Experiential and immersive international programming
Over the years, we’ve hand-crafted thousands of itineraries for student travel programs…and there’s more to learn. Collaborative program development with Dragons will increase depth and quality, while reducing long-term cost, workload, and risk exposure.
How we co-create student programming
Student programming for high schools and universities should be intentional, integrated, and seamlessly facilitated from start to finish, not a hodgepodge of isolated experiences linked together through a touristy itinerary.
Programming is built from long-standing, carefully managed personal relationships that offer intimate, authentic immersion, and exposure to alternative perspectives on critical global issues. Our model emphasizes low-impact travel, which also allows us to get away from overly curated experiences catered to foreigners. Dragons will manage all details and logistical components of the program, including pre-departure communication and preparation, student paperwork, and management of country-specific risks, and post program debriefing and feedback.
The collaborative course design process
Each student experience is the result of countless hours of careful planning—a weaving together of progressively more challenging and immersive experiences leading students into deeper levels of engagement with place and self. Our three-phase course-design process ensures that every program is customized to consider your vision and goals, offering multiple opportunities along the way to weave together academic themes, specific contacts and places, and most importantly, the passion of students and educators.
I: Define Vision and Goals
We begin with the end in mind. How do we want students to be impacted by their experience? What knowledge, skills, and mindsets do we seek to cultivate through our program? In-person conversations help to identify key learning outcomes, and your programmatic goals as well as institutional risk tolerance. In these conversations we also offer suggestions and feedback based on experience and local realities. A written questionnaire puts further definition to the course vision, and allows us to present a formal proposal, which initiates the next step.
II: Program Proposal, Itinerary, and Adjustments
A proposal is drafted using the framework of Dragons core curriculum—an intentional three-phase progression through up to nine program components aimed at fostering our core learning objectives. Because the most important global education outcomes are “caught” not “taught,” we link our defined outcomes with specific experiences, and work backwards to trains skills, practice them, and ultimately allow students lead their own learning. Counter to popular practice, our itinerary comes last. We believe that a student experience should be intentional, in direct alignment with the educational objectives of our work, and not a bucket list of iconic travel destinations. But our proposal is a rough draft, and we actively seek your feedback through several rounds of customization and conversation.
III: Institutional and Individual Alignment
Once a program is agreed upon, we begin the process of building the leadership container between Dragons instructors and your faculty. Our goal is to create a unified leadership front in which everyone feels empowered and secure in their role. During this phase, we align individual roles and goals for each faculty and instructor on the course. This looks different on every partnership, and Dragons instructors are happy to adjust their level of leadership based on your needs. The Partnerships Team facilitates two live conversations that foster the unique character and expertise of each individual, while identifying areas in which we can support each other as a cohesive and effective united front. This important work is continued in-field through daily check-ins and feedback. We also focus on risk management and emergency response systems, aligning our institutional policies, risk acceptance, and communication protocols. Before students are brought on, we work to define the pre-departure curriculum and time-table, drawing from Dragons extensive resources for orienting parents and students to the program.
IV: The Student Experience
A student’s experience begins the moment they walk into their first information session. We work with you closely to ensure that the program is tone-set appropriately, and that from the beginning, families are engaged, empowered, and take ownership for their own success and learning. In our first session with families, a Dragons Administrator or Course Director is present to answer questions specific to the program area, or Dragons approach to risk management and student programming. In the final eight weeks prior to departure, instructors and faculty work together to put further definition to the daily schedule, ensuring that space is defined for framing student experiences through appropriate briefings and reflection. In the final two-weeks, we introduce a 72-hour plan, which provides an hour-by-hour schedule for the first three days of the program.