Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Instructor.

Posts Categorized:

Global Community

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    [post_date] => 2018-04-24 10:31:45
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-24 16:31:45
    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_152952" align="alignnone" width="1510"] Photo by Teresa Tolo, South America Semester.[/caption]
The struggle for the recognition and acceptance of black, African-descendent communities all over the world is an ongoing challenge. However, the Afro-Bolivian community of Los Yungas proves that communities can join together and share their history and identity through the power of music and dance.
Driving into the North Yungan community of Chijchipa on Saturday afternoon, we could hear the rhythmic beating of drums and passionate singing of the local Afro-Bolivian community that served to welcome guests for the day’s festivities. This was the day of a musical perfomance/exchange between the local community and the Tigers of Africa, a traditional musical group from Senegal. Having spent the past five days embracing Afro-Bolivian culture in the neighboring community of Tocaña, we made the 20 minute drive to Chijchipa to take part in the important cultural exchange.

‘Honor y gloria a los primeros negros que llegaron a Bolivia

Que murieron trabajando

muy explotados en el Cerro Rico de Potosi’

‘Honor and glory to the first Africans who arrived in Bolivia

Who died working

Exploited in the Cerro Rico of Potosi’

These were the words sang by the men, women and children of all ages who participated in the Saya, the Afro-Bolivian song and dance that incorporates African instruments, colonial-era clothing and powerful lyrics that share the Afro-Bolivian history. These lyrics have been passed down from generation to generation ever since the Afro-Bolivians arrived from Africa as slaves to work in the mines and coca plantations of Bolivia.
These lyrics have been passed down from generation to generation ever since the Afro-Bolivians arrived from Africa as slaves to work in the mines and coca plantations of Bolivia.
[caption id="attachment_152953" align="alignleft" width="300"] Photo by Teresa Tolo, South America Semester.[/caption] Along with several performances of the Saya, we also had the chance to hear from Alejandro, an important elder who was born towards the end of the hacienda (estates or plantations owned by the Spanish colonists)  and had witnessed the transition into freedom for his people. The festival took place in the Casa de Hacienda, the former residence of one of the plantation owners in the 1800s that now serves as a meeting point and cultural center for the community. Alejandro expressed how important it is for people to recognize how the suffering of the Afro-Bolivians took place in this same location yet they have been able to look past its exploitative history and use the space to exhibit their culture and educate others of the history. [caption id="attachment_152955" align="alignright" width="294"] Photo by Teresa Tolo, South America Semester.[/caption] Around 6 PM, the guests of honored arrived after a long journey from Senegal that same morning and were already in song and dance as they marched into the Casa de Hacienda with the local Saya group. After taking an hour to rest and prepare, the Tigers of Africa took the stage draped in their colorful, intricate costumes to begin their performance. The fast rhythm of the traditional drums complimented the movements of the dancers who jumped, ran, flipped and twisted around.
Although the performance was only 30 minutes long, the whole crowd was profoundly impressed. Afterwards, everyone had a chance to chat with the performers who are currently on a tour throughout South America. Although there was a struggle for communication between the Spanish-speaking locals and the French/Wolof-speaking Senegalese performers, both parties were elated to interact with their African brothers and sisters. This also gave me an opportunity to use my knowledge of French and Spanish to translate between them.
Our time spent in Los Yungas with the Afro Bolivian communities was an incredible, unforgettable experience. Everywhere I went the people referred to me as ‘family’ and expressed how happy they were to have their African sister visiting the community. Having based my ISP (Independent Study Project) on the Afro-Bolivian history and culture while in our Tiquipaya homestays, travelling to Los Yungas was an opportunity to immerse myself first-hand into the culture I had read and heard so much about. [caption id="attachment_152951" align="alignleft" width="343"] Photo by Teresa Tolo, South America Semester.[/caption] The struggle for the recognition and acceptance of black, African-descendent communities all over the world is an ongoing challenge. However, the Afro-Bolivian community of Los Yungas proves that communities can join together and share their history and identity through the power of music and dance.

Read more student reflections from the South America Semester on Dragons Yak Board. 

