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Where There Be Dragons Programs

Cambodia

Cambodia: Peace-Building and Conservation (Summer Abroad)

Known for the incomparable ruins of Angkor Wat, Cambodia is a country that evokes images of overgrown jungle temples, robed monks, and religious splendor. In a land known...

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Nepal

Nepal Semester: Himalayan Studies

The Himalayas. Since time immemorial, these colossal peaks with their vast web of rugged, isolated valleys and distinct ethnic groups have drawn only the most intrepid travelers...

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Bolivia

South America Semester: Andes & Amazon

The Central Andes is a region full of superlatives, existing at extremes. From sparkling glaciers to lush tropical forests, this Gap Year program takes you through a dizzying...

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Cambodia

Mekong Semester: Tibetan Plateau to the Heart of Asia

From its sacred headwaters in the Tibetan Plateau, the Mekong river flows 4,800-KM towards the South China Sea, cleaving a boundary between Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand, and...

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Guatemala

Guatemala: Spanish Language Intensive (Summer Abroad)

At dawn a howler monkey cries from the branch of a giant cieba tree. In the Cuchumatanes Mountains, a young woman rises to grind corn on a stone petate. Along Avenida Reforma,...

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India

North India: Roof of the World (Summer Abroad)

Explore mountain cultures and mountain landscapes on the roof of the world. Stretching more than 1500 miles from Pakistan to China, the Himalayan Range boasts half the world’s...

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China

China: Change and Tradition (Summer Abroad)

When you visit China for the first time, it doesn't take long to realize that everything is changing at warp speed. Old neighborhoods of wooden houses are demolished to make...

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Guatemala

Guatemala & Nicaragua Semester: Spanish Language & Activism

Rising out of the sea at a confluence of five tectonic plates, this causeway of cultures and ecological diversity is an explosion of rapid biological and cultural change....

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Peru

Peru: Sacred Mountains (Summer Abroad)

Peru, ancient seat of the Inca, once the greatest civilization in South America, is a land of towering peaks and steamy jungles, of modern urban centers and hidden villages....

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China

China: The Silk Road (Summer Abroad)

Travel through China's most beautiful and rugged natural landscapes while learning contemporary issues of human rights, religious practices, and minority representation. More...

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Indonesia

Indonesia Semester: Community, Culture & Conservation

Spanning from Malaysia to Australia, with over 17,000 equatorial islands, Indonesia hosts the world's highest level of biodiversity and one of the richest cultural tapestries...

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India

India Semester: Himalayas to the Ganges River

The languid current rolls passed the burning ghats as it has for millennia. Women gather on its shores to wash clothing in the cool, misty dawn, as pilgrims congregate near...

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Senegal

Senegal: In the Shade of the Baobob Tree (Summer Abroad)

You never know what might happen in Senegal. Enter a fortuneteller’s hut and ask a question your future. Spin and dance with Sufi mystics. Discover fluent Spanish...

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Bolivia

Bolivia: Spirit of the Andes (Summer Abroad)

In the heart of South America, the Andes Mountains and dense jungles of the Amazon inform daily life at every turn. Known as a land of extremes, Bolivia is home to some of...

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Where There Be Dragons Reviews

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Itinerary

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Satisfaction

    10

My Himalayan semester

My Himalayan semester was one of the best experiences I have ever had. From rural homestays to trekking in the Himalayas, it was full to the brim of adventure, community, culture and collaboration. My instructors were absolutely amazing as were my fellow Dragons students. The space that Dragons creates for self reflection and growth along with building an incredible group environment was something unique and awesome. On a trip like this it is expected that at one point or another you are pushed outside of your comfort zone. This was incredible because you end up watching your comfort zone expand and grow with you. Going from being a complete stranger and foreigner, lost in Kathmandu, to a confident traveler catching crowded busses and chatting to the person next to you in Nepali was incredible.

One of the countless stunning moments on this trip was when I was sitting on a rock on a mountainside. It was near sunset we were at 13,000 feet of elevation, and the pinkish orange light of the setting sun began to creep across the massive peaks of the Himalayas in the Lang Tang region. I sat there, watching the sun dip down below the cloud layer, and was struck by the silence. No sound whatsoever penetrated that beautiful serene mountain air. It was almost like the world had frozen briefly. Stuck in that dusky state between day and night. The giant peaks only adding to the splendor, putting the size of humanity in its place yet again.

Program: Nepal Semester: Himalayan Studies

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Itinerary

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Satisfaction

    10

Eye, body, and mind opening!

