Aaron Slosberg, Director of Student Programming
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
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.
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.