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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013


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Dearest Friends and Family, 

 

We cannot believe the course is over!

 

After 3 months of wonder, excitement, challenges, achievements, and so much growth, we suddenly find ourselves sitting at the airport without our students.   It feels strange without our crew to crack jokes, share stories, or leave something behind. They are now all safe and sound on the plane, well on their way to Miami (with the exception of Sarah and Troy, who will be traveling together for the next couple of weeks).

 

We are so proud of our students, and you should be too. When they arrive tonight or tomorrow please send them our love and give them a hug from us. 

 

Abrazos,

 

Emy, Pablo, Ben and Julianne

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Farewell Friends!

The Instructors,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Dearest Friends and Family,    We cannot believe the course is over!   After 3 months of wonder, excitement, challenges, achievements, and so much growth, we suddenly find ourselves sitting at the airport without our students.   It feels strange without our crew to crack jokes, share stories, or leave something behind. They are now all […]

Posted On

05/12/13

Author

The Instructors

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Near the beginning of the course, I had the idea to write little notes to my future self and compile them into a yak the day before I go home. I´m glad I´ve kept it up all this time because now as I read over them I realize it´s a great way of not only remembering all that I´ve done but of holding myself accountable for everything I want to do in the future. I want to say first though that it has truly been an adventure here and that I will always owe some of the best parts of my character to Dragons and the experiences they have given me. Thank you to Dragons and everyone who has made my gap year all that it has been. I couldn´t ask for anything more.
Sincerely,
Maddie Shankle

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
It´s Maddie on February 9th. I hope you are happy and healthy and well and had a great time on this new adventure! I´m a little nervous right now, but I hope you/I made the most of this second semester of Dragons.
Sincerely,
Maddie on February 9th.

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
I´m in the Cordillera de los Frailles right now, and it is beautiful! It rains every afternoon but that only adds to the beauty of the villages, fields, rocks, trees, and streams surrounding me. Go camping more when you get home.
Sincerely,
Maddie on February 17th

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
I went to work with a 12-year-old in Potosi today and helped her sell everything from toilet paper to matches. Are you going to have a job when you get home?
Sincerely,
Maddie on February 23rd

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
Did any sunrise you saw on the whole trip beat the one I saw tonight on the Solar? This one was reflected in the water sitting on top of the salt, and I don´t think I will see anything like it ever again.
Sincerely,
Maddie on February 26th

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
I am now settled in my homestay in Tiquipaya, and I hope you can find saltenas somewhere back in the States! I tried my first one off a vender in the street today, and they are DELICIOUS.
Sincerely,
Maddie on March 3rd

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
First Spanish class today! Let`s see how it compares to French. I wonder how much you still remember two months from now.
Sincerely,
Maddie on March 4th

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
Jim Schultz, founder and director of a political action organization called the Democracy Center, talked to us today about climate change and dubbed us "Generation Screwed". But, he also called the task before us (fixing climate change) one of the "most noble and urgent calls" a generation has ever been called to! That exited me. Are you still inspired, or do you feel daunted? I hope you don´t!
Sincerely,
Maddie on March 20th

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
Remember when you had a full conversation with your taxi driver in Spanish? His name was Jose, he´s 20, and he´s studying electromagnetism ... or something. I hope you haven´t forgotten him, or any of the Spanish you´ve learned.
Sincerely,
Maddie on March 26th

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
I left homestay today! Keep in touch with these wonderful people, and maybe even get an exchange student of your own when you get home. Cook for them and help them learn English and show them Nashville! It would be fun.
Sincerely,
Maddie on April 3rd

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
I´ve been in the Amazon river basin now, and I thought of how it could soon be all gone. Being on ground zero of deforestation is powerful. Look into and support some environmental organizations when you get home.
Sincerely,
Maddie on April 15th

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
I just finished a homestay unlike any other I´ve done before - with a small village in the Amazon! The people live so simply there, so differently than me, but they don´t seem so different. They have work to do, like me, and lots to eat, like me, and families to take care of, like me. You and I are so lucky to have had this experience!
Sincerely,
Maddie on April 19th

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
I just finished a 20 hour bus ride to La Paz. Never complain again about the 8 hour drive to the beach!
Sincerely,
Maddie on April 21st

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
I´m in Cusco now, and I spent my day touring the city´s colonial churches (most of which rested upon Incan foundations) - so cool! You should look into Nashville´s history some more when you get home.
Sincerely,
Maddie on April 23rd

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
I´m in the middle of another amazing homestay in Nacion Q´eros, an old old community that traces its lineage back to Incan royalty. The people live in long flat houses made of stone and eat mostly potatoes. Tell everyone at home how differently some people live in this world. And how normal that is, too. I don´t feel like these people are all that different than me.
Sincerely,
Maddie on April 30th

