Photo of the Week
Survey of Development Issues
Photo Title


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    [post_content] => Our days in Kathmandu have started to fall into a pattern. Tasks that initially stretched the limits of our comfort zones, such as traversing across the city on public transport, or interacting with homestay grandmas in a combination of body language and broken Nepali, has become routine. The new challenge that we decided to open up this week is more of an intellectual one, as we started exploring the deeply complex and much-contested topic of International Development.

Our discussions had different entry points – a snapshot of global inequality represented with biscuits, an understanding of the complex and loaded terms we use to describe poverty and disadvantage, and a series of ever-deepening questions to challenge our perspectives. The questions that came from the group included: Are there enough resources in the world? Does everyone want development? Is it human nature to be selfish? Why does inequality exist - and what can be done about it?

Actions that we assume at first must be “good,” turn out to be more complicated upon further inspection. Building a school, giving clean water to a slum, donating to an orphanage: all these are actions for development, right? But what if the school stands empty without teachers or running costs? What if the slum is populated with earthquake victims who would rather have a clean water supply back in their village? What if the orphanage is corrupt and responsible for trafficking children?

Our discussions this week have been rich, and the diversity of opinions and perspectives within the group has been an asset. The conversations have been buzzing and each one has closed with many more questions than we started with. And as we sit down for a delicious dal bhat lunch cooked for us by Pemba dai and Nima didi, it has not been uncommon for the same topics to re-emerge or for even more complex issues to be thrown into the mix.

Yesterday, the question at lunchtime was: “If this is all so complicated - what CAN we do?” The answer was provided by another member of the group: “Well, I guess we can start by just asking that question.”
    [post_title] => Getting deep and critical
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Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

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Getting deep and critical

Germaine, Amrit, Caitlin, Claire,Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

Description

Our days in Kathmandu have started to fall into a pattern. Tasks that initially stretched the limits of our comfort zones, such as traversing across the city on public transport, or interacting with homestay grandmas in a combination of body language and broken Nepali, has become routine. The new challenge that we decided to open […]

Posted On

10/7/15

Author

Germaine, Amrit, Caitlin, Claire

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    [post_content] => I am writing to you from the whirlwind of Dharamsala from a small internet cafe trying to think of words to describe the adventures we've had so far. I believe that my role here in my exploration of the Tibetan people in exile and their history is to be a listener and to pay attention to everything I see in order to feel their past struggles, their motivations to persevere and preserve their culture, their visions of a future Tibet and to truly learn from their words of wisdom that can only be acquired through hardship and eternal hope. As Halle mentioned, we listened to an old, inspiring Tibetan woman, Ama Ade, on one our first days in Dharamsala and her words were truly profound and evoked a lot of emotion within me. She told us of her 27 years in Chinese prison and the lessons she learned throughout her experiences. She inspired me so much that I wrote a poem for her that attempts to describe her effect on me as her listener:

A wisdom cultivated only in autumnal suffering,
Where the monsoon rain of summer travels down her wrinkles
As she cries for the lives that were stolen.
How does she have the courage to weave her aging hair with blood red ribbon
After witnessing the red of blood?
She clasps her humbled hands together
As if to answer my question with a physical expression of hope.
A hope that can melt the ice of desperation.
Listen to old, smart people said the old, smart woman.
To listen is to empower, to give purpose,
To feel each of her 27 years in prison
In the span of 27 minutes.
To understand the depth of her story
So as not to be ignorant.
To share her passion for life
Without having to experience the real fear of losing it.

