Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Indonesia Semester.

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Global Community

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    [post_date] => 2020-01-09 13:05:26
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-09 20:05:26
    [post_content] => In an effort to give back to our wonderful network of international partners, Dragons has a Community Grant Fund that awards grants to local organizations based on a comprehensive application process.  Some of this year's grant funds were distributed to support a menstrual health project in Chaukati, Nepal. Thank you to Michael D. Smith MSW/MPH (Nepal Himalaya Studies Instructor) for sharing more about this project via the following report! 

Introduction

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

Project Origin

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

Project Description

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

Importance of Menstrual Health Projects in Nepal

In the contemporary Nepali context, programs such as this DIY Reusable Eco-Sanitary Pad training take on a larger significance than merely environmental or economic benefits. In many sectors of Nepali society, especially in rural areas, menstruation and female reproductive health issues have been considered taboo subjects. Myths and stigma surrounding ritual pollution from the touch of a menstruating woman prevails. In some areas, chapaudi, a practice where women move to a shed behind the house during menstruation, is still practiced. Though this tradition has been banned in Nepal, recent incidents of young women or teenage girls dying in their 'menstruation sheds' due to snakebite or other hazards have highlighted the persistence of these practices. Even in communities like Chaukati where Chhaupadi is not practiced, taboos surrounding menstruation still affect Nepali women and girls. Many households in Kathmandu still prohibit menstruating women from entering kitchens, temples, eating with the family, and sleeping on their beds. These practices can condition women to view their bodies as unclean and  devalue themselves because they take  blame for any misfortune their families experience. Chhaupadi’s legacy contributes to a wider disregard of women and girls that places them in danger. Nepali news outlets have been raising  awareness of this issue, and there are some indications that the media is in general, reporting more stories of female reproductive and gender related issues. Recent incidents of women dying in menstruation sheds have even been covered in international media such as the New York Times. Encouraging projects that support local women to advance the conversation about female reproductive health, helps de-stigmatize harmful attitudes and given women the space to voice experiences previously neglected in formal and public spheres.  Michael D Smith Dharti Mata and the organizers of the Chaukati Reusable Eco-Sanitary Pad DIY training workshops are grateful for the support of the Dragons Community Grant Funds for this project. It would not have been possible without the creation of the Fund or the instructors who carefully managed program budgets in order to contribute money to the fund. Thank you!      
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    [post_title] => Dragons Community Grant Fund Supports Menstrual Health Project in Chaukati, Nepal. [post_excerpt] => In an effort to give back to our wonderful network of international partners, Dragons has a Community Grant Fund that awards grants to local organizations based on a comprehensive application process. Some of this year's grant funds were distributed to support a menstrual health project in Chaukati, Nepal. Thank you to Michael D. Smith MSW/MPH (Nepal Himalaya Studies Instructor) for sharing more about this project via the following report!  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-community-grant-fund-supports-menstrual-health-project-in-chaukati-nepal [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-09 13:30:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-09 20:30:21 [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] => 653 [name] => Global Community [slug] => global_community [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 653 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [parent] => 0 [count] => 19 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 19 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/global_community/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 641 [name] => About Dragons [slug] => about_dragons [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 641 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [parent] => 0 [count] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 38 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/about_dragons/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 669 [name] => Engage [slug] => engage [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 669 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [parent] => 0 [count] => 19 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 13 [cat_ID] => 669 [category_count] => 19 [category_description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [cat_name] => Engage [category_nicename] => engage [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Global Community, About Dragons ... )
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    [post_date] => 2019-12-23 12:58:09
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-12-23 19:58:09
    [post_content] => Dear Community,

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

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

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

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

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

TAKE DRAGONS VALUE STATEMENT SURVEY

There's space at the end of the survey to offer more feedback or write/add your own Value Statement if you feel something essential is missing. Thank you so much for sharing your time, insights, and feedback with us. Gratefully, The Humans @ Dragons HQ
PS. WANT DRAGONS BLOG UPDATES SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX? ONE EMAIL A WEEK. NOTHING MARKETY. UNSUBSCRIBE ANY TIME. SUBSCRIBE TO DRAGONS BLOG AND STAY CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY. ❤️
[post_title] => Dragons Value Statement Community Survey [post_excerpt] => Value Statements are the guiding and aspirational principles that unite a community, inform direction, and help a group make tough decisions in times of ambiguity. Dragons began the work of crafting new Value Statements over a year ago.... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-value-statement-community-survey [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-01 11:44:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-01 18:44:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 653 [name] => Global Community [slug] => global_community [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 653 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [parent] => 0 [count] => 19 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 19 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/global_community/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 641 [name] => About Dragons [slug] => about_dragons [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 641 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [parent] => 0 [count] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 38 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/about_dragons/ ) ) [category_links] => Global Community, About Dragons )
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    [post_date] => 2019-12-05 14:37:40
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-12-05 21:37:40
    [post_content] => 

