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From the Field

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    [post_content] => We have been heartened by the recent trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the US, we’ve seen a steady decline in numbers likely due to a combination of preventative measures, vaccination, and broader immunity in the population. Globally, travel restrictions have started to soften and countries are intentionally reopening their borders to travelers again. We are not out of the woods yet, but it does feel like we’re headed in the right direction!

That said, if we’ve learned one thing from this past year it is to expect the unexpected. For this reason, we’re balancing our growing optimism for a return to international Dragons programs in 2021 with a healthy dose of cautiousness and very thorough assessments of each area we plan to visit. In addition to safety considerations for our students, we need to feel confident that we will not pose a COVID risk to local communities. For more on the factors we’re considering, please visit our COVID-19 FAQs page.


Fall 2021 Program Status as of 3/20/21

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 Likely To Run 

Guatemala • Bolivia • Peru • Nepal

As it stands today, we have four countries in our Green Tier assessment which means that we feel confident that we could run a Dragons course there under current conditions: Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, and Nepal. For these countries, travel restrictions and public conditions are already at a place, or close to it, that would allow us to run a summer course with limited modifications. Although we are hiring our instructors and moving forward with our course preparations, we are also still actively vetting conditions in host communities and specific locations we plan to visit before finalizing all commitments. [We did not include the United States in this assessment as we are currently successfully running student programs domestically and plan to offer our United States fall courses as scheduled.]

 To Be Determined 

Canada • Morocco • Senegal • Bhutan • China • Cambodia • Indonesia • Thailand

In our Yellow Tier assessment, we have Canada, Morocco, Senegal, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand. These are places that currently have travel restrictions that would not allow for a Dragons program at the present time. We are in more of a holding pattern with our Yellow Tier countries mostly due to restrictive entry requirements that involve things like mandatory 14-day hotel quarantines upon arrival, which would either not be compatible with a Dragons semester or require significant itinerary modifications. That said, we’ve also not moved these programs to our Red Tier (cancellation) category yet because there are some indications that travel conditions could improve enough before the fall to allow for us to run a Dragons course.

 Cancelled 

Nicaragua • Madagascar • India • Myanmar • Laos

We have already closed several fall programs in countries that we do not feel will be ready to reliably receive a Dragons group this fall due to forecast travel restrictions or on-the-ground conditions. These cancelled programs fell under our Red Tier assessment level. For programs that remain open, we are in the process of vetting each site with an eye towards our September start dates.
Our Yellow and Green Tier programs remain fully open for fall enrollment and we anticipate being able to run Dragons Semesters in the majority of places we travel come September. We are preparing for a return to international programs over the summer with Dragons groups and expect that conditions will only continue to improve before the fall. We wanted to transparently share our assessments and outlook for the fall. Overall, we are confident and optimistic that we will be able to offer select international programs this fall, which is very exciting! We will continue to send you updates as more information becomes available and plan to start moving forward with flight bookings and logistics in June for programs in our Green Tier, which could include additional locations over the coming weeks as countries continue to open up travel opportunities. On a final note, we want to commend you for your commitment to remain an active participant in this global community and we want you to know that you’re not alone in that choice. Students and families are actively expressing their support and enthusiasm for our international programming. We are receiving a very steady influx of applications from new students for summer & fall 2021 courses, and remain optimistic that we’ll be in an even better place over the coming months.

Looking to spend part of your summer break gaining an in-field perspective of the world through cultural immersion, wilderness exploration, and language study? Learn more about our unfiltered and immersive summer programs in Asia, Africa, and the Americas here.

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View post

Fall 2021 International Travel Outlook

Posted On

03/18/21

Author

Aaron Slosberg, Director of Student Programming

Description
Heartened by the recent trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re balancing our growing optimism for a return to international fall semester programming in 2021 with a healthy dose of cautiousness. Read More
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    [post_content] => We have been heartened by the recent trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the US, we’ve seen a steady decline in numbers likely due to a combination of preventative measures, vaccination, and broader immunity in the population. Globally, international travel restrictions have started to soften and countries are intentionally reopening their borders to travelers again. We are not out of the woods yet, but it does feel like we’re headed in the right direction!

That said, if we’ve learned one thing from this past year it is to expect the unexpected. For this reason, we’re balancing our growing optimism for a return to international Dragons programs this summer with a healthy dose of cautiousness coupled with very thorough assessments of each area we plan to visit. In addition to safety considerations for our students, we need to feel confident that we will not pose a COVID risk to local communities. For more on the factors we’re considering, please visit our COVID-19 FAQs page.


