Photo by Keaton Smith, Student.

Posts Categorized:

Dragons Instructors

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 158292
    [post_author] => 1535
    [post_date] => 2021-11-14 20:01:47
    [post_date_gmt] => 2021-11-15 03:01:47
    [post_content] => Christy Sommers saw her first sweatered goat (yes, you read that correctly) in 2010 during her time as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh. It was on a weekend trip to the countryside that she first saw and photographed a baby goat sporting a little pink dress and, in Christy’s words she was “the most elated.” 

[caption id="attachment_158293" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] Christy sees her first sweatered goat in Bangladesh, photo from Christy Sommers[/caption]

She soon learned that when the temperatures drop into the 50s or 60s (Fahrenheit) across Northern India and Bangladesh, people put their hand-me-downs on  goats to keep them warm during the winter months. Christy has been documenting this adorable phenomenon for the past decade, and has been creating calendars with her photos since 2013.

Christy worked supporting Princeton University's Bridge Year program in Varanasi, India from 2014 to 2017, and during this time she discovered the Varanasi is home to a veritable treasure trove of adorable sweatered livestock.We recently interviewed Christy, a Dragons instructor and administrator, to hear more about the story behind her Goats in Sweaters calendars. Here is what she has to say:

[caption id="attachment_158294" align="aligncenter" width="2112"] Photo by Christy Sommers[/caption]

A Calendar is Born 

Demand is what inspired Christy to create her first Goats in Sweaters calendar. In 2013 she printed 15 calendars and gave them as holiday gifts to family and friends. After a lot of encouragement from her community, Christy started printing more and more calendars each year. In 2018, the goats caught the attention of NPR’s Goats and Soda: Stories of Life in a Changing World. That article helped her further spread the word and now Christy sells  around 2000 calendars each year.

Giving Back 

Once she started selling the calendars, Christy has always wanted the project to support the communities where the goats come from. Christy gave all of the proceeds from the 2016 and 2017 calendars to Guria, a grassroots organization in Varanasi, India that fights to end human trafficking and exploitation in Varanasi’s red light district and across India.  [caption id="attachment_158302" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] Photo by Christy Sommers[/caption] She shifted and began supporting Asha Deep Vidyashram with the 2018 calendar. Asha Deep is a K-8 school serving a marginalized population in Varanasi;  Asha Deep’s students are first generation learners and the whole school environment is designed to support poor students with illiterate parents.The donations from the calendar sales are able to fully support the operations of Asha Deep for three to four months on average.  Christy expressed a passion for giving back to the communities that “taught me so much and are home to where I took these photos.” She is excited to continue supporting Asha Deep, and is delighted that the graphic designer for the 2022 calendar  is an Asha Deep graduate! [caption id="attachment_158298" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] Photo by Christy Sommers[/caption]

What are the logistics for creating a sweated-goat-calendar every year?

