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Cambodia: Peace & Development Studies

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    N/A

Inimitable programs- 5 stars, hands down.

It is ridiculous to think that one could choose one event that alone led to the most learning. The course was an entity built up from thousands of minute segments. Simply labeling one of these moments as "the most influential" is like trying to feel the power of a storm from a single raindrop.
The course was profound, sincere, authentic, influenceable, and unforgettable.

Health and Safety:
Knowledgeable instructors kept our safety a priority.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

An authentic discovery of myself and of Cambodia

Weather you are called by the the vibrant, green rice patties of southeast Asia or the warm plains of west Africa, responsibly traveling the world with Where There be Dragons is an elucidating experience. Dragons courses are intentionally designed to foster a global citizen. My Dragons-Cambodia course revealed a way of life that is very different from my familiar, midwestern comfort zone, but simultaneously impressed upon me that we all share one world. Cambodia is especially beautiful, full of rice, ice coffee, wrinkled smiles, beeping motorbikes, incense, and saffron robes. However, it is also plagued with political vice, human rights violations, limited access to education, and a cruel past. The spirit of Cambodia is infectious--full of determination, kindness, and potential. What I learned in and about Cambodia has translated into all aspects of my approach to life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Incredible and Transformative Experience

It's been two years now since I went to Cambodia with a small group of committed peers and instructors, and I still feel its influence on my life every day. This program, with its absolutely authentic commitment to cultural engagement, deep questions and challenging scope, has fundamentally shaped the way I approach the world and helped me grow in incredible ways, as well as giving me lifelong friends and partners in change. I don't think there is anything like it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Spirit-kindling Adventure

Like my peers, my experience with this program was absolutely incredible--there simply aren't words to describe how much the things I've learned from it are a part to my life, two years later. This experience kindled a fire and fervor that is with me always. When people ask me why I am the way I am, I almost immediately respond with this experience. I went into it thinking it would be a great way to experience a new culture, spend a summer, and, embarrassingly, pad my resume. I left feeling stronger than I ever felt was possible, with a deeply-rooted sense of the world around me and an unquenchable thirst for adventure.

Academics:
I learned Khmer language and culture with a depth and breadth that I would never have known otherwise.

Living Situation:
Authentic.

Cultural Immersion:
It was as absolutely as it possibly could have been for a six-week program--the homestays are phenomenal.

Program Administration:
The leaders are mentors in the most genuine sense--they care deeply and inspire endlessly.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Life Changing

When I first heard about the Where There Be Dragons programs, I honestly figured that it would be a good way for me to grab a college's attention. I mean, what admissions officer wouldn't look twice when your application says you've been to Cambodia or Bolivia? But the Dragons trip to Cambodia ended up being so much more to me, more to me than could be explained by words alone. Cambodia changed me. My interactions with native Cambodians, with the group leaders, and with my fellow students, led me to realize that life cannot simply be categorized as a list of events or a path from A to E, stopping at points B, C, and D on route; you may start at A, but you could end up at B, E, or Z. I strongly believe that the Cambodia, Development and Peace would, as a wise friend of mine once said, stay with you forever because you can never forget an experience that you love and that changes you.

Academics:
My grasp of Khmer was never quite up to the level of the other students, though this was more because I knew French and spoke it with the natives rather than Khmer. The teaching was fantastic, however.

Cultural Immersion:
I describe the trip to my friends and family as one of cultural immersion. You don't need to actively try to be part of Cambodia; you just are, every minute of every day that you are there. The home stays, in particular, get you intimately familiar with the local populace, so much so that its heart wrenching when you eventually do have to move on from each home stay.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

The Best Choice I Ever Made

Looking back, my experience with Dragons was absolutely life-changing. It has shaped who I am in fundamental ways. My time in Cambodia taught me so much about community, culture, religion, travel, development, and family. My fellow students remain some of my best friends. My instructors remain some of my most influential mentors. Cambodia remains one of my favorite places in the world. If you are looking for a unique, rugged, real study abroad experience that will teach you more than any classroom, then do dragons!!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The Best Decision I Ever Made

I can't stress enough how amazing my experience was in Cambodia. I am confident that I would not have had as unique or fulfilling a journey with any other organization. Where There Be Dragon's gave me more than I signed up for, exceeded all my expectations, and opened the gate for so much personal growth and sense of self. I still feel the positive effects of the trip to this day, two years later, and I can only say Akun Char'ah. (Thank you very much!)

Living Situation:
In terms of living situations, we moved around often enough to see almost the whole country, but stayed in one place with enough time to adjust and get rooted in the culture there. I always felt safe and that my essential needs could be met wherever we were. As I spent more time in Cambodia, I grew comfortable in the country and was proud of the moments where I felt pushed out of my comfort zone, but overcame this with Dragon's help.

Cultural Immersion:
A major focal point of this trip was learning to be a traveler, instead of tourist, and how to have the most local experience possible. For example, we were never stuck on a tour bus or eating at an American fast-food restaurant while in Cambodia. The hours I spent with my host family and with Mara, our in-country instructor, are some of the most profound memories I have. The simple task of mailing a letter by myself in the city turned into an all-day affair, which strengthened my sense of direction, provided time to practice my language-skills in a real-life situation, and totally gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Program Administration:
The three instructors that coordinated and led my trip with Dragons are still some of the most inspirational people I have ever met. They take the time to meet with students individually throughout the course to make sure that everyone is getting the most out of the experience, and personally establishing and meeting goals. My instructor team led us enough so that I felt I could trust them no matter what, or go to them if I was struggling, but they gave us enough space to explore and grow on our own. They are also some of the most fun people I know- there was rarely a time when we were not laughing, dancing in the mid-day rain, singing on a bumpy tuk-tuk ride, or holding hands and watching the stars.