Summer 2021 Program Status as of 3/20/21

Loading...

Loading...

 Likely to Run 

Guatemala • Bolivia • Peru • Nepal

As it stands today, we have four countries in our Green Tier assessment which means that we feel confident that we could run a Dragons course there under current conditions: Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, and Nepal. For these countries, travel restrictions and public conditions are already at a place, or close to it, that would allow us to run a summer course with limited modifications. Although we are hiring our instructors and moving forward with our course preparations, we are also still actively vetting conditions in host communities and specific locations we plan to visit before finalizing all commitments. [We did not include the United States in this assessment as we are currently successfully running student programs domestically and plan to offer our United States summer courses as scheduled.]

 To Be Determined 

Canada • Bhutan • Cambodia • Indonesia • Thailand

In our Yellow Tier assessment, we have Canada, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand. These are places that currently have travel restrictions that would not allow for a Dragons program at the present time. We are in more of a holding pattern with our Yellow Tier countries mostly due to restrictive entry requirements that involve things like mandatory 14-day hotel quarantines upon arrival, which would not be compatible with a Dragons summer course. However, we’ve also not moved these programs to our Red Tier (cancellation) category yet because there are some indications that travel conditions could improve enough before the summer to allow for us to run a Dragons course.

 Cancelled 

Nicaragua • Senegal • Morocco • Madagascar • India • China • Myanmar • Laos

We have already closed several summer programs in countries that we do not feel will be ready to reliably receive a Dragons group this summer due to forecast travel restrictions or on-the-ground conditions. These cancelled programs fell under our Red Tier assessment level. For programs that remain open, we are in the process of vetting each site with an eye towards our July 1st start date.
We wanted to transparently share our assessments and outlook for the summer. Overall, we are confident and optimistic that we will be able to offer select international programs this summer, which is very exciting! We will continue to send you updates as more information becomes available and will start moving forward with flight bookings and logistics in April for programs in our Green Tier, which could include additional locations over the coming weeks as countries continue to open up travel opportunities. If you are currently enrolled on a Yellow Tier program and are interested in switching to a Dragons Green Tier program/country (Nepal, Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru, United States) for added confidence, please email our admissions team; you do not have to reapply, we can switch you over to another program option as long as space is available. On a final note, we want to commend you for your commitment to remain an active participant in this global community and we want you to know that you’re not alone in that choice. Students and families are actively expressing their support and enthusiasm for our international programming. We are receiving a very steady influx of applications from new students for summer & fall 2021 courses, and remain optimistic that we’ll be in an even better place over the coming months.

Looking to spend more than a few weeks gaining an in-field perspective of the world through cultural immersion, wilderness exploration, and language study? Learn more about our unfiltered and immersive Gap Year programs in Asia, Africa, and the Americas here.

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    [post_content] => This webinar is brought to you by the Dragons Global Speaker Series – a program where our global educators share lessons in critical thinking related to current world events.
____
On October 18, 2020 Evo Morales's leftwing party, Movimiento al Socialismo (Mas), celebrated a stunning comeback with the progressive candidate, Luis Arce winning Bolivia's presidential election in what could be considered a landslide victory (about 20 points according to exit polls.)

It’s a remarkable turn of events, especially considering that just under a year ago, Morales—the longtime indigenous president and incumbent—was overthrown in a police-military coup who then installed the right wing evangelical Jeanine Áñez as president.

In this webinar recorded in May of 2020, Julianne Chandler, Dragons Latin America Program Director, shares her experience of living in Bolivia as the Coronavirus pandemic collided with the fallout from an already devastating political crisis.

A COUP OR NOT A COUP?

The Fall of Evo Morales and Political Transformation in Bolivia

Synopsis:

The Plurinational State of Bolivia was already in crisis when the global pandemic took hold, after contested elections in October of 2019 incited national protests and the sudden ousting of longtime indigenous president and incumbent Evo Morales. A highly controversial debate about whether or not Morales was victim to a right-wing coup has been overshadowed by draconian quarantine measures and increasing restrictions on civil liberties being implemented by the interim government of Jeanine Añez, no friend to Bolivia’s indigenous majority. As a new round of national elections in Bolivia continue to be delayed indefinitely in the face of the public health emergency, serious questions remain unanswered about Evo’s hurried departure, what constitutes a coup d’etat, and the politics of pandemic under a de facto government in South America’s diverse and often misunderstood Andean nation. This session will provide an outline and assessment of recent events in Bolivia from Julianne’s personal experience living through the political crisis and pandemic.