I can't wait to continue discovering this mystical place filled with the inspiring stories of its inhabitants.
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Old wisdom

Ellana Slade,Picture of the Week, North India 6-week, Survey of Development Issues

Description

I am writing to you from the whirlwind of Dharamsala from a small internet cafe trying to think of words to describe the adventures we’ve had so far. I believe that my role here in my exploration of the Tibetan people in exile and their history is to be a listener and to pay attention […]

Posted On

07/12/15

Author

Ellana Slade

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    [post_content] => I've always liked antique shops. Walking in, the myriad of mismatched items and belongings from different times and places are stitched together from the time of purchase to sale. The antique shops of Kalimpong are no different.
Passing prayer wheels, statues of Ganesh, and aging silverware, I was drawn to a single item resting on top of a dusty cabinet table. The object didn't shine, it wasn't gem encrusted, and it probably wouldn't have even been noticed if I hadn't been looking for it. Of all the enchanting - - if not gaudy - relics in the room, this was by far the least memorable. The wood cover was dark with age and the kind of wear that accompanies dedication. Carved into the surface I recognized the distinctive arches and swirls of the Tibetan language: Om Mani Padme Hum, the most sacred mantra in Tibetan Buddhism. Carefully lifting the foot long plank, I stared down at lines of Tibetan script in black and red ink written on long sheets of yellowing paper with holes eaten through on the edges. It was perfect. After almost a half hour, I was able to come to an agreeable price with the shop owner and I became the proud owner of my very own Tibetan Buddhist manuscript. As the man wrapped the book up, he wrote on the paper "Mantras of Changrasi, the Buddha of Compassion." I shook my head up and down and probably uttered some sort of "ahh-huh" to acknowledge the information that I planned to Wikipedia at a later date. I began to think of where the book would fit best in my room.
When I arrived home, I was eager to show my host family the purchase I made in town, although I knew they may not care too much as a Hindu family. I carefully unwrapped the book to unveil the wooden cover. Before I could tell the story of how I had acquired the book, my family turned inwards and began to talk excitedly in Nepali, of course neglecting to fill me in on what was happening. Before I had time to process the moment, my aamaa carefully picked up the whole book, kissed the cover, and held it high to her forehead. My siblings followed accordingly. My sister helped to explain that I had bought a very holy Buddhist book - a book more sacred than I had appreciated upon purchase. I had bought the book because I like old things and, above all else, I like old Tibetan things. I wouldn't have cared much if it had been a sixteen year old Tibetan girl's diary.
As the night progressed, I began to appreciate the gravity of my new possession. For hours after, different family members of increasingly tenuous relationship found their way to our living room so I could show them the book. I have to say, I was a bit overwhelmed. A few days passed and my book was able to rest. The excitement of the purchase began to fade with the business of our schedule. The book sat untouched on my nightstand next to my Tom Clancy book (equally untouched).
Yesterday we had the pleasure of learning about the Tibetan-Chinese conflict, an issue I have learned a lot about over the years. As the man spoke, I thought about the Tibetan book that now sat safely on my bedside table. The man spoke of his experience as a refugee and what it was like to flee from the invading Chinese army under the cover of night, with the sound of bullets piercing the calm, midnight sky. The book I bought began to change: it was more than an antique with an ambiguous past, the holy manuscript was also a Tibetan refugee. As families fled their homeland, they made sure this book made it out safely with them. The shop owner had told me without much thought that the manuscript was over 100 years old. How many people read it? Where was its true home? How had it found its way to the antique shop? As the speaker continued, we delved into the more sinister aims of the Communist party of China now occupying Tibet. Monasteries were burned, monks were imprisoned, tortured, and even killed, holy books (like the one I now own) were sought out and destroyed. Not only is my copy of the Mantras of Changrasi a refugee, but it also is now the survivor of a cultural genocide directed at Tibetan Buddhism.
The weight of my newfound responsibility began to sink deeper. This book could not be an aesthetic touch added to a collection of material belongings. The mantras repeated for centuries had been carried down by dutiful orators until the time they could finally be written down. The fading ink and worn pages were an undeniable testament to the exhaustive reflection on its message. The pages were a way of life for a people targeted for destruction. I had become a guardian for the stories, culture, and hope for Tibetan Buddhists in 47 countries around the world. I wondered if one day my copy of the Mantras of Changrasi may help to tell the story of Tibetan Buddhists everywhere. Maybe it could offer a chance to rebuild the culture that was stolen from them.
Antique shops offer some of the last mysteries of families and people across ages of time. I can recall dragging my family into the often very musty and dark shops on our earliest family vacations. Silent objects became storytellers I could contain in my hands. Each object has its own story - eternally obscured by the persistent march of time. I will never know what my book may have meant to its owner, and it can't tell me of the day it was quietly wrapped and whisked away from its home to begin life as a refugee and survivor. My only task now is to tell the story of the holy book that cannot speak.
    [post_title] => The day I accidentally bought a holy book
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Sikkim 4-week, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion, Survey of Development Issues

