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Posts Categorized:

Alumni Spotlight

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One of the questions we ask our students after they travel with Dragons is: Having finished your program, and knowing what you now know, what advice would you give to a future student before they get on the plane? The following is a collection of 20 pieces of alumni advice offered to future Dragons students before they embark upon their summer and gap year travels...

Q: What advice would you give to a future student before they get on the plane?

“Come empty as you can and, yes it’s a long time, but I promise you it flies by so fast!” - Harrison Gully

“It's totally fine to be nervous, but don't let it overcome your excitement. There will be moments that are awkward or uncomfortable, but they don't last.” - Kate Canning “Talk to everyone, even strangers on the streets while waiting in line for tacos, because you can learn so much about the country and the environment in simple conversation.” - Rebecca Worth

“Don’t overthink it. You can’t always be prepared for the experiences that you will encounter on this trip. And even though that fact is a little daunting, it’s also the best aspect!” - Ana Cordes

“Come in with an open mind. Most of your preconceptions will be shattered.” - Jack Fitzgibbons “Don't waste too much time being homesick.” - Ava Samuels

“Express early and often what you want from the course!” - Miles Dyke

“Be open minded because many activities seem impossible at the time, but actually come much easier as you do them.” - Wes Breier “Keep an open mind. It is definitely not like home but when you keep a positive outlook, even sleeping on a board isn't that bad and sometimes enjoyable.” - Pearl Rincon “Pack lots of layers!” - Mollie Ames "It is going to hard and stressful at times. The simplest things at home take much more time and energy here. But it gets easier and you find your favorite boutiques that carry your favorite yogurt and there is a chair in your homestay living room that the whole family knows is yours. This faraway place will always be different from home but you will find a new home here in every new person you greet and every handful of cheb you eat." - Julia Kelly

“Your goals at the beginning will change so much over the course, just let it happen.” - William Albright

“Be prepared and excited to be pushed out of your comfort zone.” - Corinna Donovan

“Don't stress too much before hand. Everything is organized and all opportunities are open.” - Meike Leonard

“Enter the course with an open mind and let it take you down its path without fighting.” - John Marangola

“Try and push yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone every single day. Stick your neck out, be aware, and it will surprise you how, if you do this every day, you will grow and evolve as a person, individual, and team player.” - Briana Frost

“Travel light. Emotionally and physically. Be a feather in the wind. Be okay with not always knowing what to expect.” - Rachel Wolf

“Be aware of your preconceived biases, and work hard to combat that. This experience is incredibly powerful and you will be experiencing a very different culture to the one in the United States. Take the time to find the beauty in difference. You won't regret it.” - Thomas Sulger "This will be the most profound experience of your life. It will be educational, exciting, beautiful, challenging, deep and raw. The hardest moments will teach you just as much if not more than the magical ones, so value them."- Claire Lindsay “Jump in! You can only truly experience this trip if you leave your fears and hesitations at the door (or on the airplane).” - Sophie Ashley "Take a deep breath, you are here, you made it, and you have chosen this journey for yourself. That on its own speaks volumes about how strong and courageous you are. Know that you are here for a reason; it may be the hardest thing you've done in your life and it will be a series of moments in which you will learn and grow, and it will be nothing short of amazing. Theres no way I can tell you to take every last drop out of this experience without sounding preachy or echoing what your parents have already nagged you with. I can only echo it. Your time here will end all to soon, so jump in feet first, make friends on the street and create a home for yourself here. You've got this." - Espoir DelMain

If you're Dragons alumni and would like to add a piece of advice to this list, feel free to leave it in the comments!

  [post_title] => 20 Bits of Travel Advice from Dragons Alumni to Future Students [post_excerpt] => One of the questions we ask our students after they travel with Dragons is: What advice would you give to a future student? Here are 20 pieces of Alumni advice that we've collected to offer to future Dragons students before they embark upon their summer and gap year travels... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 20-bits-travel-advice-dragons-alumni-future-students [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-06 07:21:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-06 13:21:04 [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] => 697 [name] => Dragons Travel Guide [slug] => dragons-travel-guide [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 697 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 22 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 2 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 22 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Dragons Travel Guide [category_nicename] => dragons-travel-guide [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons-travel-guide/ ) [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] => 32 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 32 [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] => Dragons Travel Guide, Alumni Spotlight )
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    [post_date] => 2018-01-23 13:13:52
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    [post_content] => Oh! We love it when our past Gap Year students send us video footage from their year abroad!  Thank you Benjamin Swift (Dragons South America Semester, Fall 2016)

“Thanks to everyone who made the past year+ great! Here's to more adventures in 2018 (albeit a bit late) Scenes from my 2016-17 gap year in Perú, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador. Highlights included traveling with Where There Be Dragons, interning with ecologists in Quito, diving in the Galápagos Islands, and volunteering at the AmaZOOnico animal rescue center in the Ecuadorean Amazon.”



