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Domestic Gap Year Programs: Benefits and What to Expect

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Kimberly Manning

If you’re planning a gap year but don’t know if traveling abroad is for you, consider exploring domestic gap year programs. International travel boasts numerous benefits, but you don’t have to travel far to be in a completely different reality. 

In domestic gap year programs, you’re immersed in a culture unlike your own right in your own backyard. Hear stories of the land and gain a brand new perspective of the abundant culture and history of what we now know as the United States of America.

Photo by Erin King, Dragons Administrator

Benefits of Domestic Gap Year Programs

All Where There Be Dragons programs offer meaningful education, and domestic programs are no different. Domestic gap year programs encourage students to learn about impactful issues and uncover a whole new world of culture and identity. This type of education delivers an unparalleled connection to the country’s roots while encouraging personal development and cultural exploration. 

Students who are seeking non-traditional learning without leaving the country will find domestic gap year programs an ideal alternative to learn about social justice, sustainability, agriculture, land rights, and more. 

Learn About US Social Justice Issues

A key component of the Where There Be Dragons domestic gap year programs is social justice. Understand the narratives of the culture and hear stories from local communities to gain new perspectives of US policy and relations. 

Learn about political and social considerations as it relates to border issues, as well as nationalism and US immigration policy. Students will benefit from learning directly from individuals and organizations at the front-line of immigrant-advocacy work. Relations throughout this region are constantly fluctuating and changing. Through studying in this region, students will uncover the stories of the past 600 years of colonization and life prior, as well as how to move forward. 

domestic gap year program where there be dragons colorado utah

Photo by Dave Haffeman, Instructor.

Experience Sustainability Amid Changing Climate Conditions

The richly diverse landscapes throughout the Southwest United States are truly remarkable, from the mountain peaks to the flowing rivers to the naturally carved sandstone sculptures. The parks and open land of this region are among the most dramatic in the country, and students can connect deeply to the natural environment of the Southwest. Meet with stewards of the land to gain a deep understanding of ancestral heritage, indigenous rights, and issues present today. 

Students will also dive deep into sustainability, food sovereignty, and cutting-edge regenerative agriculture and its potential. Learn the integral role the Rio Grande plays in sustaining practices and life throughout the past and present. 

Big Bend Rio Grand

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service/Cookie Ballou, Big Bend National Park, TX.

Spend a Semester Along the Rio Grande 

Where There Be Dragons offers a semester program along the Rio Grande and beyond to study sustainability, permaculture, history, policy, and ecology. Students experience the beauty and wonder along the Colorado River Basin, the Continental Divide, and Big Bend National Park, as well as those who call this region home. Throughout the semester, students explore areas of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado studying natural and human history throughout the region. 

This program dives into topics like food justice, food sovereignty, land use, natural resources, permaculture, sustainable farming, and more. This region boasts great history and today grapples with many controversial topics as droughts worsen and access to water becomes more sparse. Students learn about these topics and practical solutions amid increasing struggles related to climate change.

Learn More About Our Domestic Gap Year Programs

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