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    [post_date] => 2019-04-17 13:56:31
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-17 19:56:31
    [post_content] => 

Modeling the Values of Responsible Travel

A Conversation With Education Abroad Professionals

Responsible travel is a concept that we talk about frequently at Dragons. On programs, we employ a variety of approaches to help students understand and then engage in activities that are responsible in nature. We might do that by asking students to dress in culturally appropriate ways, encouraging students to use the target language with host family members, teaching students how to use local transportation, etc. (see our position paper for more examples of how we strive to travel responsibly). Many of these approaches are, in essence, an effort to ask our students to adapt to the place rather than demanding that the place adapt to our own needs, desires, and expectations.
Many of these approaches are, in essence, an effort to ask our students to adapt to the place rather than demanding that the place adapt to our own needs, desires, and expectations.

Defining Responsible Travel

When talking about responsible travel, the basic question is “what distinguishes travel from being responsible or not”? In the most simple terms, it is whether or not the travel is in alignment with a specific set of values we hold to be true. Broadly, we think that responsible travel aims to minimize the negative impacts that international visitors, like our study abroad students, might have on a local economy, environment, or culture. Moreover, our sense is that responsible travel is not only about minimizing harm, but also about attempting to have a positive impact on host communities.
Broadly, we think that responsible travel aims to minimize the negative impacts that international visitors, like our study abroad students, might have on a local economy, environment, or culture.
And what ARE the values that underpin responsible travel? We recognize that there isn’t a right answer to this question, but at Dragons, we have attempted to come up with a definition to help drive our work. We define this concept as travel that aligns with the values of being culturally conscious, environmentally responsible, and focused on developing meaningful connections and mutual respect in communities.

Why Modeling Matters

As part of her Master’s thesis, our colleague Shino Marta Yoshen recently conducted a series of interviews with Dragons US-based, field staff and alumni. Shino's research revealed how important and meaningful it was to staff that Dragons, as a whole, demonstrated a willingness to incorporate the values of responsible travel into the organizational functioning. The interviews seemed to indicate that people are inspired and work more passionately when they feel their work is actively aligned with their values. Those Shino interviewed seemed to be engaging in the field of intercultural education primarily because they believe in the importance of such work. We think this is a core reason for most of us to work in this field, and therefore being mindful of how we can embody our values ourselves keeps us connected to why we choose this work. And it reminds us of the importance of these values and of passing them on to students.
Modeling the values of responsible travel is also important because students can tell when we walk the walk...
Modeling the values of responsible travel is also important because students can tell when we walk the walk, and are more likely to embody these values when they see it modeled, or can tell it is modeled. Alumni being interviewed described instances when they saw responsible travel modeled as significant moments of learning. Modeling these values before students depart for their host communities is helpful in preparing students to actually embody them when on program. Modeling values both during and after the program is also helpful because it shows students that these values can influence the way they engage/live even when they are back home, beyond just their abroad experience.

Beyond the Boundaries of a Program

While the work of striving to travel responsibly on education abroad programs is crucial, we believe it is not enough. Recently, several members of the Dragons team attended The Forum on Education Abroad conference which focuses on the best practices in the field of education abroad. As part of that conference, we invited a long-time collaborator, Darren Grosch, from Mt. San Antonio College to help us facilitate a session in which we asked our colleagues from universities and colleges, study abroad program providers, government agencies, etc. to broaden our thinking about responsible travel. In short, we considered the following question which has become increasingly central for us at Dragons: “How do we model the values of responsible travel beyond the boundaries of a program?" In other words, are there ways our work can model values such as being environmentally responsible or developing mutual respect in communities for our students before or after they go, in the ways our offices approach particular things, or in the ways we develop other programming which is not abroad?
How do we model the values of responsible travel beyond the boundaries of a program?
At Dragons we have tried to do this through ensuring program budget funds go back into local communities, having staff policies which provide paid leave for volunteering in home communities, or by creating incentives to bike to work; to give a few examples. As part of our session, we asked our colleagues from across the U.S. and the world to consider how they are or could be modeling the values of responsible travel in their offices or on their home campuses. We asked them to think broadly - things they are doing (or want to be doing) with students before or after programs, actions that model values in the way their office operates or the standards leadership sets, or how they could collaborate with other departments / organizations / or communities.
we asked our colleagues from across the U.S. and the world to consider how they are or could be modeling the values of responsible travel in their offices or on their home campuses...

