A heartfelt greeting to my fellow intrepid travelers.
My name is Claire, I am originally from the UK although I am writing to you from the sunny mountain climes of the Himalayan valleys in Nepal.
What a year we have all experienced. A year where the world literally turned upside down and where nothing will ever been the same again. I feel the utmost sense of privilege that we will be embarking on this journey together. What a rare and unique opportunity after so long in a kind of global hibernation.
Let me introduce myself, and my long and convoluted journey that will bring me to join you on the sparkling shore of West Africa.
I have been working with Dragons for over a decade. My journey began when I was living in Cambodia, and since then I have led trips for Dragons in India, Indonesia and Bhutan. My home for the last many years has been Nepal, a truly magical place that is very close to my heart, and I had originally been hoping to welcome students here this summer. Unfortunately, Nepal has been through a devastating covid surge over the past few months and my dreams of hosting people here were dashed.
But as some doors are closed, others always open. Having the chance to travel to Senegal with you all is a dream come true for me, and something I never imagined would be on my cards! Over the years at Dragons I have become good friends with Babacar and Samba, with whom we will be journeying, and I can’t think of better people to be welcoming us into and guiding us through their remarkable country.
I will be as fresh as all of you to the wonders of Senegal, but due to the truly global nature of the issues that face our world today we will undoubtedly have a lot to discuss together. Some of the topics that are very close to my heart – international development, humanitarian aid, “white savior complex” – will be just as relevant to our group as they would be anywhere. I also can’t wait to introduce you to the concept of “learning service”, which helps to answer the complex questions on how we engage in and contribute to the world effectively. If you want to have a preview of some of these ideas, you can read a book that I co-authored on this topic “Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad.”
My unswerving belief in positive social change, coupled with my faith in the transformative power of education and the inspiration I draw from working with young people, finds a perfect synergy in the work I do with Dragons. Every experience is magical. Every experience changes the world.
I want to thank you for making the choice to come on this program; it has taken tremendous courage and trust to do so. This trip will challenge you to step outside your comfort zone in a way that nothing ever has, and if you embrace it, you are likely to have one of the most profound learning encounters of your life.
I can’t wait to meet you in a few short weeks, to discuss our hopes and goals and views of the world while sampling some wonderful sweet ataya. In the meantime, I humbly invite you all to make your introductions on this board! As we will be traveling together as a family, it would be great to start the process of getting to know each other now.
With excitement for the adventure ahead, your instructor