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As an instructor team we are excited to share this amazing tentative itinerary for our summer in Peru! We ask you to keep in mind, as we have, that part of the beauty of travel is the unexpected. The benefit of being in a small group means that we can “go with the flow” of things and take advantage of the unforeseen opportunities. We know you all are excited to bring your unique passions, open minds and hearts, and we are looking forward to getting to know each of you and cultivating special relationships during our travels. Please remember that this is a tentative itinerary, which means we may make changes later on. 

We’ll keep family and friends posted on the Yak Board, and the Dragons office in Boulder will always have the latest info on our whereabouts. So without further ado, expect the unexpected, get psyched, and get ready for a beautiful, challenging, and transformational summer in Peru!

 

June 28th - Flight to Peru -Meet at the Miami International Airport for our overnight flight. Dragons Administration in Boulder will post lots of details about that soon, so keep checking back here.  Instructors will be at the airport to welcome you and prepare for our journey with a brief orientation and a few get-to-know you activities.

June 29th and 30th - Orientation– Once we land in Puerto Maldonado, we’ll gather together at our orientation site just outside of town.  We’ll spend two days in this inspiring location getting to know each other, setting personal goals and group expectations, doing workshops on intercultural communication, and learning about Peruvian language and culture. 

July 1st - July 4th- Boca Pariamanu Native Community (BOCA) -  Traveling by boat in the Amazon River Basin we will arrive at the indigenous community of Boca Pariamanu and work in conjunction with the organization Fauna Forever. The community will kindly invite us to be guests and participate in daily activities such as fishing, weaving, and arrow making. We will also learn a great deal about the biological diversity of rainforest. This will serve as an opportunity for interaction and learning about life and development issues in this region.

[caption id="attachment_154530" align="alignnone" width="4000"] DCIM100GOPROGOPR6929.[/caption]

July 5th- July 9th – Q’eros – Saying goodbye to our generous hosts we will begin our ascent over the high Andes.  We will be staying in the remote village of Quico Chico, a settlement of stone huts accessible only by trails where the Q’eros people trace their lineage directly back to the Inca.  From the people of Q’eros we will see how this traditional community has preserved a way of life to adapt to life in the Andes for hundreds of years.

[caption id="attachment_154533" align="alignnone" width="4000"] DCIM100GOPROGOPR7068.[/caption]

July 10th- July 16th - Ausangate - Resting up in the town of Ocongate we will prepare for our next adventure into the high Andes. On this trek, we will pass over the highest pass of the entire trip, meander through alpine meadows and walk alongside numerous stunningly colored sacred lakes.  We will learn about the how glaciers have shaped the landscape and continue to nourish the Amazon rainforest and the communities of the Altiplano. 

[caption id="attachment_154531" align="alignnone" width="4000"] DCIM100GOPROGOPR7112.[/caption]

July 17th and 18th- Cusco – After long days on the trail we will rest up in the center of the ancient Incan empire, Cusco. This city has been converted with Spanish colonial architecture and is buzzing as the hub for tourist destinations in Peru. 

[caption id="attachment_154539" align="alignnone" width="4000"] DCIM100GOPROGOPR1772.[/caption]

July 19th and 22nd - Andean Homestay - Despite the sharp contrasts in Andean topography, the people of Peru have adapted exceptionally to their surroundings. We’ll learn, for instance, that there are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes, with each variety intimately cultivated in a unique ecological micro-climate. Our days will be spent sharing in family life in a traditional agricultural community. We’ll share in the everyday tasks of our home-stay families which may include anything from harvesting potatoes and fava beans, herding sheep, milking or spending hours hunched over a fire preparing meals. Our home-stays will raise questions about complex community development issues such as education, sustainability, indigenous identity, and globalization. We’ll have plenty of time for group discussions, but we’ll also make time for silent contemplation.

[caption id="attachment_154534" align="alignnone" width="4000"] DCIM100GOPROGOPR6984.[/caption]

July 25th - 27th - Transference – We end our journey in the town of Urubamba, a beautiful location in the Sacred Valley. We will have time for reflection and meditation on what we’ve learned throughout our journey together, and what we’ll bring back home from our travels. We’ll spend our last day in Cusco celebrating, buying last-minute gifts, and enjoying one last delicious Peruvian meal together before catching an afternoon flight back to Miami.

 
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Introducing Your Peru 4A Itinerary!!

Eva Vanek,SUMMER: Peru 4-Week - Group A

Description

  As an instructor team we are excited to share this amazing tentative itinerary for our summer in Peru! We ask you to keep in mind, as we have, that part of the beauty of travel is the unexpected. The benefit of being in a small group means that we can “go with the flow” of […]

Posted On

05/26/17

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_content] => First off, I want congratulate everyone and welcome you all to the semester!

Thank you for making the decision to join such a wonderful program, one that will be run in the holy Himalayan mountains before arriving in one of the oldest cities on earth, Benaras, or Varanasi, “The City of Light.” It is one of the most beautiful places on the earth and place of great importance for many religions.

My name is Saurabh Pandey. I grew up in a middle class Brahman Hindu family. My grandfather was farmer and I used to help him when I was child. There was no school in my village so I use to walk 5 kilometers everyday to study, but it was fun. That was the first time I got to meet Dragons students. They were in my village because my uncle, Devendra Kumar Pandey (Bantu), works with Dragons and he is my guru (teacher). He has taught me so many things. Seeing my uncle work with Dragons instructors and students inspired me because he was teaching about our culture and our country. I felt blessed from Lord Shiva and Mother Ganga when my uncle invited me to Varanasi (Benaras) to attend high school and college because neither exist in my village.