A Call To Action

As a culmination of this conversation, we encouraged our colleagues to commit to one action they felt they might be able to realistically accomplish in the coming year which would help their specific work environment better model the values of responsible travel. And commit they did! Included below are a number of the inspiring responses to this call to action.

Make Your Values Known

  • “Model responsible travel through inserting values into general study abroad recruitment tools, presentations, and initiatives.”
  • “Train peer ambassadors on the values of the larger office.”
  • “Use responsible travel values as a guide for marketing and promotion. Do the messages we put out contradict these values?”
  • “Create a handout for faculty who lead programs regarding what responsible travel means and how to model it.”
  • “Have the institution integrate responsible travel values in the larger mission statement and strategic vision.”
  • “Incorporate responsible travel questions and assessment process in the faculty-led program proposal process.”

Train Students Before they Go Abroad

  • “Adding responsible travel as a topic during pre-departure programming.”
  • “Facilitate conversations with students pre-departure on resource awareness and ethical travel habits.”
  • “Implement a responsible traveler workshop for faculty and students to compliment regular pre-departure training.”
  • “Create a credit-bearing course during pre-departure and returnee process to make students more accountable for their actions while abroad.”

Be a Student Yourself

  • “Provide staff with resources to learn the language and history of host countries where we oversee programs.”
  • “Provide on-campus language workshops: conversational skills taught by native speakers.”
  • “Train staff members to the tools and importance of preparation and reflection.”
  • “Offer opportunities for staff to learn indigenous culture, etiquette, and key phrases.”
  • “Provide language training to all staff.”
Create Spaces to Share Values Learned Abroad
  • “Create a re-entry session about modeling values learned during study abroad now that students are back on campus.”
  • “Have a workshop with students who have previously gone abroad to share lessons learned about responsible travel and cultural engagement.”
  • “Start an alumni panel as the peer models for responsible travel.”
Connect with the Local Community
  • “Invite and encourage return study abroad students to attend international student events and support their fellow students both at the home campus and abroad.”
  • “Develop programs that encourage students who have returned from study abroad to engage with the local community.”
  • “Train international students on the home campus to help lead pre-departure preparation for study abroad students going to those students’ home countries.”

Value the Contributions of Host Communities

  • “Hire local scholars in order to model the value of local expertise and counteract ‘savior’ narratives.”
  • “Create a formal feedback process for community partners - their opinion matters just as much as the students’.”
  • “Organize speakers from the Global South to be brought to the home institution for shared learning and exchange.”
  • “Incorporate host community feedback and perspectives via the assessment process.”
Focus on Sustainability Efforts
  • “Create a PDF for travelers on how specific actions can offset the carbon footprint per mile traveled.”
  • “Call together a sustainability working group for colleagues at the university.”
  • “Encourage students to have conversations about consumption.”
  • “Composting and more responsible recycling at headquarters office.”
  • “Collaborate with the on-campus programs and student organizations focused on sustainability to improve practices while abroad.”
In reading through these commitments to actions, it is clear that Dragons is not alone in believing that there are, indeed, numerous ways that we can model the values of responsible travel outside of direct programming. This discussion is an evolving one and one that we feel is essential to keep at the forefront of our mind. We are committed to continuing this exploration amongst our own team and within the field of education abroad. We hope you’ll join us in that conversation. 

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    [post_date] => 2019-03-28 12:39:52
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-28 18:39:52
    [post_content] => 

We're super excited to see and share this announcement from Tufts University.

Here's an excerpt from The Tuft's Daily article titled, Tufts Civic Semester to Offer Overseas Service Opportunities to Incoming First-Years:

"Civic Semester is intended to be embedded in the academic experience at Tufts,' McAndrew said.

