Posts Tagged:

Alumni

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    [ID] => 156770
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-05-15 11:58:11
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-05-15 17:58:11
    [post_content] => 

Frances McMillan, a participant on a West Africa semester program, made the following video to reflect the transformative impact of the close friendship she formed with her homestay brother, Moussa.

 
 
Upon arriving in Senegal, I was petrified. How would I form a meaningful relationship with my host family when we didn't speak the same language? When we came from two different worlds? Would I be able to adapt to their way of life, while still holding onto my own identity?
 
I soon realized I had nothing to be worried about. Yes, it was hard at first. Like, really really hard. Was there deafening silence coupled with awkwardness and anxiety for the first few days? 100%. But as time passed, I felt like I had known my family forever. Their routines became mine. After dinner, I cleaned with my sister, then we settled down to some Senegalese soap operas with my grandma and I always laughed when they laughed (even though I could barely understand a word of the rapid-fire Wolof), and then it was tea time.
 
Moussa and I sipped hot, bittersweet attaya from tiny glass cups while popping fresh peanuts into our mouths in the courtyard under the stars. We exchanged sarcastic comments and inside jokes like old friends. I remember I never wanted to go to sleep because I could talk with Moussa forever. He made me feel like I had a second home I could always return to.
 
I hope this short documentary stirs something inside you. Whether it's an urge to travel, an urge to get outside your comfort zone, or maybe just a feeling of admiration for the man who I was lucky enough to spend every day with for a month. Thank you Dragons for making our connection possible and thank you Moussa, you are a force to be reckoned with and I can't wait to see what you achieve in the future.
 
Love your friend and mentee,
Khadidja (Frances)
 
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[post_title] => MOUSSA'S IMPACT: AN ALUMNI REFLECTION ON THE POWER OF HOMESTAYS [post_excerpt] => Frances McMillan, a participant on a West Africa semester program, made the following video to reflect the transformative impact of the close friendship she formed with her homestay brother, Moussa. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => moussas-impact-an-alumni-reflection-on-the-power-of-homestays [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-15 12:29:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-15 18:29:38 [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] => 74 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 74 [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] => 45 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 45 [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/ ) [2] => 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] => 47 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 47 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 ) [3] => 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] => 51 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 51 [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, Global Community ... )
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    [ID] => 156690
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-05-05 12:46:54
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-05-05 18:46:54
    [post_content] => 

Did you catch this episode of Dragons podcast featuring a mother and daughter who have both been on a Dragons course in Nepal?

Bub Vernon (Dragons Indonesia Semester Alumni) and this mother-daughter duo discuss:

  • Seva goes to Nepal for a Dragons semester. Years later, her mother goes on a Dragons Program for adults.

  • The differences & similarities in Dragons experiences for a student & adult.

  • What “immersion” really involves and looks like.

  • The nature of time and depth of relationships built on programs.

  • The difference between “going on vacation” and building relationships with people who have lives and culture different from your own.

  • Favorite moments & mishaps.

LISTEN NOW ON APPLE PODCASTSSPOTIFY, 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. ❤️
[post_title] => DRAGONS PODCAST: ONE LOCATION, ONE FAMILY, TWO TRAVEL EXPERIENCES WITH DRAGONS YEARS APART [post_excerpt] => Seva goes to Nepal for a Dragons semester. Years later, her mother goes on a Dragons Program for adults. Did you catch this episode of Dragons podcast featuring a mother and daughter who have both been on a Dragons course in Nepal? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-podcast-interview-with-a-mother-daughter-alumni-duo-on-their-experiences-in-nepal-with-dragons [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-05 12:45:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-05 18:45:56 [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] => 700 [name] => For Parents [slug] => for_parents [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 700 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [parent] => 0 [count] => 48 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 48 [category_description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [cat_name] => For Parents [category_nicename] => for_parents [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/for_parents/ ) [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] => 47 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 47 [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] => 51 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 51 [category_description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [cat_name] => Mixed Media [category_nicename] => mixed_media [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => For Parents, Alumni Spotlight ... )
WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 156718
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-04-30 11:17:02
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-04-30 17:17:02
    [post_content] => 

Dragons Alum, Eugenia Chow, wrote this reflection on her 3-month Gap semester in Nepal for her Veganism and Sustainability blog.

