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Central America Semester, Fall 2012


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So there was a magnitude 7.4 earthquake in guatemala today.

All us students all safe and unharmed. Just want to make sure you're not worrying about us.

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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We’re all safe

Team ROR,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

So there was a magnitude 7.4 earthquake in guatemala today. All us students all safe and unharmed. Just want to make sure you’re not worrying about us.

Posted On

11/7/12

Author

Team ROR

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    [post_content] => Thanks for that, Team ROR.
    [post_title] => Very thoughtful of you
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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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Greetings, we just wanted to send you a quick update to let you know that all is well here in Guatemala and to catch you up on what we’ve been up to here. Our trek was a fantastic four day tromp through the incomparable Cuchumatanes mountains. Rather than using a tour company, our guide Roberto was a local man from the community of Todos Santos. He is a gentle and kind person who led us through the stunning landscape dressed in his traditional mayan traje. We spent our night sleeping and eating with families along the way and the weather treated us well the whole time. It was a really great group time and a good thing to do before re-entering homestays in Cotzal.

Our trek ended in the small farming town of Acul, from which we traveled to the town of Nebaj in the Ixil triangle. We spent one night celebrating our trek with pie and movies in Nebaj. The students hit up the paca secret santa style and picked out ridiculous outfits for each other in an early Halloween celebration. We had a fun relaxing night which prepared us for our trip the next day to Cotzal.

We arrived in Cotzal on Halloween night and students were pretty much immediately introduced to their homestays and sent off to their first guatemalan family. Despite the fact that Cotzal is our most rugged homestay, the students have maintained good energy and perspective all week. We have spent a couple of days working in the fields with the weaving cooperative here, helping them harvest and shell beans, clear the land and then planting habas. We spent Day of the Dead at the new center the coop is building where Maura painted a small mural of the goddess of weaving while other students helped hammer the ceiling boards and others helped the women prepare a traditional lunch and yet others built a miniature model adobe oven. In the afternoon we headed to the cemetery, which was filled with kids flying kites, people having picnics and general hustle and bustle. It’s been a really great week, its actually flown by very quickly. We are preparing ourselves to move onto Pachaj tomorrow morning where students will begin their second Guatemalan homestay and Spanish one on one Spanish classes.

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Group Update from Guatemala

Instructor Team,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Greetings, we just wanted to send you a quick update to let you know that all is well here in Guatemala and to catch you up on what we’ve been up to here. Our trek was a fantastic four day tromp through the incomparable Cuchumatanes mountains. Rather than using a tour company, our guide Roberto […]

Posted On

11/4/12

Author

Instructor Team

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Hi -- this is a heartfelt request for more and higher resolution photos from the Central America semester. The few posted on Yak (for instance in the recent instructors' mid-course update) are so small that faces are hard to pick out. If Yak can't do it, would you consider opening a channel on picasaweb.google.com (which offers free download of full-resolution photos)? The current instructors' group Gmail account will log in to that, and it's easy to share. Or perhaps another service, like Snapfish?

Many thanks.

Bart

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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A plea for photos

Barton Gellman,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Hi — this is a heartfelt request for more and higher resolution photos from the Central America semester. The few posted on Yak (for instance in the recent instructors’ mid-course update) are so small that faces are hard to pick out. If Yak can’t do it, would you consider opening a channel on picasaweb.google.com (which […]

Posted On

10/31/12

Author

Barton Gellman

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    [post_content] => 

We are just now hearing a little bit of news about the storm on the East Coast.

Here in guatemala it seems almost incomprehensible. Pictures of uprooted trees and stories of ocean water flooding city blocks seem like something out of a book or movie.

But this is real, and these kinds of natural disasters are becoming more and more frequent. We´re no experts, but Bill McKibben can tell you all about it.

Comparatively, the testimonies we´ve been hearing as we travel through Central America can seem just as surreal.