[post_title] => From Senegal to Bolivia: A Cultural Celebration, Yak of The Week [post_excerpt] => From the Yak of the Week: "The struggle for the recognition and acceptance of black, African-descendent communities all over the world is an ongoing challenge. However, the Afro-Bolivian community of Los Yungas proves that communities can join together and share their history and identity through the power of music and dance." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senegal-bolivia-cultural-celebratio-yak-week [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-25 10:45:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-25 16:45:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [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] => 57 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 57 [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] => 20 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 20 [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/ ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Global Community )
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    [post_date] => 2017-12-20 07:15:38
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    [post_content] => 
Here are some sneak-peek excerpts from the featured essays of our winter edition of The Map's Edge. Be sure to check your mail to get your hands on all the glossy pages of stories, photos, and updates from four corners of Dragons global community!
PAGE 4
BRAZIL
Princeton Bridge Year: To Have a Home
By JIMIN KANG
"I believe that there are qualities in each of us that can only be realized in different contexts. I discovered that Brazil brought out a version of myself that inspires me most. To this day, I miss the candor with which I greeted strangers on the street and told them about my love for acarajé, the fried bean fritters I'd eat with friends after hours of practicing Portuguese. I miss the music and the visual arts that flourish across Salvador, and the days I painted lampposts with spray paint oozing down my hands. I miss the confidence with which Bahians wear their own skin, and the way I felt more comfortable in my own body than I'd ever been. More than anything, I miss the people who greeted me with a "seja bem-vindo" (be welcome) and bid me farewell with a "volte sempre" (return always). People who taught me that home can be anywhere in the world, as long as there are people with space in their hearts."
PAGE 8
SIKKIM
Lepcha: Children of the Snowy Peak
By SHARON SITLING
"The Lepcha believe their people originated within these valleys. They call themselves 'Mutanchi Rong Kup Rum Kup,' which translates as 'Children of the Snowy Peak and Children of God.' The Lepcha are nature worshippers, whose religion blends animism and shamanism and is called bongthingism, or Munism. The tribe shares an inextricable relationship with nature as evidenced by their vocabulary, which contains one of the richest collections of names for local flora and fauna recorded anywhere, and reveals a vast knowledge of naturopathy as well as holy texts. By some estimates, there are only 40,000 Lepcha remaining in Sikkim; their language is quickly disappearing and they are fighting to preserve their lands and what is left of their culture."
PAGE 12
SENEGAL
Photo Essay: Between the Lens & Me
By CRYSTAL LIU
"I was hesitant to bring my camera with me to Senegal. I suppose I approached photography with more of a moralist's stance than a scientist's, and I felt some intuitive distrust of images and imagemaking as it related to my educational experience. I worried about the fraught relationship between subject and photographer. I didn't want to reproduce clichés and reduce people to flat, aesthetic purposes. At the same time, I wanted to remember what I would experience, and the fear of forgetting eventually overcame other qualms about the medium. I brought my camera, and I am both glad and regretful that I did."
PAGE 22
MOROCCO
Interview: The Beat of a Different Drum
By MOHAMED ARGUINE
"...after hours of trekking, Ben M'barek would take out his drum, sit on a rock and start playing whatever came to mind. He never thought his songs would attract the attention of tourists who didn't understand a word of the Tamazight language. [...] The guide explained that M'Barek was singing about his love for the High Atlas Mountains and that he hoped not to see what might be hiding behind them. The oxygen of his life, its meaning, flows down from the peak of the highest mountain to his soul through the drops of rain and flakes of snow-pure and white as his heart, and imbued with love for this region, which to him is heaven on earth."

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

 
Dragons bi-annual Newsletter, The Map’s Edge, explores a subject of interest to the Dragons community through the voices of our Alumni, Instructors, Partners, and our International Staff and contacts. Feel free to view our archive of editions of The Map’s Edge or even submit a piece to be featured in our next issue by sending an email to [email protected]
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    [post_date] => 2017-09-25 15:44:54
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    [post_content] => 

Dragons Community Grant Fund

In an effort to give back to our incredible community partners, Where There Be Dragons manages Community Grant Fund. This fund awards grants to community organizations based on a comprehensive application process. Ultimately, the goal of the fund is to provide community organizations with financial support for local projects and to provide a mechanism for Dragons administration, instructors, and students to give back to the places that so generously welcome Dragons participants. All applications are reviewed by a Community Grant Fund Committee and awarded on an annual basis. The Dragons Community Grant Fund is supported by under-budget funds from student programming. At the end of each term, 100% of seasonal total under budget funds will be designated to support the Dragons Community Grant Fund.