When I moved to Varanasi I got chance to host Dragons students in my home. I start teaching by Hindi and little bits about my culture. It gave me an opportunity to improve my English language skills from them, too. After passing my 10+2 I was invited to intern on Dragons programs, meet students who were my age, and learn about the methodology and philosophy. During this time I graduated with degrees in sociology and philosophy, and completed a Master’s in India philosophy and religion from Benaras Hindu University. After all this time, it’s a joy to look back and realize that I have been working with Dragons programs since 2005.

Notes of Interest

1.) Varanasi’s name comes from two old and sacred rivers, the Varuna and the Assi. When you combine the two, Varuna + Assi, you get the name Varanasi.

2.) Khashi, another name for Varanasi, means cosmos.

3.) Benaras’s name comes from bana meaning ready, and ras meaning nectar. So the meaning of Benaras is “ready to serve the nectar of life.”

I hope you are all ready to begin our journey up into the beautiful Himalayas, where we will get to challenge ourselves along the ups and downs of the mountain contours, similar to life. This is the first lesson to learn! And then we are going to be in one of the most gorgeous places, Varanasi, a place of profound learning.There is much more to come from incredible India. My country contains so many colors and histories, religions, different foods, and welcoming hearts. Get ready for the many flavors of India!

I am really excited to meet you all and share my experience and knowledge. I hope to make this 2016 Fall VOI program the time of your life. If you have any question related to India or Indian culture you can post them here!

Welcome you all, Namastey And Julley

Saurabh Pandey

saurabh.sp74@gmail.com
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Namastey And Julley

Saurabh Kumar Pandey,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

First off, I want congratulate everyone and welcome you all to the semester! Thank you for making the decision to join such a wonderful program, one that will be run in the holy Himalayan mountains before arriving in one of the oldest cities on earth, Benaras, or Varanasi, “The City of Light.” It is one […]

Posted On

05/26/17

Author

Saurabh Kumar Pandey

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Sawasdee Ka, Dear friends, families and Thailand Summer students^^

The journey begins!!

Allow me to introduce myself ka. My name is Ramphai Noikaew. I was born in a small village far in the mountains of Uttaradit province about 5 hours southeast of Chiang Mai.  I grew up in a big family with one older brother and an older sister. I say big because I have many cousins from both my mother’s and father’s side whom live in the same village! When I was born, the village was very unique and wild, just a few families lived there. There was only one clay road. People used to collect water from the rivers and the well, and found foods and hunted in the forest. There was no electricity then and our families lived simply and happily, deeply connected to the earth and reliant upon each other.

The world has changed so fast in last 50-60 years. I was like other people who grew up surrounded by the materialism of the modern world. My mother and father are farmers, which means they don’t make a lot of money but they supported my higher education goals both in Thailand and abroad, hoping that I could have a quality and secure life. After I had been living and studying in London for 4 years, I realized that something was missing; I lacked a deeper understanding of life. I started questioning myself, slowed down and listened to my heart. I heard my soul calling, seeking for the place where I could learn and understand myself. It was then that I decided to come back home to Thailand and get training at Pun Pun Organic farm in Chiang Mai. From here my life changed a lot and I started to understand what I was born to do.

Pun Pun has reminded me how important it is to have a deep connection with community and the earth. I have many opportunities to work with both international and local youth, who we often host for workshops at the farm. My work at Pun Pun provided me with an opportunity to lead a group of young local students to join in an environmental forum in South Korea in 2013. Afterwards, I was able to join an exchange program in Sri Lankan for a year from 2014 to 2015. I have also participated in several permaculture conferences both in Thailand and abroad.

All those experiences have nurtured and enhanced the seed in my heart. It is growing every day, eat all times, and in each moment that I slowly feel and understand myself more and more. I am really excited to have a chance to share the energy with the new generation. To start working with Dragons will give me opportunities to reach out to those seeds who wait patiently for a drop of inspiring water, good soil on earth, sunlight and fresh air to put their root down into their heart and grow and reach out into the world. My hope is that all living beings can peacefully live together, connected and reliant upon each other, in order to bring back balance to the universe and to oneself.

Yin Dii Tii Dai Roo Jak Ka ("So glad to get to know each other")

Yours sincerely,

Ramphai Noikaew

r_noikaew@yahoo.com

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SUMMER: Thailand

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Yin Dii Dton Rab Ka: Welcome to the Spirit of Greng Jai and Smiles

Ramphai Noikaew,SUMMER: Thailand

Description

Sawasdee Ka, Dear friends, families and Thailand Summer students^^ The journey begins!! Allow me to introduce myself ka. My name is Ramphai Noikaew. I was born in a small village far in the mountains of Uttaradit province about 5 hours southeast of Chiang Mai.  I grew up in a big family with one older brother […]

Posted On

05/26/17

Author

Ramphai Noikaew

Category

SUMMER: Thailand

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    [post_content] => ¡Saludos, estudiantes, padres, y todos!

We now write, with great excitement, to inform you of our Peru B, 4-week Tentative Itinerary!  We the instructors, along with our awesome program director, have been working together to create this plan for our adventure this summer!

Now, we use the word “tentative” because traveling in a place like Peru can bring unexpected changes.  It is important that we all remain flexible throughout the course.  However, this itinerary will certainly help you in planning for the trip, and getting a sense of where we’ll be at what time.  It is especially helpful if you are planning on bringing along geographically-relevant medications–for example, pertaining to malaria or altitude sickness.

In just over a month, we will be landing in the Peruvian Andes. This program is jam-packed with adventure, rugged travel, and time spent in very diverse communities and climates… so prepare yourself for an inspiring whirlwind-journey of immersion and learning!

