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Where There Be Dragons

About Where There Be Dragons

Dragons programs are authentic, rugged and profound learning adventures that expose the beautiful and complex realities of the countries in which we travel. Featuring extended itineraries, Dragons programs encourage deep immersion into strikingly different physical and cultural landscapes, combining the best in experiential education, travel, service learning, and physically and intellectually challenging experiences.

Where There Be Dragons Programs

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I knew I wanted to travel during the summer, but wasn't sure quite how to channel that into a trip. Many stayed at fancy hotels, and others were more touristy than real traveling. That is, until I found Dragons.

My trip to Indonesia was unlike anything before. I learned more about myself than I have in the traditional classroom setting, and learned how to live in the world, not just walk through it.

Our trip started with a trek into the Sumatran jungle, with a one week orientation nestled against the canopy and the river. We continued into our first homestay in Jogja, a popping urban city with vibrant life around every corner. We then travelled to Langa, a farming community tucked into the mountains on the island of Flores, where we experienced the unique culture and life of Indonesian coffee growing. Our X-Phase, or student lead portion of the trip, traversed the many islands near Labuan Bajo, where we set sail on a boat for two days and one night, falling asleep under the consuming stars and waking up to a painted sky. Our last stop was Sampela, a nomadic community buillt upon stilt and coral houses creating a labrynth of houses right on top of the ocean.

The homestays were more than safe, extremely friendly, and the best part of the trip!

Six weeks of travel, but also six weeks of knowledge, of absorbing a culture so different yet so similar to my own, of making everlasting bonds with the people around me, and eating, smelling, and breathing the excitement that is Indonesia.

What is unique about Dragons is it's mission- it's dedication to not sightseeing and picture taking, but to living in the moment and gaining experiential knowledge. It was the most amazing experience of my life!

Yes, I recommend
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This trip opened my eyes not only to parts of the world I couldn't have dreamed of, but also to myself. I learned a lot about my personality through interacting with new people for extended periods of time. I had to be a lot more self conscious about what I was saying due to the fact that I was with people I didn't know. Beyond experiencing a unique part of the world, this was the single greatest skill that I learned on this trip.

Due to the nature of Xinjiang, a traveller on this course must learn to appreciate spontaneity and changing plans. They must also be comfortable dealing with many unknowns. We were unexpectedly stuck in our hostel for an extra day due to an unexpected government meeting in the area, for instance. There were many times on the trip where plans couldn't be confirmed due to the unpredictable political situation in the area. We were going to visit a livestock market, but the road to the market happened to be shut down on that day. For me, THIS WAS NOT A BAD THING. I enjoyed not knowing what was around the corner and it created a heightened sense of adventure and travel.

Be prepared to physically exert yourself on multi-day treks, hot weather, and long bus rides. Learn to deal with fatigue - you learn the most when you are the most challenged. Use this state as a learning tool for self-growth. As Luke, one of the instructors told me, "your character is most revealed when you are challenged." Learn to be a good person to others when you are not feeling your best, and your peers will greatly appreciate you.

Overall, I would recommend this trip if you are up for personal and physical challenges, and if you want to see parts of the world you'd never think existed.

Yes, I recommend
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I went on the China Comprehensive summer program after my sister did a Where There Be Dragons program and my school advertised it. I was not sure about traveling with Dragons or going to China prior to my trip, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.
We traveled throughout China for a month with 3 great instructors and 11 other teens, and we all got along great. I was impressed with the expertise of the instructors yet their willingness to let the kids take the wheel and design a program that was personally interesting to them. We focused on cultural immersion while in China— living like a local— and it was such an amazing experience. Afterwards I learned a lot about China and myself and made some friends that I have continued to keep contact with months afterwards (and hopefully much longer).
Where there be Dragons is different from every other teen travel agency, and I really think their mission is to create the most authentic travel experience possible— so I thank them for allowing me to experience China!

Yes, I recommend
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This was my second Where There Be Dragons summer course in the Himalaya--and I was far from disappointed. Having previously spent a summer in Nepal, I thought the two trips may be too similar, and feared being bored on the trip. This was not the case, as both courses were uniquely led and approached from vastly different angles.

Similar to every Dragons instructor I've met, my three instructors were a dynamic force to be reckoned with, and offered unconditional support, prompted intellectual/physical challenges, and had an astute ability to gauge safety of the group throughout our month in North India.

If you are a student looking to immerse yourself in a new culture, spend time exploring the most breathtaking landscape, familiarize yourself with Tibetan Buddhism, gain outdoor skills (camping/mountaineering/trekking), experience living with a family in a country thousands of miles from home, or simply embark on an amazing adventure, I couldn't recommend this course more.

Full disclosure: This course is trekking-intensive, which should not be overlooked by prospective students. Though this was a major draw to me, some found it challenging--but all got through with smiles! :)

Yes, I recommend
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What an incredible experience! I can't begin to count the valuable lessons I leaned and the memories I made. The program was the perfect blend of bonding within our Dragons family and spreading out as individuals to witness the beauty and complexity of Guatemala. Our instructors were knowledgeable and supportive, and they molded the trip to fit the personality of our group. The small group environment provided opportunities to explore how we get along with other people, and our instructors facilitated sessions to allow ideas to be shared and feedback to be given. Throughout the trip, I always knew I was supported and cared for.

Each aspect of the trip brought new challenges and triumphs, and through those I formed unbreakable bonds with the other members of the group. We traveled together to many different towns and areas, experiencing both the serenity of Lake Atitlan and the majesty of the mountains of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes. Before going on the trip, I was worried that I my participation would be limited because I did not speak Spanish, but that was a non-issue. My confidence with Spanish increased exponentially, and I even developed a love for the language. This program has had such lasting impacts on my life and I am grateful for it every day.

How can this program be improved?
I don't have any improvements!
Yes, I recommend

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