Posts Tagged:

For Parents

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    [ID] => 153260
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-06-14 09:34:19
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-14 15:34:19
    [post_content] => 
...for many students, the fundamental shift in perspective and personality does not take place right away.

Dear Parents of Team India Students,

I am writing with a note of gratitude. Perhaps it is unconventional in nature, but I hope you are able to enjoy a cup of chai as you read these words written from a small village in the Indian Himalayas. I am sitting looking at a mosaic of words that your child and their peers wrote during our mid-course reflection earlier in March. In front of me sits over thirty small slips of paper that share anonymously written fears & excitements, challenges faced and lessons learned:

I am excited for breathing in clean mountain air, star gazing, looking out train windows. I am afraid of leaving India without a clearer sense of who I am. I’ve learned that health and cleanliness are very important. I am nervous about time going by too quickly or too slowly. I have learned I love taking my time. It has been a challenge for me to open up in a way that I am most comfortable with, so that I am not bottling up my emotions. I fear that I won’t be able to do everything I want to over the next month. It has been challenging being sick in such a new environment. I learned that life at home continues when you’re away and that’s okay. It is most challenging for me to be present. I have learned that there are more Indias that the one I am witnessing.

So much variety in such a small group. An accurate representation of the diversity of thought, need, and lifestyle within our community. I am not a parent in the sense that I do not have a child who depends on me regularly for emotional or financial support. I have not witnessed my child’s first breath or tracked him/her/them through the phases of life: crawling, walking, talking, fighting, pushing boundaries, experiencing heartbreak, developing strengths, acknowledging weaknesses, discovering their identities in this fast-moving world. I can imagine it is a slow, beautiful, complicated, process to witness and be a part of. I look forward to when that is my reality. For months of each year, though, I do have the opportunity to be in loco parentis; to act and react as a parent may, to advise and counsel, to listen and hear, to inspire and frustrate, to discipline and let go of. Thank you, for giving me the chance to act and live in this way. I could not do it without you–truly and literally. Witnessing your child’s tears when she/he/they came home from school having been wronged by a classmate during the day; experiencing utter joy at watching them play in mud puddles, their fascination with the–what to us adults may be–seemingly mundane; sharing moments of vulnerability as you offer stories of your own high school hardships: I bet that each of these moments offered to you powerful insight into parenthood and its complexity. While not comparable, I have experienced many of these same emotions over these past three months. I have felt fiercely protective when my students have felt discomfort in crowded situations; I have laughed to the point of tears listening to stories about misunderstandings in how to use squat toilets; I have been frustrated by their lack of punctuality; I have felt tenderness in listening to tearful worries and concerns. I have lay in my bed, late into the night, wondering: are my students (read: children) healthy? Safe? Motivated? Happy? Sleeping well? Scared? Excited? Confused? If this is not parenthood, I am not sure what is. The timeframe post-high school is a fragile, complicated period. Young adults are told by our American and Canadian societies that after living 18 years on this earth they can vote in elections, purchase and smoke cigarettes, enlist in the military, give consent to marry another, drive a vehicle, work a full-time salaried position, and gamble away their money. They have legal freedom, if they choose to take it. Yet many, upon ending high school, do not have a sense of awareness for the future: they are unsure if they want to go to college, or more realistically why they want to go to college. With newfound privileges and real legal rights, these newly deemed adults have, in a sense, ultimate opportunities. But how to navigate the multiplicity of paths that are lain before them, to tease apart the meaning of a high-school education, to understand the next path that presents itself is neither a straightforward nor an enviable task. You, as parents, have experienced this time. You know the nights fraught with anxiety and confusion. The pull between wanting to do what your peers do, wanting to please your family, and wanting to understand a little more fully who you are and what your purpose on this planet is. Taking a Gap Year is a more recent phenomenon that is gaining popularity. This year away from formal academics does not mean a year away from learning; quite the contrary. I have only had the privilege of knowing your sons and daughters for 70 days, however I have witnessed them learn skills valuable for living: from technical skills like how to cook