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    [post_date] => 2016-12-08 11:34:45
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    [post_content] => Buenos dias a todos!

By now (with the exception of Paco) everyone should be waking up in their own bed. And "by now" I clearly mean in a good 3-4 hours since it's currently 6am in Colorado:) I hope your initial reunions with family and friends went well. Perhaps it involved a torrent of stories and hugs, or perhaps a sleepy silence and awkward distance. Whatever you're feeling, I'm sure it will change soon enough so be patient with yourself and loved ones.

For me, the first morning after a trip (Miami didn't really count) is always surreal. I woke up at 5 mildly disoriented and confused...Is this Hostal Austria's bed? Where is everyone? It took me a few moments of blinking and scanning the room to remember my new surroundings. Everyday for the past 3 months Ellie, Alan, and I have woken up with you on our minds. After zombie walks to the bathroom and mumbled good mornings, we would sit over coffee and talk about each of you and how the plan for the day could best fit the mood and needs of the group. Today is the first day we're not having those conversations, although I still woke up thinking about each of you, and wondering how you are and what you'll do today. It takes awhile to break that habit and start to recalibrate our own desires and plans without consideration of the 14 other (mas o menos) individuals sleeping nearby.

I wanted to share a quick story from my travels home yesterday. On my connecting flight from Miami to Houston I noticed an African family huddled together by the entrance of the gate. They each held a white plastic bag that said "Agency for Migrant and Refugee Services" (or something to that effect). The mother held an infant and wore a large beaded American flag bracelet on her wrist. The grandfather had a bushy white beard that seemed dyed a henna red at the tips. The adolescent kids were dressed in polyester leather jackets and jeans with zippers unexplainably placed on the knees and thighs, kind of like a 1980s outfit Michael Jackson might wear. Seated on the plane, the family started to fill in the seats around me. Having established a relationship with my frequent and unsolicited smiling, they asked me to help them find their seats by pointing at the tickets. No one in the family spoke English besides a hushed "thank you" and "please." All 6 of them were spread out in middle seats at the back of the plane. I sat next to the eldest son.

"Is your family traveling to Houston?"
"No, USA."
"Right, but where in the USA?"
"USA"

The son replied in a whisper and avoided eye contact with me. I pulled out the United flight map from the seat back pocket and with much gesturing figured out that they were from Kenya and traveling to Dallas, which would soon be their new home. He was 17 years old. The family would speak loudly and haltingly to each other from their middle seats, sometimes reaching over other passengers to communicate with a gesture or touch. I could tell that other folks found their behavior a bit rude and jarring. My seat mate kept leaning over me to look out the window. I gestured that we should switch seats so he could see better. I soon fell asleep and awoke to him grabbing my shoulder and pointing out the window, saying "Texas? Texas?"

Off the plane, the family stood together looking bewildered and lost. I looked at the tickets for their connecting flight and gestured that I'd lead them across the terminal to their gate. No matter how slow I walked, they always stayed just a few feet behind me. I left them at the new gate to Dallas and awkwardly shook hands. I handed the son a hastily written note that said "Welcome to the USA. I wish you all the best," or something to that effect. I turned to run to my own now boarding connection and looked back at the family standing at the gate, waiting for a new life in Dallas.

Despite all the uncertainties and challenges in our politics and culture, we still live in a place that captures the dreams and desired destinies of many around the world. We can't control the fact that a symbol of division will become our next president, but we can control how we choose to represent our shared values each day.

I thought about how this Kenyan family's interactions on the plane raised silent ethnocentric judgments from other passengers. I thought about how many Bolivian and Peruvians had gone out of their way to make me feel welcome in a foreign land. I thought about how my own experience of culture shock is so mild in comparison to their unfolding journey. I thought about how different this 17 year old's life has been from my own and will be in his new home. I thought about the privilege and gratitude I have for being born into a country that is a desired destination for refugees and migrants. I thought about you all and how even though our trip is over, opportunities to learn, feel alive, and practice are values are all around us.

As we said to all of you, if you write us between now and forever, we will always respond. Juan Carlos is sharing coffee with me this morning and seems a bit melancholy/"I want to eat you" separated from the group...or perhaps that's just the way his face is molded.