Presented by:

Julianne Chandler, M.A. Poverty and Development, The Institute of Development Studies. B.A. Anthropology and Latin American Studies, New York University. Julianne is the Latin America Program Director with Dragons and lives in Tiquipaya, Bolivia with her husband and two daughters.

____

Interested in developing your own in-field perspective of Bolivia through cultural immersion, wilderness exploration, and language study? Learn more about our unfiltered and immersive Summer and Gap Year programs here.

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    [post_content] => I want to tell you about my extraordinary friend Sushil Babu Chettri from Nepal. He’s an inspiration for a whole number of reasons, not least for his remarkable life story. His full firsthand account can be found on the Learning Service blog.

He was born in a remote village in the west of Nepal, but ran away as a child and ended up on the streets of Kathmandu. At the age of eight, he learned how to beg from tourists and avoid getting addicted to drugs, while enduring the violence of street gangs.

After some time a tourist “rescued” him and brought him to an orphanage, but unfortunately, the place was corrupt and abusive. The children had no-one to care for them and had to cook and clean for themselves. They did not go to school and had no healthcare. The kids were not even fed enough and were sent out to beg for food. The owner collected donations from various sources but the money never reached the children.

 

Volunteers would come in and out of the orphanage, never suspecting that they were contributing to the exploitation of the children. The volunteers showered love and gifts on the orphanage kids, but the children found it traumatizing to have a conveyor-belt of caregivers, and when they left the hardships resumed.
At the age of twelve, Sushil was the oldest child in the orphanage and felt responsible for getting the children out. He eventually exposed the situation to an American lady and then made a police report about the conditions in the orphanage. The children were all rescued and it slowly their story came out – none of them were orphans, they had all been trafficked there.
The children all went to an organization that cared for them and tried to reconnect them with their families. Sushil felt he was too old to start school but instead he learned skills like how to use a camera and started making short films. He started documenting the lives of street children through film and raising awareness of social issues such as getting children of Kathmandu’s slums into schools. He only reconnected to his family and returned to his village when he was an adult, finding out for the first time that he had a younger brother. The issue that Sushil campaigns on most passionately is orphanage trafficking. After experiencing firsthand how orphanages are run as businesses in order to attract donations, with children stolen from rural areas like where he grew up, he now hosts talks and workshops with tourists and volunteers – and Dragons students! – to share his experience. Recently he has been trying to draw attention to the plight of children trapped in abusive orphanages during the coronavirus pandemic. In recent months, Sushil has been back in his remote home town documenting the situation of migrant laborers as they pour over the border from India despite the strict lockdown. He has been active in campaigning for aid for them, but also for aid to be given in the right way and to not be tokenistic or vanity-driven. He is also launching a project to build a well in his village in order to support vegetable growing there.
Throughout Sushil’s life, he has demonstrated remarkable resilience. He is friendly, positive, and fun, and is always willing to use his time and voice to help other people. He is an enormous inspiration to me – and as close as they come to a living legend.
Sushil Babu Chhetri is a freelance photographer and filmmaker who is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. His films include Flowers in the Dust and Letter to God. He is also an activist campaigning on behalf of children living on the street and in orphanages. You can follow him on YouTube and Instagram.  
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About Mbouillé

Mbouillé Diallo currently works in diplomatic security. He is an educator and taught young Senegalese and American students, specializing in language and culture. He is a seasoned Dragons instructor, he led Dragon's inaugural West Africa summer program in 2005 and has been invited numerous times as a speaker and trainer for Dragons staff training. A former radio host, he is very interested in politics and geo-politics, though he is not a member of any political party. He is currently writing an autobiographical book and lives with his wife and four children in Thies, Senegal. A former soccer player, trainer and referee, Mr. Diallo likes to watch soccer games and see his kids play.    

     

Interviewing Mbouillé

Can you speak a little bit about what it was like to grow up in Kolda?