meals and clean clothes to interpersonal skills like how to provide feedback to a peer and self-advocate for personal needs. While I do not yet have a system in place to check, I would bet that if I spoke to each of these students in five years, they will not be able to remember significant dates from the US Civil War–excepting they become a US historian–or apply the Pythagorean theorem to an every-day life problem. Engrained within them, though, they may have the lived knowledge of how to have their basic needs met when in an unfamiliar place or how to have a hard conversation with someone they care about. That is my hope, at least. Critics of Gap Years think this time away traveling has merely been an experience of being transported from one hotel to another, eating at restaurants, and shopping. I would be lying if I said we have not partaken in these activities. But below the surface of these statements lies an experience that is not as easily shown: like when your hotel is actually a guesthouse that sits at 11,000 feet and took five hours to walk to, and you share a room with seven others, all of you sleeping on the floor, hugging waterbottles of boiled water– that you used your broken Ladakhi to ask for–so that you can stay warm while sleeping. Or when shopping means buying enough food for a group of fifteen so they have sustenance on their 24 hour travel day, 15 of those hours are confined to a moving train, which has the potential to be delayed for an unspecified amount of time. Sure, we partake in consumer culture, but there is intentionality behind it. The critics can look at this time and make assumptions, but they cannot know the worth of these experiences. Even you may not recognize the value of them, but for many students, the fundamental shift in perspective and personality does not take place right away. As your children physically re-enter your lives they will appear the same. But there will also be differences. They have had experiences that they will not be able to explain because they have not yet had the chance to make meaning of them. There will be moments of excitement to see old friends, sleep in their beds, and eat comfort foods. But there will be moments of sadness and confusion as well, as awarenesses begin to surface and take root, and newly acquired values are applied to old spaces. For some this time-frame may take days, others months, many years. Even I, at 27, am still discovering the immense value my Gap Year–which I took ten years ago– played in shifting my identity as a woman in this world. Just as you have done before, do again: be patient. Give space. Ask questions. Give hugs. That is, really, all I have been trying to do during our three months together. In moments of confusion or uncertainty, your children have had the answers within themselves; they have just needed the time and space to discover what those answers are. They will continue to live out the answers, especially to questions they have not even discovered yet. So, all of this to say: thank you. Thank you for trusting your daughters and sons to listen to their needs. Thank you for trusting me to be a witness of their transition into adulthood and to offer guidance, when it has been solicited and when it has not. I am merely a small piece of the puzzle in their life’s tale, as they are in mine, however there is a symbiosis to this experience that is bigger and more significant than our defined period of time together. I would not be able to exist as I do without your support of your children’s well being. I would not be able to live life as a learner and educator, both existing at once, every day. I am grateful for your generosity, your support, your willingness to raise engaged, aware children. In the first few days of our course I shared these words of Ranier Marie Rilke with your sons and daughters:
I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Their decision to take a Gap Year has only helped launch them into the abyss of living everything. I feel immense privilege at sharing in that experience, and I wish you all the best in helping to facilitate the next phase of this journey. With the most sincere of intentions, thank you, dhanyavad, jullay. With gratitude, Anna G. Stevens [post_title] => To Parents: A Gratitude - Featured Yak [post_excerpt] => Even I, at 27, am still discovering the immense value my Gap Year–which I took ten years ago– played in shifting my identity as a woman in this world. Just as you have done before, do again: be patient. Give space. Ask questions. Give hugs. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => to-parents-a-gratitude-a-featured-yak-by-anna-g-stevens [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-14 15:23:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-14 21:23:32 [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] => 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/ ) [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] => From the Field, For Parents ... )
WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 153244
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-06-06 13:16:22
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-06 19:16:22
    [post_content] => 

Did you know Dragons is accredited by the Gap Year Association?