Christy says that people frequently misunderstand the photos and think that she is the one who is putting the sweaters on the goats. She clarifies, “In India, I just photograph them as I find them. Only once have I put sweaters on goats myself, and it was to dress my dad’s five goats in style for my sister’s wedding!” Christy took a trip to Northern India in February 2020, right before the pandemic restricted travel. Beyond reconnecting with the Asha Deep students and staff, she also took hundreds more fashionable goat photos - more than enough for several more years of calendar models. “Goats do what they want, so capturing them in decent light and an amazing sweater is not easy.” Christy uses a Canon Powershot SX740 camera—a relatively high quality point and shoot that also fulfills her requirement of fitting in her pants pocket.  Christy smiles, and ends our conversation with, “I have to say, I don't consider myself a creative person, and it feels so vulnerable to put this out into the world. I'm nervous every year —is it still gonna work?” We’re confident Christy’s project will continue to work—bringing a slice of joy to nearly 2000 homes every year. You can buy Christy's calendar on Etsy for $15, or if you'd like to add a small donation to your order, you can do so directly through this google form. [caption id="attachment_158299" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] Photo by Christy Sommers[/caption]  
More Information about Asha Deep from Christy
As in years past, more than 50% of the proceeds of the 2022 Sweatered Goat calendar will benefit Asha Deep Vidyashram, a school serving over 200 K-8th grade students in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood in Varanasi, India. All of Asha Deep's students are the children of illiterate parents. The school is determined to give these children a quality education that combines academic success with additional focuses on students' self-esteem, promoting compassion and gender equality, and teaching healthy conflict resolution and environmental awareness. They also provide a school lunch and run an after-school program so that students have a healthy and fun way to spend their evenings. We are proud to support Asha Deep's important work and give back to the goats' local community in Varanasi. Here are links to the Asha Deep website and Facebook page. Asha Deep's exciting news this year is that they have purchased a piece of land where they will build their own school, allowing them to serve a new community. They are running their own fundraiser to raise funds for this project, and would appreciate any additional donations toward this important aim.
[post_title] => Calendars for a Cause: Goats in Sweaters [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => calendars-for-a-cause-goats-in-sweaters [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-11-15 07:08:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-11-15 14:08:05 [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] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 37 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons_instructors/ ) [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] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 14 [cat_ID] => 669 [category_count] => 25 [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] => 66 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 15 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 66 [category_description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [cat_name] => Announcements [category_nicename] => announcements [category_parent] => 0 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 1 [name] => Uncategorized [slug] => uncategorized [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 1 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 20 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 16 [cat_ID] => 1 [category_count] => 20 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Uncategorized [category_nicename] => uncategorized [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Instructors, Engage ... )
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 157143
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-07-07 09:15:18
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-07-07 15:15:18
    [post_content] => We caught up with Dragons instructors Luke Hein and Kawsar Muhtar to learn more about their art-based project to tell stories from Uyghur people around the world during Ramadan.

Every day during the month of Ramadan for the past two years, Luke Hein makes a watercolor painting and posts it on his Instagram handle, vlfhein. The paintings are renditions of photographs and stories gathered in the Tarim Basin area of western China, and they showcase vignettes of life there: Kashgari pottery, desert landscapes, clay tonur (i.e., tandoor) ovens, street scenes, mosques, and buildings decorated with intricate and colorful mosaics.

Ramadan Watercolors“The Boy Loves Fish”

