Sampella. Photo by Amelie Konig (2016 Fall Photo Contest Finalist), Indonesia Semester.

Posts Tagged:

SE Asia

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Did you catch this episode of Dragons podcast featuring Dragons Instructor Claire Bennett on the subject of  Learning Service?

Bub Vernon (Dragons Indonesia Semester Alumni) and Claire Bennett discuss:
  • What is Learning Service?
  • How can we most sensibly do good abroad?
  • What’s wrong with "voluntourism?"
  • How do personal motivations affect volunteering?
 

LISTEN NOW on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

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Alumni, Emma Freund, authored this piece for Colby College's HerCampus blog. Read on for this reflection on Emma's time in Myanmar.

Take a chance on life, on you, and on the world being bigger and better once you get to know it.
As college students, we’d like to think we understand what life is and what our role is in it. In the words of Steve Jobs, “When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life.” Jobs goes on to describe how “life can be much broader” when you realize that you have the power to change the world. Life can be much broader when you realize how much the world has the power to change you. Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons This past summer, I went on an educational, immersive, rugged travel experience throughout Myanmar with a company called Where There Be Dragons. Dragons, according to its “Mission & Values” page on its website, is an “environmentally conscientious, culturally self-aware,” travel company that is “focused on developing mutually meaningful connections with local communities” with a goal to “to build empathy and foster a feeling of shared responsibility for our collective future” as citizens of the world.
Some would assume that I came back to 'reality' with a taste of a different world. On the contrary, I came back to a different space within a broader reality that I hadn’t known existed.
My experience with Dragons is one that changed my life in a way I don’t believe can ever be undone. Some would assume that I came back to “reality” with a taste of a different world. On the contrary, I came back to a different space within a broader reality that I hadn’t known existed. I gained the feeling that I know little to nothing about life, that I have so much more of life to explore. I looked fondly at my bug bites, chacos foot tan, notebook flowing with journal entries that perfume of sandalwood, and Myanmar milk tea that I drink when I yearn for that mystical other land. For when the world around me here at Colby makes me feel anxious or bored, these things are evidence to me that all of it was even real. I did fly halfway across the world to a place called Myanmar and felt my heart alive. I did. I took a chance and left my bubble to explore new edges of what seems like a different world but, in reality, exists inside mine without me ever knowing it before. Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons Fishing Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons
these things are evidence to me that all of it was even real. I did fly halfway across the world to a place called Myanmar and felt my heart alive. I did. I took a chance and left my bubble to explore new edges of what seems like a different world but, in reality, exists inside mine without me ever knowing it before.
So I say to you, take a chance on bamboo shoots and catfish soup, on taking a picture with a random little boy on the street because he wants to see your digital camera. Take a chance on climbing a 777-step mountain while sneaky monkeys grabbed at your purse, and taking a bucket shower in the middle of the village for all to see. Take a chance on planting rice at 4 am in the mud fields, and on cooking freshly slaughtered chicken over an open fire stove. Take a chance on abandoning toilet-paper and living for days off of only the woods. Take a chance on life, on you, and on the world being bigger and better once you get to know it. Homestay Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons Temple Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons I wouldn’t give back what Dragons gave me for anything in the world. So, I implore you, as a fellow college student who once thought she knew all that life had to offer her, take a chance and explore the world while you can because the world is beautiful. Just when we think we’ve seen it all—we haven’t. So take a train to a city you’ve never been to before, start writing to a pen pal in Bali. Watch documentaries about faraway lands. There’s so much to experience, whether you’re there in person or there in heart. Because once you bash your walls down a little bit, you will realize that life is only as small as you make it. So take the leap, see what else is out there. I can’t say it’ll be easy, but you’ll live. Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons Architecture Summer Abroad Myanmar Where There Be Dragons   About Emma:
Emma Freund is a passionate creative writer with special interest in culture, wellness, beauty, and lifestyle. She is an avid movie geek and loves to read romance and sci-fi novels. She pursues philosophy as background for her creative writing and could spend all day reading Plato's Republic if only given enough time. She is a fun gal who loves what she does, and she hopes you enjoy reading her work as much as she enjoys writing it!  
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    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_152946" align="alignnone" width="852"] Photo by Micah LeMasters, Myanmar.[/caption]

If you haven't already seen it, we've recently been featuring Dragons instructors and their amazing imagery and words as they take us around the world in what we’re calling our #worldofdragons Instagram Takeovers. 

An Instagram takeover, in short, is having a person (or group) takeover Dragons Instagram account temporarily in order to more directly share awesome worldly content with our Dragons community. 