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
Come back to Machu Picchu with Dad! It´s amazing, and it would be so much fun to trek there together. Go on the Choque Quirao trek - you get to pass lots of ruins and there are less people.
Sincerely,
Maddie on May 4th

Dear Maddie on May 11th,
It´s my last day of transference and my second to last day of this course as a whole. It has been a blast! I´ve trekked in amazing places and have been invited into communities few gringos are lucky enough to see. I´ve made friends and found role models in my travel companions. I´ve changed, probably more than I realize. If anything is certain, though, it´s that coming on this course was a good decision. Thanks for being brave enough to jump right in.
See you tomorrow and good luck with the transition home,
Maddie on May 10th

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Best Notes From The Field, Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Note to Self

Maddie Shankle,Best Notes From The Field, Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Near the beginning of the course, I had the idea to write little notes to my future self and compile them into a yak the day before I go home. I´m glad I´ve kept it up all this time because now as I read over them I realize it´s a great way of not only […]

Posted On

05/11/13

Author

Maddie Shankle

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 Dinnertime

¨come come aÑos, dulce años!¨

No more room

 

Good morning mountains

4;00 am 

morning ritual

 

Time to leave

the river says goodbye

Bittersweet

 

 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Qéros

Alexa A. Nowak,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

 Dinnertime ¨come come aÑos, dulce años!¨ No more room   Good morning mountains 4;00 am  morning ritual   Time to leave the river says goodbye Bittersweet    

Posted On

05/11/13

Author

Alexa A. Nowak

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What can I say about the Amazon that doesn´t sound cliche? It was beautiful, the butterflies were huge, and I didn´t want to go home. By no means did I have a world changing moment , but I  had many little moments including this particular one that I would like to share.

After dinner one night, we came back to our campsite to find it fairly covered in ants. Andres, our biologist started  moving them because they were so dangerous. These ants , you see, could cut through tents and their bite was very painful. We all scurried into out tents and hid from the scary, scary ants. As I lay in my sleeping bag, I thought about how strange it was that we were hiding from insects hundreds of times more miniscule than us. And then it came to me - we humans were no more powerful than the ants. I mean, we could crush them if we wanted to, but that was not the message the ants were bringing.People see ourselves as bigger than most things ,as the masters of the earth and her resources. But of we were masters of the earth ,why could these tiny insects harm us? Answer; because we are just a  small part of the ecosystem. I realized in that jungle filled with millions of species that size is no guarantee of power and to think so is self-decieving.  I sat up late that night and the nights after listening to the selva speak and I felt my miniscule place in the world.The symphony of sounds was like a canopy; it surrounded me and I  felt right at home.

Just because you cannot see something, does not mean it is powerless. If you are ever questioning that, go ask the jungle. It will tell you.

 

 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Lessons from an ant

Alexa A. Nowak,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

What can I say about the Amazon that doesn´t sound cliche? It was beautiful, the butterflies were huge, and I didn´t want to go home. By no means did I have a world changing moment , but I  had many little moments including this particular one that I would like to share. After dinner one […]

Posted On

05/11/13

Author

Alexa A. Nowak

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Hello friends and family!

 

We have just arrived back in Bolivia after a magical expedition adventure to Nacion Q'eros and Machu Picchu.  This afternoon we are heading to Allkamari, a beautiful retreat center at the base of snow-capped Mt. Illimani, where we will reflect on our time together and prepare for the journey home.  We will not have phone or internet service until next saturday morning.

 

Although we approach course-end with sadness, we look forward to sharing our adventures in person very soon! 

 

love,

Group A 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Heading to our transference site

The Instructors,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello friends and family!   We have just arrived back in Bolivia after a magical expedition adventure to Nacion Q’eros and Machu Picchu.  This afternoon we are heading to Allkamari, a beautiful retreat center at the base of snow-capped Mt. Illimani, where we will reflect on our time together and prepare for the journey home. […]

Posted On

05/7/13

Author

The Instructors

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Fog rolls in quickly

obscuring the last ayllu

river sounds rush by

 

Wood fires smolder

in the stone huts of Qéros

wawas eat papas 

 

Pachamanka feast

ritual thanks is given

gringos take photos

 

colorful weavings

spread across Pachamama

each stitch tells a tale

 

the Andean flute

playing love songs to the earth

the land is alive 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Qeros Haikus

Margot Solomon,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Fog rolls in quickly obscuring the last ayllu river sounds rush by   Wood fires smolder in the stone huts of Qéros wawas eat papas    Pachamanka feast ritual thanks is given gringos take photos   colorful weavings spread across Pachamama each stitch tells a tale   the Andean flute playing love songs to the […]

Posted On

05/7/13

Author

Margot Solomon

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Hi all, 

 

We have been very busy dragons! Since leaving La Paz on the 8th April we have trecked through the Andes, travelled in to the Amazon by boat, spend a few days with a community deep in the forrest, before heading to Peru. We have just arrived back in Cusco after having spent an amazing few days doing homestays in the remote Nacion Q´eros territory. Here are a few photos of just some of the highlights.