– – – drumroll please – – –

Tentative Course Itinerary:

June 28th pm: Departure

We meet in the Miami International Airport (stay tuned on the Yak board for updates from the Dragon’s Administration in Boulder). Your instructors will be there to welcome you, and we’ll prepare for our journey with a brief orientation and a few getting-to-know-you games.  We’ll board our flight to Lima  LATAM Airlines  2461) departing from Miami  at 2:05 AM on June 28th.

June 29th - July 1st Orientation in Urubamba

Arrive to the historic city of Cusco, then descend in altitude to the fertile Sacred Valley.  We will settle into a beautiful eco-lodge in the town of Urubamba for three nights to get to know each other and set expectations for our summer together.  Orientation activities will include workshops on group dynamics, tips for navigating the places we’ll visit, and learning about the rich cultures and traditions of Peru. We will also have time to explore some of the nearby sites in Urubamba.

July 2 th - July 6th: Lares Trek

We will familiarize ourselves with the colorful local markets in Urubamba as we buy necessary food and gear for the Lares Trek.  The route will take us high into remote trails outside the Sacred Valley where we will hike between snow-capped peaks and descend through numerous glacial lakes and small communities. We will finish in the town of Lares, where we might have the chance to enjoy the hot springs after 4 days on the trail.  We will then be picked up and driven through some amazing scenery for a few hours back to the Sacred Valley.

July 7th -  July 10th:  First Homestays in Parque de la Papa

After we finish our trek, we will head to the small mountain town of Pisac, where we will reflect on the journey so far, and prepare for our upcoming rural homestay.  At Parque de la Papa, we will all live with local indigenous families, and learn a great deal about Andean culture and daily life.  We will learn that there are over 3,000 varieties of potatoes, each intimately cultivated in a unique ecological microclimate. Our days will be spent sharing in family life in this traditional agricultural community.  We’ll participate in the everyday tasks of our homestay families: harvesting potatoes, herding sheep, milking animals or spending hours hunched over a fire preparing meals.  By the time you learn your first few phrases of Quechua, the mother-tongue of the Incas and their descendants, you’ll see why some potatoes are for everyday use, while others are reserved only for special occasions like weddings or funerals!

Our homestays will raise questions about complex community development issues such as education, sustainability, indigenous identity, and globalization. We’ll have plenty of time for group discussions, and we will also make time for silent contemplation.

July 11th:  Machupicchu - Cusco

On this day, we will get up early in the morning and depart on the train to Aguas Calientes and hike up the steep hill of Machu Picchu to the ruins. Our efforts will be rewarded as we will see the mist rise off of the mountain, revealing the Lost City of the Inca. We will explore and learn about this magical site, and there will be free time for everyone to absorb the energy of this awe-inspiring place.

July 12th: Cusco - Mid-course reflection

At this point we will be very close to the midway point of our course. It is important to acknowledge that by the time we arrive in Cusco we will have gained new insight, visited new landscapes, and met new friends and families. We will take some time to celebrate our time together and be grateful for what we’ve learned.

AMAZON EXCURSION !!!



July  13th   - July 15th:   Villa Carmen Research Station

From Cusco we will go directly to the Amazon basin. We will be passing through Tres Cruces, a dramatic vista point where the Andes meet the Amazon rainforest. We will descend from the cloud forest into the tropical rainforest, arriving to the research station of Villa Carmen in the community of Pilcopata. We will be learning about the rainforest ecosystem and wildlife in the Amazon.

July  16th   - July 18th:  Second Home-stay in the Amazon community of Huacaria

We will spend three days participating in home-stays in this traditional Machiguenga and Huachipaere community, learning about medicine, folklore, and natural resource issues in the Amazon while experiencing daily life in the village.

July 19th -  July 24th:  Expedition!! Ocongate and Ausangate trek  

At this point students will take responsibility on planning the last adventure of the trip. The task is to get everyone in the group to the highland town of Ocongate where students will prepare for our last trek around the base of Mt. Ausangate.

Ausangate is considered one of the most sacred peaks in all of Peru and reaches an altitude of 6,384 meters (20,944 feet). We will do a 5-day circuit around the base of this powerful apu mountain, learning about Andean spirituality and using the trekking skills we have developed during the course.

July 25th -  July 26th:  Transference at Ocongate Ecolodge

Once we complete our trek, we will settle into the beautiful Ecolodge of Ocongate where we will have time for reflection and meditation on what we’ve learned throughout our journey together, and what we’ll bring back home from our travels. We will go back to Cusco on the 26th in the afternoon for our final dinner together and celebration of our time in Peru.

July 27th: Departure - Afternoon flight from Cusco to Lima

We will spend our last morning in Cusco, buying last-minute gifts, and enjoying one last delicious Peruvian meal together before catching a flight back to Lima.

July 28th.  Arrival in Miami around 7:30 AM

We look forward to reading an introduction from each of you on this Yak board!  Tell us a little bit about yourself… What are you excited about? What questions do you have? How are you spending these final weeks prior to our departure?

 

¡Hasta muy pronto!

Alan, Marta y Leah

 

 
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Tentative Itinerary! – Peru 4B

Alan,SUMMER: Peru 4-Week - Group B

Description

¡Saludos, estudiantes, padres, y todos! We now write, with great excitement, to inform you of our Peru B, 4-week Tentative Itinerary!  We the instructors, along with our awesome program director, have been working together to create this plan for our adventure this summer! Now, we use the word “tentative” because traveling in a place like […]

Posted On

05/26/17

Author

Alan

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    [post_date] => 2017-05-26 14:08:24
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    [post_content] => 

26 May 2017

Greetings!