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The day I accidentally bought a holy book

Dan Lasky,Sikkim 4-week, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion, Survey of Development Issues

Description

I’ve always liked antique shops. Walking in, the myriad of mismatched items and belongings from different times and places are stitched together from the time of purchase to sale. The antique shops of Kalimpong are no different. Passing prayer wheels, statues of Ganesh, and aging silverware, I was drawn to a single item resting on […]

Posted On

07/11/15

Author

Dan Lasky

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2015-07-10 15:05:16
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-10 21:05:16
    [post_content] => 
This week our group visited the headquarters of a local organization in Leh called the Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG.) The purpose of our visit to LEDeG was to inform us on how to become more mindful travelers. Through the film that we viewed there, "Ancient Futures," we learned about the effects tourists have had on the Ladakhi region since the region first opened to tourism in 1949. "Ancient Futures" analyzed the rapid globalization of Ladakh; striking moral questions were posed and I began to feel a little guilty for my presence in the region.
In the past the people of Ladakh had farmed in close knit communities and thrived off of what they was needed and not much more. The system was perfectly sustainable, but as tourism became a major industry in  Ladakh, Ladakh has shifted to accommodate tourists' needs and is becoming less and less environmentally sustainable. An example of this shift is the implementation of western style flush toilets; in such a dry region like Ladakh, that already has water shortage problems, the amount of water used in flush toilets is impractical. Traditional Ladakhi compost toilets are becoming less common as tourism increases, thus having devastating effects on water supply.
A point made in the movie that especially struck me was the point on how tourism has caused the people of Ladakh to lose faith and confidence in their own culture. Tourists running up and taking photos of people on the street, like they are nothing more than a wall, has had a devastating effect on the overarching self confidence of a people. Tourists rushing in with their fancy cameras and their high demands is deteriorating the happiness of a people as their confidence decreases and their minds are filled with new versions of what success means, but success and happiness are not measured in material possessions, and as Ladakh moves further away from its traditional roots, facing the first and second stages of development, it is an uncomfortable in-between.
But fear not and guilt not! Tourism does not have to have these effects. The purpose of LEDeG is to inform travelers on how to have a more positive than negative effect on traditional culture. Feeling guilty and desperate for answers at the end of the movie, the speakers jumped in on how to conduct a more mindful form of tourism/travel.  By visiting guest houses and requesting to use the traditional Ladakhi compost toilets (although this may be a stretch in comfort, it's really not that bad) and being culturally sensitive in terms of photography are a few easy ways to show the respect of a culture and to preserve it even as tourists/travelers. It's all about showing respect for a culture and delving into it as oppose to skimming the surface just to view it from the "comfortable outside.
So far, visiting LEDeG has been my favorite part of the trip because I definitely feel that my world views have been challenged and stretched. I can implement what questions were posed not only in Ladakh, but in all future travels of mine as well, and that is useful beyond words.
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North India 4-week, Survey of Development Issues

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Delving In

A.M Lewis,North India 4-week, Survey of Development Issues

Description

This week our group visited the headquarters of a local organization in Leh called the Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG.) The purpose of our visit to LEDeG was to inform us on how to become more mindful travelers. Through the film that we viewed there, “Ancient Futures,” we learned about the effects tourists have had […]