Where There Be Dragons Gap Year Association Certified What is the Gap Year Association? (From the AGA website:) "Accreditation by the Gap Year Association represents a commitment to the highest standards in safety, quality, and integrity. They have agreed to consistently abide by the Standards of the Gap Year Association, which typically means that a student can count on an experience with the highest caliber of field leadership, the best degree of office support, and the highest standards of safety. [...] The process involves both GYA staff and the powerful Board of Advisors to ensure the best in Gap Year education and the highest consistency in programming." "Founded in 2012, the Gap Year Association is a 501(c)3 nonprofit accreditation and standards-setting organization for gap years that is recognized as such by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. We continue to advance the field of gap years because we have seen their profound benefits on students from all backgrounds, and believe an intentional gap year can be part of the welfare for us, our nation, our neighbors, and our fellow global citizens. The Association collaboratively pioneers research on its outcomes, as well as serves as an information and advocacy hub for university admissions personnel and educational counselors..." Read more. 

Learn more about Dragons approach to Risk ManagementCourse Design, Responsible Travel or What We Believe!

[post_title] => Where There Be Dragons: Certified by the Gap Year Association (GYA) [post_excerpt] => Did you know Where There Be Dragons is accredited by the Gap Year Association?  What is the Gap Year Association? (From the AGA website:) "Accreditation by the Gap Year Association represents a commitment to the highest standards in safety, quality, and integrity." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => where-there-be-dragons-certified-by-the-gap-year-association-gya [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-06 13:17:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-06 19:17:34 [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] => 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] => 22 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 22 [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/ ) ) [category_links] => For Parents, About Dragons )
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    [ID] => 153202
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-05-31 11:05:06
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-31 17:05:06
    [post_content] => 

Have you heard that we now offer Dragons experiences for adult travelers?

If there's someone in your life, who upon hearing about Dragons, has said, "I wish there were programs like that for adults..." please share this digital catalog with them! (Or request a catalog sent by mail.) The catalog below includes details on the adult travel programs we'll be offering in PeruNorth India, Senegal, Guatemala, Cambodia and Nepal in 2018-2019. (And if our catalog courses don't fit, we can always work with you to design a custom course!) On our adult excursions, you can expect the same caliber of expertly crafted small group travel that has made us the leaders in the field of cross-cultural education for the past two decades.
Ps. Those referred to Dragons by friends or family of past Dragons participants receive a 20% discount off tuition on our upcoming August Peru: Sacred Valley program if they sign up by July 1st, 2018. Just include the name of your reference in your application
Like many Dragons parents, we had always hoped to experience that intangible Dragons elixir of immersive and transformative cultural experience on a trip of our own. So glad we did; our family of Dragons at home now shares this fabulous spirit together. –MARK BAUHAUS, PARTICIPANT & ALUMNI PARENT
[post_title] => Dragons Adult Programs Catalog [post_excerpt] => If there's someone in your life, who upon hearing about Dragons, has said, "I wish there were programs like that for adults..." please share this digital catalog detailing the adult travel programs we'll be offering in Peru, North India, Senegal, Guatemala, Cambodia and Nepal in 2018-2019...  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => adult_travel_programs_asia_africa_latinamerica [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-02 11:07:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-02 17:07:09 [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] => 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] => 22 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 22 [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] => 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] => 31 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 31 [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] => For Parents, About Dragons ... )
WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 152589
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-03-07 09:58:46
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-07 16:58:46
    [post_content] => 

The reality of providing the highest-quality and best-staffed cultural immersion experiences in the industry is that the associated costs are high. Although Dragons program tuitions are still competitive with the general market, we recognize that summer and gap year programming can feel out of the realm of financial possibility for some students. To make Dragons more accessible to students/families of all economic means, we offer need-based financial aid. In fact, more than 20% of the students on Dragons programs do so with the assistance of financial aid (Average aid packages generally cover between 20% and 80% of the cost of a program). If you feel certain that Dragons is right for you, then we encourage you, regardless of your financial considerations, to go through our aid application process. Don’t worry: It can seem intimidating at first, but if you have the passion and motivation, we’re here to answer your questions and help you through the process. If you need some extra encouragement, we’ve even included a few quotes of guidance from some of our past financial aid recipient students at the end of this post.

THE PROCESS FOR APPLYING FOR FINANCIAL AID

STEP 1: Fill out the standard online application. The $850 application fee is waived for students applying for financial aid.

