Posts Tagged:

Travel Tips

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    [ID] => 156776
    [post_author] => 1530
    [post_date] => 2020-05-18 10:22:02
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-05-18 16:22:02
    [post_content] => Dragons instructor and journalist, Kristen Gianaris, wrote an article for Morocco World News comparing western perspectives on toilet paper and the benefits of switching to a more sustainable solution such as water—the way many communities around the world have done for centuries. 

 

toilet paper challenge instagram Morocco World NewsIn The Article Gianaris Mentions:

  • Statistics such as the fact that somewhere between 70 and 75% of people worldwide use some alternative to toilet paper and that the World Wildlife Foundation estimates that people flush 27,000 trees a day down the toilet.
  • The historical, cultural, and environmental elements present in the discussion around "bathroom business".
  • The way that Dragons immersive curriculum encourages students to challenge their perspectives.
   
Preferring the road less traveled by tourists, WTBD designs educational courses in a way that encourages students to do as locals do. In many of the countries where the organization operates, water is the primary method to take care of bathroom business.
  [caption id="attachment_156784" align="alignright" width="376"]toilet paper challenge instagram Morocco World News An alumni response to a prompt on Instagram to share a lesson from the field that is helping them cope under the pressures of COVID-19[/caption]

Dragons instructors were quoted on the topic:

"TP is perhaps one of the best examples of ‘leaving home behind.’ So much of the world lives without toilet paper, how did/do humans do without it? Exploring this brings us closer to understanding who we are as humans. In addition, breaking open our judgments of what constitutes ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ can help break down stereotypes.” —Tim Hare, Director of Risk Management. “I am doing the #notpchallenge [no toilet paper challenge] with Where There Be Dragons...once you start, there’s no turning back.” —Greg Pettys, Instructor. “Our students are uniquely situated to help build practices on this continent … that are more resource-use-aware...we have to instruct on the use of water to cleanse oneself. And the students, of course, in the first week, students find it hilarious and unsettling, and then by the end, many of them actually like it better than using toilet paper.” — Charis Boke, Instructor.  
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[post_title] => DRAGONS #NOTPCHALLENGE FEATURED IN MOROCCO WORLD NEWS [post_excerpt] => Dragons instructor and journalist, Kristen Gianaris, wrote an article for Morocco World News comparing western perspectives on toilet paper and the benefits of switching to a more sustainable solution such as water—the way many communities around the world have done for centuries.  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-notpchallenge-featured-in-morocco-world-news [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-04-23 17:11:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-04-23 23:11:02 [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] => 29 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 29 [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] => 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] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 37 [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/ ) [2] => 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 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 1 [name] => Uncategorized [slug] => uncategorized [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 1 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 31 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 16 [cat_ID] => 1 [category_count] => 31 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Uncategorized [category_nicename] => uncategorized [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, From the Field ... )
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    [post_date] => 2020-02-27 16:41:26
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-02-27 23:41:26
    [post_content] => Planning any kind of travel means asking yourself a laundry list of questions: Where should I go? What should I do? What do I pack? More recently, articles identifying air travel as a major emitter of greenhouse gasses have demanded climate-aware travelers ask themselves: How can I travel if I care about the Earth?

Experienced travelers at Dragons have wondered the same and are always looking for new ways to reduce our impact. We want to add to the conversation by sharing what we have learned from our years in the field. We also want to hear from you about the ways that you are choosing to be conscientious in your daily life!

For us, it all starts with taking stock of our environmental impact. Simply existing on planet Earth begets a carbon footprint. However, the decisions you make in your everyday life can help control how big or small that footprint is. Our advice? Start small. Break down your travel choices one-by-one and find simple, actionable, and measurable changes that can help reduce your footprint—especially while traveling. 

1. Reduce

Have you ever tried to keep track of how much waste you produce every day? Many products designed to be convenient are used once or twice and then sent straight to the landfill. Yet much of the time, it’s relatively easy to choose a less wasteful option. For example, you can:
  • Carry a reusable travel mug for your morning coffee 
  • Use a steel instead of plastic straw
  • Carry a packable reusable bag in your backpack or purse for all your shopping needs
Think twice when you toss your trash, when a barista offers you a plastic straw, or when you can choose to walk to your destination. Take a look at the products you use and ask yourself if there is a zero-waste or minimal-waste option. 

