Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC)

Ensuring Dragons is a good fit.

Dragons Gap Semester and Summer Programs are multi-week travel programs that differ from other study abroad and group travel experiences in the degree of ruggedness, remoteness, intense cross-cultural immersion, and interpersonal demands that participants may face. The expectations and challenges of these programs may not be appropriate for some individuals. Dragons is committed to supporting the learning and personal growth of all participants, with safety at the forefront; our Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) help ensure that our participants are an appropriate fit for the Dragons travel experience.

A qualified participant is one who can meet the Essential Eligibility Criteria for participation in all program activities. The following EEC apply for all Dragons Gap Semester, ISE, and Summer Programs.


Each participant must be willing and able to:

  • Tolerate significant levels of ambiguity and ambivalence that naturally occur while traveling, such as: changes in diet, extremely basic lodgings, unfamiliar surroundings, homesickness, long days, and unfamiliar routines;
  • Handle scheduling and location changes with short notice;
  • Demonstrate patience, understanding, and maturity in the face of changing circumstances.

Safety, Judgment, and Risk Mitigation

Each participant must be willing and able to:

  • Navigate and travel independently to and from program start and end destination(s);
  • Recognize the hazards and risks of travel as presented in program materials and verbally throughout the program and comply with recommended measures and directions for risk reduction from program staff;
  • Exercise sound judgment in the absence of direct supervision and alert others of potential hazards observed;
  • Abide by the entirety of the Dragons Participant Agreement, program expectations, guidance of field staff, and all local, national and international laws while on the program.

Self Awareness and Emotional Intelligence

Each participant must be willing and able to:

  • Effectively and proactively notify field staff or other Participants of personal distress, emotional stress, safety or health concerns, or other needs for assistance;
  • Maintain a reasonable level of situational awareness appropriate to circumstances;
  • Recognize and accept that the needs of the group often come above the desires of any one individual group member;
  • Work cooperatively as a member of a group, which may require flexibility and compromise.

Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health

Each participant must be willing and able to:

  • Adapt to and cope with disconnection from standard sources of support (e.g., family, friends, doctors, mental health professionals, etc.);
  • Make a wellness plan prior to departure that includes strategies for maintaining mental and physical wellbeing during the program;
  • Proactively act to maintain physical and mental health while on program through healthy behaviors such as exercise, journaling, mediation, yoga, deep breathing, proper sleep routines, healthy eating/hydration, personal hygiene, appropriate peer interaction, reaching out for support as needed, etc.;
  • Accept full responsibility for physical and mental health, including complying fully with medication routines and self-care strategies recommended pre-departure by medical/mental health professionals;
  • Communicate proactively, openly, and honestly about any physical or mental health challenges that arise prior to or during the program;
  • Seek out, as needed, consultations with medical/mental health professionals while on the program or fully comply with our recommendation to do the same, and follow all treatment advice secured from these consultations;
  • Navigate and travel in environments that may have limited mobility accommodations, such as streets without sidewalks, dirt roads, flights of stairs, and other mobility access limitations;
  • Meet the minimum physical demands for all program components, such as hiking, traveling, homestays, etc. For programs with longer hikes, this may include carrying a weighted backpack (30+ pounds) for 4+ hours during a trek;
    • On trekking-intensive programs, students can expect to hike on rugged, remote, and steep terrain for sometimes 5-8 hours per day, for up to one week at a time on shorter programs or two weeks on extended (e.g. semester) programs. Students must:
      • Understand the duration and intensity of the trekking component as outlined in the course sample itinerary and course description, and be mentally and physically prepared to engage in the activity for the duration of the trek;
      • Come prepared with the appropriate items required in the packing list to be hiking outdoors in any weather conditions.
      • Understand that alternative itinerary options may not be available (i.e., if a student is unable or unwilling to trek, they may be asked to return home).

Engagement and Attitude

Each participant must be willing and able to:

  • Contribute to a positive and safe learning environment and exhibit a willingness to participate in all program activities;
  • Remain alert and engaged in the program to the best of their ability;
  • Abstain from phone and internet use and communication except during designated periods of connectivity;
  • Show respect through speech and actions for other participants, staff, community members, and local cultural practices;
  • Be open and willing to interact with new and unfamiliar cultures in a respectful manner;
  • Care for and show respect to the natural environment and host communities.

Any concerns about a participant’s ability to comply with these EEC should be addressed with Dragons administration prior to program departure. Misrepresentation of a participant’s ability to comply with these EEC may lead to formal behavioral intervention, disciplinary action, early dismissal, or evacuation from the program. All costs associated with such interventions will be borne by the participant alone.

Enrollment Process