STEP 2: Submit a cover letter and supplemental financial documents. Email them to info@wheretherebedragons.com. Your cover letter should include:

  1. Your reasons for wanting to participate in a program, and why we should consider you for aid
  2. Why you think you would be a great Dragons student
  3. Your top THREE preferences for program/country/area.
  4. A summary of how much tuition you and your family can contribute toward a program and any other relevant information about your family’s finances you think we should know.
  5. Financial Documents: Please submit either a copy of your parent’s most recent tax returns OR a copy of your FAFSA.

STEP 3: As soon as we have all of the three pieces of your financial aid application (online application, cover letter, and financial documents), we will get in touch with you. You can expect to hear back from us within a couple weeks. If you are selected by the Financial Aid Committee to move onto the next steps of the application process, we will set up a phone interview.

STEP 4: You can also find this information on the Financial Aid Section of our website.

OUR ADVICE

  • APPLY EARLY: We accept students and award aid on a rolling basis. You can apply anytime, but the sooner you apply, the greater the chances funds still remain to be allocated.
  • PATIENCE: It can take time for the Financial Aid Committee to make a decision as the enrollment and fund allocation process involves many moving variables. Feel free to check in on the status of your application by getting directly in touch, but also be aware that the process might take some patience before a final decision is reached.
  • FLEXIBILITY: The more flexible you are in terms of the location and type of program you seek, the more likely we will be able to find a space for you. It’s for this reason we ask you to list your top three preferences for program/location. You can also be open to going on any program!
  • JUST APPLY! When in doubt, just apply! Some students don’t apply for financial aid because they assume they won’t qualify or be selected. But we encourage you to take the chance and time to apply, regardless of your personal questions and concerns. If you feel strongly that Dragons is right for you, we want to hear from you.
  • TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: As much as we would like, we cannot award aid to all students. We select students who are the best fit for our programs, students who will bring the most into a course and get the most out of it, and those who take the time and energy to demonstrate that in their application.

ADVICE FROM PAST FINANCIAL AID RECIPIENTS

There are a number of student alumni who are willing to be touch with prospective students considering applying for aid. If you would like to be connected with any of these past students, just let us know. They are great resources for navigating the application process as well as for tips on how to raise additional funds to cover the remaining costs associated with a program.

“I do not have a lot of money and had doubt if I would get any financial aid at all, but I took the time to tell Dragons about myself, my past experiences, and why I wanted this. I ended up being able to go the Thailand for a month for a tuition that was affordable. It was absolutely worth the 30-mins for the 30-days of incredible experience. Just take the time to apply.” THAILAND PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

“What really convinced me was talking with a Dragons Instructor and an alum student. Hearing their perspectives helped me realize that Dragons was the right program for me. I was nervous about the Financial Aid application, but Dragons was very helpful and supportive through the entire process. Being a scholarship/financial aid student was stressful because there was no specific location at first to dream incessantly about, until I was told. In the end, this allowed me to think critically about skills and experiences I wanted to gain as opposed to specific places I wanted to see.”  SENEGAL PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

"I was a little skeptical about applying because I didn't see how typing up a simple cover letter would help me get a scholarship. But Dragons keeps things simple, and authentic to merit, so there was no need to submit all those additional documents." - BOLIVIA PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

“I never thought studying abroad would be possible for me given my family’s financial situation. My mom immediately shot down the idea, but nevertheless I contacted Dragons asking about the financial aid process. They were incredibly helpful. With diligence and hard work, a few months later I got an email saying they would make it possible for me to study in Nepal for the summer. I cannot begin to express what a transformative experience it was for me. The financial help is out there if you have you have a true passion for travel and learning about the world around you!  NEPAL PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

“I had an idea to write up a brief letter about this trip opportunity and send it to local businesses or organizations and family asking for a donation in a specific amount or for a specific item in return for a presentation (or something less formal for family) on my experiences.” NORTH INDIA PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

"I never thought studying abroad would be possible for me given my family's financial situation. My mom immediately shot down the idea, but nevertheless I contacted Dragons asking about the financial aid process. They were incredibly helpful.  With diligence and hard work, a few months later I got an email saying they would make it possible for me to study in Nepal for the summer. I cannot begin to express what a transformative experience it was for me. The financial help is out there if you have you have a true passion for travel and learning about the world around you! Some tips: 1) Stay organized! Make a spreadsheet with all of the application details. This will help you stay on top of deadlines and give you the peace of mind of having it all in one place. 2) Buy used backpacks and hiking gear. Often, it was only used minimally and then never needed again. It is a great way to save money!" - NEPAL PROGRAM PARTICIPANT
 
