5:00am wake ups are easier when these mountains call for you to get out of your tent. Photo by Cecelia Palmquist (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest, 1st Place), Nepal Semester.

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Where There Be Dragons

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    [post_content] => Planning any kind of travel means asking yourself a laundry list of questions: Where should I go? What should I do? What do I pack? More recently, articles identifying air travel as a major emitter of greenhouse gasses have demanded climate-aware travelers ask themselves: How can I travel if I care about the Earth?

Experienced travelers at Dragons have wondered the same and are always looking for new ways to reduce our impact. We want to add to the conversation by sharing what we have learned from our years in the field. We also want to hear from you about the ways that you are choosing to be conscientious in your daily life!

For us, it all starts with taking stock of our environmental impact. Simply existing on planet Earth begets a carbon footprint. However, the decisions you make in your everyday life can help control how big or small that footprint is. Our advice? Start small. Break down your travel choices one-by-one and find simple, actionable, and measurable changes that can help reduce your footprint—especially while traveling. 

1. Reduce

Have you ever tried to keep track of how much waste you produce every day? Many products designed to be convenient are used once or twice and then sent straight to the landfill. Yet much of the time, it’s relatively easy to choose a less wasteful option. For example, you can:
  • Carry a reusable travel mug for your morning coffee 
  • Use a steel instead of plastic straw
  • Carry a packable reusable bag in your backpack or purse for all your shopping needs
Think twice when you toss your trash, when a barista offers you a plastic straw, or when you can choose to walk to your destination. Take a look at the products you use and ask yourself if there is a zero-waste or minimal-waste option. 

2. Buy Better

From the many apps available for buying used goods to brick and mortar second-hand shops, there are numerous ways to shop for used gear. Choosing a locally-oriented app or used store as opposed to websites like Amazon eliminates carbon emissions associated with shipping and transportation. Research reusable travel products and then look for a used version that is still in good condition.  Want to use top-quality gear but don’t need it to be new? Environmentally conscious companies like REI and Patagonia have designated used-gear sections. Want to go even further? Rent or borrow from a friend or family member! Host a gear swap and encourage your community to dig out their unused gear to help support your mission.  Gear You Find Used/Borrowed: 
  • Backpack
  • Down Jacket
  • Warm Layers
  • Camping Stove
  • Sleeping Bag 
  • Camping Gear
Eco-Friendly Travel Items: 
  • Refillable Water Bottle 
  • Steel Straw 
  • Reusable Shopping Bag
  • Bamboo Toothbrush
  • Reusable Shampoo and Conditioner Containers 
  • Toothpaste Tablets 
  • Reusable to-go container 
  • Reusable Spork/Utensils 
  • Handkerchief 
  • Rechargeable/solar batteries
  • Reusable silicone bags instead of zip locks
Other green alternatives:
  • Opt for bulk or homemade snacks to avoid excess packaging
  • Opt for digital copies of documents whenever possible
  • Politely say no to unnecessary promotional items and explain why (organizations will stop sending them if they hear the message from their clients!)
  • If ordering any food “to go,” try offering to bring your own reusable containers for food transport. 
  • Kindly decline single-use plastics on airplanes by asking for the drink in a can with no cup, or using your own coffee/tea mug. 
  • Remember, every time you politely decline single-use plastics (bags, straws, cups, etc.) you send a gentle message to the establishment about how they can make their clients happier.
  • Wear reef-safe sunscreen in oceans. 
  • Don't purchase souvenirs that steal from nature (shells, ivory, etc.). 
  • Be mindful of your environment if you choose to use chemical bug repellants.
  • Vote with your dollar
  • Do research on the companies that you choose to support; from the products you use to the places you shop or the airline you fly. 
  • Choose to buy from companies whose values align with the environment and social justice.
  • Support B Corp certified businesses and join the global movement of people using business as a force for good.
  • If air travel is your only option for travel to your destination, choose an airline that already offsets their emissions. Fly economy so that more seats are taken up on your flight. Fly direct whenever possible to eliminate unnecessary emissions. 
 

