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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Venturing through the lands where there be Dragons

When first learning about Dragons many of us were curious to find out the meaning of our program’s moniker, “Dragons”. A few google searches brought us the answer: in the corners of ancient maps, mapmakers marked uncharted territories with the original Latin phrase: ‘Where There Be Dragons.’ There, in these unknown lands, only the brave would venture out to discover what lay ahead.
While this meaning was fascinating to discover, we didn’t expect it would resonate much with our Dragons’ experience other than the obvious element of travel. However, after only the first three days of our trip, we were proven wrong.
Last night, after one of our many orientation activities, our instructor Emily offered to take any interested students on a brief walk to stretch our legs before dinner. We decided to meet by the gate in fifteen minutes and without planning for it, we found that all thirteen students had opted to go on this walk together during our free time. After a quick downhill outside the hostel’s gate, the group took a sharp right to a steep uphill. We didn’t know where it would take us, but we all wanted to find out.
Half an hour later found us huffing and puffing– due to much higher elevation than we’re used to– and still walking uphill while night fell. Every few minutes we’d find ourselves pausing and looking toward one another to see if we wanted to just walk a few meters, a couple more minutes, and just a little further to see what the unknown path will bring. The answer was always yes. We ultimately discovered that we had chosen a very long road up the mountain that could not be followed to its end due to the forthcoming darkness and dinner time.
But nonetheless, we experienced a beautiful moon (which does, in fact, look different in the Southern Hemisphere), a stunning view of Samiapata, and some of the best conversations of the trip so far. Much like the travelers who ventured out to the land where there be dragons, we all opted to experience the new, the unknown, and the exciting.