We thought you might like to see some sweatered goats. ❤️ which yes, you can have on your own wall. Each year, Dragons South Asia Program Director, Christy Sommers @talkingcentipede produces our favorite calendar with photos of these fashionable gals. More than 50% of the proceeds of the sweatered 🐐 calendars benefits Asha Deep Vidyashram, a school that serves over 200 K-8th grade students in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood in Varanasi, India. In 2019, the calendars raised $12,700 for the Asha Deep School! ✨ Calendars can be purchased on Etsy. . 📸s by @sweateredgoats otherwise known as @talkingcentipede otherwise known as Christy Sommers.

PS. WANT DRAGONS BLOG UPDATES SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX? ONE EMAIL A WEEK. NOTHING MARKETY. UNSUBSCRIBE ANY TIME. SUBSCRIBE TO DRAGONS BLOG AND STAY CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY. ❤️
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    [post_date] => 2019-10-18 12:14:35
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-18 18:14:35
    [post_content] => 

Before Megan Fettig joined Dragons as an administrator, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small rural community in southern Senegal from 2000-2002. Here's a series of black and white photographs she took while living in the community that, over the past 14 years, has welcomed, taught, and cared for over a hundred Dragons students. Her artist’s statement is included with the gallery. 

This series of work has been exhibited at the Alliance Frances in Accra, Ghana, the National Museum of Ghana in Accra, Ghana, and PII Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the photos in the series was awarded a second place prize in a juried exhibition at the University of Alaska. Please enjoy this digital version of her gallery! 

Manthiankani: A Photographic Tale of Life in a Senegalese Village

Photos & words by Megan E. Fettig

The roosters crow, there is a consistent pounding of mortar against pestle as the women prepare the morning meal. My neighbors awaken, a baby wails, the men chat across the way in the Chief’s compound. A hot and unforgiving sun creeps above the proud palm trees on the eastern horizon and I rise from my spot of slumber under a growing mango tree. I wander out into the day, to greet each member of my family; my host mother, father, my grandma, my dad’s second wife, my teen-aged brother. My two year old sister spots me and runs in my direction on wobbly legs grinning to greet me as she jumps into my open arms. I greet the Chief and the women whose pounding stirred me out of sleep and then the children who somehow over the weeks turned into months turned into years, became mine. And I decide that the sun is just right, that my adopted family looks so perfectly beautiful in this rising light, that I must hold my clunky old Olympus passed down to me from my own father in a far away land. I hear the familiar click as each frame of film is exposed and the story of my relationship with Senegal unwinds. A story of connection, of beauty, and of how strangers took me into their homes and their hearts, how I became theirs and they, mine.

This is a story that was born of a dream. A tale of my experience living, crying, sweating, laughing, and growing in a small village called Mancankani (pronounced maan-chan-kan-ee) in the southern region of Senegal, West Africa where I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I arrived in Senegal in April of 2000 after having spent a decade yearning to experience life in an African village. I longed to witness something pure, some quintessential elemental way of living that I had not experienced among the materialistic tendencies and the spiritual inadequacies of life in America. I wanted to walk barefoot, to feel deeply connected with people, the cycles of the moon, and the nuances of each season. I wanted to live the naive and romantic ideal of an African life. I wanted to move to the rhythms of an African drum, carry babies on my back, dance in the first falling drops of the rainy season.

Little did I know that I would indeed experience all those things and more. I neglected to imagine the frustration of trying to communicate with people of a different language and culture. My daydreams didn’t include feelings of intense isolation nor the hours and hours of anguished boredom with sweat running rivers down my stomach. Slowly, towards the end of two years, the frustrations eased, the isolation somehow transformed into connection, my expressions learned to lean towards laughter. The strangers I lived amongst evolved into neighbors, friends, and family. Their lives revealed wealth to me, perhaps not the type of wealth we try to cultivate in the West; this wealth is more subtle, it dwells closer to the earth, it’s gem is the sparkle of an African sky on any given night, it’s heart is in family, in simply living close to each other.