I remember, when I was a lot younger, my parents or people of their generation would refer to the regions North of the Gambia as Senegal, and our area (South) as Casamance. I always wondered why. To me we were all Senegalese. My father served in the army and later the Police of Senegal. We ended up living in Kolda just because my father decided to build his house there. Actually, many of my siblings and myself (as a little boy) did not like having to live in Kolda. Because we wanted to be in the North and be "Senegalese". As I was growing up, I realized how grateful I should be to God and my parents for giving me the opportunity to grow up in Kolda. I am not sure I would have learnt and understood a lot of things. Maybe, I would not have been the same person. Two examples can help explain why I am saying this:
  • People like me who grow up in Kolda are what I call a "Language and Culture Melting Pot". Thanks to my past and experience I speak at least seven languages. In my neighborhood, we were surrounded by families of different origins. Almost in each family, they spoke a different language and had something specific to their culture, religion etc. There were several ethnic groups and each had some specificities. That's why I would do whatever I could to not miss family ceremonies. As such, I was able to grow up learning from others and build my own personality, my future… my life. I am deeply convinced that without this past I would not have had the opportunity to work at the US Peace Corps, Dragons and other foreign organizations, or it would not have been the same. With my background and education, it was quite easy for me to understand others and know that staying or working with someone thought to be different from you is a gift and WEALTH.
  • When I was a little boy, electricity and running water was nonexistent in our neighborhood. We learnt to struggle to succeed in difficult conditions. We would study at night with "lampe Tempete'' (kerosene lamps); and had to pull water from wells to drink, bathe, and do the laundry etc. The legend says that the best civil servants (teachers, health workers, etc.) were mainly posted in the Northern part of the country. My family was considered as one of the wealthiest in the neighborhood, but we loved each other, as friends and played together in the streets as one. We shared food, clothes, school supplies and anything to make friends happy. We learnt to be independent and fight to succeed at school and in society. The one thing I feared the most was going to the bush to fetch firewood for cooking or working in farms. However, by following my friends and seeing how well they were doing, I decided to do the same. The most memorable times of my childhood comes from the moments I spent with friends in the bush, hunting, wrestling, playing games and fighting sometimes. Growing up with that is worth years of school studies.
 

You reached out to Dragons with a grant proposal to fund Dr. Yaya Balde's campaign to purchase Personal Protective Equipment in the Region of Kolda. Can talk to us a little more about how these funds will help healthcare workers and the local population?

Healthcare workers were quite unable to fulfill their daily tasks to reach out to communities in the beginning, communicate well with them, let them know that following guidance given by authorities is key to fight COVID 19. The health system and facilities in Kolda is one of the least equipped in the country. Staff did not have enough tools (masks, gloves, hygiene gels, soap etc). Healthcare officials could not keep telling people to wash their hands if the latter don't have soap or water (in some areas). They used a few radio programs, but being in the field was the best way to communicate with people. Healthcare workers knew it would take time to change people's mind and let them understand that COVID 19 is real and anyone can be infected. The virus can survive anywhere; be it a hot, humid or cold area.  They needed the basic tools and products to help communities fight. The public health system also depends on volunteers, since many health workers are not treated as civil servants and their salaries depend on the fees paid by patients in public hospitals and health care centers. Some health workers unions and hospital managers publicly announced that they might not be able to pay some salaries in the near future if solutions are not found quickly. So, I understood that people's lives are at risk. How can someone who struggles on a daily basis to get the minimum to feed themselves and their family be able to pay for fees in order to be taken care of by public health care? And if the health care workers are frustrated and stressed out, because not only don’t have good salaries, but also they might even be paid, I do not think they will be able to help fight COVID 19 in an efficient way.  I thought it would be very helpful to help with means to anticipate and limit the number of people contaminated or affected. I contacted Dr. Balde and learned that there is a committee in charge that can receive donations. Knowing that I do not have enough income to personally bring a help that could impact, I decided to contact friends who could work directly with him and coordinate donations.  

What is the current state of the Covid-19 crisis in Senegal? How has the virus impacted daily life for most people?

As of today Senegal Registered 3253 confirmed cases among whom over 2000 recovered and 38 died. The government of Senegal has not yet opted for total lockdown. However, we are in a state of emergency and under curfew (2100 to 05:00).  The virus has impacted people's daily life in many domains: In terms of the economy, the majority of Senegalese workers are in the informal sector. The economy has slowed down and many locals have been having problems getting income to take care of their daily needs and their families. This crisis has also shown that the health system is extremely weak in this country as it is in many other developing countries. We realize now that the health system has issues in staffing (low salaries or no salary for many of them), and equipment (absence of masks, gloves, hygiene stuff) etc. More importantly, this crisis shows that good communication, hygiene and healthy diets can save lives and money.   The government voted for a special budget to support needy people. As such, food and hygiene products were supposed to be delivered to families that do not have income within a short period of time. Unfortunately, over one month after the decision has been made, many regions have not yet received anything from the government. The government could have done a better job if they did not focus on political actions that we call in French ‘Du Voyez moi’ (look at me). The minister in charge of this task is travelling and using the government TV and other Medias to show up and pretend that he is doing a good job delivering what the community deserves.  On a positive note, this crisis has pushed some sectors to be creative and work on resiliency. Though we are not used to producing and consuming locally, some sectors have decided to participate in the fight by producing masks, machines, gels etc.  