Grant Proposal Guidelines

Giving Philosophy

Through community grants Where There Be Dragons hopes to help address needs and opportunities in the communities in which we work, and thereby better fulfill our organization’s mission statement and core values. Emphasis is placed on supporting projects that will have many beneficiaries, are community-oriented, and will have a continuing benefit to the community.

Funding

Grants range from $500-$5,000 per applicant. Dragons reserves the right to adjust the amount awarded to grantees at their discretion.

Eligibility Criteria:

Grants are available to any community member or community organization that meets all of the following criteria:
  • Applications may be submitted either directly by a community member/organization, or by a Dragons instructor, alumni instructor, or former student on behalf of a community member/organization.
  • The individual/organization must demonstrate a recent (within the last 2 years) or ongoing relationship with Dragons as an organization.
  • If an applicant is a current member of Dragons administrative staff or a member of the staff’s immediate family, then the administrative staff may not serve on the the Community Grant Committee for the funding cycle when that application will be considered.  
  • The objectives of the project and projected cost must be shared in the application process.
  • Applications must be submitted online using the stated format, unless otherwise requested in writing.
  • An individual/organization must submit a completed grant proposal by the stated deadline.

Review Criteria:

Applications will be assessed based on the following criteria:
  • the potential impact on a local community - including the number beneficiaries and the potential for continuing benefit to the community;
  • clarity of the project plan, including the viability of the objectives and the proposed timeline, and the clarity of the cost structure;
  • the amount of community involvement in design, implementation, and leadership of the project; strength of applicant’s relationship with Dragons; and
  • thoroughness of the application.

How To Apply:

All applications must be completed using this form (unless otherwise requested in writing): Dragons Community Grant Fund Application Additional supporting documents can be submitted via email to [email protected] with the subject “Community Grant Fund Additional Documents - XXX Project.” Please note that Dragons will primarily communicate with the applicant via email so the email address provided in the application should be checked regularly.

Application Deadlines:

Applications open on February 1 and close on June 1, annually. Applications are reviewed in June and award announcements are made in June-July. Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. A maximum of 2 applications per individual/organization is permitted per year. Submitting a proposal does not guarantee funding. Any requests for information should be emailed to [email protected].

Restrictions:

The Dragons Community Grant Fund does *not provide funding for:
  • Academic research
  • Individual scholarships
  • Fundraising events, sponsorships, or advertising
  • International travel for applicant
  • Endowment or memorial campaigns
  • Government agencies
* Note: If a need is identified within the above categories, please reach out directly to the Program Director of that region to begin a conversation of how Dragons might be able to support.

Award Process:

Designated Community Grant Fund Committee members will review grant proposals to select which, if any, projects to fund. Applicants will be notified via e-mail about the decision related to their proposal after application review is complete. Awards will typically be made in *June of each year. *Note: At the Committee’s discretion, time-sensitive proposals may be reviewed on a rolling basis. Note that all applicants agree that if a grant is awarded the individual and/or organization will be asked to acknowledge Dragons as a sponsor of their project and are also asked for permission to publish or reproduce any materials provided during the application and/or reporting processes. [post_title] => Dragons Community Grant Fund [post_excerpt] => In an effort to give back to our incredible community partners, Where There Be Dragons has created a Community Grant Fund. This fund awards grants to community organizations based on a comprehensive application process. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-community-grant-fund [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-02-09 17:02:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-02-10 00:02:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 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] => 20 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 20 [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] => 39 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 39 [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] => 21 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 13 [cat_ID] => 669 [category_count] => 21 [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] => 2017-06-02 10:25:33
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-02 16:25:33
    [post_content] => 

Exciting news for us at Dragons HQ as eloquently announced by our Latin America Program Director, Julianne Chandler.