And while the entire world hears about the 18 people killed in New York City, it has taken us that many years to learn about the US funded massacre of 200,000 civilians in Guatemala alone, not to mention the mirroring histories experienced in all of Central America (and in reality worldwide). Not to say that the 18 deaths weren´t tragic. Incomprehensibility on both sides leaves us here with the same feeling, and asking the same questions. How does this affect me? What does it have to do with how I live my life? what systems come into play when untimely tragedy strikes? How do I play into those systems?

The differences and similarities between what we´ve been looking at here in Central America and the storm back home lie in the roots of these disasters.

Both stem from the actions of human beings, and both from the so-called Western (global north) way of life. Most of us know that our fossil fueled, consumerist, dare I say -capitalist- way of life is directly contributing to the increase in these natural disasters, like the storm going on right now.And yet we have to ask if the same number of people know that this same lifestyle and 80% of our tax payer money goes to so called "defense spending" to fund calculated wars and genocides for profit. This is not a new development.

Recently, we spent an odd yet eye-opening week in San Salvador that felt as if we could very well have been in Oakland. This was due, not least of all, to the use of the dollar in El Salvador. Yet it wasn´t just that. It was the Pizza Huts on every corner, it was the supermarkets filled with carbon copies of our own plastic wrapped products that no one really needs. We were baffled by how the loss of sovereignty that seemed to smack us in the face every time we passed a McDonalds.

So why don´t we feel the same when we pass a McDonalds in the US? Maybe we do, but we´ve just gotten used to it. It is also a loss of sovereignty to have McDonalds in the United States. But this has now become a way of life for us. We have become numb, blind and ignorant of our loss of autonomy in everyday decisions. We have been taught to believe that freedom is equal to being able to choose between 100 diffrent brands of deoderant.

But there was more than just junk food that made the connection between the two cities. San Salvador is like Oakland in the energy that can be felt when walking the streets. Graffiti crying for increase in minimum wage, in increase in equal treatment, in a desire for happiness, brings to mind images of graffiti spray painted on Oakland banks back in the hayday of Occupy Oakland. And yet while OO came and went, the energy in Oakland remains: the same disillusioned, passionate youthfulness that pulsates in San Salvador. Young people in San Salvador, in Oakland, in Spain, in Greece, and all over the world are fed up with feeling as if they have no autonomy in their lives and no escape from the pressures of the systems which surround them.

Our group has also steadily been making our way through Naomi Klein´s book, The Shock Doctrine. The book describes in astonishing detail the elaborate ways in which invisible systems (another theme on our course) have been created to profit off of these disasters. These systems sometimes also incorporate mechanisms that create these disasters, so as to shock the population into compliance.

A direct example of both the loss of sovereignty and the shock doctrine playing out in El Salvador is the dollarization of the economy. Prior to 2001, the United States and organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank, had made attempts to push El Salvador to dollarization. However the initiative was met with resistance by the people. In 2001, an earthquake rocked El Salvador, and took the lives of more than 1,000 people. The city of San Salvador was left in disrepair, and people were forced to deal with the immidiate reality of their surroundings. During this time, the dollarization of El Salvador was passed. In essence, this incident is the epitome of Naomi Klein´s thesis on the shock doctrine.

The East Coast is going through a shock. Begging the questions: do all disasters invite in shock therapy? And what will become of the east coast, especially lower income areas, as this shock progresses. What have we learned from Katrina?And what will we do, how and will we change the way we live, knowing these kinds of events will only increse in the future?

Again, always, always, back to the question: Knowing what we know now (which is that we know nothing at all), how do we live our lives?

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Shocks and Sovereignty

Leo and Jackie,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

We are just now hearing a little bit of news about the storm on the East Coast. Here in guatemala it seems almost incomprehensible. Pictures of uprooted trees and stories of ocean water flooding city blocks seem like something out of a book or movie. But this is real, and these kinds of natural disasters […]

Posted On

10/30/12

Author

Leo and Jackie

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There is NO causal Yakking.