Posted On

07/10/15

Author

A.M Lewis

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    [post_date] => 2015-07-07 09:23:03
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    [post_content] => 

It has only been a few days and already I feel that my entire existence is India. Surrounded by endless beauty and tragedy with sights, smells and touches that mark a culture so incredibly diverse from those of my upbringing, I am awoken to what I believe to be at the very core of what makes us human. There was something so incredible that happened to me not two minutes after stepping out of the airport in Delhi: I was greeted by our Indian guide Sunil, and, after very brief conversation with this wonderful young man and letting him know about my plans to travel throughout India after the program ends he offered me his home. A man I’d never met offered to shelter, feed and care for me as if I were his family, and he barely even knew my name. This is true compassion, this comes from the heart. I see the power of the heart as the strongest in the world, love our driving force.  The heart contains a power and wisdom infinite in us all. I could go off about all the nuances of culture and religion and architecture that make Americans so different from Indians, but I think it is much more valuable to reflect on all the things that make us the same. Our potential for love, compassion, empathy, unity, our ability to care for one another when we need it most, to help those who are down even when we aren’t certain we know how to stand, the very thing that drove Sunil to bring me, a stranger, into his home. We all want to be loved, and in turn I believe deep down we all want to give love. As many wise men and women have said, “the only way to be truly happy is to help another”, I could not agree more and have found this to be a most certain truth in my own life.

Walking down the streets in India I view every person I meet as a member of my larger collective family, we are all borne of the same blood. I smile and it is reciprocated. Such a simple act speaks more than words – it is language unclasped by the limits of words. This kind of communication flows deep within me. Smiling with honest care and intention creates a warmth in me and a warmth I can sense in those I share it with. Often in America I see people walking down the street avoiding contact, stuck in their own individual world… I encourage those brave enough to try smiling more, not for others but for your own peace. If it is done with sincerity the effect will be both mutual and undeniable. My brief time in India has been incredible. When one lives presently, every moment gains the potential to be beautiful: beautifully joyous when we celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday in Dharamsala; beautifully stimulating when engaged in complex and spiritual conversation roaming through seas of contemplative and unanswerable questions; beautifully mesmerizing sitting in the bus for long rides through towering mountain tops with snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys; beautifully satiating over endless momos and Crispy Dish; beautifully weird when your first night of Homestay is spent eating a casual dinner with your host father over Sex and The City 2; beautifully intense when stuck in the middle of the highway in Delhi with cars and motorcycles flying by seemingly oblivious to any sense of traffic law; beautifully painful when you are challenged with endless parties of starving children begging, and young women holding a diseased child in her arms, desperate for a meal. Beauty exists all around, and with the right eyes everything has the potential for beauty, every moment can be a lesson and every life can be one that is truly and undeniably beautiful, it is all in how you perceive it.   [post_title] => Beauty [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => beauty-4 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-20 16:32:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-20 23:32:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=121620 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 93 [name] => North India 6-week [slug] => north-india-6-week-summer-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 93 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 255 [count] => 71 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5.1 [cat_ID] => 93 [category_count] => 71 [category_description] => [cat_name] => North India 6-week [category_nicename] => north-india-6-week-summer-2015 [category_parent] => 255 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2015/north-india-6-week-summer-2015/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 57 [name] => Focus of Inquiry [slug] => focus-of-inquiry [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 57 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 57 [category_count] => 38 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry [category_parent] => 488 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/program-components/focus-of-inquiry/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 47 [name] => Survey of Development Issues [slug] => survey-of-development-issues [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 47 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 57 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 47 [category_count] => 57 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Survey of Development Issues [category_nicename] => survey-of-development-issues [category_parent] => 488 ) ) [category_links] => North India 6-week, Focus of Inquiry ... )
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Beauty

Benjamin Goodbody,North India 6-week, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