My name is Micah and I am the Course Director for the Madagascar summer trip and I will be leading the trip this summer as well. This is the third Dragon's trip to Madagascar and my third time leading it. I am posting our packing list below. It is long. It will take a while to get through it. I know that there will be a lot of questions and I am here to answer them. Please feel free to contact me directly at micah.wtbd@gmail.com with any questions and I will get back to you as soon as possible. I will be traveling quite a bit between now and when we meet each other in Washington D.C. in a month so it might be best for me to call you and talk things over.

Now is the perfect time to ask questions because any and all questions are much easier answered now than they will be as we approach our departure date. Furthermore, the questions will be exponentially harder to answer once we land in Antananarivo. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions that you might have and the sooner the better.

I hope everyone is doing well and getting excited for what will be an amazing trip to Madagasikara.

Best,

Micah LeMasters

Clothing & Equipment

 

THINK LIGHT! On Madagascar’s public transportation, bags are often stowed on the top of buses and bush taxis. There may be times when you have to travel with your backpack on your lap for up to three or four hours at a time. We recommend that you bring what's listed here, and not much more. The lighter you pack, the happier you (and the rest of the group) will be. Please do not bring more than fits IN your pack and do not bring more you are comfortable carrying – we will be carrying our packs through villages settling into home-stays and you will need to carry your bag for several days during our trek in Isalo. We strongly suggest that you pack and then walk around the block three times. Students who arrive at the airport drastically over-packed will be asked to send extra items home at their own expense.

It is important to note that Malagasy people dress as nicely as they can afford. It is very important that we present ourselves looking nice, as we will be more openly received. Make sure that your clothes are in good condition, without holes, tears, or stains, and prepare to dress nicely each day. Pack some button-down shirts. Women may wear pants, capris, or skirts that cover the knees. Women may not wear shorts. Women will not be allowed to wear tight leggings as pants. Also, consider bringing clothing that won’t easily show dirt. Although there will be plenty of opportunities to do laundry by hand, you’ll be happier with clothing that doesn’t "scream” dirty. With that, here's a list of all that you will need to stay comfortable:

GEARThe most important point here is that your gear should be functional and comfortable. Be sure you know how to pack and adjust your pack, and that you can carry it comfortably when it is full! We have made suggestions of possible companies that make certain items on this list; however, the same product is almost always made by other non-brand-name brands. Comfort is key! For more information, please refer to the purchase chart and shopping guidelines on the pages that follow this list.

FOR TRAVELS

  • PASSPORT
  • 2 COPIES OF THE PHOTO PAGE OF YOUR PASSPORT
  • INTERNATIONAL VACCINATION RECORDS It is imperative that you arrive without these!

FOR PACKING

  • BACKPACK We recommend something under 5,000 cubic inches/80 liters. You should be able to pack everything . You’ll be happiest if you can bring all your clothes in just one backpack, with perhaps a few essential pieces of gear carried in a small daypack.  Consider getting a backpack with a detachable daypack.  This way you can carry both on your back at the same time during long hauls. Please bring an internal frame pack, as an external frame pack may break. If you are going to purchase a new backpack, ask the sales person to fit you with a pack and make adjustments with the pack weighted. Keep in mind that many outdoor stores rent backpacks for extended trips as well.
  • BACKPACK COVER (OR PONCHO) Waterproof slip or poncho that fits over & covers backpack.
  • DUFFEL BAG/ STUFF SACK You may also want to consider packing your pack in a duffel bag for the plane trip – so that straps don’t get pulled and damaged while the bag is loaded onto the plane. When you arrive to meet your group, your duffle should be empty, and everything else should be packed in your backpack. Past students have found that backpack rain covers with a full zipper work well. These can function to protect your bag on the plane, keep it dry when hiking or on a bus, and to be locked up to store extra gear while on a brief excursion.
  • DAY PACK Small, light, nylon bag with straps – like a lightweight school book-bag. This is what you’ll take with you on day excursions. It should be big enough to hold a water bottle, headlamp or flashlight, some food, a raincoat, and a book or journal. Again, consider getting a backpack with a detachable day pack. If this is not possible, look for one that can collapse well and pack into your bag.
  • STUFF SACKS Light-weight and compact, stuff sacks are incredibly convenient for separating clothes, food, toiletries, and everything else so that you may bring order to your pack. We recommend that students bring one or two waterproof stuff sacks (Sea to Summit is one reliable brand). Heavy duty garbage bags or plastic zip lock freezer bags can work, and it’s nice to have some smaller bags to hold toiletries, batteries, etc. We like to bring a few stuff sacks to separate clean and dirty clothes – old beat-up pillowcases are ideal too.

SHOES

  • HIKING/RUNNING SHOES Our treks through Madagascar’s national parks will only be moderately difficult, so unless you have ankle or foot difficulties, light hiking boots or running shoes are recommended (trail runners with better traction work great, but plain old running shoes will work, too).  If you choose to bring hiking boots, there is NO need to pack both hiking boots and running shoes.
  • SANDALS: TEVAS, OR CHACOS: You will need a pair of comfortable sandal shoes to wear around cities and villages. Durable flip flops (such as Chaco brand) are a good option. You can purchase cheap flip flops in Madagascar as well, but the quality tends to be poor and there often aren’t large sizes.

