Posts Tagged:

Asia

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    [ID] => 153102
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-05-17 11:41:09
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-17 17:41:09
    [post_content] => God bless parents, especially moms. At least, especially my mom. Just after I turned 24, in 1992, I returned to my parents’ home in Missoula, Montana, USA, after having spent the academic year teaching English in a medium-sized industrial city in the far, far northeast of China. “Reverse culture shock” is a term I may or may not have heard before that homecoming. Either way, I was utterly unprepared for what was about to hit me…and my mom.
“Reverse culture shock” is a term I may or may not have heard before that homecoming. Either way, I was utterly unprepared for what was about to hit me…and my mom.
I was rude, insensitive, and sometimes even cruel to my mom, who only wanted to welcome her son home and make me feel at home. Nothing she did was enough for me. She tried to empathize, she tried to nurture, she asked questions. Nothing worked. I was just too jumbled. My case may be extreme, but I know that the general sense of instability, of not feeling quite right, is common for people just back from big adventures in new places. And it turns out that the brain has a lot to do with it. Please indulge me in doing a brief exercise. Hold this page at arm’s length. Now, while keeping your left eye closed and your right eye laser-focused on the plus sign, slowly (slowly!) move the paper closer to your face. At some point something will happen to the dot. (If the paper ends up at your face you’ll need to try again. It’s crucial to start with the paper far away, to keep your right eye squarely focused on the plus sign, and to bring the paper in very, very slowly.) How could the dot just disappear like that? It turns out that each eye has a blind spot, where the visual field is blank. The retina gets no information from this part of the visual field. Why don’t we see some kind of hole or emptiness where the blind spot is? Because the brain invents something to “put” there—in this case, the color or pattern of the paper around it.
Volumes of evidence from vision experts have proven that the world we see is a massive illusion.
How does this work? The brain just invents it. Volumes of evidence from vision experts have proven that the world we see is a massive illusion. Just twenty percent of visual information comes from the retina; the remaining eighty percent is pure fiction, manifested by the brain in order to create a sense of coherence. Think about that: four-fifths of what we see is just the brain’s best guess. It’s not actually there. I love this simple exercise because it gets right to the heart of two key issues when it comes to human identity. First, reality is a product of our own brains, based on our particular set of experiences. Second, our brains have a primal need to create coherence. They are doing this constantly, in the background, completely out of our conscious awareness. Another thing our brains do all the time, automatically, is warn us of threats in the environment. One part of the brain in particular—the amygdala, or “lizard brain”—gets highly active when it thinks we’re being threatened. And when the amygdala is active, it inhibits activity in the prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain that govern our “higher” functions. The amygdala is fast but coarse: it knows nothing about nuance or subtlety. In one important sense this is a good thing: it keeps us alive. If a tiger jumps out of the bushes, we really don’t have time to consider the tiger in all its uniqueness. We just need to know right away that it’s a tiger and that it’s dangerous. The problem is that the amygdala does its thing even when we don’t need it to. It sees almost anything new as a potential threat, and since difference is a form of novelty, we tend to see people different from us as threatening. This leaves us with a rather bleak picture of humanity: If our brains are busy inventing coherent realities about the threats posed by groups of “other” people, then we don’t stand much of a chance of getting along. And isn’t this, when it comes down to it, the story of humanity’s dark side? Now for the good news: we can relate to difference in ways that aren’t dominated by threat. It just takes a lot of awareness and hard work.
We can relate to difference in ways that aren’t dominated by threat. It just takes a lot of awareness and hard work.
When I returned from China in 1992, I had a lot going on in my brain. During my year in China, my brain had started out in full-on threat mode, reacting negatively to the confusing behaviors all around me. Over then next nine months, my brain gradually created a sense of coherence, as I began to understand all the new patterns I was seeing, and to empathize with the people around me. I was starting to understand why people did what they did, and even though it was different from what I was used to, I could at least see the logic. New worlds were opening up to me, and it was thrilling. I was a new person in a new world, eager to return home and share my bounty. But when I came home I found a place that looked exactly as it always had, inhabited by people whose worldviews hadn’t budged an inch. The “mistake” I made is a common one for returnees from abroad: I had replaced a single view of the world with a different, single view that I’d judged to be better than the “old” view.
The “mistake” I made is a common one for returnees from abroad: I had replaced a single view of the world with a different, single view that I’d judged to be better than the “old” view.
And this is where the brain’s good news begins to come in handy. Thankfully, we’re not slaves to the amygdala and to our brain’s tendency to create a single, coherent story. As humans we have the ability—thanks to the prefrontal cortex and other more recently evolved regions of the brain—to see the world from multiple perspectives. And it turns out that this is the key to reintegration—indeed, to what reintegration is all about. Joseph Campbell wrote, “‘The Cosmic Dancer,’ declares Nietzsche, ‘does not rest heavily in a single spot, but gaily, lightly, turns and leaps from one position to another.’” We don’t have to fear “other” ways of being. Fear is natural, but we don’t need to let it rule us. What we need is to thank our amygdala for keeping us alive, and to ask it to please quiet down while we listen and look for what there is for us to learn.
What we need is to thank our amygdala for keeping us alive, and to ask it to please quiet down while we listen and look for what there is for us to learn.
We all can, in Walt Whitman’s famous words, “contain multitudes.” Indeed the future of our species depends on it. So let’s keep asking, keep reaching, keep learning.

