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Central America Semester, Fall 2012


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Family and friends,

It's our pleasure to inform you that Rock, Ross, Claire, Emma, Maura and Oli have safely departed this morning from Guatemala City and are now headed to Miami to meet there connecting flights. The remaining ROR team, Jackie, Dillon, Ian and Michael, along with the instructors, returned to Anitgua after saying goodbye to those returning home.

Saying goodbye this morning was difficult to say the least, however as we learned on this course, each closing is an opening, each ending a new begining, time being more of a spiral than it appears to our senses. For those who have remained, this new journey means continued adventure in central america. As instructors we have a lot of confidence in these students to continue to co-create a profound and meaningful experience for themselves, to carry on the Dragons' values and and self-exploration that have been hallmarks of this course. For those returning home, the journey consists of seeking out ways to stay connected to the experience and to incorporate all that they carry into their lives. This process of returning home, of feeling out how to integrate fully into the familiar while staying true to the change that one has undergone is perhaps the most important, and potentially the most challenging, part of an experience like Dragons. It will require students to be patient with themselves and a lot of understanding from those around them. We have no doubt that each of our students will succeed in sharing what they've learned and more importantly in finding ways to enact and embody thier ideals to the fullest.

As instructors, we would like to express our profound gratitude to each and every family member and friend who has supported the central america semester students. Everything that we did this semester is thanks to you and the formation and inspiration that you provided. There are not words for us to express the appreciation we feel, the gratitude to have had the opportunity to encounter such an amazing group of young people. Thank you all. All our best, siempre.

Ariel, Dhyana and Luis

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Students returning home

Instructors,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Family and friends, It’s our pleasure to inform you that Rock, Ross, Claire, Emma, Maura and Oli have safely departed this morning from Guatemala City and are now headed to Miami to meet there connecting flights. The remaining ROR team, Jackie, Dillon, Ian and Michael, along with the instructors, returned to Anitgua after saying goodbye […]

Posted On

12/8/12

Author

Instructors

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Greetings family and friends,

We write to you this morning from Santa Cruz La Laguna, on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Today is December 7th, and we honestly can’t believe that the course is coming to a close. It seems to us like just yesterday that we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the student group at the Managua airport. We’ve all been through a lot together, but the lightness and closeness of the group has made everyday such a pleasure that the time feels like it passed very quickly.

This past week has been spent in “transference”, the phase of the course were we slow down in order to reflect and process. We’ve spent the last week diving into the sea of our collective experience and resurfacing with the pearls and jewels that we’ve encountered. All of us, instructors and students alike, have learned a tremendous amount from this place and one another, and it is our genuine desire to carry this wisdom with us into the future. Last night we held a ceremony in which we all stated why we were proud of ourselves and what we were taking with us. For our part, we are incredibly proud of the strength, energy and positivity that each and every student brought and maintained on this course. It is truly a privilege to feel that we have touched the lives of such a special, open, introspective, intelligent and fun group of young people.

Another theme of the past week has been interconnectedness. We have discovered through our experience that we are all united, to our homes and families, to this new place and to one another. Tomorrow some students will board the plane to return home while others will stay behind to continue here in Central America. Wherever the destination, we all have realized that we will carry not only the lessons we have shared, but an important piece of each other with us wherever we go. This afternoon we'llbe traveling to Antigua, where we'll celbrate Rock's birthday and enjoy our last moments together. We’ll post another Yak as soon as the students returning home are safely on their way. Thanks for your constant support.

All the best,

Ariel, Dhyana and Luis

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Transference and Returning Home

Instructors,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Greetings family and friends, We write to you this morning from Santa Cruz La Laguna, on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Today is December 7th, and we honestly can’t believe that the course is coming to a close. It seems to us like just yesterday that we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the student […]

Posted On

12/7/12

Author

Instructors

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When we were packing our bags full of long underwear, SteriPens, and hiking boots, we never expected our days to be filled with fiestas. But luckily for us, 66.666666% of our instructor team had birthdays within a week of each other. We thought we would tell you all about them...