The program is fully funded by tuition, and all financial aid that a student receives is applied to the Civic Semester, Dean of Tisch College Alan Solomont said.

“[The Civic Semester] really should be open to all students,” Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Jim Glaser said.

Students participating in the program will complete on-campus orientation with their fellow classmates in September, according to Glaser. Glaser expressed his belief that completing regular orientation on campus with students who are not participating in the program will be a positive experience.

“They will go through orientation with all of the students they come back to,” Glaser said. “The beauty of this is that it … allows students to have a full [orientation] experience.”

Tisch College partnered up with Where There Be Dragons, a well-known program provider for academic gap semesters and years, according to Solomont.

“[Tisch College] looked at all the programs who do this just to pick the best one,” Solomont said.

In the program’s first year, it will admit 25 students. However, Solomont said that there is room for growth in the program, saying that it could expand to 100 more students in future years."

Head over to the Tufts Daily to read more about the exciting new Civic Semester!

    [post_title] => Tufts Civic Semester in Partnership with Dragons [post_excerpt] => We're super excited to see and share this announcement from Tufts University. Here's an excerpt from The Tuft's Daily article titled, "Tufts Civic Semester to Offer Overseas Service Opportunities to Incoming First-Years"... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => tufts-civic-semester-in-partnership-with-dragons [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-28 12:44:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-28 18:44:14 [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] => 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] => 33 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 33 [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/ ) [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] => 26 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 26 [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/ ) [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] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 14 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 37 [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] => For Parents, About Dragons ... )
WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2019-02-21 12:08:17
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-02-21 19:08:17
    [post_content] => 

We love to see research supporting the same conclusions our alumni students and parents have come to. If you're debating the pros and cons of a Gap Year, we highly recommend this article by Psychology Today.

Here's an excerpt:  

"Universities are starting to understand the benefits of the gap year and making deferrals easier, even offering their own gap year service experiences. Tufts and Princeton offer tuition-free international service programs. Florida State University, University of North Carolina, and Duke are offering scholarships to make gap years available to students of diverse backgrounds.

“Why should we live with such hurry ….?” Henry David Thoreau wrote in 1846. This is a question we can ask ourselves today in our fast-paced society. The gap year may be a solution for some students to grow socially and emotionally, to gain maturity, or to get a stronger financial footing, so they can achieve success in the college years."

Read the full article, Is a Gap Year Good for Your Child's Mental Health and GPA? on Psychology Today.

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    [post_date] => 2019-01-22 10:49:57
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-22 17:49:57
    [post_content] => 

Where There Be Dragons has been selected for a Community Choice Award as one of the Top Gap Year Providers of 2018 in the category of Housing by GoOverseas.com.

Winners were named by the community of travelers at GoOverseas where Dragons has 109 participant reviews, 21 interviews, and a 98% average review grade.
 
GoOverseas says: 
We're thrilled to recognize Where There Be Dragons as one of the best travel organizations in 2018 through this merit-based award.

Thanks for the award GoOverseas!

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WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 154208
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-12-26 11:26:36
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-12-26 18:26:36
    [post_content] => 

The WSJ forgot to give us exact credits, but none-the-less we are excited to see our Bridge Year Program featured in the education section of the Wall Street Journal.

The piece is titled, Welcome to College. Take a Year Off.

Here's an excerpt:

"Peter Scharer, a freshman at Princeton, spent last year studying Hindi and Urdu and volunteering at a school in northern India as part of Princeton’s Bridge Year program.

The university launched that offering for 20 students in 2009, and this year it is funding 38 students doing service projects in Bolivia, China, India, Indonesia or Senegal. Princeton covers basic living expenses and offers need-based aid for travel and incidentals like visa paperwork.

“I was stepping away from the cycle that I had been in,” said Mr. Scharer, now 19 years old. He said the program was “a powerful way to get a different perspective on the world, better understand myself, [and] better understand what I might be interested in studying.”

Mr. Scharer said he has a new outlook on things like consumption and waste after seeing an open dump in India, and on the best way to offer aid to a needy community. He just finished a class on the interplay between national identity and language."