3. Go Slow

Join the slow travel movement.  
  • On your way: Use public transportation. Travel by boat, bike, bus, train, rather than airplane.
  • When you get there: Stay for longer, shop local, sit down to eat instead of taking food to-go, stay in locally owned accommodation
  • When you get home: Apply the minimal-waste mindset to your daily life. Inspire your community to do the same. Share your reflections and decisions with others. 
By choosing to support local and reduce emissions, you are directly empowering the local economy and reducing your cultural and ecological footprint. Dragons 2-9 Week programs are designed with Slow Travel in mind. By traveling via public transportation and living as locals through homestays to supporting locally-owned businesses and educating ourselves on local initiatives, we are doing our best to understand reduce our cultural and environmental footprint when we travel.  Offset what you can’t reduce.  Calculate your CO2 emissions: use this calculator to measure the number of emissions per mile flown. 
  • Offset your carbon footprint:  Carbon offsetting is the act of reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for emissions that were produced elsewhere. For example, you can offset your flights by donating to an environmental project
  • See what Dragons is doing to offset our emissions.
 
On my Dragons program, we talked a lot about using our money thoughtfully and buying products that we knew were being produced in fair conditions where the people who were involved in making them directly benefited from the sale of their work. Now that I am at home, I think about where my clothing was made, and whether the people involved in making it were treated and paid fairly. I think about where my food comes from, and whether it makes sense environmentally to buy produce grown in another country —Lindsay Eiseman, Student.
 

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[post_title] => Three Ways to Make Your Travels More Sustainable [post_excerpt] => How can I travel if I care about the Earth? Experienced travelers at Dragons have wondered the same and are always looking for new ways to reduce our impact. We want to add to the conversation by sharing what we have learned from our years in the field. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => three-ways-to-make-your-gap-year-more-sustainable [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-03-11 10:07:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-03-11 16:07:49 [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] => 697 [name] => Dragons Travel Guide [slug] => dragons-travel-guide [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 697 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 24 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 2 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 24 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Dragons Travel Guide [category_nicename] => dragons-travel-guide [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons-travel-guide/ ) [1] => 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] => 13 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11 [cat_ID] => 670 [category_count] => 13 [category_description] => Recommended reading, watching and listening. [cat_name] => Recommended [category_nicename] => recommended [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/recommended/ ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, Recommended )
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    [post_content] =>  

Did you catch this episode of Dragons podcast featuring Dragons Instructor Claire Bennett on the subject of  Learning Service?

Bub Vernon (Dragons Indonesia Semester Alumni) and Claire Bennett discuss:
  • What is Learning Service?
  • How can we most sensibly do good abroad?
  • What’s wrong with "voluntourism?"
  • How do personal motivations affect volunteering?
 

LISTEN NOW on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

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] => 2020-02-21 12:56:25
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-02-21 19:56:25
    [post_content] => 

Hey Dragons Community!

Did you know Dragons has a nonprofit, the Dragons Fund, that provides scholarships so students from under-resourced communities can participate in Dragons programs?

Last year, Dragons Fund raised $51,000 from within the Dragons alumni and instructor community, surpassing its year-end goal. The success in the "Ten in 2020" campaign means there's enough to provide scholarships to at least ten students who otherwise would not have access to a Dragons program. A huge thank you goes out to the amazing donors who made this possible!

Want to learn more? Check out Dragons Fund's Gratitude Report, its annual report for the 2019 fiscal year. And stay tuned for more developments - the Fund is growing quickly and we couldn't be more excited. It's all part of Dragons' efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion on all programs. We want to see students from all backgrounds experience a transformational global education.

To learn more about Dragons Fund, the application process, and to read the 2019 Gratitude Report, visit www.dragonsfund.org.

Thank you again for your support!

The Dragons Fund Team

Dragons Fund is a program of the COMMON Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.


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] => 2020-02-20 11:07:07
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    [post_content] => 

Dragons is upping our video game.

We are highlighting alumni and instructor voices with new videos on IGTV.

We've been hard at work creating three video series that live on our Instagram. Get travel tips from alumni, your questions answered from instructors, and see awesome videos from the field. Follow us for more videos, live info-sessions, content from the field, and opportunities to talk directly with the Dragons community! DM or text us your ideas and questions. Text Us: 720-620-9500 How to find IGTV on Instagram: IGTV Gif [embed]https://www.instagram.com/tv/B7GiubGgo6S/[/embed]  

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_content] => Duke Gap Year Program

Dragons is excited to partner with the Duke Gap Year Program (DGYP) in the shared mission of increasing access to Dragons Gap Semesters for Duke  students.

Dragons and DGYP have a strong alignment in mission and values and we look forward to making our programs available to a greater number of DGYP students each year, especially those with financial need.

The Duke and Dragons partnership will increase access to highly impactful and intentional Gap Year experiences for Duke students.

