On Day 2 of our course we asked the Bhutan student group a series of questions about their expectations for the course. Here are a selection of their answers (anonymous, and in a random order):
1. Why did you choose to come on this trip?
“I wanted to learn about another culture and grow as a person, also to get a break from western logic.”
“Self-discovery. I knew Dragons would be able to immerse me in the culture in a way that no other program would.”
“I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort zone in a way that makes me learn more about myself.”
“I needed more perspective on life and wanted to see what I could learn about myself and other cultures.”
“This organization seemed to be intentional, well-organized and thoughtful – this is crucial when observing foreign culture and navigating/avoiding voyeurism and white saviour complex. This group seems rooted in good values as well.”
“I came because I wanted more adventure before I became preoccupied with college – and this trip in particular appeared to be the most informative and memorable that I could have chosen.”
“I came on this trip because I needed to push myself. I’ve become RESTLESS. THERE IS SO MUCH WAITING AND I CAN’T LET IT PASS ME BY.”
2. What do you want to get out of your time here?
“I want to be able to look at the world with this new perspective and incorporate it into my daily life.”
“I want to understand the differences and similarities between western culture and the Himalayas, especially in terms of religious practice and Gross National Happiness.”
“I live in a heavily Himalayan neighborhood and I’ve always wanted to learn more about Himalayan culture/history. I also hope to develop independence and confidence in myself as well as leadership skills.”
“I really want to explore my stance on how I spiritually/religiously identify. I’ve always been drawn to Buddhism and I’m hoping to see it practiced in the ancient way.”
“I would like to prove to myself that I have the ability to spend an extended period of time in a place as far from home as I can get. I’d also like to learn new skills and gain a new understanding of this place and my place in the world.”
3. What impression or impact do you want to make on the people and communities that host you?
“I hope that I present myself as polite and empathetic – and I hope they would know how much I appreciate them welcoming me.”
“Open-minded, respectful and that I am ready to learn from them – the communities lead the way.”
“I would like them to teach me lessons on how to live a better life, or guidance in my life.”
“I would like to be a good example of an American in order for more young people like me to have continuing opportunities like this.”
4. What impact do you want this trip to have on your future?
“I want to feel able and brave and informed about a culture very different from my own while taking away a sense of what I can do, environmentally, emotionally etc, to improve my community.”
“I hope this trip shines a light on the various ways one can find happiness, enabling me to branch out from the single definition I have always known.”
“I want to return a more cosmopolitan and spiritually grounded person. I hope to learn how to be more independent and open-minded.”
“I struggle to answer this question because I have no expectations for how this experience will affect me. I will just tackle the situation with an open mind and eager to learn.”