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Central America Semester: Roots of Rebellion

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 Year of my Life

Overall, this course was exactly what I needed. I finished my high school career with very little motivation to keep going, I didn't see the point of college, I had no reason to keep torturing myself through traditional academics because in short, I hated it. I felt isolated and disconnected from true reality. I needed to get away, I needed to change my point of view, and I needed to give myself worth and reason to keep going forward. This trip gave me all of that. I'm back in school now, and I know that without the experiences I had accumulated last year, this would be too meaningless for me. Now I have goals and drive and new ways of looking at things that many college students aren't even close to realizing. It makes academics much more meaningful and worth-while.
The highlight of my trip was definitely my instructors. They are some of the most intelligent teachers I have had, and will ever have because they didn't sit me down and try to teach me, they gave me the love and materials needed for me to find my lessons everywhere we went and in everything we did. The trip had just enough movement that I never felt stagnant. Then for my second semester, I went on their spring extension program with one instructor and three other friends from my first semester trip.
Last year was the best year of my life, and choosing dragons was the smartest decision I could've made.

Academics:
This semester was focused on the politics, economics, and cultures of each place we visited. Our three instructors ran lessons and they were all incredibly brilliant and brought unique points of view to everything we discussed and they thrived on student's opinions. But I never felt like I was in school. In the end, I was my own teacher and this semester was all my own. You get out of it what you want.

Living Situation:
Much of the time this trip was rugged travel. That means few 'real' showers, toilets, electricity, etc. But if you are looking for an experience that is life changing and will make you view your own living situation in a new way, rugged is what you want.

Cultural Immersion:
Perfect. Just perfect.

Program Administration:
Unbelievable instructors and really great communication with the office. The yakyak boards, our own little blog, was such a fun way to communicate to people back home without having to directly contact them.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Central America Awesomeness!

I could talk all day about my Dragons experience. I was a semester student this past fall (2011) on The Roots of Rebellion Central America Program. I spent three months exploring Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua with a group of remarkable peers and instructors. We became a small family by the end of our three months together. After my first semester, I actually decided to return to Central America on the Dragons Spring Extension Program. My six months with Dragons has been a very special experience.

So, definitely chose Dragons!!

Academics:
Dragons has different options for accredited programs. However, on my program no one received college credit. We were doing it as a non credit gap year semester. Throughout the semester, we took Spanish classes in all three countries. The classes were a mixture of individual and group lessons. Weekly, we received group lessons with our instructors. In these lessons, we discussed relevant topics in Central America and the US, such as immigration and food/water supply. Together, we learned about Central American history and the US involvement during civil wars. We also watched and read various documentaries and articles throughout the semester, followed by a debrief. The instructors are very passionate about these topics,which makes for a great learning environment.

Living Situation:
For the majority of the semester, we lived in homestays. I lived with five different families and I really enjoyed it. These families have strong relationships with Dragons and are usually involved with service projects we are working on. All of my families were super nice and welcoming to me. During the longer home stays, I became close with my families and am still in contact with them. I went to church with them weekly and they liked taking me to various local markets and other cool hang outs. The homestay aspect of my course was very special for me. During travel days, we stayed in hostiles which was always fun and good group bonding time.

Cultural Immersion:
I felt completley immersed into Central American culture, after the first few weeks. By living in homestays and working on service projects with the local people, I felt apart of these different communities. I believe the best way to fully immerse yourself is by living with families. I became fully immersed in the culture, the language, and the history.

Program Administration:
The Dragons office is in Boulder, Colorado. I found the office to be organized and supportive leading up to my trip and during my trip. It is easy to get in contact with the office and the administartion is always willing to help.