My hope is that these photographs build a bridge from one human family to another. View them and set aside the traditional misconceptions of Africa; the idea that only poverty, illness and war stricken lives reside there. Experience the mornings when I picked up my camera as the sun rose over the distant palm trees, now two decades ago. See beauty in the face of simplicity so you can know a people who possess the traits of easy laughter, immense hospitality, and an openness to inviting a stranger into their home and calling her their daughter.

  In 2005, Megan Fettig co-created and guided Dragons first program on the African continent bringing students to her Peace Corps village in Senegal. The holistic, community centered, and off-the-beaten-path style of Dragons programs captured Megan’s heart and in the past dozen years, she has continued her involvement with Dragons in several capacities including Instructor, West Africa Program Director, Marketing Director, and most recently, Co-Director of Adult Programs.    
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    [post_date] => 2019-08-15 12:09:10
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-08-15 18:09:10
    [post_content] => 

Twenty-two years ago I walked into a small town in southwestern China near dusk and realized I was in trouble. I had the equivalent of just a few dollars left in my wallet and the only bank in town was closed (there weren’t any ATMs). I had no place to stay for the night, no ticket onward, and knew no one in the area. Like most people at that time, I didn’t have a cell phone—even if I had, I’m not sure who I would have called. I stood on the steps of the (closed) bank, one of the larger buildings in town, and watched the warm, late spring sun sinking lower in the sky, considering my options and feeling angry with myself. I was also exhausted and hungry after walking all day. This wasn’t my first brush with the consequences of failing to think ahead (nor would it be my last!) but in a completely unfamiliar place, in a country then still very new to me, with Chinese language skills that might be generously described as “intermediate”, traveling solo… I was feeling both stuck and stupid. The days and weeks leading up to this moment had been some of the happiest and most exciting of my life. I’d taken a year off from college and worked all fall so that I could join a study program in China in the spring. This kind of travel, which was never in the cards for my family growing up, was something I’d always dreamed of. To explain why, I have to tell another story first… WHEN I WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD... The town where I grew up sponsored a group of Cambodian refugees who had fled the genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge. One of these refugees, a boy a couple of years older than me, named Kiri, became my friend, and something like an idol. Kiri’s life experiences were different from mine in pretty much every way. I grew up in small college towns in New England where life was mostly quiet and peaceful. Kiri’s family had all been killed in the chaos that enveloped Cambodia at that time and he fled with other children through the jungle, arriving eventually in a refugee camp before coming to the US. Kiri’s childhood experiences left him with scars I couldn’t see, but had some sense of, even as a kid. His experiences also left him with great survival skills—including what, to my seven-year old ears, was a knockout sense of humor. Kiri was still learning English, and one day when he was over at my house, he discovered the power of the phrase, “never mind.” From that moment on, every time Kiri and I needed a boost of extra entertainment as we played upstairs, Kiri would call to my mother downstairs. “Hey, Susan?” “Yes, Kiri?” my mom would answer knowingly. “Never mind!” (cue cascade of two boys laughing). My mom was very patient. Kiri also had concrete survival skills as a result of the time he spent escaping war in the wilderness. One day, Kiri came with my family for a walk in the woods and he and I went down to a stream below the path. I watched him pull a live fish, about six inches long, out of the stream with his bare hands. From that moment on, I did everything I could to emulate Kiri. Kiri had a habit of carrying photos around with him inside his t-shirt, “close to the heart.” One was of his parents. Another was of a tank. After he showed me the photos, I asked my parents for some photos to put inside my t-shirt. Through Kiri, I got to know other kids and families in the Cambodian refugee community in our town. Although I wouldn’t have been able to explain it quite this way at the time, I began to fall in love with people and things that were different from those I knew. I began to wonder about life in places far away from home. I began to dream about seeing the world. So, many years later, when Chinese was introduced as a language option at my high school (a rare opportunity at a public high school in 1991), I jumped at the opportunity. I loved languages, but even more so, I loved the idea of being able to communicate with people whose lives and cultures were profoundly different from mine. Eventually, in the spring of my junior year in college, I landed in China’s Yunnan Province—a place that felt to me like a wonderland: more than 30 different ethnic groups, biodiversity with ecosystems ranging from snowy mountains higher than any I’d ever seen to dense tropical rainforests, a long list of religious traditions, foods as familiar as fried potatoes and as unfamiliar as roasted cicadas. I was in paradise. The culmination of my semester was a month-long “independent project.” Working with my program advisor, I set out to follow the Mekong River along its entire path through Yunnan, from the Tibetan region of Kham in the northwestern corner of the province, downstream and south through ethnically Hui, Lisu, Pumi, Yi, Naxi, Bai, Wa, Dai (and the list goes on) areas to Xishuangbanna, bordering Myanmar and Laos. Carrying letters of introduction that I hoped would allow me to enter many counties then closed to foreign travelers, and cartons of cigarettes needed to win over skeptical local officials, I