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

Today, I am very proud of Dragons.  Early this morning, one of our dear friends and contacts from the Peruvian Andes approached the US Embassy in Lima with a  large stack of documents and his traditional hand woven chulo fit firmly on his head.  After a four hour anxious wait in line, he was called to the counter and handed over his shiny new passport and letter of invitation from Dragons to participate in our all staff orientation in the Sierras.  We had gone over this moment countless times over the phone, and he had rehearsed everything he needed to say. I told him they wouldn't turn down his winning smile.  I was right.
Don Fabian Champi Apaza, an Andean priest and spiritual leader, a dear friend, a man who has been the spirit of our Peru programming for the past decade, who has touched the lives of countless students and instructors will be joining us this year in the Sierras for All-Staff Orientation & Training. 

Fabian may not know how to read the writing on his visa documents, but he knows how to read the night sky and the arching slopes of the Andes and the blessing hidden in a palm full of coca leaves. He is a healer, a connector of worlds both seen and unseen, and the sound of his flute can part clouds in the sky (seriously).  His work has helped our students connect more meaningfully with the landscapes, people, communities, and traditions of the Q'eros Nation - perhaps the last true Incan outpost - a place we never could have stepped foot into without Fabian's guidance and trust.  

I am so grateful for the leadership which has made this possible!  I look forward to joining all of you in a few short weeks to welcome Fabian to our community.  His presence in the Sierras will be one small gesture of reciprocity for the countless guides and contacts that have opened doors for our students across the globe.  

Below, Fabian sees and touches the ocean for the first time in his life yesterday in Lima.  Also, a big thanks to Annelies Hamerlinck, who hosted Fabian in Lima and took this photo.

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    [post_date] => 2017-05-04 12:46:22
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-04 18:46:22
    [post_content] => WHERE THERE BE DRAGONS (WTBD): Welcome back to the world of Dragons, Osama. I imagine it has been quite a transition to shift from the mindset of an educator teaching in the Jordanian deserts back to a human rights lawyer working in a Danish office. Thank you for taking time to sit down with us and share your thoughts. To begin, can you tell us a little about the significant events that catalyzed your commitment to human rights and democracy? 

OSAMA MOFTAH: The 2005 Egyptian parliamentary election is an event that changed the face of political life in Egypt, and hence, my political views. I was in my third year in university when the Egyptian government allowed civil society, for the first time, to monitor elections. I observed this election and through it was able to learn about democracy and be a part of the first Arab groups who worked on the election. This was the first election in an Arab country to be observed by civil society. The 2005 experience put me in touch with the right people who continue to be dedicated to the cause of democracy and human rights. That was the driving factor that motivated me to work in this field.

When I finished university I wanted to do my master’s degree and, somehow, the University for Peace caught my attention. It is part of the UN academic arm and exists in Costa Rica, the first country to demolish its army. The whole experience was fascinating to me and I learned a great many things while I was there. I also wanted to meet with Oscar Arias, president of Costa Rica at the time, and I managed to do so. He was a fascinating politician who managed to play an important role in conflict mediation throughout Latin America. I had a conversation with him about his political role and I’m always imbued with a sense of pride when I see my picture with him.

WTBD: For the youth who have grown up in Middle Eastern countries embroiled in war, is it crazy to think that hope will one day soon spring eternal? How do we avoid those fatalistic tropes and clichés that suggest it won’t? 

OM: Many writers say that the Middle East will have a lost generation. This is the gloomy forecast about the future Middle East. There are two things to stay hopeful about the whole situation: 1) Thanks to big data, we are now in a better position to design policies that tackle the root causes of problems and quicken the pace of change. 2) If we put sufficient resources in play, change will take less time. Take the Syrian refugees as an example. In less than three years, Syrian refugee groups reached different ends based on their destination countries. The more the international community gets involved, the better off refugees will be. I saw this when I worked with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. Same people, strikingly different results in just three years, depending on international support.

WTBD: Is it mere pessimism to doubt that the global community can aspire to create a world in which human rights and social justice are equally valued because nations will always be unwilling to relinquish their sovereignty? What changes are needed to make the UN effective? 

OM: Human rights and peace and security are two of the three founding pillars of the United Nations. After 70 years, we can look back and say we have come a long way and human rights is undeniably a universal norm. We now have international human rights institutions such as the Human Rights Council that include all UN members. Something we never imagined to happen 70 years ago. However, globalization brought complexities that are perceived as threats to national sovereignty by many nations. Therefore, more nations are less committed and some are even considering withdrawing from international agreements. The UN can do more by being a truly ‘global organization’ that upholds a universal understanding of global issues. To achieve this the UN must reshape its programs and place individuals at the center of its work. A quick look at the UN official records will show us that only 3% of the total UN regular budget is allocated to human rights. Moreover, concepts like global citizenship tend to fall through the cracks. The UN can do more by directing its work towards world citizens and not relying as heavily on governments. There is a great chance for success if we raise the awareness of global citizens.