Here are a few suggestions for continuing your experience back home:
  • Create slideshows and share with others. Share the images and stories of the people we've met!
  • Keep writing and sharing your stories. Publish in your school newspaper, local paper, blog, or national paper.
  • Make your own "storycorps" recordings (check out NPR's storycorps!). Interview friends, family, and strangers
  • Identify 5 support people in your community that you can reach out to
  • Do "10 minutes of fame" with friends and family
  • Think about what are your comfort, learning, and panic zones back home. Be mindful of pushing yourself into your learning zones
  • Think about writing "magic statements" for your goals and expectations back home. What would make this the best day/week/month/semester of my year?
  • When are you being a prisoner/vacationer/learner back home?
  • Create a group Facebook page to share resources
  • Create a writing group so that we can share stories and keep encouraging each other to write.
  • Think about "how can I have traveler's eyes" each day. Seek out opportunities for engagement, learning, adventure
  • Whatever made you passionate or come alive in Bolivia/Peru, find ways to pursue it back home. Be an activist for your values and convictions.
  • Think about your intellectual, spiritual, creative, physical, and social well-being each day. What activities can you do to keep all these aspects of your being well-fed?
  • Simplify. What is a need vs. a want. What do you need to thrive?
  • And be PATIENT and COMPASSIONATE with yourself. Don't let goals turn into guilt. Accept where you are at each day.
  • Share more ideas with the rest of the group!
With Love, Aaron *The photo is of us watching Paco go through customs in Lima. We miss you Paco! [post_title] => Thoughts on our first day [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => thoughts-on-our-first-day [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-08 11:34:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-08 18:34:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/blog/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 583 [name] => FALL: Andes & Amazon A [slug] => andes-amazon-a-fall-2016 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 583 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 581 [count] => 116 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 0.1 [cat_ID] => 583 [category_count] => 116 [category_description] => [cat_name] => FALL: Andes & Amazon A [category_nicename] => andes-amazon-a-fall-2016 [category_parent] => 581 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2016/andes-amazon-a-fall-2016/ ) ) [category_links] => FALL: Andes & Amazon A )
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Thoughts on our first day

Aaron Slosberg,FALL: Andes & Amazon A

Description

Buenos dias a todos! By now (with the exception of Paco) everyone should be waking up in their own bed. And “by now” I clearly mean in a good 3-4 hours since it’s currently 6am in Colorado:) I hope your initial reunions with family and friends went well. Perhaps it involved a torrent of stories […]

Posted On

12/8/16

Author

Aaron Slosberg

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    [post_content] => The group flight has landed in Miami, where several students have departed on connecting flights.  The rest of the group will disperse tomorrow morning.

Thanks to all the families for helping to make this adventure possible!  We wish everyone the best in their return home.

 

Best wishes,

The Dragons Amdin
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FALL: Andes & Amazon A

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Arrival in Miami

Julianne Chandler,FALL: Andes & Amazon A

Description

The group flight has landed in Miami, where several students have departed on connecting flights.  The rest of the group will disperse tomorrow morning. Thanks to all the families for helping to make this adventure possible!  We wish everyone the best in their return home.   Best wishes, The Dragons Amdin

Posted On

12/6/16

Author

Julianne Chandler

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    [post_content] => Dear All,

Just a quick note to let you know that students are currently on a plane flying over the Andes.  They stop in Lima before landing in Miami at 6:45pm this evening.  The journey home has begun.

Thank you, Field Note Readers, for all you have done to make this program possible.  It was an incredible 3 months.  We are thinking of you--the communities responsible for creating such a remarkable group of individuals-- as we disperse.  Thank you again for sharing your loved ones with us.

Un abrazo,

Ellie, Aaron, & Alan
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FALL: Andes & Amazon A

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Homeward Bound

Ellie,FALL: Andes & Amazon A

Description

Dear All, Just a quick note to let you know that students are currently on a plane flying over the Andes.  They stop in Lima before landing in Miami at 6:45pm this evening.  The journey home has begun. Thank you, Field Note Readers, for all you have done to make this program possible.  It was […]

Posted On

12/6/16

Author

Ellie

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-06 07:25:01
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    [post_content] => Dear Dragons friends and family,

After an emotional farewell at the airport in La Paz, the student group is in the air! One of the instructors, Aaron, will accompany the group to Miami.