Our #worldofdragons Instagram Takeover goals are to:

  1. Highlight our global partners & community through in-the-field perspectives.
  2. Collaborate to share stories with our Alumni students & staff who are hungry to stay engaged with the world and Dragons community.
  3. Share Dragons experiences, culture, and character with new audiences.
  4. Encourage more diversity in perspectives represented by Dragons Instagram account.
Our FIRST #worldofdragons Instagram Takeover was hosted by Micah LeMasters @super_meubles . Micah has been working with Dragons since 2015. He works in Madagascar, Senegal, Indonesia, Nepal and India. He recently spent six weeks traveling in Myanmar and will return this summer with Dragons Myanmar summer abroad program. He grew up in Indiana.  Our SECOND #worldofdragons Instagram Takeover is still currently being hosted by Gregory Pettys (@gregorypettys ), one of Dragons wonderful Thailand AND Nepal instructors. Here’s some more words of introduction from Gregory: [caption id="attachment_152945" align="alignnone" width="566"] Photo by Gregory Pettys, Nepal.[/caption]

“For the next few days it is my great privilege to share with you a window into a part of the world that has become both my home and my office; Nepal and Thailand. I find both of these kingdoms fascinating, inspiring and absolutely filled with magic. I hope to honor these places well by sharing with you images of the people and places here (whom and where alumni students will be familiar with!) that have helped make me who I am today.”

After Gregory, we have Caleb Brooks and Christy Sommers on deck. Follow Dragons on Instagram to watch it all unfold! #instagramtakeover #worldofdragons #wheretherebedragons #dragonstakeover [post_title] => Instagram Takeovers by Dragons Instructors Featuring Photos from Around the World [post_excerpt] => If you haven't already seen it, we've recently been featuring Dragons instructors and their amazing imagery and words as they take us around the world in what we’re calling our #worldofdragons Instagram Takeovers... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => instagram-takeovers-dragons-instructors-featuring-photos-around-world [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-17 11:42:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-17 17:42:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [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] => 26 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 26 [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] => 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] => 47 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 47 [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] => 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] => 12 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 12 [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 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 654 [name] => Mixed Media [slug] => mixed_media [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 654 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [parent] => 0 [count] => 18 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 13 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 18 [category_description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [cat_name] => Mixed Media [category_nicename] => mixed_media [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, Global Community ... )
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Instagram Takeovers by Dragons Instructors Featuring Photos from Around the World

Posted On

04/25/18

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Dragons HQ

Description
If you haven't already seen it, we've recently been featuring Dragons instructors and their amazing imagery and words as they take us around the world in what we’re calling our #worldofdragons Instagram… Read More
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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] => 2022-04-23 16:04:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-04-23 22:04:35 [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] => 26 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 26 [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] => 33 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 33 [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 )
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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.
All Position Papers [post_title] => Why Take a Gap Year? BECAUSE THE RESEARCH SAYS YOU SHOULD [post_excerpt] => Gap Years are different: they occur at a developmental stage in which big decisions are being made. Gap Year students take time to reflect and experience a larger world with real consequences BEFORE making decisions about the rest of their lives. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => why-take-a-gap-year-because-the-research-says-you-should [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-24 10:17:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-24 16:17:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 697 [name] => Dragons Travel Guide [slug] => dragons-travel-guide [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 697 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 26 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 26 [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] => 33 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 33 [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] => 670 [name] => Recommended [slug] => recommended [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 670 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Recommended reading, watching and listening. [parent] => 0 [count] => 13 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 670 [category_count] => 13 [category_description] => Recommended reading, watching and listening. [cat_name] => Recommended [category_nicename] => recommended [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, For Parents ... )
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    [post_date] => 2017-05-06 10:16:59
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-06 16:16:59
    [post_content] => We went out in his boat, a battered blue canoe that was roomier and required less bailing than most other boats in Sampela—a financial testament to his fishing capability—and were armed with a long speargun for him, a short, easy to reload speargun for me, and one extra for good measure. We would cruise across a sea peppered by waves big enough to make the boat rock a little until he, peering over the side of the boat, decided that he liked the fishing prospects of that particular spot of ocean. He’d flash me a terrific smile, say, “Ini bagus” (“This is good”), and launch overboard. I’d follow him, much less gracefully, and hope that I was in the water in time to watch him tie the anchor onto whatever monolithic coral structure we’d have stopped over.

[caption id="attachment_150877" align="alignnone" width="958"]Indonesia Semester Photo by CELIA MITCHELL, INDONESIA SEMESTER[/caption]

Then we’d stretch the cut lengths of rubber on our wooden spearguns back, lock in the spears, and dive down. Totombo always caught the first fish, spinning up to the surface with a joyous smile before dropping his catch in the katingting and diving back down. Sometimes my only role for a morning would be to swim his catch back to the boat, and it took me a few days before I caught my first batfish, his most commonly sought prey. Those mornings were always lovely. It was just the two of us in a small blue boat in the middle of the ocean, swimming and fishing and basking in the Indonesian sun, and it was blissful.

