Posts Tagged:

From the Field

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    [post_date] => 2020-05-10 12:32:31
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    [post_content] => Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers and mother figures out there. Today, we pay a special tribute to our homestay mothers for the warmth and inspiration that they bring to our community. We are thinking of and sending extra love to our homestay families during this time as many communities are being hit hard by COVID-19 especially those who look forward to hosting students through programs such as ours. The Dragons Community Relief Fund is doing amazing work to provide resources to our global community. Learn more about how they are showing up for Dragons global community. 

In the spirit of celebration, here are three student Yaks paying tribute to their homestay mothers:

Bhutan Summer 2019 Homestay

My Homestay by Jack Greene, Bhutan.

"I started out my homestay by being greeted by an old lady who spoke no English. I would later know her as angay, which is the Dzongkhan word for grandma. Now that the week is complete, I can confidently say that in my opinion, I had by far the best homestay. The first reason for this was that I didn’t have any younger siblings. I was initially disappointed about this but am now eternally grateful. This is simply because kids can be annoying, and having them follow you around for an entire week can be frustrating. So I avoided this downside of having little siblings who lived with me while still getting to have nieces and nephews who lived on the same property as me and would hang out with me from time to time. My favorite story about my nephew is a weird one. Some context is that throughout the week, my nephew and several other kids in the village would like to hold my hand and rub it on their face because of how soft it was (which they weren’t used to because it was a farming village and their hands were calloused). So one day, my nephew told the other kids that I didn’t want them to walk me to my house, which was his attempt to not have competition to hold my hand. There are more stories like this involving kids who would push others away from me and run at each other from behind so that they could have one of my hands all to themselves. Homestay food Bhutan summer abroad Another reason my homestay was the best was that I had angay, with whom I formed a close bond despite the fact that the only English she knew was “sit down” (which she used so that I wouldn’t help her to make meals). This was best exemplified one day when I was at my house with some friends drinking tea. Angay came into the room with a little girl from the village who spoke pretty good English and translated that I needed to eat lunch out that day because angay was going to the cows. I then had her tell angay that she was the best homestay grandma and a few other things that I can’t quite remember. Angay’s eyes started to water and she gave me a hug while having the translator tell me that I was the best grandson too. This is just one reason for how great angay was. Some more reasons are how she made the best milk tea I’ve had the whole trip and she would fill my water bottle with it every morning before I left so that I would have some for the day, she wasn’t strict and let me go to my friend’s houses whenever I wanted to, she made awesome food and even taught me how to fold momos so that they looked like proper momos, she would always let me play with her cat (ghi lli in Dzongkhan), she helped make hot water for me so that I could shower every couple of days, she would let me sleep and wouldn’t wake me up extremely early like other families did, and she always had snacks and candy that she would give to me whenever I came home. And these are just the most memorable of reasons for why I had the best homestay, there are countless others that I could write about for pages and pages. Also, on the final day when we threw a party for the homestay families, most adults couldn’t come because they were at the monastery, but angay left for the monastery early so that she could make it back for the party (which ended up being a dance battle between the girls and the boys who lived in the village). At this party, I gave angay a note that I had asked someone to write down for me in Dzongkhan that said the following: Homestay letter Bhutan Summer Abroad
Dear angay, Thank you so much for letting me stay with you. You have been the best homestay. Everyone always wants to come over because I tell them how great you are and how you make the best milk tea. Then they say they want you as their homestay. Also, your food is awesome and I especially loved your momos and bato (a stew that contains beef and fried dough – photo attached). You are so sweet and made this week great. Best, Jack (Jigme) Greene
On the morning when I left, angay and I said our goodbyes and took two photos (attached). She then made her way down the road to her house and I waved tama che gae (goodbye) as she vanished around the curve in the road."

Mothers of China by Carolina, Faith, and Isa. China South of the Clouds.

"(Carolina) My first homestay mother was called Zhouma.  When she first welcomed us into her home she seemed beautiful in a quiet, unobtrusive type of way.  It wasn’t until the next morning, when she dragged us out of bed to milk the yaks that I realized how wrong I had been about her.  I watched this delicate looking lady overpower yak calves twice her weight, throw stones at intruding dogs, and punch a fully grown yak in the butt when it was annoying her.  By the end of the homestay she had forced everybody in my group to cultivate a healthy respect (and fear) of her.  She was crazy strong but you would never have known that at first glance.  She taught me to pitfalls of making assumptions and underestimating people, because this delicate lady was one of the most powerful people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.