JASON PATENT, Ph.D., is a leading cultural interpreter on China-related issues and previously served as American Co-Director of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China. He is a former Dragons instructor (China ‘98-’01) and co-founder of the Dragons China Semester Program. Currently Jason is Chief of Operations and Director of the Center for Intercultural Leadership at UC Berkeley’s International House. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife, Colette Plum, and their two daughters.

  [post_title] => A Blind Spot...Obviously; A Reflection on Reintegration [post_excerpt] => "God bless parents, especially moms. At least, especially my mom. [...] “Reverse culture shock” is a term I may or may not have heard before that homecoming. Either way, I was utterly unprepared for what was about to hit me…and my mom." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => blind-spot-obviously-reflection-reintegration [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-17 11:57:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-17 17:57:01 [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] => 28 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 28 [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] => 675 [name] => Map's Edge Newsletter [slug] => mapsedgenewsletter [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 675 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Archives of Dragons Map's Edge Newsletter [parent] => 0 [count] => 14 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 675 [category_count] => 14 [category_description] => Archives of Dragons Map's Edge Newsletter [cat_name] => Map's Edge Newsletter [category_nicename] => mapsedgenewsletter [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/mapsedgenewsletter/ ) [2] => 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] => 19 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 19 [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 ) ) [category_links] => For Parents, Map's Edge Newsletter ... )
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    [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] => 39 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 2 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 39 [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] => 11 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11 [cat_ID] => 669 [category_count] => 11 [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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    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2017-12-20 07:15:38
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-12-20 14:15:38
    [post_content] => 
Here are some sneak-peek excerpts from the featured essays of our winter edition of The Map's Edge. Be sure to check your mail to get your hands on all the glossy pages of stories, photos, and updates from four corners of Dragons global community!
PAGE 4
BRAZIL
Princeton Bridge Year: To Have a Home
By JIMIN KANG
"I believe that there are qualities in each of us that can only be realized in different contexts. I discovered that Brazil brought out a version of myself that inspires me most. To this day, I miss the candor with which I greeted strangers on the street and told them about my love for acarajé, the fried bean fritters I'd eat with friends after hours of practicing Portuguese. I miss the music and the visual arts that flourish across Salvador, and the days I painted lampposts with spray paint oozing down my hands. I miss the confidence with which Bahians wear their own skin, and the way I felt more comfortable in my own body than I'd ever been. More than anything, I miss the people who greeted me with a "seja bem-vindo" (be welcome) and bid me farewell with a "volte sempre" (return always). People who taught me that home can be anywhere in the world, as long as there are people with space in their hearts."
PAGE 8
SIKKIM
Lepcha: Children of the Snowy Peak
By SHARON SITLING
"The Lepcha believe their people originated within these valleys. They call themselves 'Mutanchi Rong Kup Rum Kup,' which translates as 'Children of the Snowy Peak and Children of God.' The Lepcha are nature worshippers, whose religion blends animism and shamanism and is called bongthingism, or Munism. The tribe shares an inextricable relationship with nature as evidenced by their vocabulary, which contains one of the richest collections of names for local flora and fauna recorded anywhere, and reveals a vast knowledge of naturopathy as well as holy texts. By some estimates, there are only 40,000 Lepcha remaining in Sikkim; their language is quickly disappearing and they are fighting to preserve their lands and what is left of their culture."
PAGE 12
SENEGAL
Photo Essay: Between the Lens & Me
By CRYSTAL LIU
"I was hesitant to bring my camera with me to Senegal. I suppose I approached photography with more of a moralist's stance than a scientist's, and I felt some intuitive distrust of images and imagemaking as it related to my educational experience. I worried about the fraught relationship between subject and photographer. I didn't want to reproduce clichés and reduce people to flat, aesthetic purposes. At the same time, I wanted to remember what I would experience, and the fear of forgetting eventually overcame other qualms about the medium. I brought my camera, and I am both glad and regretful that I did."
PAGE 22
MOROCCO
Interview: The Beat of a Different Drum
By MOHAMED ARGUINE
"...after hours of trekking, Ben M'barek would take out his drum, sit on a rock and start playing whatever came to mind. He never thought his songs would attract the attention of tourists who didn't understand a word of the Tamazight language. [...] The guide explained that M'Barek was singing about his love for the High Atlas Mountains and that he hoped not to see what might be hiding behind them. The oxygen of his life, its meaning, flows down from the peak of the highest mountain to his soul through the drops of rain and flakes of snow-pure and white as his heart, and imbued with love for this region, which to him is heaven on earth."

