On the island of Java, home to a population which is more than 90% Muslim, the 'others' must hide. Photo by Emily Zislis (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), Indonesia Semester.

Posts Tagged:

Activism

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    [post_author] => 21
    [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] => 2019-07-11 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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    [post_date] => 2018-12-05 15:37:41
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-12-05 22:37:41
    [post_content] =>  


This week we are giving away 5 FREE Learning Service books written by star alum Dragons instructors Daniela Papi-Thornton and Claire Bennett on Instagram.

To enter the contest, go to Dragons Instagram Feed: 1. ❤️ this post (pictured right) 2. Follow Dragons on Instagram That’s it! We’ll randomly pick names of those entered (via both steps above) and announce the winners on Monday December 10th! Learning Service answers tough questions like: What does it mean to serve? Who benefits? How do you do more good than harm? For those engaged in service and volunteer work, it’s a must-read. [post_title] => Learning Service Book Giveaway on Instagram [post_excerpt] => This week we are giving away 5 FREE Learning Service books written by star alum Dragons instructors Daniela Papi-Thornton and Claire Bennett on Instagram. Read on for details on how to enter the contest... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => learning-service-book-giveaway-on-instagram [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-12-05 15:42:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-12-05 22:42:16 [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] => 697 [name] => Dragons Travel Guide [slug] => dragons-travel-guide [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 697 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 22 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 2 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 22 [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] => 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] => 26 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 26 [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] => 651 [name] => Announcements [slug] => announcements [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 651 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [parent] => 0 [count] => 51 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 14 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 51 [category_description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [cat_name] => Announcements [category_nicename] => announcements [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, Dragons Instructors ... )
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    [post_date] => 2018-04-19 10:25:39
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-19 16:25:39
    [post_content] => 

Since Earth Day deserves more than one day a year, we’re going to give it a few days of alumni student love. Starting with Dragons Student Ambassador Benjamin Swift

[caption id="attachment_152916" align="aligncenter" width="567"] Photos by Benjamin Swift, South America Semester Alumni Student.[/caption] Captioned: "For Earth Day, I'm sharing pictures from my South America semester of fellow student, Trisha, picking up trash on a trek we did while doing our service trip in the Altiplano. Trisha and I also visited the Tiquipaya landfill (pictured, top), which inspired an article that I wrote for my campus newspaper (goo.gl/S16dEQ). This interest in the environment and trash helped lead me to Haiti, where I visited my Dragons Instructor, Ellie Happel, and learned about her work and research fighting proposed metal mining. While there, we visited SOIL (oursoil.org), a composting toilet company that provides dignified access to sanitation for people who would otherwise not have access to it, creating rich organic compost in the process. At SOIL, I wrote an article (goo.gl/RiYSFd) for them after helping the workers empty poop buckets all day. Through these photos, which include images from a landfill in both Colorado and Bolivia, I hope to highlight that the waste we create is an issue, whether it is obviously visible or not. In Bolivia and Haiti, trash is conspicuous in cities and in the environment, though, per-capita, people create much less of it than in the United States. Americans generate much more waste, but simply do a better job of concealing it, thus creating an illusion that it does not exist." 🙏🏼 you Benjamin. #earthday #wheretherebedragons #wheretherebe🐉

Want to see more? Visit Dragons Instagram Feed.