[caption id="attachment_156722" align="alignleft" width="329"]Nepal Gap Year Mountains Rolwaling, Nepal. Photo by Eugenia Chow.[/caption]

During three months in Nepal, I cycled through five outfits, hand washed all my clothes in one bucket of water, ate with my hands, wiped with my (other) hand, lived without digital devices, navigated using landmarks, ate the same meal (dal bhat 90% of the time—yes, breakfast, lunch, and dinner), took 15-hour bus rides without a phone or music, did 11-hour trek days in mostly silence (speaking isn’t much of an option when you’re at high altitude), and camped out in tents at 15,000ft, with nothing but each other to warm ourselves up at sub-zero degrees.

And for the most part, it was the most content I’ve ever been.

These 85 days were, on average, very blissful. And they also happened to be the most simple. For a moment, I was able to step away from a life rife with mental, physical and digital clutter, and this novel experience drew me to an alternative way of living—revealing that it’s possible to maintain slowness in a society that idolizes speed.

So, while culture and climate change happen to be two topics that I’m passionate about, the first thing I realized after living out of my 40L backpack for 85 days was that:

1. The two are far more interconnected than I’d ever considered.

Although most of the things I listed above were simply out of necessity that the form of travel I was embarking on (device-free, challenging, encouraging you to become a ‘traveler’ rather than a ‘tourist’) entailed, many of these habits were also born out of an attempt to imitate another culture.

In psychology class last year, I learnt about a social organization framework that distinguishes cultures from being either individualist or collectivist structures. In contrast to Western ideals which are predominantly individualistic, community, unity, and selflessness are cornerstones of Nepalese culture. As a result, instead of prioritizing individual goals and wellbeing over the benefit of the greater good, they emphasize a commitment to familial values and community-oriented aspirations.

Individualism thrives off competition in a manner than drives the depletion of resources at a rate that the world can hardly sustain. As the world’s biggest capitalistic power, cultures like the U.S. have ended up conflating success with wealth, and the race for profit consequently becomes a rush to extinction—with the accompanying cost of environmental destruction.

However,

2. Consumption, greed, and virtual validation will never be the solution to happiness; nor will they be the solutions to climate change.

[caption id="attachment_156721" align="alignright" width="506"]Nepal Gap Year Mountains Mountain views in Nepal. Photo by Eugenia Chow.[/caption]

My most memorable moments in Nepal were not marked by the purchase of my traditional-themed notebook nor the new headlamp I bought for trek. It was when I could dance and sing on top of a mountain with 14 new friends and a beautiful view of the sunset or stargaze while listening to music for the first time in two months. I was happiest when I was could feel myself forming connections with others and engage with local members of the community.

Imagine a Christmas without presents—or, at least, without material goods. I’m sure a game would be equally as—if not more enjoyable than the exchange of gifts. However, we have sadly attached the value of our relationships to the value of our goods, and we have evolved to pursue happiness in the most stressful of ways.

In Nepal, the festival we celebrated (Tihar) was not mediated by physical (or non-consumable) gifts; instead, it involved a succession of dances and offerings to celebrate and maintain intimate relationships with humans, animals, and Gods alike. Sometimes, people would freely enter and exit the homes of their neighbours during the dance ceremonies, because everyone was considered to be family.

Consumerism makes us vulnerable to the misconception that economic growth is the solution to all problems, convincing us that meaning is something which can be bought. Living in a rural village for nine days, none of us had or needed a fridge. Most of us simply used buckets as showers. Yet I was eating some of the best food I’d ever tasted and taking some of the most appreciated showers.

Which leads me to my next realization:

3. A fridge, dishwasher, washing machine, etc. are not a necessities; they are simply supplements to current lifestyles that appease our desires for efficiency.

According to Groundwork, “every year, U.S. businesses spend $207 billion on advertising to convince you that your current life is not enough,” and “some U.S. neighbourhoods have banned clothesline as an “ugly” sign of poverty.”

With the emergence of initiatives like Amazon prime, our culture of impatience has only been exacerbated to the extent where we can hardly wait more than one day to receive our online purchases. To think that Dash buttons almost became a thing simply exemplifies our incapability of remaining patient—not to mention the blatant environmental damage they would have produced.

