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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and, not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

--Henry David Thoreau

We ventured into the forest, a group of familiar strangers, hands touching a sacred rock, the child of Paccha Mama to gain entry. . .climbing over gnarled roots, following single file on a narrow path, sinking into mud trails and finally passing through the heart of tree, a cathedral door to the primeval forest where we entered with a profound sense of awe and wonder, emerging as friends who shared an adventure.
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EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

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CEN: Into the Woods

Q,EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

Description

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and, not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. –Henry David Thoreau We ventured into the forest, a group of […]

Posted On

08/5/16

Author

Q

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    [post_date] => 2016-07-19 15:22:07
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-19 21:22:07
    [post_content] => 

Hello Educators,

As our time together draws closer we imagine many of you are starting to gather the things you’ll be bringing with you and think about some of the finer points of our trip.  With that in mind we wanted to share some important information as well as some thoughts on the packing list.  Hopefully this information will help you pack and answer some questions you might have about different aspects of the course you may have read about.  We’ll be posting a complete itinerary soon but in the meantime please look over this message and don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions. 

Packing and other important points

A bathroom, a place to bathe, and a place to wash clothes will be available throughout the trip. The set-up may look different than you imagine, for example, the bathroom at homestays will be a latrine, the bath will likely consist of a bucket and something with which to scoop water over your head, and the washing-machine a ridged washing stone; however, cleanliness and presentation is in fact something highly valued and emphasized here in Nicaragua…

Which in fact brings me to a few points we’d like to make about the packing list. Please do bring everything you see listed on the packing list. Though it may or may not please you to know that this particular course is not a particularly rugged Dragon’s course. You needn’t be quite as sparse on the clothing as listed there, now that you’re aware you’ll be washing your own clothes. If you do wish to pack more than I would recommend your regular comfortable street clothes, casual but presentable, because this is what people in Nicaragua wear, as opposed to the kind of clothes made specifically for travelers. Bring as much as you need, but do be able to get it around with you. During the few shorter-length day hikes we’ll go on, you won’t be carrying all your stuff on your back, just day-packs, so you only need to be able to move your big pack onto various different modes of transport. If you are more comfortable with a suitcase or duffel, you can use one of those instead of a big pack, but you have to be able to CARRY it without rolling it.

You will have access to WiFi during the trip except for August 5th-9th when we are in more rural parts of the country.

El Lagartillo, where you will each have your own homestay, does have a modest library of English language books, in case that helps you determine how many reading books to bring. We do not all need to be carrying a Lonely Planet guide. Even one for the group will do! When we are not in a homestay, where you will have your own rooms, please be prepared to share hotel rooms with other participants. Anything goes for homestay gifts, which are optional, home-related items are always nice.

Community Sharing and ISP

As mentioned above, during our time in El Lagartillo you will have  an opportunity to share something that you’ve prepared with the group.  Just to clarify this doesn’t need to be any kind of large or formal presentation.  What we’re hoping to achieve with this portion of the program is to have a space where we can really tap into the experience and wisdom that each of you are bringing.  We would love to hear from you about any topic that interests you and about which you feel inspired to share.  In the past some of the most memorable and interesting conversations have been started about topics which we’re totally unrelated to Latin America or the course content but were based on participants passions and interests.  We want this to be fun and open and we’re happy to workshop ideas with you in the first couple of days or anytime beforehand. 

The Independent Study Project is an important component of all Dragons courses.  We’ll discuss the why and how we carry these out on courses during our sessions together.  We’d also love to give you an experiential taste of what the process is like.  Given that we’ll only be in country for 12 days with a pretty packed schedule it’s not realistic to carry out an entire project, but we would like to at least have the opportunity to discuss with you the topics you would be interested in pursuing and how arrange any possible speakers or excursions based on those interests.  ISP’s can range from art to religion to how to use a machete, so think creatively about what it is you’d like to know and we’ll make a plan together in the first couple of days to make it happen.  Again, feel free to post or forward us any questions with regards to this. 

We hope this note has gotten you a little more excited and addressed some of your questions regarding our trip.  Again, we want to really thank you for coming along with us to explore all of these topics, we feel that there is so much potential in learning communities such as the one we’ll soon be forming.  Please let us know how we can further support you in your preparations and we’ll see you soon.