When he launched the Ramadan watercolor project in 2019, Luke had just returned from a personal trip through the Tarim Basin, located in Xinjiang Province, China. He wondered: was there a way to publicize the challenging realities there without making explicit political comments that could compromise his ability to travel there in the future? Inspired by Chiura Obata, the renowned Japanese-American artist who painted and taught while imprisoned at the Topaz internment camp during World War II, Luke hit upon the idea of raising awareness indirectly. 
I said, ‘Let me just highlight things I love, to build knowledge, to build understanding, and through that to build empathy and eventually connection and love because that’s what going to make people risk to help somebody else, that’s what’s going to make people loyal to other people.’ The project is valuable because it’s not directly critical. That’s sort of the key move.
“I had been carrying around a cakey old tray of watercolors from my days as a home schooler. I brought it all over Indonesia and China, telling myself I was going to paint something.” It wasn’t until Luke arrived back in the U.S. that he finally sat down to paint with his niece. “I just started doing it, I didn’t know much about watercolors,” explains Luke, adding that he “drew poorly” throughout high school before his interest in the visual arts waned.  Ramadan Watercolors“Daily routines in Kashgar’s demolished old quarter” During the first year of the Ramadan watercolor project, most of the paintings were of photographs from Luke’s direct experiences traveling in Xinjiang Province. Luke had just moved back into his parent’s house in Alabama to help take care of his ailing father, who had been diagnosed with cancer five years prior and was now taking a sharp decline. Luke recalls his father coming out every night while he was painting at 2 or 3 in the morning. “I interrupted my paintings to give massages, talk with him, sometimes to be angry with him, sometimes to be curious, to make time to be with him.” Luke’s father passed away about a month after the completion of the first Ramadan project, on the summer solstice, surrounded by family.  “With this watercolor that you can’t control super well, not in the same way you can control a pen when you’re doing cartoons, drawing/erasing then drawing again, these details, freckles, each leaf on a tree… you can’t do that in watercolor. It takes away your ability to control that much. It ended up being a really healthy medium for me. I came to identify it a little bit with some of the ideas I was struggling with over control, two tensions I was holding very tightly to: One, the situation with my father, the other situation with a friend in China I was very worried about. Both of which I had almost no control over, both of which became fused in me and in the project. I was doing a lot of thinking by painting.” Ramadan Watercolors“Like a Kind of Medicine” Though not a Muslim, Luke fasted and observed the other tenets of Ramadan while painting. Says Luke: “It’s no accident that I was doing this during Ramadan. I don’t know a lot about Islam, my understanding is evolving. The act of submission was the idea I was repeating in my head. This isn’t necessarily going to look good. The time constraint was another element: I’m going to do one painting a day. Some of the paintings aren’t going to get done. You can see pencil on some of the places where I didn't actually get to painting because it took me so long, I had to move onto the next one.”  Ramadan Watercolors“Farms outside of Hotan” The last piece of the project fell into place during a phone call with fellow Dragons instructor Kawsar Muktar—a Uyghur woman from Kashgar—during which they discussed parallels between Uyghurs and the Cajun ethnic group. Years of conversations with his bayou-born grandmother sparked an increasing interest in the history of the Cajun ethnic minority. Why, wondered Luke, when his grandmother’s first language had been French, did neither he nor his father speak a word of it?  After suffering targeted violence and forced removal from Maritime Canada beginning in 1755, the mostly Catholic, French-speaking Acadians (or ‘Cajuns’) were deported en masse to Britain, France, and various colonies. Many Cajuns later regrouped and settled in South Louisiana. Historian Shane K. Bernard explains how xenophobic policies associated with the Red Scare, World War I and II, and the Cold War pressured Cajuns to move to the city and assimilate into White Anglo-Saxon Protestant majority. It was during this time that many Cajuns, including Luke’s grandmother, stopped speaking French. Ramadan Watercolors“Please speak the common language”  And yet the Cajun identity didn’t disappear. “In the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s,” says Luke, “ there was this revival of Cajun as cool. Something on the verge of disappearing seemed to gain the public eye. Most of it was through music and food, commodifying those in a way. It became cool to go to New Orleans, Mardi Gras was super cool.” Although some Cajun activists are critical of this commercialized caricature of Cajun-ness, Luke suspects that without this revival, perhaps no Cajun tradition would have survived to reevaluate today.  Hein pauses before adding:  “There is a long tradition in China of talking about something that happened in a previous dynasty as an allegory, a veiled critique of something that is happening currently.” In its second year, the Ramadan watercolor project started to change shape from an intensely personal project to a collective endeavor. Luke explains that he had been reading on critical pedagogy and became convinced of the value of what Paulo Freire describes as a dialogic relationship a teacher or researcher forms with partners in a project. He began asking himself:  “How can I put more control of this project into other peoples’ hands?” The answer came once again from Kawsar Muhtar, now living in Paris with her husband and three-year-old daughter. Kawsar recounts: “My encounter with the Ramadan watercolor project actually started with Dragons (staff) orientation in 2016 when I met Luke Hein. I remember we had discussions about what was happening in my hometown. It felt very nice and connected to talk to someone who had been to (my hometown) before and understands the situation.” During the second year of the Ramadan watercolor project, Kawsar began collecting stories from Uyghurs from the Tarim Basin now living abroad, asking people to share old photos and the stories behind them. Stories and photos came flooding in from Germany, France, Sweden, Japan, the UK, and elsewhere. Ramadan Watercolors“Waiting at the Dress Shop” Kawsar translated the stories and Luke made paintings from the photos. Says Kawsar: “We want this project to draw people’s attention to the land currently being forgotten. Secondly, we want the diaspora community from [Tarim Basin] to share their beloved memories about their hometown and families, to let each other know that they are not alone, give each other strength and encourage each other to go through this difficult time together.” Ramadan Watercolors“Just a Road Near My Home” “Personally, it has been very difficult for me to accept the fact of not being able to contact my parents in any form at the beginning. Especially because it happened right after I gave birth to my daughter when I needed my parents so badly, I had tons of questions to ask from my parents, and tons of feelings I feel after being a mother that I need to tell my mom. I felt very angry for a long time, I cried a lot, it even led to a period of depression when my daughter was a few months old.  Now I am more at peace. When I receive those stories, I know that I am not the only person who lost contact and connection to their families. I think some people need this platform to express their feelings. It is very important.” Kawsar shares a recent message from a Uyghur girl living in Japan: 
Kawsar: Do you miss your father? The girl: If I saw his shadow, I would hug it.
Ramadan Watercolors“The Taste of Snow”
“For me,” adds Kawsar, “the most inspiring part of this project is that I got to talk to the Uyghur people all over the world, listen to their stories and feelings, and feel connected. 
After we started to post our invitation to collect photos and stories, a lot of people sent me their photos and told me about their memories. Some of them didn’t have any photos, but they told me the stories or the feelings which they miss the most. Luke did some paintings based on just those memories, which I think was incredible. A lot of people don't have any photos or memories to share, but they still write to me and express gratitude and say that they love to follow the stories and photos I post every day. One Uyghur lady who lives in Sweden sent me a poem she wrote after she saw our invitation.” Kawsar and Luke hope to continue the project in future years, both as a means of raising awareness about the lives of Uyghur people to an external audience, and as a way of fortifying Chinese Muslims in the diaspora through storytelling during their holiest month. Kawsar and Luke are actively enlisting help to translate the stories into multiple languages, and many of the stories have already been translated into  Indonesian by friend and colleague Umi Akhdadiyah. The pair also have plans to write a children’s book in the Uyghur language using Luke’s illustrations. Below you will find the aforementioned poem and Luke’s accompanying watercolor painting. It is the woman’s first poem.  

