter who EACH did Dragons programs on their unique yet similar experiences.
  Dragons is committed to cross-cultural education as a tool for breaking down barriers. Tune in to our podcast and hear for yourself how we can all make a difference.

LISTEN NOW on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

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_date] => 2019-11-21 12:05:44
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-11-21 19:05:44
    [post_content] => 

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. ❤️
[post_title] => #GivingTuesday and How You Can Help Make Global Education not "just a privilege thing" [post_excerpt] => Is global education a privilege thing? At both 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... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => givingtuesday-and-how-you-can-help-make-global-education-not-just-a-privilege-thing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-12-05 14:21:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-12-05 21:21:33 [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] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 38 [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] => 669 [name] => Engage [slug] => engage [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 669 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [parent] => 0 [count] => 19 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 13 [cat_ID] => 669 [category_count] => 19 [category_description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [cat_name] => Engage [category_nicename] => engage [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/engage/ ) [2] => 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] => 51 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 14 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 51 [category_description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [cat_name] => Announcements [category_nicename] => announcements [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => About Dragons, Engage ... )
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    [ID] => 155582
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2019-11-14 13:54:06
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-11-14 20:54:06
    [post_content] => 

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. ❤️
[post_title] => Alumni Ambassadors — Refreshing Dragons HQ with Vibe & Vision [post_excerpt] => This weekend we hosted seven Student Ambassadors at the Dragons office-house. They worked (and played) around the clock to inform our projects & programming for 2020. We have an Instagram Highlight capturing some of the action... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-ambassadors-refreshing-dragons-hq-with-vibe-vision [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-12-05 14:17:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-12-05 21:17:35 [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] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 38 [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] => 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] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 38 [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] => About Dragons, Alumni Spotlight )
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