Photo by Eric Jenkins-Sahlin, Instructor.

Posts Tagged:

China

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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 [email protected]
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FIRST PLACE: LUISA ROJO

North India: Roof of the World (4-week)

"Innocence and tradition. Kids playing in the prayer wheel in Takmachik, India."

SECOND PLACE: ELIZABETH SHOUP

China: The Silk Road

"Prayer wheels at a Buddhist monastery in Yushu."

 

TIED FOR THIRD PLACE: JENNA SMITH

Peru: Sacred Mountains (4-week)

"Expensive phone calls from the mountains."

TIED FOR THIRD PLACE: MADDY GRIFFIN

Myanmar: Development Studies & Social Transformation

"A huge statue located at the top of a pagoda in Mandalay."

Visit the WTBD Facebook page to view photos and captions from all of our finalists. [post_title] => 2017 SUMMER PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED [post_excerpt] => Selected by peers, family, friends and strangers via Facebook...we're proud to announce the winners... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => s17-photo-contest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-03-07 08:27:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-07 15:27:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => 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] => 43 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 43 [category_description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [cat_name] => Mixed Media [category_nicename] => mixed_media [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/mixed_media/ ) ) [category_links] => Mixed Media )
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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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View post

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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    [post_content] => There's no better way to understand (or re-experience!) a Dragons program than a clickthrough of Dragons Yak Board. Our freshly re-designed forum features intimate, first-hand, perspective via stories, reflections, and images shared directly from the field.

[caption id="attachment_151654" align="alignright" width="300"] Dragons Newly Remodeled Yak Board[/caption]

You can even sort the essays on our Yak Board by program element: Do you want to know what a homestay is really like? Visit our Homestay Yaks. Worried about the intensity of the trekking element? Read about student trekking experiences. Curious as to the challenges of "learning service" abroad? There's participant reflections on the themes of service learning too. Wondering about the end-goals of Dragons programs? Here are some essays in "Transference" (the act and art of applying newly learned skills and perspectives to life back at home).

Ready to dive in?

Here's some participant quotes and essays that might interest you. Just follow the links to read the full essay on the Yak Board:

 

****************

  "I will always remember what it feels like to be a part of a community that values loving one another above everything else. For the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about what home is and what that feels/looks like. I now understand the concept of home a little better and feel as though I have found that on the other side of the world." Anna Maguire on the TRANSFERENCE Yak Board.  

****************

"That struggle, one with vague political origins, has morphed into an undeniably human one, one in which the good side is determined not by unspeakable acts of evil but by where on a moral Venn Diagram some far-off policy maker sits as he asks himself if ensuring the health of the Indonesian republic by keeping Sampela a permanent Bajau community regardless of the toll it places on nearby reefs and its human inhabitants is worthwhile. Should the strictly protected reefs of this island chain be enlarged, risking a war but preserving an ecosystem that was here long before there were people in it? Should the elite few who may make those decisions be more concerned with a fisherman and his kin going hungry or with the loss of life from the most diverse ecosystem on the planet or, on a larger scale, does the wellness of a nation of over two hundred and fifty million people or uncountable oceanic animals matter more than the wellness of thousands of laughing, crying, feeling humans?" - Owen Yager on the DEVELOPMENT Yak Board  

****************

    "Personally my mind was the defining factor, I was never excited about hiking because I didn’t have faith in myself. I never felt accomplished, thinking "big deal" -- everyone else had made it up the mountain too. I viewed myself as a weak hiker, when in actuality there’s no such thing. We all arrive at the same destination in our own time, in our own way. Have faith in yourself, you can do it." - Lily Hobbs on the TREKKING Yak Board    

****************

  "Asalaamalekum mbok yi," This sentence could be the shortest description of who I am. It says ‘peace be with your family.’ The first word is of Arabic origin and was brought to Senegal centuries ago with Islam. Religion and the culture of peace and tolerance found in my country are one of the cornerstones of Senegalese culture. Almost all local language greetings ask how peaceful you have been. My father is a Sufi teacher and he has impacted my life in various and wonderful ways." - Babacar Mbaye on the COMPARATIVE RELIGION Yak Board  

****************

  "About 20 minutes before the top of the pass, Fabian stopped the ground and reached for a rock. He held it in his left hand and told us that this rock symbolizes the weight that each of us carries. I picked up my rock, a black heart shaped rock with white stripes, and thought about the weight that I carry. Is it the worry over registering for classes and rooming next semester? The distress of my friend group at school growing further apart? The uncertainty and sadness of my parents moving away from the community I grew up in? These thoughts and more moved up with me as I walked to the top of the pass." - Emily Smith on the WILDERNESS EXPLORATION Yak Board
****************

Or just head over to our Yak of the Week section for the best of the best!

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View post

Updated Yak Board Featuring Intimate, Firsthand, Perspectives

Posted On

08/29/17

Author

Dragons HQ

Description
There’s no better way to understand (or re-experience!) a Dragons program than a clickthrough of Dragons Yak Board. Our freshly re-designed forum features intimate, first-hand, perspective via stories, reflections, and… Read More
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    [post_content] => Dragons offers an alternative approach to education, including for university-aged study abroad students.  Since 1993, Dragons has been running dynamic programs around the world. As part of that work, Dragons has been running programs which offer college level for-credit courses since 2001 on our semester programs.

CARA LANE-TOOMEY DIRECTOR OF STUDY ABROAD

Our approach to College Study Abroad Programs, which take place in China, India, Nepal, and South America (Bolivia/Peru), is to provide high-quality academic experiences in unconventional places. Unlike our gap semesters, the College Study Abroad Programs engage all students in a full-semester credit-load of academically rigorous courses, have visiting faculty members who bring their academic expertise to the experience, and provide a structure for participants to carry out individual research during a block of independent travel at the end of the program.