I Most Want

A poem on which the painting was based by a Kashgar native and mother of two boys now living in Sweden @miskin.kalip. Translated from Uyghur to Chinese by Kawsar Muhtar, and from Chinese to English by Luke Hein. Ramadan Watercolors I most want to gather the alfalfa clustering in the fields, to return home and make mouthwatering alfalfa dumplings. My eyebrows have become dry and rough; I want the moisture from the Osma grass to draw them into the shape of a heart.   My hair, like my very self, withers and becomes brittle. I most want to smear it with Persian olive, infusing a bit of nutrition, or, even more, I wish to hang against my mother’s bosom as when I was a child and let her to rub me with sheep oil while I absorb the sun.   I want to dress bright and beautiful, put on high heels, stalk the Old Town’s streets and alleys. I hope Kashgar’s rain soaks me through. I’d open my two hands and scream, allowing my tears to fall the way of the rain.   I most want, in the kitchen, before the holiday, to press close to my mother while we bake dumplings, fry pancakes, and meticulously prepare the holiday table. When I think that I was at my mother’s side and never once thanked her, I have ten thousand regrets and want to run off to slap this mouth of mine until it shatters.  
  Luke Hein is a freelance writer and experiential educator working in the PRC, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the US. Luke was raised in Auburn, Alabama AL after his Louisianan parents relocated there from Seattle in 1987. Home schooled until high school, Luke left Auburn ahead of schedule to spend his senior year in China in 2005. He has been returning there since, as a student, guide, researcher, traveler, and teacher. He's passionate about rural places, regions where boundaries blur, and the ingenious strategies people invent to contend with life's challenges. He writes and makes art at Instagram @vlfhein and has a recent article out on The News Lens International. You can hear an interview between Luke and his grandmother at a StoryCorps. Kawsar Muhtar grew up in Kashgar old city and received a Chinese language education until middle school. She worked as a language teacher, journalist, and editor in Urumqi, where she gained valuable experience with Uyghur media and literature. Kawsar continued her studies in London, where she researched the role of mass media in social construction, representation, and understanding of difference and social diversity. After her studies, she worked as a Dragons instructor in China. She now lives in Paris as a part-time editor and an almost full-time mom.  
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] => Ramadan Watercolors Project: Sharing Stories from the Uyghur Diaspora [post_excerpt] => We caught up with Dragons instructors Luke Hein and Kawsar Muhtar to learn more about their art-based project to tell stories from Uyghur people around the world during Ramadan. Every day during the month of Ramadan for the past two years, Luke Hein makes a watercolor painting and posts it on his Instagram handle, vlfhein. The paintings are renditions of photographs and stories gathered in the Tarim Basin area of western China, and they showcase vignettes of life there: Kashgari pottery, desert landscapes, clay tonur (i.e., tandoor) ovens, street scenes, mosques, and buildings decorated with intricate and colorful mosaics. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => ramadan-watercolors-project-sharing-stories-from-the-uyghur-diaspora [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-10 19:53:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-11 02:53:49 [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] => 81 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 81 [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] => 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] => 56 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 56 [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/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 37 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 1 [name] => Uncategorized [slug] => uncategorized [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 1 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 20 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 16 [cat_ID] => 1 [category_count] => 20 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Uncategorized [category_nicename] => uncategorized [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Global Community ... )
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 156805
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-05-21 12:23:06
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-05-21 18:23:06
    [post_content] => 