FOR SLEEPING

  • SELF-STANDING MOSQUITO NET Sleeping under a mosquito net will be MANDATORY every day we are in Madagascar. Based on previous years’ feedback, we strongly recommend that students purchase a SELF-STANDING net (which is like a tent) that does not need to be tied at each of the corners. REI Bug Hut 2 Tent is the most highly recommended by students and instructors. It’s easy and quick to put up and is self-standing. We will sleep in these huts in the national parks, so you MUST have a self-standing net, otherwise creepy crawlies get inside!
  • LIGHT SLEEPING BAG: Synthetic or down, 30 to 40 degree rating. Down bags last longer, are lighter, but require more maintenance (and don’t do so well in wet weather). It is also essential that if you do get a down bag, you line your stuff sack with a plastic bag. Compared to down bags, synthetic bags are bulkier, but they are a lot more economical and you can stay warm in a synthetic bag even if the bag is wet. We recommend a compression stuff sack for packing your sleeping bag, especially for synthetic bags.
  • SLEEPING PAD An inflatable or foam sleeping pad is okay. Thermarest makes great inflatable pads that are lightweight and comfortable, but be sure to get a repair kit – they often get small holes and need repairs. Ridge-rest is a foam pad. It’s not as compact, but it’s more economical, and doesn’t require any special precautions or repairs, making it a lot more reliable.
  • SLEEPING BAG LINER: Either silk or synthetic.  These are great as they keep your sleeping bag clean and can be used alone in hot temperatures.

CLOTHING - Dressing in a way that is culturally appropriate will go a long way in gaining the respect of local people and opening doors for you. Clothing that does not show dirt, is lightweight, and dries easily is ideal. Whatever you bring will get a lot of use. Malagasy people prioritize dressing nicely and students will be expected to have some Western business casual clothing and proper close-toed shoes for our visits to local schools or other organizations. Tank tops or shorts above the knee will not be permitted at any time for men or women.

  • PILE JACKET or WOOL SWEATER: We will be in in Madagascar during their winter and it often gets pretty chilly (especially on the plateau and in the desert) so it is very important that you bring a warm jacket. It will be very difficult to find a suitable, durable jacket that fits will oncew we are in Madagascar. We recommend a pile jacket, often called Polar-tech, or fleece, because its light, doesn’t hold odors, dries fast and keeps you warm even if it’s wet. This coat is an essential element of the layering system, and a wool sweater will serve the same purpose. A light down jacket could serve this purpose as well and packs down very small in your backpack. DO NOT BRING cotton sweaters and sweatshirts as they are heavy, take a long time to dry and will only make you colder if they get wet.
  • LIGHT DOWN OR SYNTHETIC “PUFFY”: While daytime temperatures may get into the 70s or 80s, nights in Madagascar are chilly and can fall to the high 40s or low 50s and there is not much heating on the Malagasy plateau at night. A puffy is a cure-all for layering. This warm insulating layer adds an incredible amount of warmth and comfort in the evening and packs down very small in your bag. For synthetics, Polarguard is an excellent insulator. Look at Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, or Cloudveil for highest quality (and cost!). North Face makes a cheaper down jacket that would be sufficient. This is a highly recommended piece of gear and if you bring a puffy, you can leave your expedition-weight fleece at home. As with sleeping bags, down jackets must be kept dry.
  • WOOL or PILE HAT: Bring your favorite winter hat, or pick up a good cheap hat in your travels.
  • RAINCOAT Best if lightweight and breathable. A plastic poncho will work fine. We will be traveling during the “long dry season” so don’t expect to see heavy rainfall, but a rain jacket can also be useful as an extra layer when it is cold.
  • SOCKS We recommend that you bring 2-3 pairs, although it will depend on how often you plan to wear sandals vs. tennis shoes. Bring at least one pair of synthetic socks (like Smartwool) for hiking--this helps to prevent blisters.
  • UNDERWEAR 6-8 pairs (students will wash underwear by hand).
  • T-SHIRTS 3 (including your Dragons t-shirt). Should be neither white (gets dirty too easily) nor black (attracts heat and mosquitoes), and in fair shape. Loose-fitting shirts will be more comfortable in the heat. Please make sure they are in good condition and don’t look grungy. Men and women: Please DO NOT BRING TANK TOPS or other shirts which reveal much skin as this will be considered culturally inappropriate. WOMEN: please make sure that your shirts come down at least to the top of your hipbone as not to reveal the skin of your stomach or back.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT SHIRT 2. Something that will keep you cool and will dry quickly (either of synthetic materials, or light-weave cotton). You may like to bring one long-sleeved and one short sleeved. You don’t have to get something fancy at an outdoor clothing store — even a lightweight short-sleeve button down shirt will do.
  • LONG-SLEEVE SHIRT 1. Something to shield sun and provide an extra light layer if needed.
  • PANTS / CAPRIS: 2 pair, at least one synthetic. Your pants should be durable and lightweight, and, if possible, dark in color. We recommend lightweight nylon trekking pants with zippers, if preferred, so that they may be easily converted into shorts or capris. Guys will want to bring 2 pairs of pants, and girls could opt to bring 1 pair as well as a skirt. Jeans are acceptable. Your pants or capris should be durable and lightweight, and, if possible, dark in color. Again, something that fits loosely will keep you cooler.
  • SUN DRESS or LONG SKIRT (FOR FEMALES): 1 These are also remarkably comfy for hiking! It should be simple and lightweight and MUST cover the shoulders and go past the knee when kneeling or sitting cross-legged. Don't go out and buy anything fancy! Make sure your dress or skirt is loose enough to squat (to use the toilet without showing skin) and to sit cross-legged in.
  • ONE OUTFIT that you can wear to church with a home-stay family. A button-down shirt and a skirt or nice pants work great. Women should also know that they cannot wear low-cut shirts.
  • SWIM SUIT:  Not cotton—something that will dry quickly. For men, this could double as one of your pairs of shorts. Ladies, something modest, please. Two pieces are OK, but string bikinis are not.

PLEASE NOTE: Second-hand Western clothes are sold widely around Madagascar; students should pack a minimal amount of clothing, knowing that they will be able to buy anything they need in Madagascar.