WTBD: What do you feel are the greatest challenges to human rights and international rule of law? 

OM: The biggest challenge is the fact that most governments are unable to deliver services and many are in total collapse. The success of the current international system rests on the success of its governments. The global refugee crisis is an example of the failure of our international system. Governments are unable to receive more refugees and do not want to contribute enough to the UN to look for solutions. It is fair to say that ideas such as entrepreneurship and the role of individuals do not exist in the current UN funding plans. There is always a chance to fund UN projects through individuals but this is not considered a legitimate solution yet. Individuals can play an active and positive role in solving international conflicts and the UN can help in reaching this.

WTBD: To many, the Muslim world has become synonymous with divisiveness and intolerance. Can you elucidate a broader, more nuanced, interpretation of leadership in Islam? 

OM: It is unfortunate that the good guidance provided in the Quran and Sunnah does not deliver with its wisdom the power of self implementation. We have a duty as Muslims to understand and materialize these teachings in a manner befitting our societies. In the past, Islamic culture played a positive role in the Middle East when it was a blend of Arab, Egyptian, Persian and Greek cultures. This led to strong societies and stunning intellectual achievements. This is what we call the Islamic Golden Age under the Abbasid dynasty. Islamic culture now plays a negative role in dividing Middle Eastern societies, and each culture wants to impose itself upon others. There are different interpretations of Islamic texts right now because we have different types of Muslim intellectuals. In the past, Muslim philosophers used to be scientists who were brilliant in mathematics, physics and linguistics. This was the time when Al-Farabi wrote about the “virtuous city” and described types of societies and qualities of the leader. Averroes, Avicenna and Al-Kindi are examples of Muslim philosophers who translated major literatures into Arabic and described Islamic texts based on this understanding. Due to their intellectual leadership, previous Muslim philosophers invented comprehensive political theories about state administration and state institutions. Some concepts were too advanced for the time, and can be compared to modern institutions. For example, the concept of Mohtasib can be seen as Islamic version of current ombudsmen.

Now we have different types of Muslim scholars and, hence, a different understanding of Islamic texts. Current Muslim scholars are not scientists, they are not philosophers, and they hardly speak any language other than Arabic. Their limited capacity can distort the good Islamic texts. This is the plain reality that we live in.

WTBD: While the foundations of the United States establish freedom of religion and a clear distinction between Church and State, violent clashes over ideology and laws of inclusion continue. Does this reality contradict the global vision of the U.S. and its values? 

OM: I hear this question frequently and I think it reflects what people see through the media these days. My personal experience in the USA showed me another way of seeing the ‘other’. In 2012, I did a brief fellowship at the U.S. Senate where I learned about American democracy. The highlight of my trip was the meaning that I found in the design of process and even the architecture in DC. There is a powerful drawing on the ceiling of the library of Congress. The drawing depicts twelve cultures, religions or countries that have had the greatest influence on Western civilization prior to the early 20th century. Those depicted are Judea (representing religion), Egypt (representing written records), Islam (representing physics), Middle Ages (representing modern languages), Spain (representing discovery), England (representing literature), France (representing emancipation), Germany (representing the art of printing), Italy (representing the fine arts), Greece (representing philosophy), Rome (representing administration) and America (representing science).

 

 

This drawing shows that the USA was established as a country not afraid of others’ identity. In fact, it appreciated their success and built upon it. This is the reason that many desire what is called the ‘American Dream’, the dream to live in a place that combines the best of all cultures and civilizations.

We only advance when we open ourselves to others, even in Middle Eastern and Islamic countries. When I look at our history in the Middle East, I see a similar pattern. Islamic civilization owes part of its achievements to other cultures. The House of Wisdom that was built by the Abbasid caliphates is proof in this regard. It was built as a formal institution mandated to translate books from other languages into Arabic. This translation opened the door for Arabs to learn from other cultures and to build upon them. The House of Wisdom represented the top intellectual institution and nurtured many Muslim scientists and philosophers who shaped our understanding at that time. All people from all religions (Muslim, Christians and Jews) were welcome to study there. It is hard to imagine the Islamic Golden Age without the House of Wisdom and the openness to others.