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention,

How to fall down into the grass,

How to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed,

How to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

-Excerpt from The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver.

[caption id="attachment_131040" align="aligncenter" width="676"]Student reflects near a temple Mekong Travel Abroad Photo by Eva Ramey, Student.[/caption] We had just finished dinner in my homestay, and were still sitting on the mat in the center of the main room. The communal bowl of sticky rice had been returned to the kitchen, as well as the bowls of delicately cooked mushrooms and vegetables, and the chicken stew. As I sat, eating a banana and attempting to chat with my host mother, I noticed the two little boys – my host nephews – running around outside with large headlamps flopping up and down on their heads. My host sister seemed to be wandering the house collecting empty water bottles, and her husband, too, seemed to be up to something. I made some hand gestures to my host mom, attempting to gather what they might be up to, and she responded in turn with hand gestures of her own – a motion with her hands and arms, as if to catch something, and a finger pointed in the direction of the rice fields. Kaohi bpai dai boah? Can I go? I asked. She nodded, shooing me towards my host sister, who was now standing outside of the door with a headlamp around her head, her two boys by her side. I hurried to find my own headlamp.

*          *          *

My host sister, her husband, and her two boys, Alek, 8 years old, and Alak, 3 years old, take the lead on this evening expedition; they are joined by my host cousin, a sullen 16-year old, two local girls, both 10 or 12 years old, and me. Each of us is equipped with a headlamp and an empty plastic water bottle. We emerge from a narrow path between houses onto the rice fields, and disperse, headlamps trained to the ground. I follow my sister, trying to figure out what we are looking for. The rice fields are dry this time of year, the mud and earth cracked and the rice grasses chopped short, golden, flat and bent. The dry paddies are still marked by their mounded earth boundaries, roughly delineated squares of varying size. I see tiny frogs, smaller than the size of my pinky nail, leaping among the dry grasses, and spiders whose green eyes glisten in the light of my headlamp. But no one seems to pay any attention to these creatures. What are they looking for instead? I watch my sister’s circle of light rather than my own, trying to see what she sees. Finally, she points, squats, deftly and silently snaps her hand over a flash of black. A cricket. She squeezes it from the earth and into the palm of her hand, slides open the cap of her water bottle, and tips it inside. We are hunting for crickets.
Equipped with the knowledge of what I should be looking for, I spread out. The swell of the uncaught cricket’s chatter fills the night, accompanied by the lilting babble of little Alak, my 3-year old nephew. The evening sky glows purple in the light from neighboring Thailand as our small circles of headlamp light spread across the cracked fields. Orion hangs in the sky above us.
The crickets are nimble and wily. They prance among the grasses, and nestle into the cracks that have spread across the earth, or delve into holes in the paddy mounds, carved by other insects and animals. I know what a cricket looks like by daylight, but that’s not what I’m looking for – in the dim light of a headlamp at night, a cricket looks black, a black dash glinting among the dry mud and grass. I catch one, and then another. My host cousin’s water bottle is half-full already, the crickets piled atop one another, squirming and chattering. But I am learning to look. I follow the low mounds that delineate the paddy borders, and catch a few more. I pluck them by their hind legs, and slide them into Alek’s water bottle, or Alak’s, sharing my goodies; they share theirs, too. I’m learning, from Alek and Alak, from the young girls, and from my once-sullen, now lively 16-year old cousin, how to pay attention – to the night, to the earth, to the grasses, to the crickets, to each other. Tell me, what else should I have done?
Over the course of our travels along the Mekong, I’ve been reminded, as I hope my students have also been reminded, how to pay attention. How to notice the small and curious details in the world around us – the black crickets in the grass; the white porcelain Virgin Mary statue perched atop a red and gold Buddhist shrine; my host father’s arm, tenderly wrapped around his grandson as they watch cartoons together.
How to pay attention to one another – to notice each person in their sorrow, and in joy. How to care for each other. And how to care for ourselves: paying attention to our minds, noticing our thoughts. These are things that no classroom, professor, or textbook can teach us. These are things we learn from a host mother, brother, or nephew, or from the earth, the grass, and the crickets. They are things we learn from each other, and from the world around us. If the Mekong River, if Cambodia, Laos, and China, if the communities that host us, love us, teach us, can leave us with anything, I hope that it might be this –  