As someone who still hand-washes dishes and air dries clothing at home, it almost makes me question whether these practices make me ‘enough’. Because “[consumerism] encompasses more than material space;“ it manipulates us into believing that our lives could be improved through the addition of something—anything.

But when will we decide that what we have is enough?

After doing some reading online and participating in Kiss the Ground’s Soil Advocacy Training online course, I’ve come to the conclusion that:

3. The term sustainability in its current use may not suffice. We need to redefine the boundaries of what is attainable in the first place before sustaining what clearly doesn’t work.

The first step is to reflect and then reconsider, or regenerate, a society that is more compatible towards the livelihoods and needs of the entire population—and not just a select few. The way we’re operating right now is evidently not working. It follows a degenerative model, which allows production and policy to leave the planet worse off for the fact that it’s occurred. This sets us on path towards ecological demise, and we need a new way of moving forward.

4. We shouldn’t just look to be mindful ‘consumers’, but mindful ‘citizens’.

Being a mindful consumer implicates that you’re ‘voting with your dollars'—purchasing items that are less harmful towards the environment and its inhabitants. But being a consumer also assumes that you have the purchasing power to allow your spendings to reveal your political standings, which automatically neglects or dismisses those who lack the monetary ability to do the same.

Therefore, being a mindful citizen focuses more on the values we embody and how this determines our everyday interactions and decisions. As a mindful citizen, we can allocate our time to being politically active or educating other individuals—important tasks that are obscured when citizens are whittled down to being simply consumers.

As mindful citizens, we can look towards building community and working together. But ultimately,

5. What we need is a cultural solution.

[caption id="attachment_156720" align="alignleft" width="395"]Nepal Gap Year Homestay View from the kitchen of my homestay in Patan, Nepal. Photo by Eugenia Chow.[/caption]

The image on the left was captured from the kitchen of my homestay family’s house in Patan. My “morning routine” during this time consisted of: waking up and drinking chiyaa (tea) alongside my homestay parents and sisters. And my night routine involved journaling and reading.

If only that was the norm; if only we haven’t internalized capitalism with the expectation that if we’re not constantly producing something or berate ourselves for taking a break almost to the point where we neglect our health—both physically and emotionally. If we don’t confront our unending desire for economic growth—a principle founded on the abundance of consumption—then we will never be able to address the looming issue of climate change. Because the two are inextricably linked.

To illustrate this point, let’s use Bhutan as an example.

Not only is Bhutan the world’s only carbon-negative country, but it’s also a nation built on happiness.

Bhutan is governed by their four pillars of ‘success’—one of them being environmental conservation. Their policies are determined under the basis of of gross national happiness as opposed to GDP, a more accurate factor of a country’s ‘success’. The government has mandated that forest areas cannot fall below 60%, partnered with Nissan to distribute electric cars to discourage the use of fuel-based ones, and subsidized LED lights and electrical public transportation—all nested under the collective goal of valuing the environment over economic growth.

Similarly, in some parts of South America, the term “Buen Vivir” has been adopted to reshape the conversation around community success. It stands for a collective well being, concluding that success hasn’t been achieved if money is earned through a means that devalues or harms your community. For instance, if wood was cut from a tree to build your house and was not replanted, it’s not beautiful because it destroyed natural space; if your shirt was produced in a sweat shop, it’s not beautiful because it exploits labourers.

So, evidently, what we require is the conversation about climate change to shift to sustainable culture. Climate change is rooted deep in our lifestyle habits, and these habits are largely determined by what we deem to be the ‘norm’.

Our values and attitudes have the capacity to slow climate change, but in order to create a truly sustainable culture, we have to be willing to change our mindsets,

accept a different pace of life and rethink our goals and place in society. This may require a fundamental restructuring of societal values, reorienting our emphasis from individualist to collectivist values. Because while many solutions to the climate catastrophe are scientific, a significant amount are cultural.

7. We need to rethink our cultural priorities/values and generate broader definitions of success.

A sustainable culture functions in harmony with the earth (take aboriginal/indigenous communities, for instance). And to quote Groundwork again, values of a culture that loves the earth include:

[caption id="attachment_156719" align="alignright" width="508"]Nepal Gap Year Village Living in a rural village in Nepal. Photo by Eugenia Chow.[/caption]
  • Patience: I experienced this while trekking in Nepal—without any devices and sometimes the inability to have conversation due to the high altitude we were in—going on walks—sometimes at 5am with my homestay mom around the village—navigating the city without a phone or GPS, and experiencing an alternative way of thinking and living.