 If you didn't get one in the mail, here's the full digital issue!

 
Dragons bi-annual Newsletter, The Map’s Edge, explores a subject of interest to the Dragons community through the voices of our Alumni, Instructors, Partners, and our International Staff and contacts. Feel free to view our archive of editions of The Map’s Edge or even submit a piece to be featured in our next issue by sending an email to justin@wheretherebedragons.com
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    [post_date] => 2017-10-18 09:58:19
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    [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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    [ID] => 151576
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    [post_date] => 2017-07-28 10:10:51
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-28 16:10:51
    [post_content] => 
...even though it may seem like there is nothing better in the whole world than your dog, your bed, or the front door to your house, a hot bath, a Chipotle burrito, or getting re-connected on social media or with friends, I hope that I can convince you that those things won’t be what you actually care about when you get home. You will care about sharing your experience and your changes.
It was finally over. I’d been in China a month, and my life had turned upside-down. My perspective, my experiences, and how I saw myself and others. They’d all changed. It was one of the best things I’d ever done, but I was also ready to be home. I couldn’t wait for cold water (to drink), western toilets, my own shower, and, at the top of my list, some Jamba Juice. Also, I wanted to see all of my friends and family and tell them about my many adventures. These were the type of things I was constantly thinking about one year ago at the end of my first Dragons trip. But then my instructors began to mention a word I had never heard before: transference. At that time, it seemed pointless to help transition us BACK to the United States. Why would I need help with that? That was home; that was what is normal. One year later, and I’m preparing for my second round of Dragons transference. Just like before, I’m having those same fantasies of my own shower, bed, and being able to Google anything anytime I want, but I’m also thinking back on the experience of returning home last time, and I can only describe it as mania. I was given my cell phone back in Hong Kong International Airport, and I immediately and obsessively updated myself on all the most recent happenings, as well as posting on Snapchat and other social media. I only relaxed when I got into my best friend’s car at the Denver International Airport, and then I realized that it was truly over. The transition had happened fast; too fast. My mom and my best friend bombarded me with questions and told me about what had been happening in their lives for the past month. I think I was in shock, and I think that at some point I told them to shut up. I couldn’t make myself be interested in anything that they were saying. I felt awful. I know now that this was the reverse culture shock that my instructors had tried to prepare me for. I hardly remember my first few days back, but I do remember publicly crying at a Jamba Juice. I finally took that hot shower I had been wanting so badly too: it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. Everything I had been dreaming for was right there in front of me— smoothies, hot showers, Western toilets, fresh salads— but I suddenly didn’t crave it the same way I thought I would. I understood then that those 13 strangers that I had just spent a month with, along with other Dragons alumni, might be the only people in the world that could understand what I was going through. On my way home from my previous Dragons program, I had a layover in LAX on my return journey. There was another Dragons student there who had just finished a different Dragons program. I had only said two words to this guy before, and I didn’t know him at all, but we sat together in the LAX airport California Pizza Kitchen as if we had known each other for years. We asked each other “So, how was your trip?”, a question that we would both get asked many more times soon thereafter. But unlike when non-Dragons folks asked me, it was easy to answer him. We had a bizarre common language and a common motivation and objective in traveling to the other side of the world: Where There Be Dragons. I didn’t have an answer for him exactly, but the struggle in trying to package my experience for him, he understood that. Even though I couldn’t fully express it, the trip was life changing. It was spectacular. I could go on and on for hours talking about it, but as I found out during my transition home, people didn’t really want to hear about it. Dragons had told me that when people ask me how my trip was, depending on the person and the circumstances, they will either be looking for the 10 second account, the 30 second account, or, perhaps, an even longer version. The person that wants a full account, a true account, and can understand the account, that type of person is very rare. To this day, a year after the end of my first Dragons course, I’m not sure I’ve really told anyone about it in its entirety, not even my own mother. So this is what I want to share with my current fellow Dragons students: even though it may seem like there is nothing better in the whole world than your dog, your bed, or the front door to your house, a hot bath, a Chipotle burrito, or getting re-connected on social media or with friends, I hope that I can convince you that those things won’t be what you actually care about when you get home. You will care about sharing your experience and your changes. Although your formal Dragons course is soon coming to an end, your experience has just begun. Savor your last few days abroad and welcome into your life the possibility of a new way of looking at the world, because you won’t fit the same in your old one.   NICOLETTE GORDILLO-LARIVIERE is on Dragons Summer: China Language 4-week Program (Group B). She is also a Student Ambassador for Dragons. You can read more on Nicolette's Ambassador Profile.   [post_title] => TRANSFERENCE [post_excerpt] => "...my instructors began to mention a word I had never heard before: transference. At that time, it seemed pointless to help transition us BACK to the United States. That was home; that was what is normal. Why would I need help with that?" 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