(ps: claire is at her wit´s end)

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Jakking

Jackie,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

There is NO causal Yakking. (ps: claire is at her wit´s end)

Posted On

10/30/12

Author

Jackie

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    [post_content] => Yesterday, on Day II of our trek through the highlands of Guatemala, we were  prompted during morning meeting to write a haiku. Here are the fruits of our  labor, inspired by the sights and sounds of the journey. 

The market blurs and fades

the fog lifts and here we are

relief next to me

-J.V.D.H

Misting 'midst moments

of thin breath, thinning patience

Fog is sustenance

-M.G.

Pigs that look like cows

Children run to scream"Hola!"

Hike in the highlands

-R.P.

Incomparable

Are we in Guatemala

or a fairy tale?

-C.L.B.

Lost in mountain clouds

I stand on top of the world

breathing cold clean air

-D.M.

To write a haiku

just need one more syllable

such a quandary

-M.C.M.

These sheep smile at me

Janky mountains wink softly

I don't get haikus

-I.K.

Sly, cream, and golden

Smiles amidst an emerald sea

Low, not forgotten

-E.R.

Smooshed into one bed

giggles and cuddles abound

warm at last I am

-A.S.

Lots of pigs and sheep

Sometimes we may see a stream

but mostly it's grass

-A.G.

R.T.'s continues to be a gem in progress!

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Mountain Haikus

Team Roots of Rebellion,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Yesterday, on Day II of our trek through the highlands of Guatemala, we were prompted during morning meeting to write a haiku. Here are the fruits of our labor, inspired by the sights and sounds of the journey. The market blurs and fades the fog lifts and here we are relief next to me -J.V.D.H […]

Posted On

10/29/12

Author

Team Roots of Rebellion

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    [post_content] => As I sit here with my somewhat of a camping light, I wish it was a candle.This poem, this letter I've been avoiding,it's all the emotions I can't handle.This is the story of a harmony, a perfect lamb, a painter, a spitfire, a comic-reliever, a story-reader, a caboose-partner, a soft-speaker-carrying-a-big-stick, a humanitarian, and a rock.These people hold a key, while I have the lock.They have three teachers: a ginger tea for soothing, a smile for continuing, and a glue-which holds all the pieces together. I need these friends as well, and shall remember them forever.It’s like I’m here, with two arms, two legs, ten fingers,but a part of me, the key, the memory still lingers.I am not whole, nor complete,but I try to find gravity to stand on my own two feet.I miss el sol, los gallos pintos, las plantañas, y la lluvia; pero son los amigos, los seres humanos bonitos, that forever remain in my brain. It pains.You’re all links, held together in an unspeakable chain; and I just worry that my link will fall off; that I wasn’t strong enough to remain. I tried to hold on.Here in the States I feel I don’t belong,so this pain, this ache, has grown long and strong.I don’t want skyscrapers. You all paint this brilliant tapestry for me: different colors, different patterns, different souls.Tour tapestry resurfaces through my bedroom walls.They taunt me with their patterns, and forcefully recall,our trusting-fingertips colliding and giving in to bend,our memories they ricochet, and echo withno end.You and I, we are like poetry,in the States very hard to be;but the way it’s supposed to be.And as for me, What I take from this family tree…I change diverging roads into branches—trim ends that are split from haste. Each footprint, bearing secrets now bound.  (Internal Profound)The foot feels the foot when it feels  the ground.Enlightening electricity, I let go and let be I share the electricity It comes back tome. Neither lost nor found, 

The foot feels the foot when it feels

the ground.

Share the electricity.

I will see you all again.

