Where the rainy season builds in intensity, summer is in full swing, fields grow green, mountains grow even whiter and my personal excitement for this upcoming semester increases each day.
There’s a phrase here, in both Aymara and Quechua, the two prominent Andean languages that is “Jallalla!” The Spanish soft-“J” and the double-L making a “Y” sound, so it is “Hah-yah-yah”, and when one person shouts it, the rest in the group must follow suite. It is a sing of praise, followed by the phrase, “Que sea buen día” or “That the day be good.” And so this is really what I want to shout from high in the Andes here as you all are preparing to share this adventure together. It is a phrase of positive intentions that follows ceremonies, perhaps a toast or any other celebration. It says a lot about the optimism and festive-nature of this region that you have all chosen to travel – a feeling that you will each be able to share so intimately in just about a month.
I have been working intimately with this course since its inception over a year ago now. I have had the chance to talk with some of you and perhaps you have also been able to follow a bit of this fall’s journey, for which I was one of the instructors.
From climbing high glaciated peaks to walking hundreds of miles across high desert salt lakes to exploring rivers and forests of the Amazon or working in potato fields with locals in the Apolobamba or volunteering to help install drinking water in indigenous communities and playing songs on my flute to the high Apus (sacred mountains), the Andes and Amazon have provided some of the most uplifting, eye-opening, challenging and (often) tragic moments of my life. And with each new day here I absolutely love this region more and more and I believe that each of you will come to feel the same very soon: for its rich biological and cultural diversity, constant political movement, colorful art and culture, harmonious relationship with the earth and feeling of isolation from many things that we have come to assume are necessary parts of this modern world. Bolivia truly is a country of its own constant re-creation and this land requires a new lens to appreciate as it is. So I urge you to begin to fashion your own new lens, one free of expectation and judgment, and that freely allows the coming experiences to pass through uninhibited by assumptions. This will be one of the most important tools on your journey.
And we have an amazing instructor team eager to receive you here and work with you in this process. I will be in Bolivia as well supporting this course and passing in and out of your experience; I really look forward to meeting you each and having the privilege to be a small part of this adventure. And while your instructors will be answering any questions posted on the yak in the near future, I will also be available to assist in this.
So first, to Marisa, if you are wondering just how hard and rugged the trekking will be, I guarantee you are not alone! And you have each shown so much courage in simply signing up for this course that I have no doubt that this courage will allow you to fully participate in, complete and grow from each element of this course with grace. This trip IS rugged, it will be tiring, and it will stretch your physical and emotional limits, but always within the point that allows for healthy growth. And as a group your strength will be that much greater, able to support and motivate each other at every turn and over each high pass (literally and metaphorically).
I wish you all the best in your preparations in the coming month and do know that your instructors, our amazing crew in Boulder and myself here in Bolivia are here to help you and support you with any and all questions and concerns, so please don’t hesitate to voice them!
From La Paz, wishing you a Happy New Year and all the best,
Greetings from La Paz, Where the rainy season builds in intensity, summer is in full swing, fields grow green, mountains grow even whiter and my personal excitement for this upcoming semester increases each day. There’s a phrase here, in both Aymara and Quechua, the two prominent Andean languages that is “Jallalla!” The Spanish soft-“J” and […]
Well, I guess I am currently writing the first email on the Yak Yak board for our group. I was wondering where you all are from and what your interests are. Personally, I am an adventurous person but I am nervous because this program sounds really rustic and like it involves a lot more trekking than I have ever done before.I can't believe that it is only about a month before we leave. I am so excited to meet you guys! Anyway, they said we should post some information about ourselves so here I go. I am 19 years old and this program is part of my Gap Year before I attend Bryn Mawr University. Last semester, I went to Costa Rica and taught English with a program called Global Routes. I am from Piedmont, California (East Bay about 20 minutes from San Francisco.) I love to sing and ski! I would love to here how everyone is feeling a month before we take off and share packing advice. Does anyone have a exercise routine? Please post!
Marisa La Piana,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2008
Hey All, Well, I guess I am currently writing the first email on the Yak Yak board for our group. I was wondering where you all are from and what your interests are. Personally, I am an adventurous person but I am nervous because this program sounds really rustic and like it involves a lot […]
Welcome to the Where There Be Dragons Yak Yak message board for theVisions of India Semester, Spring 2008!
As you’ll soon discover, the “Prep” section of this board is a valuable forum for self-introductions, for building community, and for addressing any and all questions that arise during the upcoming months. Until the start of your semester in February, this will be THE place to find important notices related to your course’s development and itinerary design. It’ll also be the place to learn about your fellow students and instructors.
So please, post a personal introduction! It may reflect any number of things about you, like your interests, reasons for choosing Dragons, independent study considerations, or any other creative thought, question or inspiration. Please also consider posting your packing and prep-related questions to this section. Don’t be shy - if you have a question, it’s likely that someone else in your group has been wondering the same thing. Your instructors have a lot of experience (and many, many tips) that they’re excited to share with you. So please, ask away.
Setting up the Yak Board, in many ways, marks the start of your course. It’s the first step in establishing the community that will support you throughout the journey that lies ahead. Together, you will learn to walk, dress, eat, talk and think in an entirely new way. You will see landscapes that will cause your jaw to drop, and meet people that will touch, change and inspire your life forever. Although your course’s official start date is still weeks away, we would like to remind you that your adventure actually began the day you made the choice to join Dragons. Choosing to make your dream a reality took immense amounts of courage, and all of us congratulate you on taking that first, and most important, step.
Welcome to Dragons. We’re excited to share in your adventure!
Dragons' Administrative Staff
Special Note for Parents & Friends: If you would like to share a message for the entire group, post an article that is relevant to the country your student is traveling in, or submit your own reflection that is relevant to the country and/or applicable to the viewing interest of all general observers of the Yak Board, we invite you to make a posting. Unfortunately, we cannot clear personal postings that aren’t intended for a large group audience. If you have a message that you’d like to share with a single course participant, please write to them at their personal email address. Keep in mind that you’re always welcome to email us directly if you have a question for the instructors or admin staff: email@example.com. In addition to email, you’re also welcome to call our office at: 1-800-982-9203. Thank you!
Dragons Administration,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2008
Welcome to the Where There Be Dragons Yak Yak message board for theVisions of India Semester, Spring 2008! As you’ll soon discover, the “Prep” section of this board is a valuable forum for self-introductions, for building community, and for addressing any and all questions that arise during the upcoming months. Until the start of your […]