Dhyana's birthday:

On Dhyana´s birthday, we were in Nebaj right after our three-day trek from Todos Santos. Because she seemed to enjoy our bilingual haikus from the hike, we as a group thought it would be nice to surprise her with a book containing original haikus celebrating Dhyana. Maura designed and decorated a beautiful book cover and we each wrote our own haiku on a separate page (with the exception of Leo, who wrote a long and rhyming poem). We presented it to her at Popi´s, a nonprofit hostel and restaurant, and ate coconut and apple pie. During morning meeting, we also went around and shared one thing we love about Dhyana.

Ariel's birthday and farewell party in Cotzal:

In the days leading up to Ariel's birthday, Dhyana led undercover meetings to prepare us for Ariel's special day. She told us that Ariel loved the poem "A Julia de Burgos" so we decided to organize a dramatic reading and interpretive dance. Mateo, with his background in theater, valiantly led us through our secret practice sessions. The night of her birthday coincided with our farewell party. The weaving co-op that hosted us in Cotzal decorated a roof-top gazebo with a marimba band, corn, and chocolate drinks. We danced with old women and children, shuffling side to side and bobbing our heads to very long songs (some of which were Christmas themed). In the middle, we snuck out, organized in the middle of the street, and called Ariel down. Needless to say, she loved the performance and claims that the poem will forever be associated with the funny poses we struck.

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

Emma and Oli,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

When we were packing our bags full of long underwear, SteriPens, and hiking boots, we never expected our days to be filled with fiestas. But luckily for us, 66.666666% of our instructor team had birthdays within a week of each other. We thought we would tell you all about them… Dhyana’s birthday: On Dhyana´s birthday, […]

Posted On

11/28/12

Author

Emma and Oli

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I have meant to post this yak for many many moons, the event itself taking place on November 1rst, the location: Cotzal. November first, The Day of the Dead, festivities were taking place in the cemetary, the tombs brightly colored, flowers and food set out for the returning spirits of the dead. (Traveling ghosts must get hungry after all).

Among the festivities was kite flying, handfuls of homemade delicies took flight that day. Young boys sprinted on short legs, while their friends cheered them on. On the Day of the Dead, these kites became somehow eirie, ghostly even. Thier weightless bodies rising higher and higer, until just specks in the sky.The slightest flick of the wrist sent the artful dodgers reeling. The kites would make futal attempts to escape its master. The only binding to the earth was the thin string holding it down.

It was a celebration, an unlikely place for a party in the average American cemetary. America holds onto the physial embodiement of that dissesed persons memory.This, I realized, standing ontop of the hill, looking down at the scene, had never a place become so alive.This celebration was an incredible understanding of the cyclical nature of life and admiration for the living. It was an acceptance of the cyclical nature of life and death.It was truly a warm welcome for those spirits returing back to earth.America is bound to the ever expanding idea of immortality, dreading old age and the affects it brings.

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Heads on Tails, Kites in the Sky

Maura Cecilia McMahon ,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

I have meant to post this yak for many many moons, the event itself taking place on November 1rst, the location: Cotzal. November first, The Day of the Dead, festivities were taking place in the cemetary, the tombs brightly colored, flowers and food set out for the returning spirits of the dead. (Traveling ghosts must […]

Posted On

11/28/12

Author

Maura Cecilia McMahon

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    [post_content] => Parents and Friends,

It’s our pleasure to inform you that our group has arrived at our course’s final destination, Lake Atitlan. After a farewell party with our homestays in Pachaj we spent one night in the city of Xela before setting out walking to the Lake. The trek winds a beautiful path through the highlands, climbing to the highest point on the pan-american highway, aptly named Alaska and then traversing across the high plains until reaching the edge of the lake’s crater. The third morning of the trek we awoke at 3:30 AM and set out for the edge of the crater where we watched the sun slowly rise over this magical body of water. It was truly an unforgettable experience. 

