What Sets Dragons College Study Abroad Programs Apart…
Our Approach to Learning
At Dragons we believe in harnessing an experiential education approach to academics. This means pushing the boundaries of the classroom, embracing challenge, listening to local communities, and leaving room for spontaneity.
Pushing the Boundaries of the Classroom
Whether in a remote indigenous community in South America, a booming metropolis in China, or a meditation center in Nepal; studying abroad with Dragons offers unparalleled opportunities for students to witness and actively engage with the on-the-ground realities. We explore cultural and social issues through readings, class lectures, and theoretical discussions in classroom settings, and, at other times, on the steps of a monastery or in a clearing in the mountains.
We expect our students to analyze and reflect on their learning, put their knowledge into practice, step into leadership roles, and to increasingly engage in problem solving. Students are challenged intellectually; such as when they are asked to explore ethical questions around research. They are tested physically; like when hiking to an indigenous community to explore environmental conservation efforts. And students may find themselves confronted emotionally; maybe when encountering the negative effects of good-intentioned service or development efforts in the host country. By embracing challenges, we recognize that learning can occur both when we try and stumble, and when we succeed.
Listening to Local Communities
Whether it’s the role of women in Indian society, water rights in Bolivia, Hindu/Buddhist relations in Nepal, or economic development in China; students learn directly from expert practitioners, academics, and those most directly impacted by local issues. Our goal is to take the best of the traditional classroom and combine it with direct engagement of the environments and people in the host country.
Leaving Room for Spontaneity
On a Dragons program, our staff know to seek-out and encourage opportunities for unscripted learning. We build in blocks of intensive academic contact hours, ensuring we meet a minimum of 60 instructional hours per course, in order to leave room for additional learning moments that we can’t predict. We allow space to welcome unexpected speakers, engage in discussions on pressing issues and add relevant site-visits, making each course uniquely connected to the program location.
The Places We Go
We go where other study abroad programs don’t. Whether trekking in the snow-capped peaks of the Andes or drinking chai every day in Patan, Nepal, we take students to places seldom visited by tourists. Our programs strive to balance experiences in both urban and rural environments, most commonly by integrating a long homestay in a semi-urban program base and a shorter homestay in a more remote region of the host country. In addition to time spent in homestay communities, we embed group travel experiences into our curriculum. These experiences go far beyond simple excursions as we explore communities with whom we have developed deep relationships, often in remote locations, and facilitate place-based learning every step of the way.
Our Small Groups
We limit our programs to just 12 students. In keeping our cohorts small we can move more fluidly through and with lower impact on communities. Our instructors and faculty travel with the student group and attend to program safety and quality. Field staff are invested in establishing strong mentor relationships with students. This mentorship and small group experience supports students as they deepen regional knowledge, cultivate self-awareness, develop greater language competence, hone leadership skills, and make meaning out of experiences abroad.
The Way We Travel
At Dragons, we engage in low-impact travel which means minimizing both our environmental and cultural impact at every possible juncture. On program, we opt for local — not private — transportation and pile into train cars and buses along with everyone else. We carry only the essentials that fit into our backpacks, live with host families in both rural and urban areas, and explore the wilderness in intentional ways. Dragons students have lectures and classes in unconventional places alongside their small group of peers. We have fine-tuned our risk management systems to support academic programming in places that are often challenging to navigate as an individual.
Our Dynamic Programming
No two Dragons programs are the same. The world is constantly changing and we believe our programs should too. Months before program departure, our staff builds a unique program itinerary based on the instructor team’s personal in-country connections and experience, the academic goals of the program, and the specific ambitions of the student group. Dragons students enjoy a customized experience, with a flexible, fresh itinerary that brings a high degree of authenticity and meaning to each student’s experience.