  • Enoughness: I encountered this phenomenon while living simplistically on a permaculture farm in Gundu and in a rural village called Koshi. Everything was produced right from our doorstep, and we were living in nature, without the distraction of any devices—just our own thoughts and occasionally a book or journal to jot them down. This idea of living off-the-grid remains unconventional in the modern world, but this simply leads me to my next realization, that:

    8. Things are simply a burden, and we shouldn’t let marketers define what success or happiness means for us.

    There are so many social constructs we could simply neglect had they not been normalized by the culture around us.

    One of my favourite things about travelling (especially when packing lightly) is how un-stigmatised it is to re-wear clothes. For three months in Nepal, I rotated between five different outfits, and never once did I ever feel “deprived.” Due to the transitory nature of fast fashion, it has been normalized to wear a new outfit to every occasion. But this expectation to wear something new or different every day is highly unrealistic, and we have to rethink the conversation on what kind of standard this sets—not just for the sake of environmental sustainability, but also because of the statement it implies towards the issue of classism.

    Moreover, during our first trek, we had no mirrors for seventeen days. This meant we could abandon all self-doubt surrounding the notion of beauty, which was not only liberating, but also a jarring reminder of how much of our self-perception is determined by what common marketing has conditioned us to desire.

  • A broad[er] definition of success: This can include being self-sufficient, preserving heritage and culture and traditions. For example, my homestay father in Patan specialized in stone carving—a form of work that is viewed as successful, partially because it serves to maintain one’s family legacy.

  • And my own: valuing community. I witnessed this through entering each other’s houses freely during the dances celebrating Tihar, stopping to actually speak to one another in the village, and seeing how everyone’s considered a brother or a sister, regardless of whether actual family ties exist.

9. Kindness and generosity are faces of collective success.

One of the most distinctive memories that remain with me from Nepal involves a singular bus journey from Bhaktapur to Nagarkot. Amidst the frenzy of boarding an overcrowded bus, one lady immediately handed her blanketed baby into the arms of another passenger. And the passenger graciously accepted it without comment or complaint. The only further interaction was an appreciative nod from the former lady, and a warm, understanding smile from the latter.

Within this few second exchange, what I immediately gathered was that people here are willing to make sacrifices for each other—prioritizing a collective wellbeing.

Sure, this may be a vast over-generalization of how all people in this country act, but it’s sad to think that the first thought in response to a free cake at my door step would be “it’s probably drugged” as opposed to “that’s so thoughtful!” because that’s the way we’ve been brought up to react.

What if, instead of competing in the name of self-interest, we took the time to connect with each other and work towards our shared goals? We need to bring back collaboration and the act of working in harmony with one another.

10. While politicians play an important role, we also have to create an environment that is receptive and ready to welcome this change with open arms.

Seasonal outfit trends, Amazon Dash buttons, and clotheslines as a sign of “ugly poverty” won’t do anyone justice anymore; it’s time we create a new normal.

As Wagner writes, “when something is public, it can become a part of a culture.” And we can do this through every day actions, in many different forms! We can shape the change and lead the conversation through education people in real life by talking to them, using our social media platforms to reach a larger audience, or running campaigns to unite people under a shared cause.

A concept I learnt in psychology class last year, reciprocal determinism, states that an individual is both influenced and exerts an influence on their environment, and while culture affects us, we, as individuals have the power to affect culture as well.

“Society's response to every dimension of global climate change is mediated by culture.” And it is our role, as citizens—not consumers—to set the precedent for governing bodies. A global problem needs a global solution, and be it from the angle of clotheslines, clothing, or consumerism, the first thing we can do is begin by normalising simplicity.

