Madagascar: Island of Diversity High School Summer Program

This program has been paused and is currently not being offered. View more programs from Where There Be Dragons.

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About Program

Madagascar: the eighth continent. Stunningly diverse and colossal in size, more than 80% of the plant and animal species in Madagascar are not found anywhere else in the world. The Malagasy people are similarly unique. Over the past 2,000 years, immigrants have paddled dugout canoes across the Indian Ocean and floated rafts across the Mozambique Channel, blending the influences of Southeast Asia and Africa into a distinct Malagasy identity. Over the course of the summer, we uncover the diverse narratives of the Malagasy people, as well as the diverse species that inhabit this incredible island.

Program Highlights
  • Take a first-hand look at Madagascar's stunning biological and cultural diversity, focusing on local conservation efforts in parks and coastal areas.
  • Examine how the political situation has affected local development and meet with local conservation and community organizations.
  • Spend six days in a home-stay in a coastal fishing community and five days with a family in a Merina community on the central plateau.
  • Learn to speak basic Malagasy through frequent language lessons and practice your French at any level through immersion and supplementary lessons.
  • Walk through Madagascar's unique landscapes on a 3-4 day trek in Isalo National Park, spend 2 days hiking in Ranomafana National Park, and enjoy day and night hikes in other parts of the country.

New: Fall and Spring Domestic Gap Semesters

We are excited to announce two North American Gap Semesters - the Rio Grande Semester: Stories of Culture, Identity, & Environment Along the Southern Border and the Colorado River Basin Semester: Sustainable Relationships with Land and Water in the Western United States.

Program Reviews

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  • Support 9
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Yes, I recommend this program

A True Madagascar Experience

Whenever I think about sharing “My Madagascar” with people, I was always struck by the urge to present them with the best of the best. So I show them images of lemurs, canyons, rock forest or baobab trees. However, I have come to the realization that the beauty of this program is not that. Of course, you will get to see the breathtaking canyons, pretty lemurs, and etc, but this program really lets you experience and understand the average Malagasy (people of Madagascar) life. You can see the breathtaking view on any other trips, but only this trip offers you the experience of a true Malagasy.

This is the trip that let you blend in with Malagasy families. It lets you live with them side by side. Learn what it's like to grow up in a house the same size of your living room, sharing a bed with 4 other siblings, and going to the bathroom in the "wild."

This is the trip of slow Taxi-brousses(local buses), cramp seats, loud Gasy music, and glancing out the window.

This is the trip of the people under the Baobab trees, the families that are so busy trying to make a living that they never had a moment to admire the mighty Baobab.

This is the trip to dance with strangers, laugh uncontrollably, and talk without knowing the language.

This is the trip of the living, of the 25 million Malagasy, their stories, struggles, and success.
This is the trip to a nation poor in material, but rich in kindness.
This is the trip where your peers and instructors will push you out of your comfort zone. And let you fall into their arms when needed.

This is the trip that reminds you how real and imperfect this world is.

It's the journey of discovery and self-reflection. It lets you ask yourself how much is enough and reflect on what happiness means.

It's the one of a lifetime chances to get lost in the canyons and again find yourself beneath the stars; to scream for life when leeches crawled into your sleeves and praise the earth when the sun rises through the “root” of the Baobab trees; To run toward the Indian ocean and walk into your local market; To be woken up by your host siblings' laughs, and fall asleep listening to the loud motorcycle outside; To smell the diesel smoke, and taste the fried banana wrapped in newspaper.
To learn what is Madagascar is to talk with the stranger sitting next you, share your laugh with the children that's dragging your arm, and open your heart to the host families that took you in as their own children.

"A curtain divides one home from another, but laughs are shared nonetheless." My friend Avery wrote.

If this trip still sounds interesting to you, Please join us!
I am sure a Tsara be experience awaits you.

Steven Gu

1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Finding Where The Dragons Are In Madagascar

Take a moment and ask yourself how many people do you know that have been to Madagascar, let alone can even find it on a map? Your answer is probably close to zero and that’s what makes this course so special. Unlike many of the countries other courses visit, Madagascar is unique because not many people go there. This uniqueness is what made me decide to do this course and it’s a choice I will never regret. On my trip I learned so much about myself through the interactions I had with the Malagasy people. Whether it was trekking through rain forests or rock forests (no joke on my course we actually went through a forest completely made up of rocks), sleeping in a bug bet in the middle of a canyon packed National Park or sleeping in a small bed in a mud brick house with a homestay family, I learned who I really was by interacting with each person I met. On this course there is no shortage of personality forming experiences which is why you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity and consider Madagascar as a place to call home for a few weeks this year!

What would you improve about this program?
More language lessons. The language is beautiful and relatively easy to learn which is why I wish we had more lessons.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Dragons Experience with Madagascar: Island of Diversity

My dragons experience was incredible!! Truly! I wouldn't give up my trip for anything, the values I learned and my overall experience means a lot to me. I went to Madagascar when I was sixteen years old in the year 2016, and it was the first time I had ever been to Africa. I grew up so much over my trip and learned a lot about leadership and gratitude, not to mention how much fun we all had. Although I was nervous at first, the nerves soon melted away as I became closer to my new family on the dragons trip. We traveled to multiple national parks where we woke up with the Lemurs and saw them leaping through the trees. We stayed in home stay family where we all bonded with the culture in Madagascar and all got to explore the community life. I recommend this course greatly to those who are looking to explore the island of diversity and learn about the place and about yourself. It was a blast!!

What would you improve about this program?
This program could be improved by traveling in a more timely manner, not rushing to get to destinations. That is my only critique.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Time of my Life

The Madagascar program through Where There Be Dragons was the most transformative and amazing experience EVER!! I am a huge animal and nature fan and that is the reason that I chose Madagascar. Nearly 80% of the species on Madagascar live nowhere else in the world which provides for once in a lifetime wildlife viewing experiences, and they truly are extraordinary experiences. However, the part of the trip that changed me the most was the homestays. They are absolutely the most impactful part of the trip. The people of Madagascar are the happiest, friendliest, and most welcoming people I have ever met. We did 1 week long homestays and within hours it feels as if you have been living there forever. When we did our homestay in Mangily within 30 minutes I was already playing games with my family and their friends. If you care about the environment, human rights, want to learn more about the Malagasy culture, or just go somewhere none of your friends have been (or will likely ever go) the Island of Diversity is the ideal choice for all of those.

What would you improve about this program?
Longer so we can go more places throughout all of Madagascar.
1 person found this review helpful.

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