"It is important to have adult support. Initially, I did not think I could do this. But I was encouraged to get a catalog and just look. The catalog is so beautiful- the photographs and descriptions are inspiring and I lived with it for awhile, imagining what I would do and where I could go if finances weren't limiting. So first piece of advice: Get the catalog and live with it! My mom encouraged me to just apply. It is an easy and fun application and they ask great questions. I would encourage anyone who has the traveller spirit to just try and see what happens. If you have a few adults on your side -- a parent, teacher, mentor -- they can assist you in helping to raise additional funds. Doing this program enabled me to see how I might be able to travel by myself as well - I am looking forward to my next adventure." - EAST HIMALAYAS PROGRAM PARTICIPANT
"If you're passionate enough about going, you WILL get there. Getting your parents on board can be tough. Mine were hesitant to let me travel thousands of miles for thousands of dollars, but get your parents to email people at Dragons, have them read past participants reflections, or even have them give the office a call. That definitely helped. My parents were a lot less nervous after talking with the people whose jobs are to keep me safe." - MADAGASCAR PROGRAM PARTICIPANT
"Dragons staff was so helpful in making the experience possible. Whenever my parents and I had questions about the application process, we would email them and they would get right back to us with a helpful answer." - GUATEMALA PROGRAM PARTICIPANT 
 
"When I was first looking at Dragons programs, I couldn’t imagine anything I would rather do, but it seemed impossible. I had absolutely no means to pay for such a program, and was intimidated about applying for a scholarship. I didn’t want to apply and get my hopes up just for them to be crushed if I were to be rejected in the application process. I almost gave up on applying entirely. But then, on the day of the deadline at the very last minute, I submitted my scholarship application - just in case. I was still so nervous and felt this weird guilt around having to apply for a scholarship, but I figured I had to at least try, and that is my advice to anyone interested in a Dragons program who needs financial assistance. It seemed like a miracle when I got an acceptance letter with a scholarship offer. And since that trip, my life has taken a completely different path. That first trip to China led me to another Dragons trip to China, which I was able to receive ANOTHER scholarship for, and that trip led me to my decision to major in Chinese in college. Dragons has influenced my life drastically in so many ways, and it was all because I took a chance on applying for a scholarship." - MULTIPLE  PROGRAM ALUMNI STUDENT