 

P.S. 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. ❤️

[post_title] => Culture, Consumerism, and Climate Change: 10 Things I Learnt from Living Out of My Backpack for 85 Days [post_excerpt] => Dragons Alum, Eugenia Chow, wrote this reflection on her 3-month Gap semester in Nepal for her Veganism and Sustainability blog. My most memorable moments in Nepal were not marked by the purchase of my traditional-themed notebook nor the new headlamp I bought for trek. It was when I could dance and sing on top of a mountain with 14 new friends and a beautiful view of the sunset or stargaze while listening to music for the first time in two months. I was happiest when I was could feel myself forming connections with others and engage with local members of the community. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => culture-consumerism-and-climate-change-10-things-i-learnt-from-living-out-of-my-backpack-for-85-days [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-04-30 11:30:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-04-30 17:30:30 [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] => 74 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 74 [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] => 45 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 45 [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/ ) [2] => 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] => 47 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 47 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Global Community ... )
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Culture, Consumerism, and Climate Change: 10 Things I Learnt from Living Out of My Backpack for 85 Days

Posted On

04/30/20

Author

Eugenia Chow, Nepal Semester Alum

Description
Dragons Alum, Eugenia Chow, wrote this reflection on her 3-month Gap semester in Nepal for her Veganism and Sustainability blog. My most memorable moments in Nepal were not marked by the… Read More
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    [ID] => 156624
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-04-09 11:35:17
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-04-09 17:35:17
    [post_content] => 