PERSONAL ITEMS 

  • WATER BOTTLE A 1-quart, plastic or metal water bottle. Nalgene bottles are great, and can be picked up at any backpacking store.
  • SUNGLASSES Bring one pair that offers GOOD protection (including UV protection). The sun is bright in Madagascar and you will want excellent eye protection. Not a bad idea to bring a cheap extra pair if you have a tendency to lose things.
  • TOILETRIES Essentials such as shampoo, soap and deodorant are all widely available in Madagascar, so packing light and restocking is often a good way to do it. Bring a 6-week supply of things you need that you think you can’t find in Madagascar. Women, please bring enough tampons/pads for the entire course.
  • SECURITY WALLET / BELT You’ll want to keep your personal spending money in a secure wallet or belt that’s well attached to your body. We prefer the cloth ones to nylon because they are cooler against the skin in humid weather. Generally waist belts offer more security than the sort that goes around the neck. Eagle Creek makes good products.
  • JOURNAL/NOTEBOOK You must bring something that you can write in.
  • TOWEL Preferably quick-dry and compact.
  • HAT The sun is strong, so a brimmed hat will be needed.
  • FLASHLIGHT/HEADLAMP A headlamp is a MUST, for use during power outages, when camping, and if walking at night. Bring extra batteries!
  • CAMERA (with extra battery and memory if needed) If you are bringing a digital camera with a rechargeable battery, know that when we have access to electricity, the French 220V plugs are what is used throughout Madagascar (these are two round prongs). It is a good idea to have two batteries, so you can have a back-up if we are without electricity for a long time. Downloading photos can be challenging outside of Antananarivo, so bring enough memory cards to cover your needs without downloading.
  • SUN SCREEN SPF 30+, water/sweat proof.
  • LIP BALM WITH SPF
  • INSECT REPELLENT As we will be traveling through malaria zones, a good insect repellent is MANDATORY. Do not bring 100% Deet—this is too strong and will melt plastic— 30% Deet is fine.
  • MEDICATIONS Any personal prescription medications that you regularly take (and printed information on side effects and contraindications). Consult with a travel doctor for recommendations; they may prescribe a cycle of Ciprofloxacin or other broad-based antibiotic, though this is also available in Madagascar if needed.
  • GLASSES & CONTACTS Bring an extra pair of glasses. If you wear contacts, it is a good idea to bring a one extra pair of glasses and extra contacts. Also, it is helpful to have a compact mirror for taking your contacts in and out in rural areas.
  • ALARM CLOCK Small travel clock with an alarm, or a watch with an alarm. Necessary for the home-stay days when we need to meet as a group at a designated time to visit the market or a nearby village. Note: Rural home-stay families may not have clocks and, therefore, it is MANDATORY that students have one.
  • ZIPLOCK BAGS several of small and large size. Freezer bags are the most durable.
  • GIFTS a few simple things to present to people who help make our course special. Postcards or picture books of home and inflatable globes or balls are great. Other gift ideas: playing cards, travel games, CDs of American music, old jewelry and toys or sports balls (hackie sacs). Students can discuss other appropriate gifts when their instructors call to introduce themselves in early June or look for postings on the Yak Yak board.
  • SMALL BACKPACK PADLOCK

OPTIONAL - We include these items to give you an idea of some extras that might come in handy; however, they truly are optional – all items that we believe are necessary for this course have been included above. If you have any questions regarding the necessity of a particular item please contact us.

  • BANDANA 1+ These can serve multiple purposes while traveling.
  • EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS Not a bad idea to have a few extra pictures with you.
  • PURELL (hand-sanitizing gel) A small bottle, or anti-bacterial hand wipes.
  • SPENDING MONEY Whatever you will need for souvenirs, snacks, post cards, and postage. See previous “Spending Money” section for more information.
  • GOOD BOOK(S) You need to bring something and the best idea is to bring one to trade! You will read more than you think.
  • EXTRA STUFF SACKS OR ZIPLOCKS
  • PLAYING CARDS / DICE / TRAVEL GAMES
  • DUCT TAPE Wrap some around your water bottle, and pull it off as you need it.
  • OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICATIONS Bring a SMALL supply of whatever you use at home, along with some vitamins or other things that you take frequently. We stock our med-kit with just about everything, but if you are especially prone to motion sickness, headaches, or menstrual cramps, it’s still a good idea to bring some of your own. Instructors will review and then collect all medications at the start of the course. It is a good idea to bring some probiotics, especially if you don’t like fresh yoghurt.
  • EAR PLUGS These can often come in extremely handy to secure a good night sleep!
  • WATER PURIFICATION SYSTEM Instructors will carry water purification systems, but students in the past have recommended bringing their own for when they are in home-stays. Families will always be happy and capable of boiling water over a cook fire for you. Most Malagasy families drink a boiled tea made with burned rice that is safe to drink as well. OR -->
  • IODINE TABLETS (WITH OR WITHOUT NEUTRALIZER) Instructors will carry a full supply, as well as other water purification systems, but students in the past have recommended bringing a personal bottle or two to use during the home-stays and trek. The neutralizer removes the taste of the iodine. OR-->
  • POTABLE AQUA CHLORINE DIOXIDE TABLETS These take four hours to purify water, but do so without the unpleasant taste that iodine tablets produce.  In the past, we’ve used them to purify water overnight. Available at REI.

THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME

* Spaghetti-strap tank tops, sleeveless shirts, short shorts, cropped or low-cut tops, and skirts that hang above the knee

* Pants that drag on the ground

ONE FINAL THING that is essential equipment: A HEALTHY BODY!  Your experience will be so much more enjoyable if you come with a body that is fully prepared for the journey. We recommend an exercise regimen that gets your heart rate above 120 beats per minute, for thirty minutes at a stretch, four times a week. If you can’t do this much, do what you can - the more the better! There will be several opportunities on the course to play soccer with local kids, go for a group run or take a long walk from one village to another. The better your condition, the greater the number of opportunities you’ll be able to seize.

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SUMMER: Madagascar

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Summer Packing List

Micah LeMasters,SUMMER: Madagascar

Description

26 May 2017 Greetings! My name is Micah and I am the Course Director for the Madagascar summer trip and I will be leading the trip this summer as well. This is the third Dragon’s trip to Madagascar and my third time leading it. I am posting our packing list below. It is long. It […]

Posted On

05/26/17

Author

Micah LeMasters

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    [post_content] => I'm Jasper + I'm from San Francisco, Ca. I will be a junior next year ( I'm 16) but am still currently finishing up finals. The only other time that I have been out of the country was to Japan when I was younger, so I am hella looking forward to traveling again this summer. I speak (+write) conversationally fluent Mandarin but am super excited to have the opportunity to learn some Arabic. I have two younger siblings and lots of cousins, my favorite subjects are art history, Chinese, and bio, and my most significant pastime/interest is general visual art but more specifically photography. I'm on XC and Track  (running the 1-mile and 2-mile). I like listening to music; 90s RnB and hip-hop, jazz, Motown, and shamefully, 2000s pop. I spent my last five summers backpacking in the Tetons near Jackson + riding in Dubois, Wyoming. I spend a lot of time visiting family in New York City, Dallas, and in rural Alabama where my family has a farm. I've been obsessively checking the program website every day for the last month so you could say I'm excited about the summer. ---- Jasper
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SUMMER: Morocco

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Student Introduction

Jasper Schutt,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

I’m Jasper + I’m from San Francisco, Ca. I will be a junior next year ( I’m 16) but am still currently finishing up finals. The only other time that I have been out of the country was to Japan when I was younger, so I am hella looking forward to traveling again this summer. […]

Posted On

05/26/17

Author

Jasper Schutt

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_date] => 2017-05-26 10:49:40
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-26 16:49:40
    [post_content] => 

Welcome young Dragons!  My name is John and I am your third instructor for this summer. I am super excited to meet you all and explore North India together.  I have worked in outdoor experiential education settings with various organizations and feel privileged to be working alongside such skilled and seasoned instructors in the mountains this July.

I am from Western Massachusetts but have spent the last few years traveling often and working abroad in a variety of settings. My first trip to Asia was during college; I studied briefly in South India and was deeply moved by the people and the way of life that I witnessed. I ended up deciding to study Eastern Religions upon my return to the USA, and naturally, found myself back in India to further explore Buddhism in particular. I have since been back to North India and Southeast Asia for extended periods to volunteer, learn, and attend meditation retreats. My education from these travels has been massively influential on who I am today and how I perceive the world. I am grateful for my exposure to these different ways of life and look forward to our shared exploration of N. India!

After college, I worked a number of jobs with youth ranging from traditional classrooms to experiential education on a 1925 build wooden schooner off the eastern seaboard.  I was drawn toward Dragons due to their emphasis on values that I hold dearly and I am very happy to be getting back to the mountains of Ladakh this summer.

Just a few short weeks until we are united at Newark to embark on an incredible trip!  I cannot wait to get to know you all and will try my best to aid you in every way I can.  July is going to be a blast.

More to come soon!

-John O

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Instructor Introduction

John O'Connor,SUMMER: North India 4-Week

Description

Welcome young Dragons!  My name is John and I am your third instructor for this summer. I am super excited to meet you all and explore North India together.  I have worked in outdoor experiential education settings with various organizations and feel privileged to be working alongside such skilled and seasoned instructors in the mountains […]

Posted On

05/26/17

Author

John O'Connor

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    [post_date] => 2017-05-26 07:02:41
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    [post_content] => Hi! I'm Mac. I live in Los Angeles and will be a junior next year. My first time traveling out of the U.S. was last year on a Dragon's trip to India with my school, so being able to travel again so soon is unbelievable. I've been counting down the days until the trip and am so excited! I'm not really sure what to include in an introduction so: I love warm weather and chocolate, today is my first day of summer vacation, I will eat just about anything, sweatpants are my favorite clothing item and I can't wait to go to the beach this summer. I think those things are a pretty good representation of me lol. I can't wait to meet you guys!

--Mac :)
    [post_title] => Morocco 2017! Student Introduction - Mac
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View post

Morocco 2017! Student Introduction – Mac

Mackenzie Williams,SUMMER: Morocco

Description

Hi! I’m Mac. I live in Los Angeles and will be a junior next year. My first time traveling out of the U.S. was last year on a Dragon’s trip to India with my school, so being able to travel again so soon is unbelievable. I’ve been counting down the days until the trip and […]

Posted On

05/26/17

Author

Mackenzie Williams

Category

SUMMER: Morocco

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    [post_author] => 2
    [post_date] => 2017-05-26 06:52:35
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-26 12:52:35
    [post_content] => 

Dear Dragons students,

My name is Rasheika Robinson and I am very excited to be able to work with you for the Madagascar Summer 2017 course. I am from an old mill town in South Carolina named Rock Hill. I attended the University of South Carolina and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and History. I graduated from University at one of the worst time periods for college graduates and instead of entering the job market I decided to pack my bags and join the Peace Corps to better enhance my knowledge of the global world. I worked in Madagascar as a community health advisor in a rural Malagasy community, not much different from my hometown.  In the many years that I have been working in Madagascar I have gained a thorough knowledge of the culture and I speak the language fluently. I have traveled all over the country to expand my knowledge of the various tribal groups and the complexities of the country.