[caption id="attachment_150876" align="alignnone" width="838"]Indonesia Semester Photo by CELIA MITCHELL, INDONESIA SEMESTER[/caption]

 

About halfway through my time in Sampela, we started to go out earlier and travel farther, fishing for upwards of six hours. On one of these days, we were taking a break in what was starting to be a blisteringly hot day when a few boats puttered up to us and cut their engines. I’m not quite sure what was said over the next 45 minutes, given that they were speaking in Bajo, but somehow Totombo and I ended up a part of Mr. Helmet and Mrs. Hat’s crew.

I took to calling them Mr. Helmet and Mrs. Hat as a way of referring to them in conversation with other Dragons, and their monikers descended from their headpieces. Mrs. Hat always wore a huge bamboo hat. It’s shadow rarely let the warm glow of her eyes out, instead showing only her sun-leathered face and betel-stained teeth. Mr. Helmet had a well-worn black construction hat which kept the   sun off his face and, more importantly, kept his cigarettes and lighter dry from the ocean’s spray and Sampela’s monsoon rains—it only occasionally showed his face when we were there during the dry spread along the ropes scared most of the fish in their way towards the net and the net was soon teeming with a swirl of fish. I was told in no uncertain terms by Totombo to stay out of the net but I was permitted to get in the water and watch from a distance.

They had one of the only nets I saw in Sampela, and certainly the largest. It had it’s own canoe, and Totombo and I (mostly Totombo) were recruited to help use it. Mr. Helmet and Mrs. Hat each had a large boat filled with several hundred feet of rope with some floating thing— a plastic bag, a water jug, a stick—tied every couple yards. Leaving the net, the net’s canoe, myself and my canoe anchored, each boat began to go in an opposite direction, slowly paying out the rope as they went. The old man who had ridden in the canoe with the net was spending this time pulling the net out and setting it up in the sea and I, unskilled and unable to help, watched like the five year-olds that sometimes accompanied their mothers and fathers to the ocean.

The rope-boats eventually finished unloading their ropes and began to arc around, back towards us. The miscellaneous debris spread along the ropes scared most of the fish in their way towards the net and the net was soon teeming with a swirl of fish. I was told in no uncertain terms by Totombo to stay out of the net but I was permitted to get in the water and watch from a distance.

The net, I realized once I’d gotten in the water, didn’t have a bottom. It was weighed down at the edges, so fish couldn’t get out, but to lift it out of the water like a trawling net reduced its size tremendously, so the Bajo would simply use it as a pen for fish instead. I spent a few moments ogling at the swirl of fish in the nets, filled with lashes of green from parrotfish and red from snapper, before a set of splashes indicated the arrival of the. The swirl turned into a frenzy, punctured by the familiar swish of a speargun’s projectile whipping through the water. By the time I got out of the water our boat was carpeted with fish.

Once the spear-gunners had sufficiently thinned the school in the net, it was closed from the bottom and Mr. Helmet and a fisherman who had helped set up the net pulled it in hand over hand. It wasn’t until it had been landed that I realized that the catch from the net far exceeded any individual’s spearfishing catch, and that Mr. Helmet and Mrs. Hat allowing their helpers to spearfish the net was as much a method of payment as it was necessary to land the net.

The fishermen, triumphant for the day, spent a few moments enjoying their success and the sun before Mr. Helmet called us over to his boat. He gave us a few armfuls of miscellaneous fish and handed Totombo a massive wrasse, his further thanks for Totombo’s help.

Over the rest of my stay in Sampela, Totombo and I rendezvoused with Mr. Helmet and Mrs. Hat three more times. Each time we fished a different part of the ocean and each time our catch was better than when we fished on our own. On my last day in Sampela, Mr. Helmet was on our porch when I woke up and we rode out to the reef with him as part of a flotilla of boats that carved its way to a white sanded reef that was farther from Sampela than I’d been since I arrived. I’d been taught enough by Totombo—about how to read a gesture towards a fish, about how to tie anchors to the ocean floor, about how to be safe with a speargun—over the past two weeks that I was allowed to participate now. Together on that last day, he and I swam over the sun- dappled seabed as host and guest, master and pupil, father and son. (This article was featured in the Spring 2017 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 [email protected]) Save [post_title] => Lessons in Grace: A Map's Edge Newsletter Feature [post_excerpt] => We went out in his boat, a battered blue canoe that was roomier and required less bailing than most other boats in Sampela—a financial testament to his fishing capability—and were armed with a long speargun for him, a short, easy to reload speargun for me, and one extra for good measure. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sticky-post-example [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-20 21:25:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-21 03:25:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 1 [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] => 36 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 36 [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/ ) ) [category_links] => From the Field )
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