When searching for a summer trip, I wanted an experience that combined hiking, language study, homestays, and immersion into societies and cultures very unlike my own. Thankfully, I stumbled across Where There Be Dragons. After reading about Dragons' pillars of rugged travel, learning service, and awareness of the importance of being a global citizen, I was hooked.
Will is a current Senior at Culver Academies, a boarding school in Northern Indiana. An avid hiker, frequent guitar player, and passionate sports fan, Will is from Newton, Kansas.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Where There Be Dragons was super helpful in all the course preparation and logistics. I took part in multiple webinars before the trip to get an understanding of the physical necessities and the mindset I needed to have for the trip.
Additionally, the Yak Board was a place where the instructors were able to reach out to the students and parents, and outline the course-specific requirements. Logistically, once I flew to Miami, Dragons took charge of all the trip-planning for Peru.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Going into the trip, I believed our hiking excursions would consist of us carrying our large 70-ish L packs every day. It sounds a little scary, but as a hiker, it was a challenge I looked forward to. As it turned out, mules actually carried our big packs, tents, and cooking equipment while we only carried our daypacks.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
This is a hard question to answer. Not only are the days and weeks within an individual trip unique, but every Dragons course is different. For example, there were three summer trips to Peru in the summer of 2017, and every trip was different.
Two weeks of my trip were spent hiking, with early mornings in the Andean wilderness and many camping meals. We spent a week and a half in a homestay where we had Spanish lessons in the mornings, classes on topics like Peruvian cooking and music in the afternoon, and then a lot of free time with our homestay families.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
While I went to Peru with Dragons, I had friends going to summer study and pre-college programs. Part of me was afraid their experiences would help them grow and learn more.
However, after I met the people in my group and began to understand their backgrounds and perspectives, it quickly became evident that my Dragons trip would help me grow and learn in many ways that other experiences wouldn't.
What was your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was playing soccer underneath the setting Amazonian sun with indigenous youth of the Shipibo tribe during a four-day homestay. During the day, the sun was much too hot to spend much time outside, and at night the mosquitoes would come out.
Every day during sunset, everyone in the village would come out to play soccer. We didn't speak the same language and our backgrounds couldn't be much more different, but during the game, we were all just teenagers laughing and smiling as we played soccer together.