(Faith) In the first homestay, we were greeted by the friendliest woman with a sweet crooked smile. She lived alone since her father passed away last year, and still managed to do everything flawlessly for herself and her seventeen year old daughter. Every morning, she milked and herded the yaks, made cheese, dried yak poop for manure, and made us a delicious breakfast. She figured out that I couldn’t eat the food with gluten and proceeded to give me heaping bowls of green zucchini, yak meat and rice. She would smile us as we ate and bring us our favorite yak yogurt after every single meal no matter how full we said we were. More than anything, we had the most fun laughing with our host mom. She would constantly speak to us in Tibetan and we would speak English, but you would never know that there was a language barrier from the amount of fun that we had. At night, as we attempted to speak Tibetan and our host mom was laughing hysterically, I reflected on the simplicity of her hospitality and sweetness. It was such a highlight to spend days with just our homestay mom by the warmth of the stove on the kang in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains.

(Isa) I was nervous and excited to meet my host mother from the first homestay. I admit that at the beginning I felt like an invader who arrived from the unknown and took place in their lovely home. After the homestay was up I realized I was wrong, these 3 foreign people that were totally strangers at the beginning, were now a sweet family to me. I spent most of the time with the mother, and with the passing of days I was impressed by how much energy she had.  She had to wake up everyday, probably to a temperature of 3C, with a smile on her face to make breakfast for you from the yaks that she just milked an hour ago.

(All 3 of us) Seeing that smile in the morning, made me feel like a needed to get more of those precious smiles, so I helped with the needs of the house. I spent a lot of time with the mother doing work I would never think someone could actually do alone. I was so impressed to see how the mother had built her home from the hard work she does everyday, and this just shows me how powerful and strong women can be, all these things made more conscious about setting goals and purposes for my life.

I can say that the mother from my homestay taught me that if your want to get something you have to wake up early.  For breakfast you have to milk the yaks, you need to do it by yourself and you need to make it happen. This sounds silly, but if you think about this image you can relate these lessons with your real life and you can start setting goals you can achieve and start to fight for them everyday.

In the most recent homestay, the three of us were placed together (let the shenanigans begin). Our sweet host mom welcomed us into her home which appeared to circulate the whole community. The mother and grandmother provided not only for their own three boys, but also seemingly hosted the whole neighborhood at some point for a meal or night of sleep. From the first late night that we arrived, we were welcomed with steaming rice bowls filled with potatoes, green zucchini and meat. At mealtime, our family watched us intently to make sure that we got enough food. Yesterday, we went on a long hike up the mountain across from our village. Our host mom and grandma packed us an entire industrial bucket full of rice and veggies, acted out that we needed walking sticks, and zipped our chopsticks into our bag. Our host mom also delicately braided each of our hair as she does her own. Not only were the women of our host family extremely caring and hospitable, but also astonishingly strong. In the mornings, we would spend hours picking beans, processing wheat, hauling bins of crops and plowing the soil. Our homestay mom and grandma would have the four of us hoist an entire machine on one of their backs and then carry the wheat processor down a tiny single wood ladder. It was absolutely insane to see how hard these ladies worked and how much they were always serving their family, the community and us as guests. It got us thinking a lot about our own moms!

(Faith) Mom, thank you so much for how much you sacrifice for our family. I admire your strength, resilience, hospitality and care. You are my role model and I miss seeing you in action every day! You have impacted me more than you know and have shown me what a confident, empowered and determined woman looks like.

(Isa) Ma no sabes la falta que me haces ahora mas que nunca. Después de haber tenido la oportunidad de estar en este hogar y ver a esta mama darlo todo por sus hijos, me hizo reflexionar acerca de todo el sacrificio y el amor con el que haces las cosas. Me siento muy feliz de tener como mama y espero poder seguir aprendiendo de ti todos los días, y te pueda seguir viendo como una luchadora que ha conseguido cumplir todas las metas que se propone. Te amo

(Carolina) Hi Mom!  I can’t thank you enough for shaping me into the person I am today.  You’re smart, charming, compassionate, kind, and the strongest woman I know.  I hope to one day live up to the example you set for me.  Since you don’t have a mom around to tell you this, I guess I have to: I am so proud of who you are and I love you so much!"