Here’s a PDF version of Dragons Financial Aid Process & Advice that’s printer-friendly if needed.
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    [ID] => 152568
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    [post_date] => 2018-03-01 06:35:46
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-01 13:35:46
    [post_content] => 
Why don’t we live out our own hero’s journey? Why is the unknown looked upon as a place of defeat and something to be avoided? [...] We live in a culture that has tried to clinicalize, euthanize and sterilize the innate rawness out of life. Ironically, shadow is an essential element that inspires human connection...
If I had fully entertained the thoroughness of the unknown, I never would have boarded that first plane to India. On the other hand, I couldn’t stay home and leave the world up to my imagination. I was encouraged to ponder the dangers, all the reasons why a 21-year-old female should not embark on such a foolish journey. I was cautioned, “It is not safe.” And then warned, “There is so much that can happen out there that is beyond your control! The rawness of it all will kill you.” And yet, I had to get on that plane. When I looked in the mirror to question whether there was an inkling of insanity informing my decision to leave, I knew there was no going back. There was a look in my eyes that told me I had made some sort of bargain with myself and was taking a blind leap into my own shadow territory. Webster’s defines shadow as “a dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and surface.” Culturally, we are taught that light is good. It is our friend. It is predictable. In light-filled spaces we can see clearly. We know where we stand and whom we are standing next to. We are confident in saying, “I know.” But in shadow territories our “I know” quickly morphs into an “I don’t know,” or an “I can’t see, I don’t understand.” This inability to see, to place, to cognitively compartmentalize makes us frustrated and apprehensive. We are less capable of making immediate assumptions. We become vulnerable and exposed to discomfort. We are made to think that this is bad.
The point of this embarkation is to become disoriented, to make a descent into the dark underworld, to grow uncomfortable and humbled, and to then formulate a personal understanding of one’s own resiliency.
With a little bit of probing, we find examples the world over of the hero’s journey. In this voyage, whether it be explored through myth, art, storytelling, or performed ritual, the hero is encouraged, forced or willingly embarks on a crossing into an unknown landscape. The point of this embarkation is to become disoriented, to make a descent into the dark underworld, to grow uncomfortable and humbled, and to then formulate a personal understanding of one’s own resiliency. So why do the majority of the people we know feel exempt from this process? Why does it feel unattainable? Why don’t we live out our own hero’s journey? Why is the unknown looked upon as a place of defeat and something to be avoided? Unfortunately for us, we live in a culture that has tried to clinicalize, euthanize and sterilize the innate rawness out of life. We have bought into the argument that things are supposed to feel good, not scary. Life ought to feel controlled, predictable and agreeable. We have perpetuated this assumption to the point where living things are not even supposed to die. Instead of honest exchanges that reveal the complexity of our humanness and give voice to the internal impulses that beg for a proper descent, we are reminded to stay safe, to only seek, or dig, or journey so far. Ironically, shadow is an essential element that inspires human connection. It is the reason we can walk into a rural fishing village in Indonesia or Senegal and look strangers in the eye and feel a sense of compassion. “I too am searching,” we say. “I too have suffered and asked big questions and sometimes come up short.” Through a willingness to sit in the unknown, in the dark, we demonstrate a level of both vulnerability and courage that promotes compassion and acceptance for those around us. Daniel Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist from UCLA, uses nature as a way to teach us about our own personal resiliency. He argues that organisms that are skilled at integrating a complexity of experiences and outside influences into their core function have the most robust and vital systems. Through exposure to a combination of both challenging and supportive stimulants and experiences, one sees an advancement of flexibility, adaptability, coherence, energy and stability in an organism. It’s interesting to apply this to the hero’s journey. For one could contend that personal vitality and resiliency are actually dependent upon and fed off of a conversation with the “shadow.” A turning towards indigestible or uncomfortable encounters might actually make each of us more of a hero, both physiologically and emotionally.
Travel is not the only way to take this journey, but it is, inarguably, a potent path.
Travel is not the only way to take this journey, but it is, inarguably, a potent path. In getting on that plane to India in my 21st year, I had to agree to sit in a place of foreignness and lose all of my internal points of reference. By eating unidentifiable food, working in the midst of stomach-churning and heartrending poverty, traveling on long 72-hour train rides, I slowly began peeling back the layers of what I knew to be “me” and losing myself to a new and eventually more fortified identity of “I.” I felt small and out of control and rocked by answerless questions, and I realized that I needed to become a new incarnation in order to understand myself and life and integrate many irreconcilable moments into the core and unfolding story before me. The hero’s challenge is to be humbled and disassembled and bewildered enough that we can relinquish the attachments or self-imposed limitations that hold us back from our evolved and resilient selves. Through the journey, the hero learns to find trust in, and the necessity of, conversation with the shadow sides of life. The hero knows that fear and discomfort are part of the digging, of the seeking and our eventual materialization into a more balanced and world-wise version of self. Our own resiliency and the integrity of our current culture depend upon people saying yes to this journey. Without it, in the end, we remain only euthanized versions of our most compelling selves.

ELIZABETH JOHNSON is a longtime Dragons instructor (Andes & Amazon` ‘07, Visions of India ‘12 & ’13). She is currently based in Bend, OR, where she coordinates Dragons Princeton Bridge Year partnership programs.