How to fall down into the grass,

How to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed,

How to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

 
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] => FEATURED YAK: HOW TO PAY ATTENTION [post_excerpt] => Dragons Instructor, Angelica Calabrese, wrote this yak while leading a Mekong Gap Year semester. Over the course of our travels along the Mekong, I’ve been reminded, as I hope my students have also been reminded, how to pay attention. How to notice the small and curious details in the world around us – the black crickets in the grass; the white porcelain Virgin Mary statue perched atop a red and gold Buddhist shrine; my host father’s arm, tenderly wrapped around his grandson as they watch cartoons together. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => featured-yak-how-to-pay-attention [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-22 10:11:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-22 16:11:23 [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] => 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] => 81 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 81 [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] => 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] => 56 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 56 [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/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 37 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 1 [name] => Uncategorized [slug] => uncategorized [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 1 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 20 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 16 [cat_ID] => 1 [category_count] => 20 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Uncategorized [category_nicename] => uncategorized [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Global Community ... )
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 156750
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-05-11 18:10:24
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-05-12 00:10:24
    [post_content] => Buddha Bhutan Summer Abroad

To keep advancing our mission to foster a more compassionate, just, and inclusive world, we're bringing you more FREE Dragons talks to keep sharing the things we're passionate about. We hope you'll join us and learn something new!

Register now. Space is limited. Missed a session? Watch the recorded webinar on YouTube.    

Intro to Ayurveda: Self Healing in The Time of Covid-19

An introduction to this 5,000-year-old system of understanding how our bodies and minds interact with nature and society with simple techniques to remain balanced in times of stress and uncertainty. Presented by: Jenny Wagner, Dragons Princeton Bridge Year Program Director. Jenny shares her passion for Ayurveda drawing on her experience as a Dragons instructor, Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), and life coach. May 13th, 10am MST | Learn More/Register >>

 

Resume Building 101: Planning for Your Future Career

Feel empowered and productive with Ellery's guidance on resume building best practices to show that you're qualified, stand out, and translate nuanced experiences to paper. Presented by: Ellery Rosin, Dragons Staffing Director. Ellery's coveted tips are rooted in her behind-the-scenes knowledge of the hiring process and experience as a field-educator and Peace Corps volunteer. May 15th, 4pm EST | Learn More/Register >>

 

Packing 101: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Travel Packing

We may not be able to travel yet, but why not keep the travel stoke alive by practicing your packing skills? Ellery will walk you through best practices in packing for extended travel experiences. Presented by: Ellery Rosin, Dragons Staffing Director. Ellery shares her packing expertise learned during her time as an international experiential education leader and Peace Corps volunteer. May 18th, 4pm EST | Learn More/Register >>

 