2. Buy Better

From the many apps available for buying used goods to brick and mortar second-hand shops, there are numerous ways to shop for used gear. Choosing a locally-oriented app or used store as opposed to websites like Amazon eliminates carbon emissions associated with shipping and transportation. Research reusable travel products and then look for a used version that is still in good condition.  Want to use top-quality gear but don’t need it to be new? Environmentally conscious companies like REI and Patagonia have designated used-gear sections. Want to go even further? Rent or borrow from a friend or family member! Host a gear swap and encourage your community to dig out their unused gear to help support your mission.  Gear You Find Used/Borrowed: 
  • Backpack
  • Down Jacket
  • Warm Layers
  • Camping Stove
  • Sleeping Bag 
  • Camping Gear
Eco-Friendly Travel Items: 
  • Refillable Water Bottle 
  • Steel Straw 
  • Reusable Shopping Bag
  • Bamboo Toothbrush
  • Reusable Shampoo and Conditioner Containers 
  • Toothpaste Tablets 
  • Reusable to-go container 
  • Reusable Spork/Utensils 
  • Handkerchief 
  • Rechargeable/solar batteries
  • Reusable silicone bags instead of zip locks
Other green alternatives:
  • Opt for bulk or homemade snacks to avoid excess packaging
  • Opt for digital copies of documents whenever possible
  • Politely say no to unnecessary promotional items and explain why (organizations will stop sending them if they hear the message from their clients!)
  • If ordering any food “to go,” try offering to bring your own reusable containers for food transport. 
  • Kindly decline single-use plastics on airplanes by asking for the drink in a can with no cup, or using your own coffee/tea mug. 
  • Remember, every time you politely decline single-use plastics (bags, straws, cups, etc.) you send a gentle message to the establishment about how they can make their clients happier.
  • Wear reef-safe sunscreen in oceans. 
  • Don't purchase souvenirs that steal from nature (shells, ivory, etc.). 
  • Be mindful of your environment if you choose to use chemical bug repellants.
  • Vote with your dollar
  • Do research on the companies that you choose to support; from the products you use to the places you shop or the airline you fly. 
  • Choose to buy from companies whose values align with the environment and social justice.
  • Support B Corp certified businesses and join the global movement of people using business as a force for good.
  • If air travel is your only option for travel to your destination, choose an airline that already offsets their emissions. Fly economy so that more seats are taken up on your flight. Fly direct whenever possible to eliminate unnecessary emissions. 
 

3. Go Slow

Join the slow travel movement.  
  • On your way: Use public transportation. Travel by boat, bike, bus, train, rather than airplane.
  • When you get there: Stay for longer, shop local, sit down to eat instead of taking food to-go, stay in locally owned accommodation
  • When you get home: Apply the minimal-waste mindset to your daily life. Inspire your community to do the same. Share your reflections and decisions with others. 
By choosing to support local and reduce emissions, you are directly empowering the local economy and reducing your cultural and ecological footprint. Dragons 2-9 Week programs are designed with Slow Travel in mind. By traveling via public transportation and living as locals through homestays to supporting locally-owned businesses and educating ourselves on local initiatives, we are doing our best to understand reduce our cultural and environmental footprint when we travel.  Offset what you can’t reduce.  Calculate your CO2 emissions: use this calculator to measure the number of emissions per mile flown. 
  • Offset your carbon footprint:  Carbon offsetting is the act of reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for emissions that were produced elsewhere. For example, you can offset your flights by donating to an environmental project
  • See what Dragons is doing to offset our emissions.
 
On my Dragons program, we talked a lot about using our money thoughtfully and buying products that we knew were being produced in fair conditions where the people who were involved in making them directly benefited from the sale of their work. Now that I am at home, I think about where my clothing was made, and whether the people involved in making it were treated and paid fairly. I think about where my food comes from, and whether it makes sense environmentally to buy produce grown in another country —Lindsay Eiseman, Student.
 