You can read more reflections from Peter Scharer's Princeton Bridge Year India group on our Yak board, or learn more about our Bridge Year Programs in India, Bolivia, China, Indonesia, and Senegal on Princeton's website. Or head over to the Wall Street Journal to read the full article! [post_title] => Our Bridge Year Program Featured in the Wall Street Journal this week.... [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => our-bridge-year-program-featured-in-the-wall-street-journal-this-week [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-12-26 11:38:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-12-26 18:38:34 [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] => 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] => 33 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 33 [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/ ) [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] => 26 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 26 [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] => For Parents, About Dragons )
WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 153808
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-10-25 10:15:36
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-10-25 16:15:36
    [post_content] => Our Alumni Ambassadors are an integral part of the Dragons community and work alongside the Boulder Admin Team to reinvigorate our alumni network and help brainstorm and offer feedback on the direction of Dragons development initiatives.

Congratulations to our 2019 team of Ambassadors! We're so excited to collaborate with you. And even more excited to HOST you this month at our HQ in Boulder!
PS. Rumor has it our Ambassadors might take over Dragons Instagram feed during their Ambassador Retreat from Nov. 2nd - 5th. So keep your eye out more from these faces...

"I live in Boulder, Colorado, and while I love waking up to the sight of the Rocky Mountains every morning, this summer I was given the opportunity to trade my mountains with the rolling green hills, covered with tea plants, of northeast India."

SOPHIE REEVESEASTERN HIMALAYAS: WEST BENGAL TO SIKKIM

 

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"I am Lithuanian, Russian, and American. Traveling, discovering new places, and adapting has defined my life since I moved to a new country when I was 10 and dived into the unknown."

ANNA DUDINA,  BOLIVIA: SPIRIT OF THE ANDES

 

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"Be afraid, it’s normal. Be nervous and worry about things that might go wrong, it’s normal. But be yourself, it’s all you can wholeheartedly be, and before you know it the things that once made you uncomfortable, will be your favorite stories to tell."

IVAN GARCIABOLIVA: SPIRIT OF THE ANDES

 

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"I didn’t realize how much I would learn beyond improving my language. I was amazed by the generosity of my host families, and there was never a moment I wasn’t learning something new from my group of awesome students and instructors."

LILLIAN ELLISCHINA: MANDARIN LANGUAGE INTENSIVE

 

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"Being an artist, I have been trying to figure out ways to merge my love for creating with my desire to bring awareness on global issues to my friends and family at home. Therefore, as part of my senior art show, I am dedicating my time to making a piece that tells the story of the different hardships and struggles facing our world today."

VANESSA PAYNEGUATEMALA: SPANISH LANGAUGE INTENSIVE

 

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"I currently live in San Francisco, am a senior at Redwood High School in the Bay Area, and have been fortunate enough to go on two trips with Dragons. One to Peru for 6 weeks at age 14, and another to China along the Silk Road at age 16. I’m a strong believer in the idea that the most growth an individual can do is outside of their comfort zone."

TIM KOENCHINA: SILK ROAD & PERU: SACRED MOUNTAIN

 

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"I would like to leave you with a simple, but significant saying that one of my instructors often said to our group: “La vida es loca y todo puede pasar.” That is, life is crazy, and anything can happen, so please do not mute the voice inside you and instead embark on a journey that connects you to a world beyond the one you now know."

LINDSEY O'NEILLGUATEMALA: SPANISH LANGAUGE INTENSIVE

 

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"Personally, when I venture into the unknown I like to turn up the introspection and challenge my brain to see the bigger, more global picture. I’ve often found that I discover myself only when I am “lost.”

EMMA BAILEYPERU: SACRED MOUNTAIN & INDONESIA: COMMUNITY, CULTURE, AND CONSERVATION

 

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"To me, nothing can compare to the thrill of discovering the unknown, then diving deep into it, and learning all I can from it.  Why should I reuse my old habits when new ones are far more exciting?"

SETH FISHER-OLVERAGUATEMALA: SPANISH LANGAUGE INTENSIVE

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Again, look for more from our 2019 Student Ambassadors via their Instagram Takeover Nov. 2nd - 5th!

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