Urbanization in China and the Biggest City You've Never Heard Of

Drawing on life experience and a passion for Chongqing's local history and economic transformation, Jody will introduce students to this city of 12 million and discuss migration and urbanization in China today. Presented by: Jody Segar, Dragons College Program Director, draws upon his experience living and working in China for 11 years as a teacher, a financial reporter, the host of the Chinese television program, a guide on the Yangtze River, a musician, an advertising designer, a writer and editor, and China program director. May 20th, 4pm EST | Learn More/Register >>

 

Foreign Friends, Foreign Devils

What is it like to live in China long-term as a "foreigner"? Jody will engage attendees in thinking about how being perceived as a foreigner can change and shape the way they might perceive themselves and others, in China and in the US. Presented by: Jody Segar, Dragons College Program Director, draws upon his experience living and working in China for 11 years as a teacher, a financial reporter, the host of the Chinese television program, a guide on the Yangtze River, a musician, an advertising designer, a writer and editor, and China program director. May 27th, 4pm EST | Learn More/Register >>

 

A Coup or Not a Coup? The Fall of Evo Morales and Political Transformation in Bolivia

With the sudden ousting of longtime indigenous president and incumbent Evo Morales, Bolivia was already in a major political crisis when Covid-19 took hold. Presented by: Julianne Chandler, Dragons Latin America Program Director, shares her experience living in Bolivia during dual crises of pandemic and coup d'etat. May 29th, 4pm EST | Learn More/Register >>
 
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] => Self Healing, Coups, Foreign Devils, Resume Building + more! New Online Virtual Global Speaker Series Webinars [post_excerpt] => To keep advancing our mission to foster a more compassionate, just, and inclusive world, we're bringing you more FREE Dragons talks to keep sharing the things we're passionate about. We hope you'll join us and learn something new! Register now. Space is Limited. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => self-healing-coups-foreign-devils-resume-building-more-new-online-virtual-global-speaker-series-webinars [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-14 16:25:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-14 22:25:21 [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] => 655 [name] => Continued Education [slug] => continued_education [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 655 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Continued Education, Webinars, Curriculum, Transference. [parent] => 0 [count] => 16 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 655 [category_count] => 16 [category_description] => Continued Education, Webinars, Curriculum, Transference. [cat_name] => Continued Education [category_nicename] => continued_education [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/continued_education/ ) [1] => 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] => 56 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 56 [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/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 37 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [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] => 52 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 13 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 52 [category_description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [cat_name] => Mixed Media [category_nicename] => mixed_media [category_parent] => 0 ) [4] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 1 [name] => Uncategorized [slug] => uncategorized [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 1 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 20 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 16 [cat_ID] => 1 [category_count] => 20 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Uncategorized [category_nicename] => uncategorized [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Continued Education, Global Community ... )
View post

Self Healing, Coups, Foreign Devils, Resume Building + more! New Online Virtual Global Speaker Series Webinars

Posted On

05/11/20

Author

Dragons HQ

Description
To keep advancing our mission to foster a more compassionate, just, and inclusive world, we're bringing you more FREE Dragons talks to keep sharing the things we're passionate about. We… Read More
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 156634
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-04-14 11:22:19
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-04-14 17:22:19
    [post_content] => As an educational travel company deeply affected by COVID-19 we have been asking ourselves "How do we continue our mission in a time when social distancing and travel restrictions limit the very essence of what we do?" Like many other companies, we are turning our attention online.

Usually, at this time of year, we are busy with our Global Speaker Series program in which we send our global educators to schools across the United States in order to bring important global topics and critical questions into classrooms. Since most classrooms have transitioned into living rooms, we've decided to bring these lessons to you! Over the next couple of months, we will be live-streaming some of our best talks so you can experience a bit of Dragons straight to your living room.

 



 

This month's free webinar is called:

Migration and Organized Crime

How Thousands of People Go Missing Every Year on the Way to the U.S.

Hosted by Dragons instructor, Rich Brown. Rich will draw on his recent interviews in Guatemala and on the U.S.-Mexico border with civil society leaders, journalists, and migrants and their families to give students insight into the risks that Central Americans face as they attempt to reach the U.S.