This article was featured in the Spring 2015 edition of Dragons bi-annual Newsletter, The Map's Edge. Each newsletter explores a subject of interest to the Dragons community through the voices of our Alumni, Instructors, Partners, Parents 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. [post_title] => On Engaging the Unknown through Travel -- A Map's Edge Featured Story [post_excerpt] => Why don’t we live out our own hero’s journey? Why is the unknown looked upon as a place of defeat and something to be avoided?[...] We live in a culture that has tried to clinicalize, euthanize and sterilize the innate rawness out of life. Ironically, shadow is an essential element that inspires human connection... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => engaging-unknown-travel-maps-edge-featured-story [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-03-14 08:48:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-14 14:48:42 [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] => 18 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 18 [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] => 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/ ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, Map's Edge Newsletter )
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    [post_date] => 2018-01-04 10:26:40
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    [post_content] => (The following is part of Dragons Travel Guide Series: Essays and Tips from our Community on Why and How to Travel)

The search for a perfect summer or semester program provider can be overwhelming. Every good project starts with great questions.

Here are some for you to consider or ask of different providers as you do your research...

  • How many years have you been running international programming for students?

  • What is the maximum number of students in each of your groups?

  • What is your ratio of instructors to students?

  • What are the typical professional qualifications of your staff?

  • Do your instructors speak the local language?

  • What tools do you use to facilitate reflection and dialogue on course?  

  • What’s the average age of your instructors?

  • How many of your staff return year after year?

  • How do your proactively manage risk on course?

  • How do you manage an emergency?​

  • What type of emergency response team is on-call at your offices?

  • Are itineraries fixed before the program?  Are they the same from season to season?

  • How do you foster a safe student dynamic?

  • How do you define ethical travel?

  • How do you approach the theme of “service” and manage the dangers of “voluntourism”?

  • How do you manage the sustainability of your programming on local communities?

  • How do you help students apply what they've learned abroad at home?

  • What does your financial aid program look like?

  • Can you put me in touch with an alumni student?  

 

Ps. And here are Dragons answers to these questions!

  • How many years have you been running international programming for students? Over 25-years. 
  • What is the maximum number of students in each of your groups? 12 students. 
  • What is your ratio of instructors to students? 1:4 or one instructor for every four students. 
  • What are the typical professional qualifications of your staff? Do your instructors speak the local language? They are experienced, career, professionals! Typically, when a Dragons instructor team heads into the field they collectively represent multiple languages, ten or more years of in-country experience, and years managing student groups abroad. 
  • What’s the average age of your instructors? 30+
  • How many of your staff return year after year? We have a large number of return and veteran staff, with an annual return staff rate that typically hovers between 60%-90%.
  • How do your proactively manage risk on course? See our Risk Management page.
  • How do you manage an emergency?​ See our FAQ page. 
  • What type of emergency response team is on-call at your offices? With Administrators based domestically and internationally, our support team—with acute attention to the safety and security of our participants—is on-call 24/7 while students are in the field.
  • Are itineraries fixed before the program?  Are they the same from season to season? Every program is custom-crafted and unique! Dragons itineraries are flexible to create space for unscripted, serendipitous, and candid moments of surprise and discovery. Learn more about what makes us different. 
  • What tools do you use to facilitate reflection and dialogue on course? How do you foster a safe student dynamic? This is a great question to ask of one of our traveling instructors. You can request a home presentation and meet one! 
  • How do you define ethical travel? See our About Dragons page. 
  • How do you approach the theme of “service” and manage the dangers of “voluntourism”? See our Position Paper on Service Learning
  • How do you manage the sustainability of your programming on local communities? See our Position Paper on Responsible Travel
  • How do you help students apply what they've learned abroad at home? See the Transference section of our Blog for examples!
  • What does your financial aid program look like? Here's all the details on our financial aid program.
  • Can you put me in touch with an alumni student? Absolutely! Just send us a note requesting references to past students!
  [post_title] => Questions to Ask when Researching Your Gap Year and Summer Abroad Programs... [post_excerpt] => The search for a perfect summer or semester program provider can be overwhelming. Every good project starts with great questions. Here are some for you to consider or ask of different providers as you do your research...(Part of Dragons Travel Guide Series: Essays and Tips from our Community on Why and How to Travel) [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => questions-ask-researching-gap-year-summer-abroad-programs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-03-07 08:21:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-07 15:21:37 [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] => 18 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 18 [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] => 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/ ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, For Parents )