Description

It has only been a few days and already I feel that my entire existence is India. Surrounded by endless beauty and tragedy with sights, smells and touches that mark a culture so incredibly diverse from those of my upbringing, I am awoken to what I believe to be at the very core of what […]

Posted On

07/7/15

Author

Benjamin Goodbody

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    [post_content] => Remember a couple weeks ago when the student’s posted their Humans of Kathmandu excursions? Those were just the tip of the iceberg. What the students were really working on was sensory ethnographies. The posts you see here marked as “RSSE” (Regional Studies Sensory Ethnography) are short glimpses into the lives of people the students met, interviewed, and documented with audio and visual instruments.

The students’ production process began with thematic areas of their interest such as love, family, labor, and place. From there they developed questions and prompts aimed at evoking stories from the people interviewed. Their assignment was to produce a narrative.

The students picked locations like Hanuman Dhoka and Bouddha Stupa with Intern Salim Ali. Salim took them to their location and facilitated introductions, production technique, interviews, and translation. He also helped the students gain informed consent for the subjects’ stories to be documented and shared.

The students used video and still photography as well as audio recording to produce the sensory ethnographies you see here. After their excursions, the students wrote transcripts of the interviews they wanted to produce and scripted the visual and audio clips to weave together with the stories. Hopefully they give you a look at real lives as well as the students’ contact with them.

These stories fit into a longer arc of Regional Studies assignments like the storyboard PDFs they made while in Baruwa village and sensory compositions from the beginning of the course.  They are working on their final project now. I won’t spoil that piece; but I can tell you that it is a place-based exploration of Bouddha with the theme of Refuge. Perhaps you will see the roots of that in this work.

Enjoy!

 
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Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

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Sensory Ethnographies for Regional Studies

Chris Limburg,Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

Description

Remember a couple weeks ago when the student’s posted their Humans of Kathmandu excursions? Those were just the tip of the iceberg. What the students were really working on was sensory ethnographies. The posts you see here marked as “RSSE” (Regional Studies Sensory Ethnography) are short glimpses into the lives of people the students met, […]

Posted On

04/6/15

Author

Chris Limburg

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    [post_content] => Clearing off the cock-roaches from the western toilet--a fancy American toilet compared to the squatty potties of India--each morning doesn't seem all that luxurious does it? Well, it is. I am in India living with a Brahman family. Privileged decendents of priests they have the ability to sit upon a porcelain throne, resting their ankles as they dangle to the floor unlike the thigh-stretching squat position. Banaras, being one of the more conservative Hindu cities, has its clout with caste discrimination; originally, Brahman families are placed at the top of the spiritual food chain-serving as community priests. This world will always be in poverty, and in wealth. Whether it is a toilet, access to safe food, or even shelter, too many from the west see these things as a given life accommodation. Caste and class continue to be big issues that can be found all over India. Dalit discrimination, outlawed after the Indian constitution in 1950, which banned untouchability, can be compared to the United States civil rights movement. Much like discrimination ended in the United States, racism still exists in many communities. Religion in India has a tendency to outweigh government decisions, it has said to be the only true social system the people will accept. This leaves some people of the lower castes to be swept under the Persian rug.

A modern example of discrimination was recently explained to me by a mentor: Back and forth like a rubbish-filled beach ball, each time spewing more garbage out of the torn plastic and into the garden, Manish threatened- "One more time, and we'll throw it in the front gate!". This tiny caste war took place in 2011 at the Father Francis Sewa Sangam Society (SSS) community garden. Their enemies were their upper caste neighbors who wanted the land for themselves. This war was an act on caste discrimination. The SSS garden is primarily for the use of the Dalit community (the oppressed people; named by Mahatma Gandhi to replace the term untouchable). Their neighbors had not wanted to share their land with those they saw as below their status, dropping a metaphorical bomb that claimed the SSS community as garbage.