set out with the goal of covering as much of the route as I could by foot—a goal I soon realized was totally unrealistic given the distance I had to cover and the month I had available. Walking is still my favorite mode of transport. It’s the only way to move from one place to another slowly enough to really see things. It’s also the only way to move that leaves you with no choice but to stop and talk with people along the way. I discovered quickly how friendly, hospitable, and curious the people of rural Yunnan were, often stopping to offer me rides, and inviting me into their homes for meals. In the Meili Snow Mountains of northwestern Yunnan, a family pulled me into their shack near the road to offer me a small piece of fried fat and a plastic cup of orange soda—the most luxurious things they had to offer. In another town, I asked a girl on the street how to get to the post office. She looked at the items I wanted to mail back to my advisor’s home in Kunming and told me I’d need to have a container to mail them in. She then brought me back to her family’s home for lunch, found an empty grain sack, and carefully packed all of my things in it. I repeated all of the ways I knew to say “thank you” as she stitched up the sack and walked with me to the post office. When we arrived, she helped me navigate the maze of counters, fees, forms, and surly officers with red stamps that run the engine of the world’s oldest bureaucracy. Again and again, I was stunned by the level of hospitality and generosity I was shown. WHICH BRINGS ME BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THIS STORY... As I arrived in a small town, at the end of a long day’s walk with no money, not even enough for a meal, and no place to stay. As I stood there on the steps of the bank, a man walked over to me. “Hello, can I help you with something?” he asked, “Are you lost?” Startled out of my own thoughts of how foolish I’d been, I explained I was looking for a bank. “This is the only bank around. It’s closed now.” “Too bad,” I said, then, thinking of another priority, “Can you recommend any very cheap places to eat nearby?” The stranger asked me more questions and I eventually began to explain my predicament, but before I had even finished, he opened his wallet and pulled out 100 kuai—at the time equal to about twelve US dollars, and more than enough for a room and a meal. He insisted I take the money. “Chinese people are hospitable,” he said, “and you are our guest from another country. I know you would help me if I were a visitor to your country.” I wondered if that last part was true. I hoped so. I wasn’t sure. Unfortunately, I didn’t think too many foreign young men in small towns in the US were approached by strangers offering assistance and cash. Then, the stranger spoke a Chinese phrase that was, by then, starting to become familiar to me. “It’s what I should do,” he said. I was tired, stress had been building, and I was choked up as he handed me the 100 kuai bill. I asked him to write down his address and promised (though he said it wasn’t necessary) to send him the money he’d given me once I could get to a bank. I thanked him profusely. I imagined how much better things might be for people everywhere if we all did what we should do. WHAT’S THE MORAL OF THIS STORY? I suppose the obvious answer might be: plan in advance and be prepared. Yawn. You’ve heard that before. If I hadn’t set out to “walk the Mekong in a month” (I mean, come on, really, kid?) I might not have been gifted the realization of my own incompetence and lack of knowledge, or the truth of my reliance on others. I never would have met that stranger who showed me such pure generosity, or been faced with the uncomfortable question: Would this ever happen where I’m from? If I hadn’t overshot in what I thought I could do, I wouldn’t have felt what I did in the moment that stranger said, “It’s what I should do.” And that’s a moment that I have always remembered. I remembered it through what turned into eleven years of living in China, and a lifetime of involvement with China and with Chinese people. I remember it, sometimes, when I send groups of students to the high mountains and deep river valleys of Yunnan Province, and to live with homestay families in villages just a short distance away from that small town and the steps of its only bank (no doubt, there are many banks and ATMs there by now!). These days, it’s my job to help those students and their instructors prepare, and plan, and manage budgets, and risk, and logistics. But it’s my wish that they’ll truly challenge themselves, and that sometimes things will go wrong, and that when things do go wrong, they may learn something powerful and unexpected. AND WITH THAT IN MIND... I want to turn this story back in a circle. It has been many, many years since I lost touch with my friend Kiri. My family moved away from that town in New England when I was seven years old. As I wrote out this story, I had the inclination to do something that wasn’t an option back then: I Googled Kiri. Kiri is not his real name. His real name is unique enough that on my first search, to my astonishment, I found a news story about him. It turns out life got complicated for Kiri as he got older and he became involved in criminal activities. His actions weren’t violent, but drug-related crimes led to years in jail. As a result of changing policies and more hostile attitudes towards immigration in the US, Kiri was deported. After growing up, marrying, and having children in this country, he was sent back to the country from which he had originally fled as a refugee. I felt tears come to my eyes as I read about Kiri being separated from his children in the US, and sent back to a place where he had no living family members, a place now as unfamiliar to him as the US had been when he first arrived. Because of what I learned, the process of writing this story down took a different turn for me. Since I learned about Kiri’s deportation, I’ve been trying to get more information, and to contact Kiri, trying to find out if there’s anything I can do to help. In short, I’m trying to return some of the favors the world has granted me and to figure out what I should do.