In your opinion, how effective has the leadership in Senegal been at managing the crisis?

To me there was good leadership in the beginning, in the sense that there was an agreement between the current government, the opposition, and most of the other sectors of the society. They all decided to fight the pandemic together. However, I believe, they forgot to take into account certain realities. Most of the recommendations were to stay at home and follow recommendations made by health organizations and authorities. The communication was done in the way that they focused more on stigmatization than addressing the issue. Many people still consider COVID 19 as shameful. That's why many communities did not want to be moved from home (house/village,city, neighborhood) to their quarantine  places (hospitals, hotels and centers).  Also, in my mind, the decision to move all the patients tested positive was a mistake. Many people could have stayed at home and taken care of. The huge amount of money spent to move and take care of those people in hotels could have been saved for investing in testing, research and equipment.  The decision to follow some recommendations was not adequate. For example, they could have recommended locals to wear masks right at the beginning of the crisis, rather than recommending only sick people should wear a mask. I think that added to the false belief that COVID does not exist.     Also, some local wealthy people and politicians who pretended to bring their own revenue into the fight were not doing it for the sake of helping needy people, but rather for publicity. Why would someone whose aim is to help people get out of the crisis expose the stuff and money he is giving in front of cameras and post it on social media? On the other hand, I came to realize that Senegal might not be as poor as our authorities claim. The amount of money that has been collected from politicians and other private business owners could have been enough to help us tackle the problem right at the beginning. If this money was used in the way it should be, the health system in this country would not have been at this sad level.     

Is there anything you wish people living abroad knew about Senegal?

Senegal is one country with a lot of differences and details specific to peoples’ lives; it’s not fair to say there is one culture of Senegal. Senegal is not a poor country, but communities are not always given the opportunity to take advantage of their resources. The colonial system and history have impacted Senegal in different ways. Depending on where you are in the country, you can see these differences.  As such, the decision-makers should take into account the community realities in order to manage and help this country get out of the hole. So, for people living abroad, the best way to know this country and understand the realities to connect directly with locals, stay with them, travel with them….  Also, the educational system has to change. No community can make progress without a good system of education. And leaders should understand that not only people who are literate in French should be considered as educated people or intellectuals. There are a lot of people who could be good resources, but they are not being asked; if they are, their ideas are not taken into account.

What are your hopes and fears for the future?

I will summarize my hopes in one sentence: I wish the future of this country to be left in the hands of those who have the capacity and deserve it. I am optimistic that the new activist movements that are spreading now all over Africa will help us get to that. Many young Africans now understand that the most obvious guarantee to move forward is real Africa Union…

Anything else you want us to know?

I will be happy to get back to you if you have further questions. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself in a few lines about my country…..    

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[post_title] => SENEGAL COMMUNITY GRANT UPDATE: An Interview With Mbouillé Diallo [post_excerpt] => Mbouillé Diallo currently works in diplomatic security. He is an educator and taught young Senegalese and American students, specializing in language and culture. He is a seasoned Dragons instructor, he led Dragon's inaugural West Africa summer program in 2005 and has been invited numerous times as a speaker and trainer for Dragons staff training. A former radio host, he is very interested in politics and geo-politics, though he is not a member of any political party. He is currently writing an autobiographical book and lives with his wife and four children in Thies, Senegal. A former soccer player, trainer and referee, Mr. Diallo likes to watch soccer games and see his kids play. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senegal-community-grant-fund [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-10 20:21:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-11 03:21:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [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] => 80 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 80 [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] => 51 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 51 [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] => 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] => 54 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 54 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Global Community ... )
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    [post_date] => 2020-07-24 11:29:20
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You'll find no shortage of mask-making videos these days, but here at Dragons, we are feeling especially proud of this version created by our dear friends in Senegal, Papa Laye and Jenny Wagner.

As we continue taking responsibility to protect each other from Covid-19, let's also continue to protect the environment by creating masks from materials we already have. In this short video, you'll learn how to make a mask Senegal Style under Papa Laye's step-by-step and no-machine-needed expert instruction.
  If you'd like to joins us in "masking-up to the challenge," email a photo to us or share one on social with the tag #maskupdragons so we can share your creations with Papa Laye, who would be so excited to see what he's inspired you to make!    
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One email a week. Nothing Markety. Unsubscribe any time. Subscribe to the Dragons Blog and stay connected to the community. ❤️

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