Gap Year Highlight Reel from Benjamin Swift on Vimeo.
    [post_title] => Gap Year Video by Benjamin Swift
    [post_excerpt] => Oh! We love it when our past Gap Year students send us video footage from their year abroad! Thank you Benjamin Swift!

“Thanks to everyone who made the past year+ great! Here's to more adventures in 2018 (albeit a bit late) Scenes from my 2016-17 gap year in Perú, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador. Highlights included traveling with Where There Be Dragons, interning with ecologists in Quito, diving in the Galápagos Islands, and volunteering...
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    [post_date] => 2017-12-20 07:15:38
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    [post_content] => 
Here are some sneak-peek excerpts from the featured essays of our winter edition of The Map's Edge. Be sure to check your mail to get your hands on all the glossy pages of stories, photos, and updates from four corners of Dragons global community!
PAGE 4
BRAZIL
Princeton Bridge Year: To Have a Home
By JIMIN KANG
"I believe that there are qualities in each of us that can only be realized in different contexts. I discovered that Brazil brought out a version of myself that inspires me most. To this day, I miss the candor with which I greeted strangers on the street and told them about my love for acarajé, the fried bean fritters I'd eat with friends after hours of practicing Portuguese. I miss the music and the visual arts that flourish across Salvador, and the days I painted lampposts with spray paint oozing down my hands. I miss the confidence with which Bahians wear their own skin, and the way I felt more comfortable in my own body than I'd ever been. More than anything, I miss the people who greeted me with a "seja bem-vindo" (be welcome) and bid me farewell with a "volte sempre" (return always). People who taught me that home can be anywhere in the world, as long as there are people with space in their hearts."
PAGE 8
SIKKIM
Lepcha: Children of the Snowy Peak
By SHARON SITLING
"The Lepcha believe their people originated within these valleys. They call themselves 'Mutanchi Rong Kup Rum Kup,' which translates as 'Children of the Snowy Peak and Children of God.' The Lepcha are nature worshippers, whose religion blends animism and shamanism and is called bongthingism, or Munism. The tribe shares an inextricable relationship with nature as evidenced by their vocabulary, which contains one of the richest collections of names for local flora and fauna recorded anywhere, and reveals a vast knowledge of naturopathy as well as holy texts. By some estimates, there are only 40,000 Lepcha remaining in Sikkim; their language is quickly disappearing and they are fighting to preserve their lands and what is left of their culture."
PAGE 12
SENEGAL
Photo Essay: Between the Lens & Me
By CRYSTAL LIU
"I was hesitant to bring my camera with me to Senegal. I suppose I approached photography with more of a moralist's stance than a scientist's, and I felt some intuitive distrust of images and imagemaking as it related to my educational experience. I worried about the fraught relationship between subject and photographer. I didn't want to reproduce clichés and reduce people to flat, aesthetic purposes. At the same time, I wanted to remember what I would experience, and the fear of forgetting eventually overcame other qualms about the medium. I brought my camera, and I am both glad and regretful that I did."
PAGE 22
MOROCCO
Interview: The Beat of a Different Drum
By MOHAMED ARGUINE
"...after hours of trekking, Ben M'barek would take out his drum, sit on a rock and start playing whatever came to mind. He never thought his songs would attract the attention of tourists who didn't understand a word of the Tamazight language. [...] The guide explained that M'Barek was singing about his love for the High Atlas Mountains and that he hoped not to see what might be hiding behind them. The oxygen of his life, its meaning, flows down from the peak of the highest mountain to his soul through the drops of rain and flakes of snow-pure and white as his heart, and imbued with love for this region, which to him is heaven on earth."

 If you didn't get one in the mail, here's the full digital issue!

 
Dragons bi-annual Newsletter, The Map’s Edge, explores a subject of interest to the Dragons community through the voices of our Alumni, Instructors, Partners, and our International Staff and contacts. Feel free to view our archive of editions of The Map’s Edge or even submit a piece to be featured in our next issue by sending an email to justin@wheretherebedragons.com
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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
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    [post_content] => Even though Steven is a well-traveled photographer (it's his third time traveling to Africa) and an experienced film maker, he still doesn't feel like this fully represents the Madagascar he experienced.