It has been a wonderful semester and we wish the students well in this transition home!

 

 
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FALL: Andes & Amazon A

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Group en route to Lima!

Julianne Chandler,FALL: Andes & Amazon A

Description

Dear Dragons friends and family, After an emotional farewell at the airport in La Paz, the student group is in the air! One of the instructors, Aaron, will accompany the group to Miami. It has been a wonderful semester and we wish the students well in this transition home!    

Posted On

12/6/16

Author

Julianne Chandler

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 09:41:18
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    [post_content] => Dear Fall 2016 Andes & Amazon Group A Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families (all times are in local time zones):

Tuesday, December 6th

LATAM Airlines #2563

Depart: La Paz, Bolivia (LPB) 10:30 AM

Arrive: Lima, Peru (LIM) 11:25 AM

LATAM Airlines #2512

Depart: Lima, Peru (LIM) 1:00 PM

Arrive: Miami (MIA) 6:45 PM

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Monday, December 5th, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin
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FALL: Andes & Amazon A

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RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION

Eva Vanek,FALL: Andes & Amazon A

Description

Dear Fall 2016 Andes & Amazon Group A Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 07:50:48
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    [post_content] => The following was written while in my Tiquipaya homestay.

Trash is a puzzling phenomenon. We buy something at the store neatly enveloped in a colorful, eye-catching package. We take it home, we use it, we toss it, and it’s gone from our lives, forgotten. Here in Bolivia, though, it’s different. Here, we take responsibility for the waste we create. Here, it’s not as easy as putting our freshly-minted black trash bags out by the curb so that they can disappear into oblivion. Here, there is no convenient black hole into which we can dispel our unwanted waste. Here in Tiquipaya, we burn it. Whether it’s plastic, paper, or metal, it’s all burnt right outside our home, where the remnants of cans, bottles, and diapers still await deliverance to the other side. Here, however, we make less trash. We milk cows for cheese, grow broccoli, and make every meal from scratch. We consume dramatically less than the average American, yet the trash we do make is much more conspicuous. If we buy something, we must be willing to burn its packaging, and if it doesn’t burn, to live with it for years to come. In Bolivia, there is no mysterious force that whisks our waste away. I’m beginning to suspect that the same is true elsewhere too, that perhaps the mystical trash portal is a myth.

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FALL: Andes & Amazon A

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On Trash

Benjamin Swift,FALL: Andes & Amazon A

Description

The following was written while in my Tiquipaya homestay. Trash is a puzzling phenomenon. We buy something at the store neatly enveloped in a colorful, eye-catching package. We take it home, we use it, we toss it, and it’s gone from our lives, forgotten. Here in Bolivia, though, it’s different. Here, we take responsibility for […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Benjamin Swift

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 07:49:21
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    [post_content] => 

Service is complicated. Whether you call it community service, service learning, or learning service, helping people outside of your own community—at least if done effectively—is never as straightforward as leaving home and building something. In order to truly and meaningfully help a community, one must ask a litany of questions, many of which will be unanswerable, and in the end it may still be difficult to quantify the effects, both positive and negative, of a “project.”

In our Altiplano service project we learned firsthand about this complicated dynamic while building an adobe greenhouse. Upon our arrival we were greeted enthusiastically by a large group of community members and then with a performance by local students and profuse thanks by community leaders. Shortly after, however, it became clear that perhaps our donation of funds was the most deserving recipient of praise, as our competency in adobe building—while not unhelpful—wasn’t exemplary. We proved ourselves to be average mud-mixers, average wheelbarrow-pushers, average brick stackers. Though our presence was useful, it wasn’t essential in terms of construction, but at the end of the project we were treated as if it was. For the inauguration of the greenhouse we were all given diplomas and had confetti sprinkled on our heads as if we had just dramatically transformed the community. In our later discussions with Doña María, however, she expressed frustration that the community didn’t maintain its already existing greenhouses, and said that she planned to return to the community unannounced to ensure that they’ve planted in their new greenhouse and are fully taking advantage of it. But if outsiders like María have to push the community to use what we built for them, did we really build the right thing? Doesn’t that demonstrate that they don’t truly value the greenhouse as much as the diplomas and confetti suggest? After the completion of the project many of us were left with critical questions like these, but our subsequent conversations with community members highlighted the important—maybe priceless—but less tangible impacts that our presence had apart from a physical greenhouse. Gabriel, a teacher who grew up in the community, described how our willingness as foreigners to get our hands (and most other parts of our bodies) dirty working and dancing in the mud could have a powerful influence on the mindsets of the town’s youth. Many youth in the community see dirty manual labor like this as a job for the uneducated and darker-skinned; youth in school are reluctant to work with the mud. But according to Gabriel, our eagerness to work in this manner made people look upon this type of work in a more positive light. Additionally, he claimed that having foreigners visit their village made them feel more like they are “on the map,” like the outside cares about them and recognizes their existence; it “raised up their honor.”