  JODY SEGAR is China Programs Director at Where There Be Dragons. He wants readers to know that he did get around to mailing that stranger’s money back, plus extra. (PHOTOS: Northwestern Yunnan, 1996)    
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[post_title] => When Things Go Wrong - An Essay by Jody Segar, Dragons China Program Director [post_excerpt] => "Twenty-two years ago I walked into a small town in southwestern China near dusk and realized I was in trouble..." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => when-things-go-wrong-an-essay-by-jody-segar-dragons-china-program-director [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-17 09:18:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-17 15:18:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 653 [name] => Global Community [slug] => global_community [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 653 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [parent] => 0 [count] => 19 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 19 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/global_community/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 675 [name] => The Dragons Journal [slug] => thedragonsjournal [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 675 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Archives of The Dragons Journal (formerly known as the Map's Edge Newsletter). [parent] => 0 [count] => 20 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 675 [category_count] => 20 [category_description] => Archives of The Dragons Journal (formerly known as the Map's Edge Newsletter). [cat_name] => The Dragons Journal [category_nicename] => thedragonsjournal [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/thedragonsjournal/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 670 [name] => Recommended [slug] => recommended [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 670 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Recommended reading, watching and listening. [parent] => 0 [count] => 12 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11 [cat_ID] => 670 [category_count] => 12 [category_description] => Recommended reading, watching and listening. [cat_name] => Recommended [category_nicename] => recommended [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Global Community, The Dragons Journal ... )
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    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2019-07-11 13:17:26
    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-07-11 19:17:26
    [post_content] => Dear Friends,

Recently one of our dear friends and colleagues, Iván Nogales, passed away unexpectedly. Ivan was a true visionary, bringing theater and the arts to countless young people across Bolivia and beyond. 



Over the years, dozens of Dragons groups have passed through El Alto and collaborated with Teatro Trono in one form or another. If you had the unique opportunity of visiting this inspiring space and getting to know Trono through Dragons, please consider sharing a donation to keep this space open and accessible to others. These kinds of community partnerships are at the heart of what we do, and now we are called upon to give back to one of our core communities in Bolivia. This is what reciprocity, or Ayni, looks like!
Every donation, small or large, counts. Please consider contributing to our campaign to help keep Iván's legacy alive. ¡Que viva Teatro Trono!
My deepest gratitude to all who are called and able to contribute and help spread the word. ¡Jallala Teatro Trono! ¡Jallalla Iván! Sincerely,

From the GoFundMe Page:

"Iván Nogales was the founder of Teatro Trono and COMPA (Comunidad de Productores en los Artes) in El Alto, Bolivia, two initiatives that work to bring about social change through the arts and theater.  Teatro Trono has touched the lives of countless young people, families, international students and visitors, and people around the world who believe in the transformational potential of artistic expression in all its forms.

We are launching a campaign in solidarity with the Trono community so that Iván's work and vision can live on.  Teatro Trono provides workshops and community projects for low-incomes populations in La Paz and El Alto who otherwise would never have access to  artistic outlets, including theater, music, dance, film and radio, and so much more.  Trono runs two cultural centers in El Alto, poetic spaces built on the fringes of El Alto through decades of creativity, love, collective action, and recycled materials.  Teatro Trono now finds itself in a moment of profound loss and restoration after Iván's passing, and needs our support in keeping Iván's vision alive."

Learn More or Donate to the ¡Viva Teatro Trono! In Loving Memory of Iván Project

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