Hasta pronto,

Dhyana and Luis

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EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

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Packing and Other Points

Dhyana and Luis,EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

Description

Hello Educators, As our time together draws closer we imagine many of you are starting to gather the things you’ll be bringing with you and think about some of the finer points of our trip.  With that in mind we wanted to share some important information as well as some thoughts on the packing list.  […]

Posted On

07/19/16

Author

Dhyana and Luis

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    [post_date] => 2016-07-19 15:12:19
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    [post_content] => 

Fellow Educators,

Allow me to welcome you to this summer’s Nicaragua educators course and the Dragons community.  My name is Luis and I’m pleased to introduce myself as one of the facilitators of this upcoming program.  

All Dragons instructors are asked to wear many hats.  We are simultaneously required to be guides, nurses, friends, mentors, chefs, translators…the list goes on.  However whenever I find myself asked to describe what it is that I do I seem to always come back to the term ‘educator’.  This is how I choose to condense the many different aspects of what I do into a cohesive whole.  I think this is important because it highlights for me that no matter what might be required of me at any given moment the opportunity exists for sharing and learning.  It all comes back to education.  

My own education has been the path that I’ve walked in this life.  It’s taken me from my home in Missouri where I studied Spanish and Art to living and working for several years in Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua.  After finding Dragons and joining this community of dedicated and inspiring educators I have continued to walk and learn throughout Latin America and more recently in Asia.  Since beginning to work with Dragons in 2011 I have worked fifteen programs in nine different countries.  

For me this work has been so much more than just a job, it’s been a way of life and a rigorous education in it’s own right.  I have been fortunate to learn from and work with amazing people in incredible places and I do my best to incorporate what they’ve taught me into this work.  As an educator on this path I have experienced tremendous failures, brilliant successes, mistakes, happy accidents and everything in between.  It’s my sincere desire to share all of this with you over the course of our time together.  

As we all know, in the field of education there are no strict answers.  Every line of inquiry opens up new possibilities and the conversation keeps going.  During our time together we’ll be sharing best practices and all the organizational knowledge that Dragons has collected over the past 23 years.  However the crux of what we’ll be doing will also be to find interesting and new ways to approach the questions we all face as educators.  

It’s my hope to contribute what I’ve learned along the way to the larger collective experience we all bring with us and distill some wisdom and knowledge from the larger whole.  Thank you for joining the conversation and bringing your dedication and experience to uplift and inspire us all.  If you have any questions that I can address before the course starts please feel free to write me at alvarado.dragons@gmail.com

Hasta pronto,

Luis

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EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

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Welcome from Luis

Luis,EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

Description

Fellow Educators, Allow me to welcome you to this summer’s Nicaragua educators course and the Dragons community.  My name is Luis and I’m pleased to introduce myself as one of the facilitators of this upcoming program.   All Dragons instructors are asked to wear many hats.  We are simultaneously required to be guides, nurses, friends, […]

Posted On

07/19/16

Author

Luis

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 2
    [post_date] => 2016-07-14 08:48:20
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-14 14:48:20
    [post_content] => 

Saludos and hellos to the group of you who soon will join me here in Nicaragua.Ah, where to begin…perhaps I should begin by telling you of this country I call home, because it has been that to me for half my lifetime; but you will soon be met with the unbreakable spirit of this nation yourselves, perhaps no explanation is necessary.

Perhaps then, I should tell you that Nicaragua is a place our students have experienced as having an unmistakable sense of pride emanating from its people. But many of this country’s stories are not mine to tell, when you get here you’ll find this land and its people speak well for themselves, and we have only to listen.

Stories are important; even our own. Perhaps I should start with me then, with my story, which begins with a girl who started out, not exactly in any of Nicaragua’s jungles, but instead in New York’s. Now the New York of the 80’s, the one I knew, is scarcely the one we know today—any more than Nicaragua in the 90’s, at the time of my arrival, resembles the Nicaragua you will encounter when you arrive next week; and yet I come to the realization again and again as students spend time learning here, that it is not only a place which changes us, nor a specific time in history that provides just the circumstances for a new process of thinking. Instead it is a disorientation from what we know.

As a young girl who’d been to school in New York I already knew about getting ahead, about comparing results and sorting people into winners and losers. I knew a lot about difference, how it feels and how it becomes glaring. Upon my arrival to Nicaragua at around the age of our youngest students, I had no other choice but to entirely renounce my place in such a pecking order. I knew nothing, I could do nothing but question. And there it began. There was a natural disorder, a certain amount of chaos, as there is in any busy workshop. But a deeper discipline was at work, the discipline of doing things and learning through life, an appreciation of knowledge as something that can be pooled, traded at little or no cost, and unlike commodities, when it is shared, no one has any less of it.