In the end, maybe it was just the self-congratulatory way we were treated, the way we were treated like magnanimous heroes, that bothered us. We did help create something useful to a community, and we did forge cross-cultural connections that could positively impact people in the future—but those people are just as likely to be us as they are the community members. These connections were beneficial to both parties, and we felt like we got as much if not more out of the service project as we received. As Eduardo Galeano said, “I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it’s humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.” Maybe it was that Altiplano community that deserved those diplomas, not us.

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FALL: Andes & Amazon A, Service Learning

View post

On Service

Benjamin Swift,FALL: Andes & Amazon A, Service Learning

Description

Service is complicated. Whether you call it community service, service learning, or learning service, helping people outside of your own community—at least if done effectively—is never as straightforward as leaving home and building something. In order to truly and meaningfully help a community, one must ask a litany of questions, many of which will be […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Benjamin Swift

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    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-02 12:38:57
    [post_content] => Dear friends and family,

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Southern Peru, near the city of Puno, yesterday afternoon.  Both of the Andes & Amazon groups were well away from the area and completely unaffected. There have been no reports of damage or injuries as a result of the earthquake.

Both groups are settled into their transference sites and enjoying their final days together!

Best wishes,

The Dragons Administration
    [post_title] => Both Andes & Amazon groups unaffected by Peru eathquake
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FALL: Andes & Amazon A, FALL: Andes & Amazon B

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Both Andes & Amazon groups unaffected by Peru eathquake

Julianne Chandler,FALL: Andes & Amazon A, FALL: Andes & Amazon B

Description

Dear friends and family, A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Southern Peru, near the city of Puno, yesterday afternoon.  Both of the Andes & Amazon groups were well away from the area and completely unaffected. There have been no reports of damage or injuries as a result of the earthquake. Both groups are settled into their […]

Posted On

12/2/16

Author

Julianne Chandler

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    [post_content] => Dear Fall 2016 Andes & Amazon Group A Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families (all times are in local time zones):

Tuesday, December 6th

LATAM Airlines #2563

Depart: La Paz, Bolivia (LPB) 10:30 AM

Arrive: Lima, Peru (LIM) 11:25 AM

LATAM Airlines #2512

Depart: Lima, Peru (LIM) 1:00 PM

Arrive: Miami (MIA) 6:45 PM

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Monday, December 5th, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin
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FALL: Andes & Amazon A

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RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION

Eva Vanek,FALL: Andes & Amazon A

Description

Dear Fall 2016 Andes & Amazon Group A Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the […]

Posted On

12/1/16

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-01 17:01:11
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    [post_content] => The group has returned from their trek in the Cordillera Real, and travelled to their transference site in the Bolivian cloud forest this afternoon.  They will spend the next 4 days at an eco-lodge tucked away in the lush forests of the Yungas, reflecting on their journey and preparing for the trip home.

Here are some photos from the trek!

img_3776

img_3777 img_3779

img_3775img_3781
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View post

Trek Photos!

Julianne Chandler,FALL: Andes & Amazon A

Description

The group has returned from their trek in the Cordillera Real, and travelled to their transference site in the Bolivian cloud forest this afternoon.  They will spend the next 4 days at an eco-lodge tucked away in the lush forests of the Yungas, reflecting on their journey and preparing for the trip home. Here are […]

Posted On

12/1/16

Author

Julianne Chandler

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