OVERHEARD ON THE YAK BOARD

BYP Indonesia Where There Be Dragons Gap year
Something I never could have anticipated for this year is the amount of small daily surprises I encounter here in Jogja. These surprises—little moments of joy—come upon me at any time in the day. They break up the routine and remind me that my year here is not replicable. They make the mundane feel joyful, new, and human. They color my experiences in Jogja and persist in my memory, so as I reflect, I keep thinking of these interactions.
I wanted to share just 9 of those delights: 1. A few Sundays ago, I found myself folding boxes with 30 ibus. I just got out of the shower and entered the kitchen when my Ibu said, “Our neighbor died,” with a frenzied look in her eyes. I wished her my condolences, but as soon as the words left my mouth, she ran to the nearby house, broom in hand. My ayah came over to me and explained that our house was turning into the center of cooking and food for the funeral. In Muslim culture, the newly deceased must be buried if possible within 24 hours, and in Javanese culture, everyone must help with the ceremony. My Ibu set mats all over the kitchen floor, and the neighborhood women came and went, bringing boxes that I helped fold and food that I helped serve. Jacqueline joined in on the effort, and we spent the Sunday chatting and helping. I felt part of my neighborhood community, although not an ibu by any means. The man who died was beloved in the area, and around 100 or more people came and went through my house and the street in front to support the ceremony and pray for the dead. At the end of the preparations, everyone shared a meal together that Jacquline and I helped plate. There is a phrase for this type of communal effort: gotong royong, translating roughly to “mutual cooperation.” The feeling of gotong royong, a feeling of comfort and security that people will care for me as I care for them, was delightful. 2. The moment I appear at the doorway of my NGO office, a chorus of  “Halo Allie!” rings out. My coworkers’ greetings are a delightful daily reminder that I am welcome and supported at the office, despite the language barrier. 3. Putri, a staff member of UNALA (my NGO), ran out of her office on Thursday, yelling out, “Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku bermain di Plaza Ambarrukmo hari ini sore! Ayo!” (“Memories of My Body” will play at the Plaza Ambarrukmo mall this afternoon! Let’s go!). The interns and volunteers turned from their computer and called out, “Aku mau ikut!” (“I want to join!”). I couldn’t understand what the fervor was about—most of the conversations took place in Javanese—but the excitement of the office was tangible. Anggita, my coworker, turned to me and asked if I wanted to join. She explained how this movie is censored, being about a non-binary person’s journey through traditional Javanese culture and dance, but allowed to play only at this movie theater once at 4:00pm on that day. I came along and soon realized the movie lacked English subtitles. Even though I was only able to understand 60% of the movie, it was a delight to join them and watch this story.   BYP Indonesia Where There Be Dragons Gap year   4. When the skies open up, the rain pours down, and a breeze flows through the city. I feel relief all through my body as the humid pre-rain pressure fades away. At night, the streetlights and motorbikes reflect against the puddles, staturating Jogja in a haze of reds, yellows, and greens. 5. A later Saturday, I photographed my NGO’s promotion in Bantul, south of the city. They gave a presentation to a Muhammadiyah youth group (a Muslim group) on reproductive health including issues of menstruation, self-love, and gender issues. I raised my camera up and tried my best to capture the expressions on the girls faces: their eyes followed the speaker, smiles tugged on their faces, and they sat forward. The girls were stuck to every word. It was empowering for myself to see them, who were all almost the same age as me, so focused and engaged. I felt pride in my work there, happy I joined this NGO to do what I can to help them. After the promotion, we squeezed into the organization’s car. Everyone was hungry—we already ran out of snacks. Putri called out, “Sate klathak!” The energy rose as if everyone downed a cup of coffee. Brokir, the driver, did a U turn then and there and drove until we found the restaurant. Sate klathak, some sort of goat sate, is originally from that area of Bantul and best served there. I unfortunately could not eat the sate klathak (I’m a vegetarian), to which Putri continually said “Kasian” (Too bad) about. Still, eating nasi goreng (fried rice) as they ate the sate klathak added to the many moments of joy that day.   BYP Indonesia Where There Be Dragons Gap year   6. On Sunday, I carved away the contours of faces from my woodblock board. Olivia came along that weekend, and we drank tea and chatted with my IEA mentor Fitri. I worked on my piece on female reproductive rights, Olivia created a piece on body image positivity, and Fitri completed her pieces on solidarity and activism. Time faded away, and soon it was already night. I got in my Gocar back to the program house, feeling as confident and calm as the women from my woodblock. 7. Jacqueline and I sit atop the Lippo Plaza mall, where street food stands, outdoor lamps, and cafe style tables and chairs decorate the area. We chose to sit a level above the main area, able to watch both the scenes below us and the nighttime view of Jogja. A low, distant murmur of voices created an ambience I had only before heard in recordings. As the purple and pinks of the sunset finally faded into the deep blue of the night, a breeze pushed out the usual heat of the day. This moment only lasted for 15 minutes, but it was delightful. BYP Indonesia Where There Be Dragons Gap year   8. Every Friday, I give an English lesson to my NGO as a means of preparation if the European donors visit the office. I don’t know how useful my lessons end up being, but I teach about American culture and lifestyles, and we discuss the differences and similarities with Indonesian cultures. Given the lesson is always full of generalizations and mostly from my perspective about American culture, the lessons are mostly just fun. A couple of Fridays ago, per their requests, I decided to teach them slang. I included around 30 words, ranging from “ASAP,” “vanilla,” to “queen” (I did mention that some of these are only used with young people while others like ASAP are more general). It was fun to teach them, but the weeks ahead were more fun: my coworkers called shotgun for the front seat of the car when we went to promotions, said “cool, cool, cool” when commenting on something they like, and replied “RIP” when I couldn’t make it to an event. We bonded by laughing over the English language and made fun of words that took on alternative meanings. Delightful. 9. As silat (Indonesian martial arts/self-defense class) wrapped up on Monday, I mouthed to Aneekah, “What about doing zumba after this?” Before our silat instructor even left, Aneekah, Elliott, and I began to move our bodies along with the high intensity YouTube video. 10 minutes in, as sweat pooled down our faces, Jacqueline walked into the program house, coming from a meeting at a nearby NGO. We yelled out at her to join, and she too started the workout without changing out of her day clothes. There we were, the four of us with our hearts pounding and muscles aching. Then, the 30 minutes were up. The video finished. But, we kept going. We got on the ground, got into plank formation, and sang out “Cause baby you’re a firework!” at the top of our lungs as we waited for a minute to pass. We were determined to push our bodies, embracing the sweat, muscle ache, and eventual tiredness. I began playing Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” as each of us started a new exercise. From the outside, we probably looked like a mess, our faces red and bodies giving up under the intensity of zumba.  But, endorphins pumping through my blood, I thought: this is delightful. BYP Indonesia Where There Be Dragons Gap year
I do not know if it is because I am looking for these moments of delight, but I find myself feeling so much gratitude recently for being able to experience life in a way I’ve never experienced it before. The humdrum of the everyday no longer seems as overwhelming as it once did. I am excited by living moment to moment, knowing I can stumble into a moment like the ones I wrote about above again.
 
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    [post_date] => 2020-02-27 08:44:42
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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.

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