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[post_title] => Three Ways to Make Your Travels More Sustainable [post_excerpt] => How can I travel if I care about the Earth? Experienced travelers at Dragons have wondered the same and are always looking for new ways to reduce our impact. We want to add to the conversation by sharing what we have learned from our years in the field. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => three-ways-to-make-your-gap-year-more-sustainable [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-04-23 16:46:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-04-23 22:46:04 [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] => 29 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 29 [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] => 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 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/recommended/ ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, Recommended )
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    [post_date] => 2020-02-20 11:07:07
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-02-20 18:07:07
    [post_content] => 

Dragons is upping our video game.

We are highlighting alumni and instructor voices with new videos on IGTV.

We've been hard at work creating three video series that live on our Instagram. Get travel tips from alumni, your questions answered from instructors, and see awesome videos from the field. Follow us for more videos, live info-sessions, content from the field, and opportunities to talk directly with the Dragons community! DM or text us your ideas and questions. Text Us: 720-620-9500 How to find IGTV on Instagram: IGTV Gif [embed]https://www.instagram.com/tv/B7GiubGgo6S/[/embed]  

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. ❤️

[post_title] => Don't Have Time to Research Travel Programs? Learn About Dragons on IGTV! [post_excerpt] => Dragons is upping our video game. We are highlighting alumni and instructor voices with new videos on IGTV! Check out our newest series with instructor Q&A's, alumni stories, and videos from the field. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dont-have-time-to-research-travel-programs-learn-about-dragons-on-igtv [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-04-23 16:46:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-04-23 22:46:17 [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] => 37 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 37 [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] => 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 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons_instructors/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 646 [name] => Alumni Spotlight [slug] => alumni_spotlight [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 646 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [parent] => 0 [count] => 17 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 17 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Dragons Instructors ... )
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    [post_date] => 2020-02-10 11:19:44
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-02-10 18:19:44
    [post_content] => 

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_date] => 2020-01-01 11:35:19
    [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-01 18:35:19
    [post_content] => In addition to taking on everything from chaos theory to Rosa Parks, trusty and entertaining hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have addressed ALL the questions associated with Gap Years in a recent episode of the Stuff You Should Know Podcast.

In 55 minutes they banter with hard research and humor on subjects including:
  • The history & evolution of the Gap Year
  • The risks of schooling burn out
  • Stats that will soothe parent concerns regarding a child's wish to do a Gap Year
  • Different ways to approach planning & doing a Gap Year
  • How colleges are responding to incoming students who want to do a Gap Year (#positively!)
  • How to offset the costs of a Gap Year
  • and lots more.
Bonus?! Chuck & Josh giggling over the name, "Where There Be Dragons" at the 13-minute mark! :) Head over to the podcast to listen to the full (and fun) episode. You can also check out the show notes in this article in which the author, Clint Pumphrey, comments:

"I've always thought asking 18-year-olds to pick a college major is a recipe for disaster. How can we expect anyone with such little life experience to know what they want to do for the next 40 years? After writing this article, though, I can definitely see how a well-planned gap year might just help some people make better decisions about their future. I think it's great to take a year after high school to learn more about yourself and your interests, and even have a little fun in the process. It certainly beats switching gears when you're a few years into college, or worse, saddled with the responsibility of a family, career and mortgage!"

If you have more questions after listening to the episode, feel free to post them in the comments and we'll answer them.  
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  [post_title] => Josh and Chuck cover "What's a Gap Year anyway?" on the podcast: Stuff You Should Know [post_excerpt] => Trusty and entertaining hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have taken on ALL the questions associated with Gap Years in a recent episode of the Stuff You Should Know Podcast... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => josh-and-chuck-cover-whats-a-gap-year-anyway-on-the-stuff-you-should-know-podcast [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-30 08:00:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-30 15:00:38 [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] => 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/ ) [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] => 43 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 43 [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] => 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] => For Parents, About Dragons ... )
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    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-05-23 11:23:47
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-23 17:23:47
    [post_content] => 

Will LeVan (Alumni of Dragons Peru Summer Program) decided to pursue a Gap Year in 2018-19. And he was kind enough to answer some questions we posed of his decision making process. Take a look...

Q: How did you come to the decision to take a Gap Year? Was it an intuitive or calculated choice?