They did it; on Manish's command, the garden manager and human resources personnel, he and Father Francis stormed their neighbors gate with the trash bag bomb, and never had any trouble with them again.

In the beginning, the Dalit community was forced out of their religion by their work. Cows in Hindu culture are sacred and known to a Hindu as their second mother. Imagine the horror of going to work, and being forced to chop up your mother for a nice pair of shoes--they had to skin deceased cows for leather export by demand of their wealthier, higher caste landlords. For this reason, their caste was known for committing murderous activities and smelling like the stench of dead animals. The higher castes did not see the job as a fact of life, but claimed Dalits had these jobs for their past lives were lived out in a not so karmicly honorable way. The word Brahman stands for "twice born", being seen that they once served well in life and now deserve the higher religious status.

In modern day India, the four main castes do still exist, but are not seen as prominently as they once were. Dalit people are now, in most circumstances, able to communicate with who ever they please and not be discriminated against. There are still lower caste, and lower paying jobs that some Dalit people will stay with today such as rickshaw wallas and the laundry men. Some rickshaw drivers can be seen at night sleeping in their vehicle in case more business arises, or they simply cannot afford housing. Other people have changed societies old ways by attending university; it is now very common to see doctors and medical students who come from a Dalit background. Thanks to many programs, like the Sewa Sangam Society, governmental aid, and other public schools who teach newer specialty skills such as English and computer skills, it is much easier to lessen the educational and professional divide there once was.

Many people from the younger generation are hoping to change societies structure by abolishing caste; my instructor, who visits India so often she could be considered a local, once told me that her friends will go out and only tell people their first name, thus not revealing their caste with the last name they were given-this is what progress looks like, a small gesture of change.
    [post_title] => Dhire-dhire; slowly slowly, things can change. A yak on caste!
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Dhire-dhire; slowly slowly, things can change. A yak on caste!

Stefanie Burchill,Best Notes From The Field, Visions of India, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

Description

Clearing off the cock-roaches from the western toilet–a fancy American toilet compared to the squatty potties of India–each morning doesn’t seem all that luxurious does it? Well, it is. I am in India living with a Brahman family. Privileged decendents of priests they have the ability to sit upon a porcelain throne, resting their ankles […]

Posted On

03/31/15

Author

Stefanie Burchill

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    [post_content] => During my time so far in Bolivia, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the culture.  One of the most influential learning expereinces I have had so far was from our visit to Potosi.  Potosi used to be the richest and largest city in the world due to all of the silver in Cerra Rico.  All of the silver that was mined in Potosi was used to fund the New World Spanish Empire but by the 1800´s most of the silver ran out causing a slow economic decline.  Now the city is so poor that a lot of the children have to work to help support their families.

For a while child labor was illegal in Potosi but regardless, children were still working out of necessity.  Eventually a union of child workers got together to legalize child labor so that they could be treated fairly no matter what their age.  Now, child labor is legal in Potosi and these kids are able to work with proper protection from local child labor organizations.  One of the leaders of this child labor organizations came to speak with us in Potosi.  We were able to ask questions about the kids and understand how their program works. After that we were taken into groups to witness these children at work.

I was put into the shoe shining group.  My friend Adam and I were partnered up together with two kids, one 10 years old and the other 11.  Both of these kids shine shoes three hours a day, three days a week, in the mornings.  Right when we sat down a swarm of Bolivians came to observe what we were doing and most of them were getting a good laugh out of it wondering what two gringos were doing shining shoes.