He says:
The Madagascar I remember is filled with rice paddies, host families and times when we rested on each other’s shoulders during the long, painful Taxi Brousses ride, the time when we shared whatever we owned with each other, when we pulled pranks, told jokes, and acted funny, the time when we marched down the street of Morondava at the Baobab festival singing and dancing, and the time sitting on top of our camp, watching the earth forming beneath our feet.
Steven says that he hopes, "everyone should at least at one point of their lives, take a trip like this, travel as a traveler." We hope you enjoy his film as much as we did at Dragons HQ! [post_title] => A Short Film by Madagascar Student, Steven Gu [post_excerpt] => A short film made by one of our Madagascar summer abroad students. Steven GU created this video with the hope to share with everyone his 6-weeks in Madagascar... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => a-short-film-made-by-summer-madagascar-student-steven-gu [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-03-07 08:36:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-07 15:36:13 [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] => 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] => 52 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 52 [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/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 700 [name] => For Parents [slug] => for_parents [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 700 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [parent] => 0 [count] => 34 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 34 [category_description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [cat_name] => For Parents [category_nicename] => for_parents [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/for_parents/ ) [2] => 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] => 32 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 32 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 ) [3] => 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] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 37 [category_description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [cat_name] => Mixed Media [category_nicename] => mixed_media [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, For Parents ... )
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    [post_date] => 2017-08-23 11:30:33
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    [post_content] => Dragons best source of inspiration and vision comes from the voices of past participants and our Alumni Ambassadors are an integral part of the Dragons community. Our Student Ambassadors work alongside the Boulder Admin Team on several development initiatives including everything from catalog consulting, to website development, to marketing campaigns. If you’re an alumni and you’d like to help us strengthen the Dragons community, this is your opportunity.

Want to be an Alumni Ambassador? Read more about the program and fill out our application. We’d love to hear from you!

Want to know more? Here's what some of last year's Alumni Ambassadors have to say about the program:

 
The weekend trip to Boulder is one of the best parts of the Ambassador Program! Meeting the other ambassadors and participating in workshops with staff members was amazing. Walking into the office for the first time and being greeted by hugs and travel tales was enchanting - I knew I had found "my people." I have a much better connection to Dragons knowing some of the most important behind-the-scenes staff members.
       
The best part of being an Alumni Ambassador is reconnecting with the Dragons community. After my trip I wasn't able to talk to or connect with people about my experiences abroad, but meeting all of the ambassadors gave me that opportunity. We had all had such similar experiences despite our different journeys, and it was comforting to know that I wasn't alone in my experience.
         
It is a great experience becoming an Ambassador. It was a chance for me to become more connected with an inspiring community and learn the marketing, presentation and leadership skills that keep Dragons running behind the scenes! It felt so rewarding to contribute back to a program that has given me so much.
       
I liked having a say in the website and brochure development. And I also liked getting involved with Dragons at my own school as well as outside of it. I think the outreach is very important because it lets you explain the trip to someone from one teen to the other.
         
Being an ambassador is a great way to give back to Dragons and try and make it possible for more students like you to find Dragons and be able to participate - through recruitment in your area and by contributing with feedback and helping Dragons effectively reach out to prospective students.
         
The best part of being a Dragons Ambassador has been connecting with prospective students, and assisting our incoming students with whatever challenges may come their way. For instance, who remembers how perplexed they were when they first saw their packing list in the CPM or on the yak board? And so, being able to assist students as an alum who has gone through the Dragons experience is something special.
         
To continue actively participating in the Dragons family; to feel inspired; to never cease being fueled by the longing of adventure; to connect with others that share this same passion. This, this is where the true beauty of being an Ambassador lies...

       
Where There Be Dragons was a life changing experience and being able to be part of the team made my experience even more fulfilling and valuable. I credit much of who I am today from my trip and from being an ambassador, and I am forever thankful. 
       
Being an Alumni Ambassador and representing Dragons in my community has been an amazing experience. After an incredible summit in Boulder, I felt I was able to continue my connection with Dragons’ global reach through sharing my experiences with others. I was also able to make lifelong friends and meet other amazing alumni all over the country. - Benjamin Renton
   
The Where There be Dragons Ambassadorship program is an incredible opportunity to learn and acquire new skills. At the same time you help give back to the office that enabled you to go on your chosen program. It is also a chance to reconnect with the Dragon's community after your program and help improve all programs as much as you can. I highly recommend signing up and you might just be chosen to be a part of an amazing team.

Ready to apply? Here's the application.

We look forward to hearing from you!   Sincerely, Dragons HQ   [post_title] => Now Accepting Applications for Alumni Ambassadors [post_excerpt] => Our biggest source of inspiration comes from the voices of past participants. Our Alumni Ambassadors are an integral part of the Dragons community and work alongside the Boulder Admin Team on several development initiatives including everything from catalog consulting, to website development, to marketing campaigns. If you’re an alumni and you’d like to help us strengthen the Dragons community, this is your opportunity. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => now-accepting-applications-for-student-alumni-ambassadors [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-05 12:37:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-05 18:37:58 [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] => 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] => 32 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 32 [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/ ) [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] => 45 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 14 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 45 [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] => Alumni Spotlight, Announcements )
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