Megan used to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in southern Senegal from 2000-2002. She is now the Co-Director of Adult Programs of Where There Be Dragons, and works to create meaningful travel programs for adult travelers. She is also a Psychotherapist who, in her private practice, supports adolescents with improving their mental and emotional health.
What is your favorite travel memory?
On a relentlessly hot and boring afternoon while I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, I hopped on my bike and rode on sandy paths in a northerly direction. I passed remote villages that had likely never been visited by outsiders.
In the evening, I got caught in a sudden rain storm in a village many miles away from where I lived. I stopped and spoke with two cow herders who encouraged me to ask the Chief of a nearby village for lodging. I followed their advice, went to the Chief's compound, and was welcomed with the hospitality that Senegal is known for: given fresh clothes, dinner, and a bed to share.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I always have one eye on the privileges that come with my nationality, education, race, and economic status, especially when I travel. My gratitude for the resources that are readily available to me has increased as has my awareness of international happenings and injustices.
I also have a better sense of the exchange that happens in cross-cultural experiences.
That as a group of travelers in a new place, we are not only learning about another culture; the people who live in that place are also learning about us and our culture.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
As many teachers would say, my students end up teaching me so much, and utterly inspire me. One of my former students, Megan Shutzer, is an activist who has promoted girls soccer in Zanzibar through her film New Generation Queens: A Zanzibar Soccer Story. Her commitment to women's rights in Muslim East Africa inspires me.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I'm biased, but I would attend our Senegal: Music & Mysticism Program for adult travelers. Senegal has so much to offer!
On one hand, it's so different from American culture. On the other hand, Senegalese people are so welcoming and excited to share their lives with foreigners. Not a lot of Americans get the opportunity to visit West Africa and experience the gaiety of life there firsthand. Despite their lack of access to basic resources, Senegalese people are so lively and generous.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
We offer authentic connection to people of rich cultural histories. We sit down with our friends from different countries over tea, and talk about their lives as well as discuss critical issues they face.
We also reflect upon our own lives, and grow as individuals. I'm especially proud of our own individual journeys; that all of our staff have had challenging travel experiences that have inspired us to grow, shift our perspectives, and learn about ourselves.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I believe the biggest factor in being a successful company is staying in alignment with your values while being able to deliver a product that is financially sound. The product must also be of benefit to individuals as well as the global community.
After working with Dragons for over a dozen years, I'm proud to say that this organization is an inspiration in my own life. We all aspire to live by the values that we teach our students.