I can identify it now, that it was precisely in the midst of this informal unlearning, the unlearning of disconnectedness as a way of life, that my education happened. (Okay, well if I’m to be honest, it took more travel, Columbia University, and several degrees in Education and Development for me to be able to accept that that was when it actually happened. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that one travels far to find what is near!)

Imagination, curiosity, and questioning would’ve been there for me all the time, anywhere, streets of New York or streets of Nicaragua; how we discover and dismantle the distorted masks we all look through is the question. Where do we begin to ask how we might engage and enlarge our lives. Where do we begin to get an education, of the kind that demands we confront ourselves, come to terms with our notions of the good life, try to comprehend, apprehend, or possibly even transform the places and the times which have shaped us.

This is what’s at the core of what I’ve wanted to share with students, be it here in Nicaragua or anywhere, it’s this, creating this hope: That we do not know what comes next. History is still in-the-making. Each of us a work-in-progress. The future entirely unknown and unknowable.

I’m so glad for the opportunity to talk with other educators. I thank you, because a step towards the unknown will be taken just by your coming here to the Land of Lakes and Volcanos. Nicaragua’s history of rebellion and continuing struggle against injustice instills both heartbreak and hope. I assure you, this is a country gets in you and stays with you, something irreversible…and holds an open invitation to not knowing what’s comes next.

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EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

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Stories of the Unknown

Dhyana Kuhl Gonzalez,EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

Description

Saludos and hellos to the group of you who soon will join me here in Nicaragua.Ah, where to begin…perhaps I should begin by telling you of this country I call home, because it has been that to me for half my lifetime; but you will soon be met with the unbreakable spirit of this nation […]

Posted On

07/14/16

Author

Dhyana Kuhl Gonzalez

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    [post_date] => 2016-04-26 11:35:06
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-26 17:35:06
    [post_content] => 

Dear Educators,

In just a few months, you will come together in Nicaragua and embark on a journey to learn and grow as educators and global citizens. We are so glad that you’ve chosen to join us!

Please use this Field Notes board as a forum to introduce yourselves, ask questions, share resources and ideas, and fire up the conversations that you’re excited to pursue while in Nicaragua. To that end, here is my introduction and some insight into my own perspective on education:

As a senior in college I heeded the advice of a close friend and signed up for a class entitled “Philosophy of Education” and taught by Parker J. Palmer, who, although I didn’t know it at the time, had authored many best-selling books on education, including “The Courage to Teach.” I was studying cultural anthropology, Latin American studies, and environmental studies, but thought that I might very likely end up working in the field of education.

It was the first time in my sixteen years of formal schooling that I was exposed to Love, Vocation, and Spirituality as subject matter, which we explored through structured discussion, experiential activities, and personal reflection. As a 22-year old, I was mostly concerned with those questions that all young adults pursue: “Who am I?” and “What do I stand for?” I wanted to fall in love with the world and to foster meaningful relationships. After leaving college, I moved to Central America to work with students on field research seminars in Guatemala and community-based tourism initiatives in Costa Rica.

Two years later, I found myself at Where There Be Dragons’ all-staff orientation and training in the eastern Sierra Nevada of California, where I found a community practicing the kind of education I believed in: one that highlights the unique personality and potential of each individual, that teaches process, and that focuses on cultivating meaningful relationships through which knowledge and understanding are developed.

Now, after eight years of working with Dragons, I’ve transitioned into a role focused solely on the translation of a “Dragons Education” to the practice of “Global Education” at high schools and colleges around the country. Both of these approaches to education share the essential art of fostering meaningful relationships between students and the world around them through intentionally crafted and carefully guided experiences.

However your journey may unfold on this educator course, our goal is that you come away with a felt understanding and an increased skill-set for what it takes to support your students as they engage with the questions of who they are and what they stand for. We believe that if practiced with intention, this approach to Global Education will help students cultivate a world of empathy and respect long into the future.

Thank you for all you have done and for all that you will continue to do as educators. We are honored to be a part of your journey.

Best regards,

Simon

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EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

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Welcome to the voyage!

Simon Hart,EDUCATOR: Nicaragua

Description

Dear Educators, In just a few months, you will come together in Nicaragua and embark on a journey to learn and grow as educators and global citizens. We are so glad that you’ve chosen to join us! Please use this Field Notes board as a forum to introduce yourselves, ask questions, share resources and ideas, and […]

Posted On

04/26/16

Author

Simon Hart