Our destination on the lake was the town of San Lucas Toliman, located on the southeastern shore. San Lucas is a Kaqchiquel Mayan community which is known for its excellent coffee production. It is also the home of the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP), the organization we have been working with for the past week. Our time at IMAP began last week with a five day Introduction to Permaculture course taught by IMAP’s founder Rony Lec and his team of local permaculturalists. Permaculture is a thread that has been woven throughout our entire program, this course helped us to solidify and deepen our understanding of how it is understood and practiced in mesoamerica as well as tie together many of the topics we’ve covered over the past two and a half months. Apart from the theory there was also a practical aspect, we were put to work building an “herb spiral”, a three dimensional spiral planting bed which we then planted with medicinal plants. We also constructed a mandala shaped garden and learned how to do basic land surveying with simple tools. Throughout the course we also received lessons on the mayan cosmovision, or worldview, and how this ancestral knowledge relates to permaculture ethics and principles. The course was a great introduction and gave us a lot of food for thought. While all this was going on during the day, students were also busy at night planning there expedition phase.

The expedition phase of a Dragon’s course is when students are given more autonomy to use the skills they’ve been practicing to create their own experience. Aside form the logistical planning, the group is also asked to continue the deep educational focus, to keep the course engaged and focused on the issues we’ve been studying. This is a challenging task that requires students to put into action all the things they’ve learned in their time here and to work together as a team to reach their goals. The group spent most nights last week planning and have come up with some really great ideas. They have decided to spend this week in San Lucas, continuing to collaborate with IMAP and deepen our understanding of the concepts we learned in our course. Tuesday and Thursday will be spent working with local mentors on students independent projects and planning for the rest of expedition.

As instructors, we couldn’t be happier with the way the expedition phase has begun. The students have all taken initiative and worked together as a solid team to achieve their goals and maintain the fun and educational spirit of a Dragon’s course. We are so excited to see what they come up with next and we’ll be sure to keep you posted as well. 

Thanks for your support,

Ariel, Dhyana and Luis
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Central America Semester, Fall 2012, Focus of Inquiry

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An Update from San Lucas

Instructors,Central America Semester, Fall 2012, Focus of Inquiry

Description

Parents and Friends, It’s our pleasure to inform you that our group has arrived at our course’s final destination, Lake Atitlan. After a farewell party with our homestays in Pachaj we spent one night in the city of Xela before setting out walking to the Lake. The trek winds a beautiful path through the highlands, […]

Posted On

11/26/12

Author

Instructors

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We´re still working on an alternative way to share pictures -- here are a few from the past couple weeks.

We just arrived to San Lucas Toliman on Lake Atitlan and we´ll start our permaculture course at IMAP this Monday.

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Photo Update

Ian Kelly,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

We´re still working on an alternative way to share pictures — here are a few from the past couple weeks. We just arrived to San Lucas Toliman on Lake Atitlan and we´ll start our permaculture course at IMAP this Monday.

Posted On

11/18/12

Author

Ian Kelly

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Hola a todos,

The air is full of energy this evening in Quetzaltenango as the group busily packs for our upcoming trek to Lake Atitlan. It’s been an amazing 10 days since we arrived in the town of Pachaj. Our time in this highland Kiche Maya community was inspiring and rewarding. Our mornings were spent helping out with the Chico Mendes reforestation project; we planted trees, collected seeds and learned about issues surrounding ecology and the environment in Guatemala. In the afternoons students were placed in one-on-one Spanish classes with local teachers. Their classes consisted of museum visits, cooking lessons and other experiential learning in and around Pachaj and Xela. On top of this busy schedule there were additional lessons on mining and immigration, a hike up the volcano Santa Maria and a Mayan ceremony, not to mention students beginning the process of planning the expedition phase of the course. Amazingly enough, amidst all these other projects and activities, some students, led by Maura, were able to complete a beautiful mural for the Chico Mendes project. The mural depicts a Mayan figure sitting in a grove of trees, in his footprints small trees are sprouting. He holds in his hands the symbol Q’anil, the sacred mayan glyph representing the earth. The message running through the trees reads “El bosque es la herencia de los ancestros...cuidemoslo” The forest is the inheritance left by our ancestors...lets care for it. As we prepare to head out tomorrow on our last multi-day trek, we’ll carry both our experiences in Pachaj and the lessons we learned there with us. We will arrive to Lake Atitlan on Saturday, we hope to gather strength and energy from the forests and mountains to carry with us into the final part of course which will take place there. We are forever grateful for your continued support and we’ll be in touch when we arrive. Muchas gracias,