I am very passionate about youth empowerment and education. I believe the best way to learn is experiential learning. As you are packing and organizing yourself for this experience, I encourage you to keep an open mind and to have limited expectations. After 4 years of living in Madagascar, I am still amazed and shocked every day by some of my exchanges. This will be one of the best experiences of your life, if you allow yourself to have an open heart and an open mind. Your adaptability and flexibility will allow you to be transformed and you will have a greater knowledge of this beautiful country.

Madagascar is not an easy country to live in, with 80% of the people living below the poverty line. In the instance that you see something that you do not understand or that bothers you, you may feel frustrated – particularly with limited language skills to express yourself. If this occurs, remember that you are not alone. We, your instructors, are here to support you in any way that we can. We are here to guide you in this learning experience.

Just a small piece of advice, bring something with you that reminds you of home. When you are with your home-stay families, you may not be able to communicate with them fluently, but Malagasy people love pictures. Bring a few pictures of your family to connect with your host families. This will also remind you that, even in the hard times that you may experience during this course, you have a loving family that is waiting for you back home.

Finally, don’t forget to read the packing list. This document is very important. In this document, you will see that the clothing that you wear is a form of communication and while you may not be able to speak the local language you can allow for your clothing to express your respect for the host country.

If you have any question please do not hesitate to email me: rasheikarobinson@gmail.com. I do not have a U.S phone number currently, but if you email me - once I am back in the USA later this month then we can exchange phone numbers.

Happy packing and I look forward to meeting you soon.

Best regards,

Rasheika Robinson

 

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Instructor Intro

Rasheika Robinson,SUMMER: Madagascar

Description

Dear Dragons students, My name is Rasheika Robinson and I am very excited to be able to work with you for the Madagascar Summer 2017 course. I am from an old mill town in South Carolina named Rock Hill. I attended the University of South Carolina and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and History. […]

Posted On

05/26/17

Author

Rasheika Robinson

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Dear amigos y amigas,

We hope you are getting excited for our upcoming journey together! Your instructor team has been busy planning out an itinerary that will be rugged, beautiful and filled with learning and adventure.

Be prepared for plans to change; that’s part of what rugged travel is all about! Here is our tentative itinerary, which we are very excited to present to you! Here goes:

June 28th: We will meet in the Miami airport. We will begin to get to know each other and go over some basic phrases in Spanish that will be useful upon our arrival to Bolivia.

June 29th - July 2nd:  We will arrive to the highest international airport in the world in the city of La Paz (13,320 feet above sea level!). Then, we will descend into the dreamlike region of Bolivia called the Yungas. There we dive into our journey at a tranquil eco-lodge in Coroico, a town nestled in Bolivia's unique and breathtaking cloud forests. We will have time to acclimate, and settle in for three days of workshops on intercultural communication, goal setting, group dynamics, and introductory lessons on Bolivian culture, politics, and language. During this time, we will also take a hike to explore this beautiful biodiverse region.

The time between meeting up in the Miami airport through June 2nd makes up the “Orientation” phase of our course.  This time will mostly be dedicated to getting to know each other and the community around us.

July 3rd – 13th: Upon completing orientation we begin the “Skill Acquisition Phase.” At this point, we will travel to Cochabamba. There we are going to settle in for 10 days of home-stays in Tiquipaya with our host families. We will have intensive Spanish lessons every morning with local teachers. The afternoon will be dedicated to your Independent Study Projects (ISPs), some talks with guest speakers, and of course spending quality time with your home-stay families.

During our stay in Tiquipaya, we will also take a rigorous day hike into the nearby Tunari mountains, to enjoy the backcountry and to help prepare for our big Andean trek.

The period from the 9th through the 18th is called the “Practicing Phase,” during which time we will be developing skills around leadership, group dynamics, and responsible travel.

July 14th - 18th: We will make our way back towards the city of La Paz, and spend time with the theater group Teatro Trono, based in El Alto. Teatro Trono is an organization that works with young local artists and actors who perform and create to raise awareness of current social issues in Bolivia. During this part of the course, we will dive into hands-on learning about the arts for social change, as well as development and resource use throughout Bolivia.

July 19th - 24th: This is the last phase of our program, known as the “Expedition Phase.” During this chapter, the student group will have the opportunity to collaborate as a single unit and make use of the skills developed during the previous phases. The group will plan and facilitate a high-mountain trek through the Cordillera Real range, ending in Copacabana on the shores of shimmering Lago Titicaca.

July 25th - 26th: These final days will be spent in an eco-lodge overlooking the clear waters of this expansive Andean lake. Here, in the high-mountain sunshine amidst the refreshing scent of eucalyptus trees, your instructors will lead activities related to Course Reflection and Celebration. In other words, it will be a time for gathering together to share learning from our incredible journey through Bolivia.

July 27th: We will return to the city of La Paz for final souvenirs, gift shopping and our last meal together.

July 28th: Fly home to Miami and beyond!

We are so excited to share this journey with you all! ¡Hasta pronto!

-Michaela, Chris, and Ana

 

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(drumroll please) … Our Tentative Itinerary!

Michaela O'Connor,SUMMER: Bolivia

Description

Dear amigos y amigas, We hope you are getting excited for our upcoming journey together! Your instructor team has been busy planning out an itinerary that will be rugged, beautiful and filled with learning and adventure. Be prepared for plans to change; that’s part of what rugged travel is all about! Here is our tentative […]

Posted On

05/25/17

Author

Michaela O'Connor

Category

SUMMER: Bolivia

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