Now, I´m not going to act like I know what these kids have to do to support their families but I did get a small taste of what their lives can be like.  I didn´t only learn about why these kids had to work but I also got the chance to experience them working, making it one of the most impactful learning experiences I have ever had.
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Andes & Amazon, Survey of Development Issues, Focus of Inquiry

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Learning Experience

Blaine DuBose,Andes & Amazon, Survey of Development Issues, Focus of Inquiry

Description

During my time so far in Bolivia, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the culture.  One of the most influential learning expereinces I have had so far was from our visit to Potosi.  Potosi used to be the richest and largest city in the world due to all of the silver […]

Posted On

03/7/15

Author

Blaine DuBose

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    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-04 21:07:08
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Monday, March 2nd, 2015 7:34 AM - I awake to my dogs Osa and Negra trotting about outside my window. My host dad Don Wilfredo is making mate tea on the kettle and my host mom Doñá Leti is already stewing the verduras (vegetables) for almuerzo (lunch). I nibble on leftover choklo (corn) and snag a piece of pan (bread) for desayuno (breakfast). 8:10 AM - My host brothers Juan and Jorge once again are seeing how late they can be for the school bus down the road. 9:29 AM - Profesora Vilma is teaching me and Makena more conjugations of more verb endings. Definitely getting the cabesa (brain) working during these leccions (lessons)! 12:28 PM  - I get back home, with the sol (sun) definitely rising high above the montañas (mountains). My older sister Patty says hola and Doña Leti is just getting in from her trabajar (work). 1:16 PM - The entire family comes back for almuerzo. We devour Doña Leti´s delicious quinoa, queso (cheese), and verduras pie that has been heating all morning. 2:32 PM - We all take siesta (naps) in our respective rooms, needing a quick sleep after such a scrumptious meal. 4:27 PM - The Dragons group is gathered again at the program house, listening to our program director Julianne´s charla (chat). Some questions that pop in my head: Why does the U.S. spend most of their foreign aid on military causes? Why are the figures for children dying of malnutrition still so high? 6:19 PM - Back at mi casa (house). I´m going over all the new palabras (words) I have learned that day. Patty fortunately corrects me endlessly on my spelling. 8:04 PM - The family gathers once again for cena (dinner). I have officially determined that Doñá Leti works magic among comida (food). This time, we chow on pumpkin soup, small fries, and pasta in a bowl. 9:46 PM - Patty, Ana, our friend Becca, and I play our fourth round of the card game Ligretto. Why must Ana have such quick hands at this game? 10:23 PM - I say buenos noches to mi familia (family), and snuggle under four layers of quilts and blankets to rest for the next dia (day) in Tiquipaya. Attached are some snapshots to make the picture of my homestay more vivid! - Emily/Emilia [post_title] => A Lunes (Monday) With Doña Leti [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => lunes-monday-dona-leti [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-26 11:01:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-26 18:01:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=115754 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 30 [name] => Picture of the Week [slug] => picture-of-the-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 30 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 483 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 30 [category_count] => 483 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Picture of the Week [category_nicename] => picture-of-the-week [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/picture-of-the-week/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 25 [name] => Andes & Amazon [slug] => andesandamazon-spring-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 25 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 237 [count] => 142 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6.1 [cat_ID] => 25 [category_count] => 142 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Andes & Amazon [category_nicename] => andesandamazon-spring-2015 [category_parent] => 237 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/andesandamazon-spring-2015/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 51 [name] => Homestay [slug] => homestay [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 51 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 193 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 51 [category_count] => 193 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Homestay [category_nicename] => homestay [category_parent] => 488 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 47 [name] => Survey of Development Issues [slug] => survey-of-development-issues [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 47 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 57 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 47 [category_count] => 57 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Survey of Development Issues [category_nicename] => survey-of-development-issues [category_parent] => 488 ) [4] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 52 [name] => Language Study [slug] => language-study [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 52 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 9 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 52 [category_count] => 9 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Language Study [category_nicename] => language-study [category_parent] => 488 ) ) [category_links] => Picture of the Week, Andes & Amazon ... )
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A Lunes (Monday) With Doña Leti

Emily Ng,Picture of the Week, Andes & Amazon, Homestay, Survey of Development Issues, Language Study