WTBD: After leading your first Dragons course in Jordan this summer, what unique lessons on leadership did you encounter? 

OM: This trip was remarkable in that it allowed me to gain different perspectives on leadership and life in general. The chats we had with Jordanians in cafés and supermarkets in the village showed their remarkable ability to provide solutions to world problems. In one conversation, some people explained to us that major business ideas that we talk about in our daily lives are a replication of the simple solutions that exist in small villages. One gentleman offered that, from his point of view, the ride-sharing concept adopted by Uber is merely a technological advancement similar to what village people have done for many years on their daily trips. There are very few cars in the village, so the solution is to share limited resources for a fee or service. Another example is Airbnb, which is the modern version of a local house sharing business. This is interesting because when we think about all disruptive business ideas, we find them to be more similar to local traditions than outcomes summarized in books on business strategy.

Another example is the use of mobile financial transfers. This practice started in Africa and Arab countries as a way to overcome the inaccessibility of banks. Some mobile companies developed the idea into a business model and it became the mobile bank. In one conversation, a Jordanian told us that it would be better to send American entrepreneurs to local villages rather than MBA programs if they want to be successful. In his view, this is the place to mine for new ideas and solutions. This is a pretty fascinating fact for me! And I think it is true to a large extent.

WTBD: What advice would you give to young Dragons as they become leaders in their world?

OM: Travel more! I cannot see any transformative act that supersedes the perspective that travel offers. I believe that to be a good leader necessitates that one cultivate a love for this shared world. What better way to build empathy than to see how others live.

(This article was featured in the Spring 2017 edition of Dragons bi-annual Newsletter, The Map's Edge. Each newsletter explores a subject of interest to the Dragons community through the voices of our Alumni, Instructors, Partners, Parents and our International Staff and contacts. Feel free to view our archive of editions of The Map's Edge or even submit a piece to be featured in our next issue by sending an email to [email protected])

 

 
Save Save Save [post_title] => International Law & the House of Wisdom: A Map's Edge Newsletter Feature [post_excerpt] => Human rights lawyer, Osama Moftah, took a sabbatical last summer to lead the Jordan course. We caught up with him to discuss international law, leadership and the Circuitous global highway that led him to work with dragons students. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => international-law-the-house-of-wisdom-an-interview-with-osama-moftah [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-20 21:27:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-21 03:27:07 [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] => 20 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 20 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/global_community/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons_instructors/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 669 [name] => Engage [slug] => engage [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 669 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [parent] => 0 [count] => 21 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 13 [cat_ID] => 669 [category_count] => 21 [category_description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [cat_name] => Engage [category_nicename] => engage [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Global Community, Dragons Instructors ... )
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    [post_date] => 2017-04-20 14:10:32
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    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_150979" align="alignnone" width="806"]IMAGE: FIONA SHERMAN IMAGE: FIONA SHERMAN[/caption]

Dragons is a good teacher for the community of Langa. I am a writer, and still it is difficult to find the words to describe my experience with Dragons. Even if I could use numbers, I couldn’t count the ways to say thank you, to express the sum total of my gratitude. Words cannot adequately describe the feeling, the spirit that has been cultivated in the creation of such a masterpiece. I am just a countrywoman who lives in a small village in Indonesia.

I am just a countrywoman who lives in a small village in Indonesia. Our village is called Bomari, and it’s located at the foot of Mt. Inerie, the highest volcano in Flores, which rises above us like a grand pyramid. It is hard to believe that it’s already been four times, four times living with foreigners who we would normally just call “

It is hard to believe that it’s already been four times, four times living with foreigners who we would normally just call “bule,” sharing a life together for two weeks. It all started in February 2015 when Aaron Slosberg surveyed my village and came to an agreement with my parents to use our family as a homestay for Dragons students.

As a young person, I like challenges, however, I was really doubtful about trying the homestay program. It seemed like such an impossible task to host a foreigner.

“Why would a bule want to stay here?”