Two Mothers a World Apart by Macy Ryan, Nepal.

Nepal Homestay Summer Abroad "I miss my mom. I miss how she would give me sweaty hugs after she returned from a hike. Or how she has this one red, fleece sweater that is probably older than me but she still wears it all the time. She is confused by my childish love for sloppy joes but will still make them for me. I miss seeing her hard at work everyday, something that has always inspired me. One thing I’ve miss the most is the little moments we share together, like sharing a Chocolove bar with her while we sit on the couch after dinner. Here, I have a replacement mom. My Chokati mother is equally as amazing and hardworking as my biological mother. Over the past week I’ve noticed some comforting resemblances between the two. Last night, I gave my homestay mother the gifts I brought from home for her: Chocolove bars. She opened the Toffee & Almonds one (my mothers favorite) and insisted we share it. Sitting by the open fire in the kitchen of our small mud and stone house, we shared the chocolate bar. I savored every last crumb.
My homestay mother and I can barely communicate with each other, but this was a bonding moment. The gift of chocolate bringing a mother and daughter closer together. My homestay mother, from the moment I arrived in Chokati, took me in as her own. She has taught me how to work in the fields, cook daal bhaat, and do all the household chores. Just as my own mother would, she hands me a bucket of dishes to do after every meal. Or, when I’m feeling sick, she’ll make me some tea and let me lay in bed.
I wasn’t sure what to expect about the rural homestay; I was a bit nervous about the whole thing. One of the last things I expected was to get so close to my family within the ten short days. But now I’ve seen the sense of community in the whole of Chokati. It doesn’t matter if you’re blood-related to someone, you’re always a brother or sister or mother or father. We’ve been welcomed here with open arms and taken in as one of the family. And although I miss my family tremendously, I’ve been shown that no matter where I am, I can find comfort in a community of people acting as a supportive family."  
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[post_title] => A Tribute to Homestay Mothers [post_excerpt] => Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers and mother figures out there. Today, we pay a special tribute to our homestay mothers for the warmth and inspiration that they bring to our community. We are thinking of and sending extra love to our homestay families during this time as many communities are being hit hard by COVID-19 especially those who look forward to hosting students through programs such as ours. The Dragons Community Grant Fund is doing amazing work to provide resources to our global community. Learn more about how they are showing up for Dragons global community. In the spirit of celebration, here are three student Yaks paying tribute to their homestay mothers: [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => a-tribute-to-homestay-mothers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-10 12:41:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-10 18:41:42 [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] => 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] => 71 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 71 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 653 [name] => Global Community [slug] => global_community [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 653 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [parent] => 0 [count] => 41 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 41 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/global_community/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 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] => 47 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 47 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Global Community ... )
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    [post_date] => 2020-04-30 11:17:02
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    [post_content] => 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which leads me to my next realization:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. What we need is a cultural solution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Kindness and generosity are faces of collective success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Culture, Consumerism, and Climate Change: 10 Things I Learnt from Living Out of My Backpack for 85 Days

Posted On

04/30/20

Author

Eugenia Chow, Nepal Semester Alum

Description
Dragons Alum, Eugenia Chow, wrote this reflection on her 3-month Gap semester in Nepal for her Veganism and Sustainability blog. My most memorable moments in Nepal were not marked by the… Read More
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    [post_date] => 2020-04-16 12:02:01
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-04-16 18:02:01
    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_156662" align="aligncenter" width="522"]Dragons Fund Community Relief Fund Photo from Aajeevika Bureau[/caption]

In March 2020, the Dragons Fund, a non-profit ( in partnership with The Common Foundation), launched a Community Relief Fund to support vulnerable people and communities heavily impacted by decreased travel in the time of COVID-19.

As the world battles the spread of COVID-19, people around the world are facing immense hardship. Many Dragons partner communities rely on economic support from travel and tourism to survive, and with travel at a standstill, the impact on livelihoods will be severe.