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WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 152771
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-03-23 08:39:29
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-23 14:39:29
    [post_content] => 
An alumnus reflection on Myanmar's Rakhine State after working with Rohingya refugees on Dragons Myanmar semester program.
We piled into the back of the truck, dressed in our finest button-downs and longyis, the smell of car exhaust mixing with the eclectic aromas of street food as the vehicle started to crawl through the trafficked streets of Yangon. We were heading to meet a group of Rohingya youth in another part of the city. We met in a small apartment in the Muslim sector of the city. Seconds after stepping through the doorway, I was already sweating from the heat. What questions do you ask when you sit in front of people who have come through so many terrors? How do you acknowledge the bravery it takes for them to tell their story? I didn’t know how to feel but I knew that it was a tremendous honor to be able to enter that room. It wasn’t easy but it felt profoundly important to hear what they had to say.
In school, I’d read about systems of governance, human rights, and the “feedback loop” of history. I’d learned in the abstract about violence, activism, and resilience, but I never felt the weight of these influences so strongly until I went to Myanmar.
In school, I’d read about systems of governance, human rights, and the “feedback loop” of history. I’d learned in the abstract about violence, activism, and resilience, but I never felt the weight of these influences so strongly until I went to Myanmar. When my group sat in on a meeting of parliament, one-quarter of the room was filled with government-appointed officials. Yet the other three quarters were appointed by the people, for the first time in the country’s history. When we taught English in local schools, it quickly became clear that the students were used to repeating after their teachers. Yet we also met students who were learning to actively question their own beliefs and assumptions. These students will undoubtedly go on to make a huge impact on their country and the world. Now, when I think of Myanmar, I think of tremendous complexity. After returning to the US, I have been working hard to be an active and educated participant in our democracy. I have a new perspective on U.S. politics thanks to my experience abroad. After traveling to the other side of the globe, I returned with a new understanding of who I am. And I feel the weight of my responsibility to be a global citizen. Reflection by Thalia Lhatso-Suppan. Thalia was a student on Dragons Myanmar gap year semester course last fall. She is now interning at Dragons administrative office during the second half of her gap year. [post_title] => Sitting with the Rohingya [post_excerpt] => An alumnus reflection on Myanmar's Rakhine State after working with Rohingya refugees on Dragons Myanmar semester program. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sitting-with-the-rohingya [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-03-23 11:07:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-23 17:07:45 [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] => 54 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 54 [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] => 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 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/engage/ ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Engage )
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    [ID] => 151905
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2017-10-18 09:58:19
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-18 15:58:19
    [post_content] => Teachers, alumni, students: Did you know you can bring a Dragons Instructor right into your classroom for engaging conversations on critical global issues? This might be one of the best things we do. We call it our Global Speaker Series. (And ps. it's free.)

Class Topics with our Guest Teachers Include:
  • The Forces Behind Migration from Central America
  • Introduction to Islam
  • Good Intentions with Complicated Outcomes
  • Urbanization in China
  • Structural Violence
  • Seeds of Culture
  • The Flow of River and Wealth
  • Woven Stories
At Dragons we see exceptional beauty in diversity. And we believe that the experience of connecting with unfamiliar cultures has something to teach everyone. We are dedicated to cross-cultural learning because we know that future leaders will be required to think beyond borders. Part of our educational mission is to bring what we’ve learned from remote corners of the world back home to share. With this mission in mind, each year we send our best teachers to schools across the United States to share their experiences, perspectives, and insights from years living abroad with students ready to engage with critical and compelling global questions. We invite you to look at some of the conversations our staff are facilitating in classrooms around the country. Whether you are a teacher of Language Studies, Geography, Science, History, Social Studies, Religion, or Art, we hope to have a topic of interest to you. If one of the following class titles piques your curiosity, please get in touch. We’d be happy to coordinate a visit from one of our teachers to speak to your class on the subject. And if there’s a topic you would like to address that’s not on this list, let us know. It’s exactly this type of question-based collaboration with students, schools, and educators that inspires us. The Global Speaker Series is sponsored by the Dragons Global Education Fund, in partnership with The Futurity Foundation 501(c)-3. PLEASE SHARE THIS BOOKLET with your teacher or school or call us to have one sent to you. Or just get directly in touch to learn more about our Global Speaker Series: 1800.982.9203
 
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Dragons Global Speaker Series (GSS)

Posted On

10/18/17

Author

Dragons HQ

Description
Teachers, alumni, students: Did you know you can bring a Dragons Instructor right into your classroom for engaging conversations on critical global issues? This might be one of the best things… Read More
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