More About the Speaker:

B.A., Anthropology - Columbia University, 2010; Graduate Specialization Degree, Migration Studies - Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO), 2020; M.A., Journalism - Columbia Journalism School, 2021 / Gordon Fellow for International Reporting
 
Rich Brown is a multimedia journalist based in Guatemala since 2013. He covers issues like migration, climate change, and land and water conflict. He facilitates the Forum on Migration, an interactive Immigration Studies program that connects U.S. classrooms with the people at the center of today's immigration headlines, from migrating families to government decision makers.
 
Rich leads Dragons programs in Guatemala, and he brings Central American to U.S. classrooms in speaking tours about the roots of immigration from the region.
 

Rich's talk will be held on April 16th and April 22nd at 4pm MST. RSVP online.

 
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] => Bringing Dragons Into Your Living Room With Free Webinars [post_excerpt] => As an educational travel company deeply affected by COVID-19 we have been asking ourselves "How do we continue our mission in a time when Social Distancing and Travel Restrictions limit the very essence of what we do?" Like many other companies...we are turning our attention online. Over the next couple of months, we will be live-streaming some of our best talks so you can experience a bit of Dragons straight to your living room. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bringing-dragons-into-your-living-room [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-04-30 16:05:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-04-30 22:05:12 [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] => 655 [name] => Continued Education [slug] => continued_education [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 655 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Continued Education, Webinars, Curriculum, Transference. [parent] => 0 [count] => 16 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 655 [category_count] => 16 [category_description] => Continued Education, Webinars, Curriculum, Transference. [cat_name] => Continued Education [category_nicename] => continued_education [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/continued_education/ ) [1] => 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] => 56 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 56 [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/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 37 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 652 [name] => Events [slug] => events [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 652 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Both In-Person and Digital Events including: Webinars, Global Speaker Series, Road Warrior Tours, & Alumni Gatherings [parent] => 0 [count] => 7 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 17 [cat_ID] => 652 [category_count] => 7 [category_description] => Both In-Person and Digital Events including: Webinars, Global Speaker Series, Road Warrior Tours, & Alumni Gatherings [cat_name] => Events [category_nicename] => events [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Continued Education, Global Community ... )
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 156615
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-04-07 14:26:39
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-04-07 20:26:39
    [post_content] => 

ANNOUNCING THE DRAGONS MIGHTY NETWORK

A SOCIAL PLATFORM FOR ALUMNI & INSTRUCTORS

 
For years, our alumni & instructor community have been asking us to create a social platform for Dragons. With the strange COVID-19 realities of "social distancing" and "shelter in place" (terms none of us knew just a month ago!)., it feels like the right time to roll out a virtual way to foster Dragons connection and community.
 
We've been testing out the Dragons Mighty Network social platform and although it's still a work in-progress, we're announcing it anyway! Because the time is right and we want our alumni to contribute to how this new community-driven platform can look and function.
 
Through the Dragons Mighty Network, we soon plan to offer classes, lessons, training, and transference tools. In the meantime we are excited about the following features our alumni can explore:
 
Find and connect with Dragons folks that live in your area
Connect with other Dragons who are "online right now" & meet other members of our community
Create or engage with an article, question, or poll
Create a local COVID-19 support or resource circle
Fill in your profile
Create a "circle" for you and your Dragons friends to chat privately
Download the app to your phone for instant DMs and notifications
  The Dragons global community is strong and we are grateful for opportunities to continue to engage and connect.  

Are you an alum who wants to join?

Email us at [email protected] for the invite link.  
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] => Launching The Mighty Network: A Social Platform for Dragons Alumni [post_excerpt] => ANNOUNCING THE DRAGONS MIGHTY NETWORK A SOCIAL PLATFORM FOR ALUMNI & INSTRUCTORS For years, our alumni & instructor community have been asking us to create a social platform for Dragons. With the strange COVID-19 realities of "social distancing" and "shelter in place" (terms none of us knew just a month ago!)., it feels like the right time to roll out a virtual way to foster Dragons connection and community. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => launching-the-mighty-network-a-social-platform-for-dragons-alumni [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-04-07 14:32:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-04-07 20:32:35 [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] => 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] => 56 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 56 [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] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 37 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons_instructors/ ) [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] => 47 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 47 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Global Community, Dragons Instructors ... )
1 2 3 7