Although I thoroughly loved my whole gap year, the Dragons trip stands out as the highlight. I loved the challenge, the intensity, the teaching style, the instructors, the flexibility, and the adventure. It was an incredibly transformative 3 months for me. It is hard to go to Nepal or India and not fall in love with the people, the culture, the land- the all encompassing and mind blowing world that is the Himalayas. This trip is an experience that will stay with you and continue to affect you for the rest of your life. It was not all fun, but it was raw and real and that was what made it so amazing.

Program: Nepal Semester: Himalayan Studies

Overall Rating

6 / 10

  • Itinerary

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Satisfaction

    9

Great experience but a few disappointments

Very good experience, although it was my second trip with Dragons and the creature comforts worsened my time-I would have completely missed out if I didn't do it! In other words, if you are on the fence-just do it!!

Program: China: Change and Tradition (Summer Abroad)

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Community

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Academics

    5

Step into the Unknown

If you want to study abroad in college, do that.

If you want to step away from all of that, fully experience another part of the world, have your perspective and view on life immensurably widened, and have countless once in a life time experiences do this. You will never regret it

Program: Mekong Semester: Tibetan Plateau to the Heart of Asia

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Itinerary

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Satisfaction

    10

Transformation

Last fall, I was a student on the Where There Be Dragons Semester course in Indonesia. I hadn’t planned on taking time off between High School and College, but my ED school (Middlebury College) accepted me with a gap semester. The idea terrified me, challenged me, and ultimately has been an incredible gift. The course with Dragons changed my life.

One of the most incredible parts of Dragons courses are the instructors. Each program is made up of twelve students and a minimum of three instructors, at least one of whom is native to the country where the course is based. The instructors are chosen because of their experiences as travelers, teachers, and citizens of the world, and each came to the program with a wealth of experience in human rights, conservation, academics, and cultural building. All were wonderful, passionate people with a will to open our minds, widen our knowledge of this world, and to grow with us as we experienced the consciousness-expanding wonder of deep, informed travel.

Whether the experience is four weeks or three months, being immersed in a new culture can be immensely challenging. It is so important to have quality mentorship in times of intense growth. Dragons recognizes this, and the instructors are people who can hold space for this kind of transformative opportunity. I found that, beyond being more than qualified to inform us on human rights issues, the environment, cultural tendencies in the developing and western world, and many more intellectual pursuits, the instructors were there to support us mentally and emotionally. They guided us, challenging us when necessary, but always there for us. They took care of us, but they also helped us learn to take care of ourselves.

Another amazing thing Dragons is the relationship they build with local communities. Everywhere we went Dragons sought to create a sustainable friendship that benefits students and locals equally. This certainly deepens the student experience as it opens up doors for friendships and mentorships. A homestay family that trusts Dragons as an organization will be more likely to get excited sharing their world with a student. I will never forget the connections I made with parents, children, and friends as we traveled through Indonesia.

In each community we studied the culture (religion(s), history, customs, political dynamics, and role of the western world in all of this), environment (conservation issues facing communities, the impact of these on their everyday lives, changes being made going forward, and our roles in these issues), and community (what are the health care and educational systems, how far away is the nearest hospital, how and what language do the children learn to read). We studied all of this through community interaction: we’d sit in on community gatherings, organise talks with the village head, midwife, shaman, workers, and professors, and we’d ask them to tell us their lives and their world. We also set aside time to process with the group, to learn how best to handle the intensity of our experiences.

The course had a great balance of time spent learning with the group and time spent exploring, hanging out, and integrating our experiences into a newfound awareness of self and the world. Each day we would come together for at least two hours to check in with everyone, take care of medical needs, and rediscover solidarity with our peers. When we needed it we would always make time to go snorkeling in the nearby coral reef, explore the regional volcano, sing songs around a bonfire, have a dance party, drink a coconut, and decompress.

I know that this trip changed my life. On my own, I never could have made it to such remote and beautiful places, experienced so much depth in new cultures, made such close friendships, and internalized my experience as lasting inspiration. I have been blown away by the integrity and values exhibited by all the staff at Dragons, and I am so incredibly grateful to have been their student.

Each student faced many challenges on this program: we went into the unknown and fought against our comfort zones. We pushed into growth and found that, as we were challenged, new worlds started to open up to us. New perspectives appeared, deeper empathy was felt, greater integrity was realised, and we were suddenly more mature, more moral, more in touch with our inner selves, and more sensitive to the lives of those around us in this vast, unpredictable, beautiful world. Having had this experience, I will never be able to live without thinking of myself in service to my community. I can’t go back: I will always work harder in my friendships, find ways to explore, adventure, and deepen, and remember that I am a citizen of the world.

I wish that more of my friends would do Dragons programs. I have complete faith they would find their minds and souls expanded by it, just as I have.

Program: Indonesia Semester: Community, Culture & Conservation

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