As with other Dragons programming, our instructors draw on language fluency, personal connections, and place-based expertise to give college students unparalleled engagement with communities. Dragons staff attend to program safety and quality, but are also deeply invested in establishing strong mentor relationships with students. This mentorship supports students as they make meaning out of experiences abroad and has a powerful impact on academic and personal growth.

Want to learn more? Visit our website or flip through our College Study Abroad Catalog below…

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    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_151452" align="alignnone" width="4592"] Photo by Christina Rivera Cogswell, Princeton Bridge Year, Ladakh India.[/caption]

HERE ARE THE MOST COMMON REASONS WHY STUDENTS CONSIDER TAKING A GAP YEAR:

  • To get hands-on life experience
  • In search of relief from the pressures of high school
  • To find out more about themselves
  • To gain language fluency via cultural immersion
  • To clarify personal interests and possibly hone in on a course of studies or career path to pursue
  • To gain exposure to different worldviews
  • To practice professional and personal development skills through experience
  • To slow down and find time for personal reflection
  • To adventure in the mountains, open spaces, and wilderness
  • To learn about service and/or apprentice with a problem in the world of personal importance
  • To build meaningful (and offline) friendship and relationships
  • To try something new, daring, and challenging

HERE ARE MORE REASONS, BASED ON THE LATEST RESEARCH, WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER TAKING THE LEAP WITH A GAP YEAR OR SEMESTER ABROAD EXPERIENCE…

Research shows that students who take a Gap Year graduate with higher GPAs than their peers and are more satisfied with their careers. This advantage held when controlling for socioeconomic background or academic performance in high school. Clagett, 2011.

  • 98% of colleges and universities accept deferrals for planned Gap Years. In fact, Harvard, Princeton, University of North Carolina, Colorado College (to name a few) encourage it because students enter more focused, mature, and passionate.
  • A majority of students now take five or more years to complete their college educations, while a majority of Gap Year students graduate in four years. If you think a Gap Year is expensive, try six years of college tuition.
  • Gap Years are serious endeavors and, in our experience, it’s often the most ambitious, curious, and motivated students that are called to them. A high quality Gap Year program is holistic and experiential; students learn about place and global issues, but more significantly they gain clarity on who they are, what they believe in, and what they’re capable of achieving.
  • More than 90% of students who do a structured Gap Year program enroll in university within one year of their time-off. When researchers tried to identify what major factors distinguished facilitated programs from unstructured time-off, they discovered that a significant homestay experience in another culture and excellent mentorship were two factors critical to making the Gap Year a transformative experience.
  • Many more interesting Gap Year facts can be found at: WWW.GAPYEARASSOCIATION.ORG/DATA-BENEFITS.PHP

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?

The best way to learn more about Gap Year programs is to connect with other students who’ve done them. If you’d like to speak to any of our alumni personally, please give us a call and we’ll put you in touch with some! In the meantime, here are a few student quotes from past Dragons Gap Year students.

“My semester with Dragons in Indonesia ignited a passion for environmental and social justice causing me to choose my specific majors and minors at school. It gave me so much direction for who I want to be. Even three years later, I think about my homestays, instructors, and friends from the trip all the time. ”

–CRISSY McCARTHY, INDONESIA SEMESTER

“The Ladakhi guides, the Buddhist monks and nuns, my language teacher, my host family —all these friendships opened my eyes to how diverse the world can be and how many lifestyles one might find to suit them.”

–CHARLIE SANTOS, INDIA SEMESTER

“ I am leaving with a foundation on how to travel, learn, expand my worldview , and connect with people on a deeper level.”

–GRACE POWELL, SOUTH AMERICA SEMESTER

“This will be the most profound experience of your life. It will be educational, exciting, beautiful, challenging, deep , and raw. The hardest moments will teach you just as much as, if not more than, the magical ones.”

–CLAIRE LINDSAY, AFRICA SEMESTER

“My biggest goal was to leave the trip more present, curious, and inspired. I came alive on this trip. I am excited to continue to push myself when I return home.”

–EL WILLIAMS, SOUTH AMERICA SEMESTER

HOW TO TAKE A GAP YEAR:

1. CONSIDER APPLYING TO COLLEGE FIRST. Most students prepare for college admissions as usual. When admitted, they then request a deferral, which 98% of colleges will grant if presented with legitimate Gap Year plans.

2. PLAN AHEAD WITH CLEAR GOALS. What do you want to learn? How do you want to be challenged? Spend some time sorting out your motivations as the more you invest in a vision for your Gap Year, the more confident you (and your family) will feel in your plans. Plus, the stage of dreaming and anticipation is fun!

3. GO ALONE OR GO WITH A GROUP? Do both. Educational consultants recommend that students start with something more structured in the Fall followed by a more independent experience.. For example, Michael Gellman spent the fall on Dragons Central America Semester. As a Dragons student, Michael learned to construct composting toilets while working with a Guatemala-based community organization. He stayed in Central America after his three-month Dragons program—where he spent four months applying his new skills to other community projects.

4. PREPARE TO MAKE THE INVESTMENT. A Gap Year can be a significant investment, but is well worth the cost. Investing in a Gap Year allows students to start college with greater focus and a stronger idea of what they want to achieve. This can help them connect their studies to potential career paths. Think of this year between high school and college as a bridge, not a gap.

5. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Compare and assess Gap Year programs based on safety, access to meaningful experiences, and the quality of mentorship. Ensure that your experience is with others who share your values and who are committed to the well-being of participants, but also to the well-being of local communities. You can visit Dragons Blog for a full list of questions that we recommend students ask when researching different Gap Year programs.


Here’s a PDF version of Dragons Position Paper on Why Take a Gap Year? that’s printer-friendly if needed.
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