Ariel, Dhyana and Luis

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Pachaj to the Lake

Instructors,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Hola a todos, The air is full of energy this evening in Quetzaltenango as the group busily packs for our upcoming trek to Lake Atitlan. It’s been an amazing 10 days since we arrived in the town of Pachaj. Our time in this highland Kiche Maya community was inspiring and rewarding. Our mornings were spent […]

Posted On

11/14/12

Author

Instructors

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Although it has been many moons since the group was in Cotzal, I stumbled across this in my journal today. A list of words, simple words, in 3 colums. Its an example of the two languages interchanging, the indigenous and the Spanish, the two languages often being combined in one sentence

1. Esponal

2. Ixil

3. Pronounciation

Esponal Ixil Pronounciation

Cara = Vatz Vatz

Pelota = B´A´X Bashh

Ghatto = Vish (Vishh)

Sombraro = Kut

Zapatos = Xap (Shap)

Persona= Anima

Casa = Otzotz

Arbol = Tzaa (Tza)

Pantolon = Vex (Vesh)

Maiz = Ixim

Nariz = Whoo (pronounciation)

Abuela = Nan

Hermono = Sheepan

Flor = Xum (Shoom)

Ropa = Ox(ck) Sam

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Ixil in Box

Maura Cecilia McMahon ,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Although it has been many moons since the group was in Cotzal, I stumbled across this in my journal today. A list of words, simple words, in 3 colums. Its an example of the two languages interchanging, the indigenous and the Spanish, the two languages often being combined in one sentence 1. Esponal 2. Ixil […]

Posted On

11/14/12

Author

Maura Cecilia McMahon

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Hello Family and Friends!

Just a quick not from the I team to let you know we are all doing well despite a few sicknessnes last week. The students have all been busy and enaged in the many exciting activities and opportunities here at The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project.

In the mornings we have been doing lessons by both instructors and Armando (Chico Medes' founder).Armando is an inspiring activist who loves to share his passion for the environment and planting trees with students.Alongside lessons we have been participating in service work with the project, which includes transplanting, gathering seeds, and helping Maura on the incredible mural she has kindly volunteered to paint for the organization. Lunches have been delicious, filling and eaten together as a group at Armando's house. In the afternoon's students have been busy with Spanish class, followed by homestay family time in the evenings. Other activities this week have included climbing Volcano Santa Maria, seeing a Mayan ceremony, and spending Sunday with homestay families.

We were supposed to leave on our 3-day trek to Lake Atitlan tomorrow, but decided to push it back on day in order to spend an extra day with Armando, as well as allow a little extra time for those studnets who have been sick to regain strength. We'll be starting the trek on Thursday, well rested and ready to go!

The I team will be posting a Yak with some photos later today. Tomorrow we have the day in Xela, and the students will share soome of the experiences from Pachaj over the yeak board, so please stay tuned for more!

Ariel, Dhyana, and Luis

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Change in Itinerary and Update

I team,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Hello Family and Friends! Just a quick not from the I team to let you know we are all doing well despite a few sicknessnes last week. The students have all been busy and enaged in the many exciting activities and opportunities here at The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project. In the mornings we have been […]

Posted On

11/13/12

Author

I team

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Very thoughtful of you

Mary Reed Kelly,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Thanks for that, Team ROR.

Posted On

11/7/12

Author

Mary Reed Kelly

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