Jackson Cooper

Latin America & China Instructor

B.A. in Anthropology, Magna Cum Laude, Columbia University

Jackson was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where he developed a love for the outdoors, great heights, and the smell of ponderosa in the sun. These mountains taught him to appreciate the importance of place in one’s life, while his parents’ stories of traveling the world made him eager to explore faraway lands, learn foreign languages, and connect with different people. After graduating from Boulder High School, Jackson took a gap year to work, volunteer, and travel in South America and western Europe. During that time, he honed his Spanish skills and dabbled in Portuguese and French as well. He also discovered the joys of farming and rock climbing and the thrill of the open road.

At Columbia University, pursuing his interest in other cultures, Jackson majored in anthropology. He also took on a new linguistic challenge and began studying Mandarin Chinese, while still keeping up with his Spanish. He spent summers working on farms in Costa Rica and Colorado, as well an archaeological dig in China. Jackson has always approached travel as an educational experience and found it to be at least as valuable as his formal education. In all his travels and studies, he has been fascinated by how people and landscapes interact and has learned so much from the different peoples and lands that he has encountered.

Climbing, cooking with the freshest vegetables, and learning new languages are some of Jackson’s favorite activities, and he has always loved to share these with others. In college, he managed the on-campus vegetable garden and led outdoor rock climbing trips, as well as tutored ESL students of all ages. After graduating from Columbia, Jackson worked as a middle school English teacher on the Navajo Nation, after which he joined Dragons, beginning as an instructor in China. Since then, he has led programs in China, Peru, and Bolivia, as well as assisted in various roles administratively. When not working with Dragons, Jackson has guided climbing and rafting trips in Montana and converted front lawns across Denver into organic vegetable gardens.

Jackson’s goal is for each and every Dragons student to have a transformational experience – learning as much as possible from their travels as they discover a new culture, a new land, and perhaps even a new self.