Con amore,

Sarita

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Fourteen

Sarah Fenno,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

As I sit here with my somewhat of a camping light, I wish it was a candle.This poem, this letter I’ve been avoiding,it’s all the emotions I can’t handle.This is the story of a harmony, a perfect lamb, a painter, a spitfire, a comic-reliever, a story-reader, a caboose-partner, a soft-speaker-carrying-a-big-stick, a humanitarian, and a rock.These […]

Posted On

10/29/12

Author

Sarah Fenno

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Hola a todos! Saludos desde La Antigua, Guatemala,

Hello all! Greetings from La Antigua, Guatemala,

As Dragons’ instructors we feel that the connection we make with each one of our students is one of the most important and rewarding parts of what we do. Amidst the sometimes hectic mix of spanish classes, homestays and independent projects, we don’t always get as much time as we would like to slow down and just be with our amazing students. For this reason the mid-course process is a sacred time to us. We slow the course down, recharge our energies and renew our dedication to making the second half of the course as incredible as the first. The last two weeks of our course have been spent in bustling, vibrant urban environments, the city buzz and faster pace of life were exhilarating albeit tiring. We were all ready for a little break when Sunday rolled around and we traveled from San Salvador to Antigua, Guatemala, the old colonial capital of of the third country visited on this course. The cobblestone roads led us through Antigua and then up into the hills surrounding the small city to the Earthlodge, our mid-course slow down spot. Students moved into their cabins with views overlooking three of the regions many volcanoes and the city lights of Jocotenango and Antigua below. From this vantage point the whole country seems to spread out below.

Over the course of the past three days we’ve had the chance to stop and really check-in with each student, to hear from them about their progress, how they’ve grown and where they’re going. This time is crucial for us to assess our course’s progress and respond to student feedback in the second half of the program. Our meetings also offer us the forum to really express our appreciation to each student individually, to let them know all that we’ve seen in them and congratulate them on their accomplishments. It’s been so gratifying to look back at the last six weeks and honestly say that each and every student has grown and learned in so many ways. The best part is, everything that they’ve learned is thanks to their dedication and involvement in all aspects of our program. This group has taken on each challenge with enthusiasm and grace and we have time and again been impressed by the level of introspection and honesty they bring to the processing of those experiences. It hasn’t all been easy, and the challenges we face moving forward in Guatemala promise to offer much more food for thought, but we have nothing but confidence that this group will continue to perform, grow and support one another at every turn. Our travels will be taking us now to the highland town of Todos Santos, high in the Cuchumatanes mountains. From here we will trek for three days to Nebaj, a small town in the Ixil triangle. From there we move into our first homestay in Guatemala in the town of San Juan Cotzal. We will be introduced to the indigenous mayan worldview and lifestyle while assisting in a communal agriculture project led by a weaving cooperative. Please stay tuned to the Yak board for more updates as this next chapter unfolds, and as always, thank you for your support.

Hasta Pronto,

Ariel, Dhyana and Luis

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Mid Course and Beyond

The Instructors,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Hola a todos! Saludos desde La Antigua, Guatemala, Hello all! Greetings from La Antigua, Guatemala, As Dragons’ instructors we feel that the connection we make with each one of our students is one of the most important and rewarding parts of what we do. Amidst the sometimes hectic mix of spanish classes, homestays and independent […]

Posted On

10/25/12

Author

The Instructors

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Been at the Earth Lodge since Monday. Feels surreal being in such a beautiful place, but odd to be in a tourist location given the nature of this trip.

We've just finished midcourse. Yesterday we went in to a paca. All the clothes not sold by american clothing stores are in one place and super cheap.

We need to get to get going now. Going to go on a trek. Peace.

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Central America Semester, Fall 2012

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Where the dragons be at

Team ROR,Central America Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Been at the Earth Lodge since Monday. Feels surreal being in such a beautiful place, but odd to be in a tourist location given the nature of this trip. We’ve just finished midcourse. Yesterday we went in to a paca. All the clothes not sold by american clothing stores are in one place and super […]

Posted On

10/25/12

Author

Team ROR

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