“Their life is so different from our life here!” “Can they eat rice every day?” “What will they do about the food here?” “Oh, our house is too ugly for them!” “Our bedroom is so tiny!” “We do not even have a nice bathroom.” All this negative energy spiraled in my head. My nerves became so intense I almost backed out of our agreement to host a student, but the support and the spirit of the youth in my village convinced me not to change my mind. I was so nervous when the first Dragons group arrived to our village in April 2015. The students of Rita Sri Suwantari, Matt Colaciello Williams, and Rachel Russell were physically so different from us. These bule had white skin. Their bodies were twice as tall as ours. They seemed really intelligent. There were so many facets to our difference that it made me even more anxious to interact with them. Before they arrived, we had prepared everything. Every home in the village was busy getting ready for the arrival of the students, prepping our houses, preparing to communicate, even consulting “Mr. Google” in case of a communication emergency. Despite all this, we knew most of the time we would have to rely on non-verbal communication. Living in one home with two different cultures there surely would be so many things we both couldn’t understand. However, over time, I came to realize, all these small differences, even though seemingly insignificant, began to deeply affect my way of thinking. Bule always say thank you and show appreciation for everything, even though they may not like every situation. This is so different from our own people. In our society, we feel awkward or shy saying thank you or showing appreciation to others for small things. I believe this is the reason why sometimes we can be held back in our way of thinking. I’m sure when someone shows gratitude to someone else, even if it’s not expressed perfectly, this practice will build self-confidence in that person and improve the quality of his or her work. Lately, I’m starting to see our community show gratitude to others, which has been an amazing revelation. In addition, there is the matter of discipline. Bule seem very disciplined with time, while the local community lacks punctuality. I have come to believe that being aware of timing is very important in leadership. Bule love cleanliness; they won’t just throw trash on the ground. The local people still throw their trash wherever and this negatively impacts our health. Bule also seem very intelligent and like to master their skills. I have learned so many wonderful things from hosting Dragons students, about their country, about their lives, and about myself. I think Dragons is an extraordinary organization that provides exceptional experiential education to young people. Many people in my village lack higher education, and most of us don’t even speak English. There are so many things about our lives that aren’t the way we wish they were. Still, I feel we have something to teach Dragons students. I hope both the good and bad experiences from staying in our village will affect the students: make them stronger individuals, who are better prepared to care for others in their own communities and environments. I hope the students can use our shortcomings as the basis to become individuals who want to create change. As just a simple village woman, I feel so proud to have this friendship with the students who have stayed with us. I’m sure they are not just ordinary students that choose to come to Langa. I believe they want to become part of our family—we become friends to make both of our lives complete. There are so many people in our community who can’t hold back tears when it comes time to say goodbye. Even I will always have tears in my eyes each time I have to say goodbye to my new friends. They may never know this, as it is a secret that as a community we keep. We do not know when or if we will meet again, maybe for the rest of our lives we will never meet, but the students will always be in our hearts. When we think of the students here, when we miss them, we will sift back through all the beautiful memories we shared together. Like family, far away from us, it is all we can do. I hope, as the years roll on, we will maintain a strong relationship with Dragons. I truly believe Dragons is an amazing organization. You have a great mission to make people into human beings, even a village woman like me. I want to thank Rita Sri Suwantari, honestly you are one of my greatest inspirations. Thank you also to Matt Colaciello Williams and Aaron Slosberg, both of you are amazing leaders who have inspired your students to become part of this community and feel comfortable relating to everyone here. Thank you to the students who have become my teachers, my friends, and my family: Spencer Hardy, Eleni Fernald, Benyamin Yih, and Katherine Georgia Comfort. Thank you Dragons, whoever you are, I am your family. (This article was featured in the Spring 2017 edition of Dragons bi-annual Newsletter, The Map's Edge. Each newsletter explores a subject of interest to the Dragons community through the voices of our Alumni, Instructors, Partners, Parents and our International Staff and contacts. Feel free to view our archive of editions of The Map's Edge or even submit a piece to be featured in our next issue by sending an email to [email protected]) [post_title] => YAK OF THE WEEK: Reflections from a Homestay Sister [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => reflections-from-a-homestay-sister [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-20 21:41:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-21 03:41:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 4 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [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. 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