Smart Phones, mP3 players, and tech devices:
The big question is: what electronic devices can help us capture and fully embrace the best moments during our Semester. Dragons as an organization has a blanket policy that strongly requests all students leave smartphones and smart watches etc. at home. You can read more about that in your preparation materials, but in short, we’ve found these devices tend to detract from the experience and can create risk management issues for the group. Please carefully read and consider what Dragons has written about smartphones. Here is what you need to know for our semester together in Nepal:
We want to challenge you to keep your devices at home. It is amazing how dependent we’ve all become on technology and Nepal might provide one of the few opportunities for you to “unplug” from the pressures of constant social media/electronic connection. It is a truly liberating feeling if you haven’t tried it, or don’t remember the last time you didn’t have a phone at arm’s reach. We encourage everyone to please READ THIS ARTICLE from the New York Times or this article from the May issue of Harper’s. They are not the same “technology is corrupting our youth” judgmental pieces you’ve seen before, but have some really thoughtful insights on how technology can most affect our ability to be alone and the cost/benefit of being constantly connected.
All that said we also know that every semester, no matter how much we emphasize it, a few students still show up with devices. We love music and information access too, so we get it…no one here is “anti-technology.” Music players (MP3) without phone/internet/Wi-Fi capabilities will be allowed on course. Keep in mind that we will have a strict music policy while on course: you will be allowed to use music only when you are in your tent, on a long bus ride, or during solo time in hostels. This means that we will collect and store any music devices that can connect to the internet. MP3 players and earplugs can often distance us from the communities and cultures we came to visit, What we do not want is for you to enter a home-stay, pop in your ear buds, and tune out of the experience around you. We’ve seen electronic devices completely tear students away from their present surroundings, increase home-sickness, and keep one foot in Nepal and one foot longing for their Snapchat or Instagram feed happening back home.
We acknowledge that people interact with the world and their surroundings in different ways and we accept that some people (some of us included) tend to enjoy long and stressful days of travel a little better with music. That said, even our longest and most arduous travel days, precisely when it’s most tempting to put our headphones on, can hold some of the most amazing and unexpected cultural interactions and we have to be present in order to engage those unplanned moments.
We know that many people prefer to use a Kindle in addition to or in lieu of traditional books and we are okay with you bringing a paper white version (or similar equivalent) of that device. Please make sure that your E-reader’s primary function is reading (instead of surfing the internet). Do not bring a Kindle Fire or any other small tablet that is designed for and capable of connecting to the internet, etc. Still, in the spirit of building a vibrant learning community, we encourage you to consider bringing physical books instead. That way, you can more easily trade (and discuss!) with others once you’ve finished.
If your smartphone is your only camera, please bring a separate camera; smartphones will not be available to use as cameras and we don’t want to hear the “I need my phone because it’s my camera” line. We are going to be in dirty/dusty/humid conditions, so don’t bring anything you wouldn’t be fine with losing/having broken/stolen. In sum, we encourage you to leave your devices at home.
**If you need to bring a cell phone with you for your travel to Newark, we will collect it upon your arrival in Nepal and hold on to it for you throughout the duration of the course. If you bring any other media device, we will also collect it during orientation and return it to you upon completion of our course. Dragons will not take responsibility in case of any loss or damage to devices during the trip.
Thank you for understanding this policy! If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact a member of the instructor team. We will gladly clarify any concerns.
Micah, Sharon and Aditya