Head over to the Duke Gap Year Program website to learn more!

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    [post_content] => 

Alumni, Emma Freund, authored this piece for Colby College's HerCampus blog. Read on for this reflection on Emma's time in Myanmar.

Take a chance on life, on you, and on the world being bigger and better once you get to know it.
As college students, we’d like to think we understand what life is and what our role is in it. In the words of Steve Jobs, “When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life.” Jobs goes on to describe how “life can be much broader” when you realize that you have the power to change the world. Life can be much broader when you realize how much the world has the power to change you. Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons This past summer, I went on an educational, immersive, rugged travel experience throughout Myanmar with a company called Where There Be Dragons. Dragons, according to its “Mission & Values” page on its website, is an “environmentally conscientious, culturally self-aware,” travel company that is “focused on developing mutually meaningful connections with local communities” with a goal to “to build empathy and foster a feeling of shared responsibility for our collective future” as citizens of the world.
Some would assume that I came back to 'reality' with a taste of a different world. On the contrary, I came back to a different space within a broader reality that I hadn’t known existed.
My experience with Dragons is one that changed my life in a way I don’t believe can ever be undone. Some would assume that I came back to “reality” with a taste of a different world. On the contrary, I came back to a different space within a broader reality that I hadn’t known existed. I gained the feeling that I know little to nothing about life, that I have so much more of life to explore. I looked fondly at my bug bites, chacos foot tan, notebook flowing with journal entries that perfume of sandalwood, and Myanmar milk tea that I drink when I yearn for that mystical other land. For when the world around me here at Colby makes me feel anxious or bored, these things are evidence to me that all of it was even real. I did fly halfway across the world to a place called Myanmar and felt my heart alive. I did. I took a chance and left my bubble to explore new edges of what seems like a different world but, in reality, exists inside mine without me ever knowing it before. Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons Fishing Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons
these things are evidence to me that all of it was even real. I did fly halfway across the world to a place called Myanmar and felt my heart alive. I did. I took a chance and left my bubble to explore new edges of what seems like a different world but, in reality, exists inside mine without me ever knowing it before.
So I say to you, take a chance on bamboo shoots and catfish soup, on taking a picture with a random little boy on the street because he wants to see your digital camera. Take a chance on climbing a 777-step mountain while sneaky monkeys grabbed at your purse, and taking a bucket shower in the middle of the village for all to see. Take a chance on planting rice at 4 am in the mud fields, and on cooking freshly slaughtered chicken over an open fire stove. Take a chance on abandoning toilet-paper and living for days off of only the woods. Take a chance on life, on you, and on the world being bigger and better once you get to know it. Homestay Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons Temple Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons I wouldn’t give back what Dragons gave me for anything in the world. So, I implore you, as a fellow college student who once thought she knew all that life had to offer her, take a chance and explore the world while you can because the world is beautiful. Just when we think we’ve seen it all—we haven’t. So take a train to a city you’ve never been to before, start writing to a pen pal in Bali. Watch documentaries about faraway lands. There’s so much to experience, whether you’re there in person or there in heart. Because once you bash your walls down a little bit, you will realize that life is only as small as you make it. So take the leap, see what else is out there. I can’t say it’ll be easy, but you’ll live. Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons Architecture Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons   About Emma:
Emma Freund is a passionate creative writer with special interest in culture, wellness, beauty, and lifestyle. She is an avid movie geek and loves to read romance and sci-fi novels. She pursues philosophy as background for her creative writing and could spend all day reading Plato's Republic if only given enough time. She is a fun gal who loves what she does, and she hopes you enjoy reading her work as much as she enjoys writing it!  
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[post_title] => From The Field: How My Experience in Myanmar with Dragons Expanded My Life [post_excerpt] => Dragons alumni, Emma Freund, authored this piece for Colby College's HerCampus blog. Read on for this reflection on Emma's time in Myanmar. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => from-the-field-how-my-experience-in-myanmar-with-where-there-be-dragons-expanded-my-life [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-02-21 13:00:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-02-21 20:00:21 [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] => 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] => 62 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 62 [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] => 646 [name] => Alumni Spotlight [slug] => alumni_spotlight [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 646 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [parent] => 0 [count] => 42 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 42 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/alumni_spotlight/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 654 [name] => Mixed Media [slug] => mixed_media [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 654 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [parent] => 0 [count] => 45 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 45 [category_description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [cat_name] => Mixed Media [category_nicename] => mixed_media [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Alumni Spotlight ... )
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