This note is to help guide you on deciding which technology items will be useful for you to bring on this program:
Not Permitted: Cellphones
Permitted: Computers, cameras, e-readers, and music players
If students bring cell phones, they will be held by the instructor for the duration of the program. The instructor is not responsible for held items that are lost, stolen, or damaged. The only time you will be permitted to use cell phones is during the long urban stay in Patan where you will be receiving basic phones with local SIM cards to help facilitate communication.
For all permitted technology items moderation is key. If students are using devices to remove themselves from the experience the instructor will talk with that student. If the action continues then a collaborative plan will be created to help the student re-immerse themselves in the experience, which might include setting usage limits per day. We understand and respect how important access to technology is in the modern world, but we also see the need for balance in order to be present.
At the end of programs students always mention how thankful they were to be more disconnected from technology. You’ll have sufficient opportunities to connect with friends and family via wifi, cyber cafes, Skype calls, etc., though connections will not be as lightning-fast as back home in the U.S. On average students are able to connect to the internet about once a week.
Q: If I deactivate my cell phone can I still use it as my camera and music player?
A: We acknowledge that smartphones can wear many hats but we’ve found that even a deactivated phone has incredible potential to alter your experience. So to be clear, smartphones in any form will not be allowed.
Q: I’m worried about my connecting flights before/after the trip. Can I bring my phone for that?
A: Yes, you can and you can hand it to your instructor once you are in Nepal. If you decide not to bring your smartphone we recommend you to carry a hard copy of all required flight information and a written list of important numbers (i.e. your emergency contacts and the Dragons office’s number +1-303-413-0822) to ensure your smooth travel.
Q: I feel that it is a waste of money and resources for me to buy new electronics that meet these requirements since I pretty much use my phone to do everything. What do you suggest?
A: Yes, we realize that not everyone is going to have an old MP3/Music player or point-and-shoot/DSLR camera sitting around since smartphones have replaced most of those devices. However, many past students were able to borrow music players, eReaders, and cameras from friends and family for use on the trip. Ask around and see who can lend you one! Alternatively, you could purchase a used or refurbished one on Ebay or from Apple for very cheap.
For family and friends back home, know that the instructor will be in regular communication with the Dragons Boulder office (even while on treks and in remote communities). If family needs to contact you, they can contact the Boulder office and we will receive forwarded questions. Watch our Yak Board for exciting updates every few of days.
We want to share our philosophy: the reasons why we ask you to disconnect from phones and computers.
We value the close community that develops when traveling in a group. We want to give you an opportunity on this program to experience the world through different eyes and to be fully committed to each moment. When humans encounter something unfamiliar, something challenging, or something that just doesn’t fit into our worldview, it’s easy for us to initially step out of that experience and look for something known and comfortable, like a familiar smartphone, in order to disconnect.
Our modern portable electronics make it easy to distance ourselves from our immediate surroundings, whether it be people, places, or unfamiliar language. One of the best ways to understand a culture not your own is to experience it fully, to see the intricacies of everyday life, to feel its joys and sorrows, to see how the people pass idle moments and experience that with them. There is no greater opportunity to fully engage in the local culture and philosophy than to disconnect from the technology that’s a product of Western thought and globalized ways of living.
We encourage you to read this article on the effect of phones on human interaction. As you prepare for the program and let your friends and family know how much you will be in touch, we hope that you will take the time to consider these questions for yourself so that you are embarking on your travels with mindful intentions towards technology’s role in your life.
Knowing that Dragons has a Wonderful And Glorious Yak Board for me to post thoughtful travel writing, how much and how often do I want to be in touch with friends and family from home? And, vice versa, how much does my family expect to hear from me via the Yak board and email?
If you are a heavy user of social media, do you think that that would detract from an immersive travel experience like the one we will have this spring in Nepal? How might technology use and social media impact my travel experience?
What means of communication will be best employed to communicate the depth of my experience most accurately? Talking on the phone or Skype, email, or communicating once back together in person? Do I want to communicate these experiences while they are happening or afterwards when I have processed them more fully?
We wish you the best as you prepare for your upcoming program. We hope that you are able to intentionally prepare yourself and your friends and family for what will surely be the adventure of a lifetime and an exploration of all that the world has to offer.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions.