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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011


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Hello nice people,

Darren Grosch is my name, Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach is where I was born and raised. However, Long Beach is where I call home today. I just received my M.A. in International Education and will be participating in my graduation ceremony the weekend before we meet at JFK. Currently, I am working as the Director of International Student Services & Programming at local community college. This career allows me the opportunity to interact with students from around the globe in pursuit of higher education; and the chance to develop local cross culture exchange programming aimed at serving students who may have an interest in study abroad education, but, for whatever reason are unable to participate in such an endeavor. My spare time finds me in the ring boxing, hosting French clubs in dingy cafes, on my rooftop gazing off towards the beach, or playing bad pop tunes on the piano. I root for the Lakers, Angels, and Chicago Bears (my dad is from Illinois) and I love fantasy football.

I have always had a passion for travelling and seeking to understand the complexities of world issues. After the completion of my general education requirements I sold my car and bought a ticket to Europe. I spent seven months working my way around the continent. Travel and meeting of the “other” remains a passion of mine to this day. San Jose State University is where I graduated from, Environmental Education and History is what I earned a B.A. in. Upon graduation I took a job with City Year, working as a civic Development Coordinator. This experience prepared me for my opportunity with Peace Corps, which followed a year later. I served in Chad from 04-06 and later following a coup d’état attempt and subsequent evacuation of the countries foreign workforce, returned as a Peace Corps Volunteer to a country I had visited six years earlier, Morocco. During my four years as a Peace Corps volunteer I wore many hats. I was a project manager/collaborator, community organizer, grant writer, English teacher, camp coordinator, trainer, friend, colleague, brother, and most importantly a student.

This is my third year with Dragons, and my first year travelling to Jordan. I am humbled to be traveling with each of you. I look forward to experiencing the many fabrics that make up this unique land called Jordan and seeing it through the perspective of your lens.

According to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, between 2006 and 2009, the Arab world attracts only 2,200 American University students a year, or less than one percent of all Americans who study overseas annually. More than half study in one country, Egypt, and more than 80 percent of American students go to one of three countries: Egypt, Jordan, or Morocco; Of that 80 percent only 18.5% study in Jordan. This means that each of you are all joining a very exclusive club, one that few people have the opportunity to join. When you look at the packing list Dragon’s has sent see how many of those items are currently in your closet or closet of someone you know. The chances are you already own or know someone with most of these items. If you need to make a purchase challenge yourself to buy items you need from thrift stores or department stores. Don’t over pack, stick to the list and remember you can always buy items you need in Jordan.

Should you have any questions or concerns between now and when we meet in New York do not hesitate to contact me. I will be a frequent visitor on our Yak Yak board and would encourage you to utilize this resource. I am looking forward to learning about and hearing your story.

Warmly,

Darren Grosch

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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Greetings from Long Beach

Darren Grosch,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

Hello nice people, Darren Grosch is my name, Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach is where I was born and raised. However, Long Beach is where I call home today. I just received my M.A. in International Education and will be participating in my graduation ceremony the weekend before we meet at JFK. Currently, I am […]

Posted On

05/14/11

Author

Darren Grosch

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    [post_content] => Saludos a todos los Dragones; parents, travelers, instructors and seekers,

To those who are new this year, I’d like to welcome you to the Dragons community and to the journey ahead! And to those who have joined us for another year, we are excited to have you back!

This is an momentous time of year for us, and we know that it is for you as well. We hope that the Yak Yak forum encourages you to voice your excitement, anxieties, thoughts and questions. It’s a great way to share a bit yourself, and if they haven’t done so already, your instructors will also do so shortly. From here, discussions will begin to build and your instructors will guide you with their best advice for preparing for the course – regarding packing, recommendations for readings, the itinerary, and topics to consider for your on-course Independent Study Projects (ISPs). As your Program Director, I’m going to be working closely with you as well, although mostly to support the program and the instructors and be a contact for parents while the group is out in the field.

My journey into the unknown began in the back of a 1978 Ford station wagon squeezed between three siblings and two proud parents. Together we spent two months in Mexico weaving our way through the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, the giant megalopolis of Mexico City and the warm beaches of Oaxaca. By age fifteen I decided I was ready to spring the nest and catapulted from my home town of 682 people in northern Wisconsin into a yearlong homestay with one of Puebla, Mexico’s most respected families. During the course of the next ten years I would be thoroughly infected with the traveling bug, living in Taipei, Taiwan for two years and traveling throughout southeast Asia, returning to Latin America to travel and study in Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia and Costa Rica, and spending the better part of a year living and studying in Cameroon where I focused on community based conservation efforts amongst indigenous tribes in the Congo Basin. After a long string of educational adventures as both a student and an instructor, I find it a great privilege to be a member of the Dragons Administration in Boulder, and look forward to a long and prosperous journey, continuously challenging myself, and most importantly, generating new stories. I’m glad to have all of you at my side for this next chapter in the book of life.

So as we begin to pack our bags for this summer’s adventure, keep in mind that you are now an intricate part of a much greater process; one that contains stories of past students and their feedback, of instructors who have brought their contacts, knowledge and passion, and the dedicated individuals working in country to facilitate a powerful cross-cultural experience. I'd also like to show recognition to those who are supporting the tuition of your journey, most likely your parents, who generously send you off in to the world to find your own path. A lot has already gone in to the experience you will create this summer, and your energy and presence will greatly impact the experience of future Dragons participants.

Dragons prefers to keep our hands in the dirt, allowing us to sculpt courses that are represent our unique goals of profound cross-cultural learning and self-cultivation. When it’s all said and done, and you finally gather in late June at your course’s point of departure, you should know that you are about to embark on an adventure that is intensely personalized and has been many months, and in many cases, years in the making!

Of course, the launching of the Yak Yak forum also encourages YOU to become a participant in the process. We want you to share with us and your fellow students your intentions for joining a program like ours, and as you dig through your Lonely Planet guidebooks and crack open a few of our suggested pre-course readings, we’d really like to hear what catches your attention. You are welcome to throw out contributions to the itinerary – whether there’s a particular monastery that catches your attention, a non-governmental organization that you know you’d like to take a few days to learn from, or a trekking route that seems to pass through impossibly beautiful terrain. Although our instructors have already defined most components of the course, we’d like to work to incorporate your ideas when and where possible. So join in, shout out, and partake in this forum!

The Yak board is the most appropriate place to address your pre-course questions and concerns. We hope that you will discover the magic of the Yak Yak forum, and learn to love it! It’s a powerful tool for communication and community building, and once you head into the field, it will undoubtedly become the default homepage of your parents and friends at home – all of those who WISH they could be out there with you!

Again, welcome to Dragons. I look forward to hearing from you all, and vicariously journeying alongside you this summer.

With WarmRegards,

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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Program Director Introduction

Simon Hart,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

Saludos a todos los Dragones; parents, travelers, instructors and seekers, To those who are new this year, I’d like to welcome you to the Dragons community and to the journey ahead! And to those who have joined us for another year, we are excited to have you back! This is an momentous time of year […]

Posted On

05/1/11

Author

Simon Hart

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