[caption id="attachment_156663" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Dragons Fund Community Relief Fund Photo from Aajeevika Bureau[/caption]

Thus far, the initiative has been able to raise almost $10,000 and accomplish the following:

  • India: A $1,000 grant to Aajeevika Bureau, an Indian nonprofit working on the front lines of the migrant crisis
  • Indonesia: A $500 grant in Yogyakarta to provide essential food items to families that have lost income, as well as medical safety equipment for people removing dead bodies from homes
  • Senegal: A $700 grant to provide basic food supplies to vulnerable households in seven communities (Dene, Ndioukhane, Yoff, Mouit, Temanto Samba, Dindefelo, and Niodior)
  • Additional project proposals underway in Bolivia and Nepal.
  Dragons Fund Community Relief FundDragons Fund Community Relief FundDragons Fund Community Relief FundDragons Fund Community Relief Fund                
As global travelers, the Dragons community is acutely aware that the vulnerable always suffer first and most. We feel a responsibility to take action. This fund will provide financial support to partners and communities who have made Where There Be Dragons programs so incredible over the years.

— The Dragons Fund

 

Learn more about the Community Relief Fund.

   
PS. WANT DRAGONS BLOG UPDATES SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX? ONE EMAIL A WEEK. NOTHING MARKETY. UNSUBSCRIBE ANY TIME. SUBSCRIBE TO DRAGONS BLOG AND STAY CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY. ❤️
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    [post_content] => Here are 3 Dragons activities that you can easily do at home focused on goal setting, gratitude, & connection.

We are sharing some of our resources to keep positive! Dragons programs focus on creating meaningful connections to self, place, and the planet. Though our mission generally happens abroad, the work we do can definitely translate to life at home.

We’re all about silver linings, taking things in stride, and trying to learn from whatever life throws at us. Hopefully, these activities offer some inspiration, perspective & laughs during these challenging times. 

3 Dragons Activities for YOU! 

Gratitude Personal Reflection

Grab a notebook and pen. Take 5-10 minutes to free-write a list of all the things you are grateful for. Do your best to fill at least one page. Once you have completed your list, take some time to consider:
  • The why behind each of your bullets 
  • Are there any people in your life that stand out on your list? Have you shared your gratitude with them? 
  • Has COVID-19 changed how you feel about anything on your list? Given you any new perspectives? Made your gratitudes specific to this time in history? 
  Take action:
  • What are 3-5 things that you can do to share & express your gratitude? 
 

10 Minutes of Fame - Connecting more Deeply with Friends & Family 

Set up a zoom meeting with friends, or do this activity with your family over dinner. One at a time, select someone in your group to be in the ‘hot spot.’ The person in the hot spot then answers questions from the crowd about their life, beliefs and thoughts on just about anything.  Sample questions:
  • What’s your favorite food? Why?
  • What is your best childhood memory and how did it shape your life today?
  • If you had unlimited resources to spend 24-hours however you wanted, what would you do?
  • Name 3 important people in your life & share more about your connection with them.
  • In an alternate universe, what would your life be like?
  • What’s the weirdest thing you've ever done? Smelled? Eaten? 
  • What is something that you are proud of?
  • What is something that most people don’t know about you?
  • What do you need right now & how can we support you?
  • If you could be an animal, what animal would you be and why?
 

Magic Statement - Goal Setting 

Choose a period of time in the future (e.g., January 2021, the end of the summer, through the end of shelter in place, etc.) and think about the things you want to accomplish by that date. Visualize yourself standing in that future moment of time looking back at the weeks, months, or years behind you. From that perspective of your future self, journal about your “past” goals and accomplishments and how you reached them. For example, your journal prompt may be something like, The summer of 2020 was the best summer of my life because...  or My junior year was the best year of high school because…  Write down the things you have accomplished in the past tense as though you’ve already achieved them. Make sure to include the steps that you needed to take in order to reach your aspirations. It has been shown that looking backward at your imagined successes can help turn them into reality.   
PS. WANT DRAGONS BLOG UPDATES SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX? ONE EMAIL A WEEK. NOTHING MARKETY. UNSUBSCRIBE ANY TIME. SUBSCRIBE TO DRAGONS BLOG AND STAY CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY. ❤️
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