Photo by Fye Maithai

Independent Spring Experiences

An Independent Gap Year Experience

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Duration
42 Days
Description

Looking for a more independent next step in your Gap Year? For those who have completed a group program (+1 month, any provider), we offer more autonomous and self-directed international experiences.

Dates

Jan 15 - Feb 26, 2020


Suggested Ages

17-25

Number of Participants

1-6


Availability

Multiple Program Dates (Inquire)

Begins In

43 Weeks

Land Cost

$5,650


Estimated Flight Cost

TBD

Guatemala

Bolivia

Senegal

China

Nepal

Cambodia

Indonesia

Program Overview

Group travel is a great way to access new cultures, build community with other students, and develop important travel skills. But after months spent in the close company of peers, you may be feeling the need to spread your wings...


…and yet, it can be hard to know where to even start!

How can I break out of the backpacker tourist traps and questionable “voluntourism” industry? How do I build authentic connections with individuals and communities without the benefit of trusted contacts on the ground? Who do I call for support in times of need?

Independent Spring Experiences (ISE) provide opportunities for continued cross-cultural engagement and exploration outside of the structure of a group centered program. We work with individual students to co-create a personalized and self-directed experience.  Utilizing our decades of expertise in cross-cultural education, international risk management and emergency response, and ethical community engagement, an ISE program is an empowering next step in your Gap Year progression.

Why choose a Dragons Independent Spring Experience (ISE)?

…and yet, it can be hard to know where to even start!

How can I break out of the backpacker tourist traps and questionable “voluntourism” industry? How do I build authentic connections with individuals and communities without the benefit of trusted contacts on the ground? Who do I call for support in times of need?

Independent Spring Experiences (ISE) provide opportunities for continued cross-cultural engagement and exploration outside of the structure of a group centered program. We work with individual students to co-create a personalized and self-directed experience.  Utilizing our decades of expertise in cross-cultural education, international risk management and emergency response, and ethical community engagement, an ISE program is an empowering next step in your Gap Year progression.

Why choose a Dragons Independent Spring Experience (ISE)?

We have heard from past students that their independent spring travels lacked adequate intention and guidance, which left them feeling lost or even conflicted about the ethics and efficacy of a volunteer placement; and accordingly, we heard a desire for more on-the-ground mentorship and support in order to thrive. Based on feedback from students and partner organizations, we created ISE programs to meet the need for a more intentionally supported, independent cross-cultural experience in your Gap Year progression.

What does a ISE program consist of?

ISE programs are offered in places where Dragons has long-established and active community networks. We are currently offering ISE options in Guatemala, Bolivia, China, Senegal, Nepal, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Each program site is staffed by a Dragons On-Site Coordinator: a veteran Dragons instructor with expertise in the country and extensive experience working with Dragons Gap Year students and our standards of excellence. The On-Site Coordinator has weekly face-to-face meetings with each student, conducts a multi-day orientation focused on safety, cultural norms, and strategies for engagement, and acts as a cultural facilitator and mentor throughout. ISE programs have a strong emphasis on cultural and language immersion and in-depth exploration of critical issues. Participants are placed with a trusted homestay family for the duration of the program, receive intensive language instruction (as desired), and are paired with local mentors for an Independent Study Project (ISP). In addition, participants have 24/7 access to our in-country and international emergency response resources. ISE programs have two start dates (January 15 and February 12) with a 6-week minimum length and the option for weekly extensions up until May 1st. 

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Program Costs

Program Fee: $5,650

Optional weekly extensions at cost of $700 per week up to May 1st

Program Fee Includes:

  • Personalized mentorship and regular weekly check-ins with an On-Site Dragons staff member
  • 3-5 day in-country orientation focused on safety, cultural norms, tools for engagement, cross-cultural communication, and individualized goal setting
  • Access to 24/7 on-call Dragons risk management team and emergency response resources
  • Room and Board in a Dragons vetted homestay
  • Depending upon a participant’s starting language abilities, they may receive up to three hours of intensive language training, up to four days a week, from a professional language teacher. Most classes are in groups of 2-4 students
  • Matching with an Independent Study Project mentor. Participant will receive a weekly stipend towards one-on-one mentorships in music, art, dance, cooking, or other subjects of interest
  • Volunteer Work Placement Options (vetted by Dragons)
  • Access to Dragons facilitated activities, guest speakers, excursions, local contacts, and community resources
  • *International airfare not included

Note: Program fees are based on current circumstances and are subject to change.

Personal Expenses:

Expenses that are not accounted for in program fees may include flight costs, personal travel, immunizations, books and supplies (e.g. for ISP), additional snacks, visa, ISOS evacuation insurance, personal medical insurance and costs, and other personal expenses. Included below are some estimated personal expenses. Some expenses are discretionary and vary based on individual student preferences.

 

Eligibility

ISE programs are open to:

  • Alumni of an extended-length (1+ month) group program, such as a Dragons course or a similar program from another provider
  • Applicants who demonstrate the desire, maturity, and capacity for more self-directed and autonomous international travel
  • Applicants interested in co-creating an immersive, respectful, and engaged cultural experience
  • Ages 17-25 years old

Program Dates

A) January 15-February 26

B) February 12-March 25

  • 6-weeks with January and February start date options
  • Weekly extensions available at cost of $700 per week up to May 1st

Available Locations

  • Guatemala (Antigua or Quetzaltenango)
  • Bolivia (Cochabamba or Sucre)
  • China (Kunming)
  • Senegal (Dakar)
  • Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)
  • Cambodia (Siem Riep)
  • Indonesia (Yogyakarta)