A: During junior year I began to consider taking a gap year.  I was fatigued from a challenging high school education and hoped that a gap year would revitalize and re-inspire my education.  However, my decision was quickly made after my six-week Dragons trip to Peru. After the trip, I realized that traveling and working abroad as I did in Peru would teach me in ways that a classroom no longer could.  Additionally, the opportunity to increase my Spanish proficiency and enter college with work and service experience abroad were integral in making my decision.

Q: What were/was your biggest questions going into the process? How did you get them answered?

A: Would it be affordable?  Could I find programs that would make it meaningful?  What would I do? These were my biggest questions going into my gap year.  Through a lot of research, and I mean a lot, I scanned through dozens of programs. The trips ranged from three weeks to eight months and included volunteer work in Philly, education aboard sailboats in the Pacific, and hiking the Camino in Spain. By skimming these programs, a picture of my gap year manifested, including a Where There Be Dragons Semester program in Nepal, volunteering on a sustainable farm in Spain, helping build converted vans in Washington state, and hiking the Camino de Santiago. Websites like WWOOF and Helpstay were very helpful in my search.

Q: Did you have any regrets after making the decision?

A: I only wish I could do more.

Q: Do you know anyone else that's taking a Gap Year? Do you ever feel lonely in the decision?

A: I have a few friends who are considering it, but never have I felt lonely in the decision because others have been so supportive, and sometimes envious, of my choice and plans.  

Q: How did your parents respond to your decision?

A: They were very supportive.

Q: Is it hard to stay committed to your Gap Year vision when all your friends are talking about their fall school plans?

A: Not really.  Since I applied to college during this school year and have deferred my enrollment, I’m not too jealous about my friends’ fall plans at college because I’ll know that I’ll have those experiences eventually and don’t have to worry about the stresses of college applications in the meantime.

Q: Do you have any fears regarding your Gap Year?

A: Part of me is worried that I’ll enter college behind in my studies.  I think this is a common fear among students. However, I’m confident that I won’t be too far behind and can make it back up quickly.  Additionally, I think the lessons I learn over my gap year will be just as valuable, it not more, than anything I can learn in the classroom.

Q: Did you already know where you wanted to go for your Gap Year?

A: I really had no idea where I wanted to go.  I did a lot of research and looked at places like Chile, Jordan, Madagascar, South Africa, the Galapagos, Australia, and eventually ended up on Nepal in the fall and Spain for the spring.  How did I decide on these places? First off, I love to hike and the opportunities to hike in the Himalayas and along the Camino in Europe are hard to pass up. Additionally, the ability to study Spanish in Spain was a big pull for me.

Q: What do you hope to learn from your Gap Year that you couldn't learn in school?

A: How to live independently, work with others from different backgrounds, and be more aware and conscious of the world around me.

Q: Did language study play a role in your Gap Year decision?

A: Yes it did.  After my Dragons summer experience in Peru, I knew that I wanted to experience more Spanish immersion in a non-classroom setting.  I also believe that going into college and feeling more confident in my Spanish proficiency will only be beneficial. Therefore, I plan on volunteering and interning in Spain in the spring of my gap year and then hiking El Camino de Santiago in Spain to cap off my year.

Q: Will you be pursuing any type of internship or particular study of craft during your gap year?

A: Due to busy summer schedules throughout high school, I haven’t had many job experiences.  This in part played into my gap year decision because I wanted to have more work experience before college.  There isn’t a specific type of craft I’ll be pursuing, but instead just volunteer and work experiences in general.  To fulfill this, I plan on working on an organic or sustainable farm in Spain.

Q: What would you say to someone on the fence on if they will pursue a gap year or not? A: There are very times in life when you will be able to shed responsibilities for a year and just go travel and learn. A Gap Year is one of those opportunities. Additionally, the experiences you have and lessons will be long-lasting. If you can design a Gap Year that will be productive and constructive, I think it’ll be an amazing experience that you won’t regret. Thank you Will!

Are YOU going to do a Gap Year in 2018-2019? If so, we encourage you to share the news of your plans via a social post with the tag #gapyeardecisionday. If you'll be a Dragons students next year, include the tag #wheretherebedragons so that we can find and potentially feature you!

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