Description

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 7:34 AM – I awake to my dogs Osa and Negra trotting about outside my window. My host dad Don Wilfredo is making mate tea on the kettle and my host mom Doñá Leti is already stewing the verduras (vegetables) for almuerzo (lunch). I nibble on leftover choklo (corn) and snag […]

Posted On

03/4/15

Author

Emily Ng

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    [post_content] => The Andes play a crucial role in the lives of the Bolivian people, and these mountains have always shaded the societies and cultures of the Andean people ever since the first humans settled here. These gigantic peaks that dominate the landscape and terrain can be inspiring, challenging, brutal, as well as evocative of any possible emotion. However, when we reverse time, this region looked very different. Exploring Toro Toro National Park in ¨the elbow of the Andes,¨ where the mountain range curves south, was an impressionable and exciting experience. From finding fossils of sea life when the Andes still lay under the ocean many millions of years ago to exploring the footprints of dinosaurs, both carnivores and herbivores, who roamed the plains that are now mountains millions of years after the sea, yet still many millions of years before the beginnings of humanity.

The history of these mountains is humbling. Humans have found a way not only to survive but also to thrive and flourish at high altitudes and harsh conditions.  The riches of silver and other metals in the hills drove human greed and funded the wealth and production of many nations. As we look forward to the next adventure in the city of Potosi, once the third biggest city in the world, we are searching for connections in the relationship between humanity and nature. The silver mines of Potosi were the crown jewel of Spanish Imperialism and funded Spanish debts, which spread wealth to many different European nations. A few years ago German researchers theorized the wealth of Potosi provided an important spark and enough capital alone for the industrial revolution in Europe and the rise of Capitalism. So how did a city once filled with riches become one of the most poverty stricken places in South America?

All the experiences we had in Toro Toro were influenced by natural history much like both the lives of the indigenous people and the drive of the Spanish by the landscapes of South America. The geology behind the movement of tectonic plates affectes us all: marine life, dinsaurs, and humans in each age, determining the courses of our lives. Nobody was spared Earth´s natural path. Essentially, the land is tied not only to our cultures and civilizations of humanity but also the world´s biological destiny.

Why does all of this matter? We were asked the question ¨Why do we/I trek?¨ as we finished our time in Toro Toro. Is it because of the excitement of exploring carven-like tunnels and caves, the refreshing effects and comfort of a cold, remote lagoon after a hot, sweaty trek in the blazing sun, the thrill of jumping off a cliff next to a waterfall, or the strangeness of walking through a landscape you had only before imagined on Mars? All of these ocurred during our time in Toro Toro, but truthfully, I think the reason is different for each individual, and I believe that all of our choices are in some way affected by our past experiences, memories, knowledge, and values for our own cultures in which we were raised. This philosophy (which to a degree lacks free will) creates a scary situation in which none of our choices are actually are own but affected by everything around us. However, if we recognize we need new experiences and more diversified knowledge and perspectives in order to make better choices in the future, we can change our own paths and destinies. Opportunities and programs like Dragons are so important because they add to the bank of our past experiences and core values by allowing us to be influeced directly by places like Toro Toro and Potosi.

I truly do not know why I trek. I hear from other students about the need to live simply in nature without distractions, to better oneself, the chance to enjoy the journey, the success of reaching a hard-earned, and many other great answers. I agree with all of these, but what I believe what is more important is that my future choices will be better because of the experience I had trekking in Toro Toro and learning about Potosi.
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Andes & Amazon, Survey of Development Issues, Trekking and Wilderness Exploration

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Why Do I Trek

Andrew R,Andes & Amazon, Survey of Development Issues, Trekking and Wilderness Exploration

Description

The Andes play a crucial role in the lives of the Bolivian people, and these mountains have always shaded the societies and cultures of the Andean people ever since the first humans settled here. These gigantic peaks that dominate the landscape and terrain can be inspiring, challenging, brutal, as well as evocative of any possible […]

Posted On

02/24/15

Author

Andrew R

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