 

And tomorrow we head to Machu Picchu!

 

Ben        

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Photo highlights

Ben Castle,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi all,    We have been very busy dragons! Since leaving La Paz on the 8th April we have trecked through the Andes, travelled in to the Amazon by boat, spend a few days with a community deep in the forrest, before heading to Peru. We have just arrived back in Cusco after having spent […]

Posted On

05/2/13

Author

Ben Castle

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    [post_date] => 2013-05-02 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-05-02 06:00:00
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Over the past few weeks we have been doing some of the most rural living we have done thus far beginning with our community visit in the amazon and continuing with our homestay in Nacion ´Qeros. I have begun to understand what it is like to slow down and live a simple life of farming. First of all it´s beautiful. In Nacion ´Qeros we lived in a picturesque valley in stone huts with hay rooves. There was a winding river through the whole valley and gorgeous green mountains in ever direction. The amazon community, Asuncion, was in the middle of the rainforest with huge plants and trees, beautiful birds with beautiful songs, and a bank leading down to a wide river. Both places had amazing night skies with perfectly clear stars. While the amazon was hot and buggy and Nacion ´Qeros was cold at night, both were incredible places. I had never hoped to encounter such pure nature within a community setting. Both communities harvest their food. They have a simple diet of potatoes or yucca. In the amazon they have fruit and some chicken and in ´Qeros  they have ceremonial animal killings and chew coca. Along with their minimalist diet they have minimalist houses. In ´Qeros they have stone huts with hay rooves and floors. Most of them are one room with a woodfire stove and sometimes one solar powered light. In Asuncion they live in houses made of materials from the rainforest (bamboo and palm leaves). Their houses are also often one room and have woodfire stoves. Both communities have limited educational opportunities for children and use natural medicines rather than modern medicines we are used to. 
The two communities are similar in some senses but also quite different. For example women in Nacion ´Qeros make cloth weavings and those in Asuncion use plants to make baskets and fans. Asuncion is also slightly more connected and modernized. Nonetheless both communities represent a simple life. I got the immediate impression the members of the communities were very happy with their lives. True, they don´t have very much but they are content with that. 
 
My entire life my idea of a ´´good life´´ has been based on material items and money. Quality of life is often a statistic based on whether or not you live below the poverty line (which I am sure the people in these communities do). Yes, we talk about how material things don´t make people happy. We say things like ¨the richest people I know aren´t that happy,¨ yet we still rely on ipods and computers and TV and we try not to wear last year´s clothing styles. 
 
 In the last few weeks I have been exposed to a totally differnt mindset. Having resources doesn´t mean having money in a bank. It means having a field that produces food for your family. Living in an accessible location means having access to a one street town year round by a two hour boat ride or living an hour walk from a bigger town, three hours by truck from a slightly bigger town. A nice house has two rooms instead of one and a sealed roof. Going to work means going out to pick fruits or vegetables for your lunch and dinner. A big community consists of 30 families or even less. This style of life is so different from my own and while from an outside perspective it might seem difficult and therefore it might be natural for us to ¨pity¨ them for not having things like television I don´t believe this is the right reaction to have. They say that money doesn´t buy happiness and never in my life has this been more true. The people that live in these communities are happy with their lives. Happy to pick potatoes every day. Happy to play soccer with a cheap volleyball. Happy to collect wood for their stoves. Happy to sleep in one room with their whole family. Happy to live in such a beautiful environment.
 

Going into this experience I thought it would make me cherish all that I have, and it has done that. More than that, though, it makes me want fewer material things and more connection with natural beauty. I am jealous of the places that they live in: their views, sunsets, stars. I am jealous of the simplicity of their lives. I never thought I would be jealous of a lifestyle that is so far out of the american ideal of a ¨good life,¨ but I really am. I am jealous of their connection with nature, with the simplicity in which they live, the relationships they have with eachother without the influence of technology. I am not really sure how I will be able to take this home with me; however, it represents yet another new perspective I have gotten on my own life and how it relates to the rest of the world and has caused me to question, yet again, what I truly value. 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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A Simpler Life

Eliza Davis,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Over the past few weeks we have been doing some of the most rural living we have done thus far beginning with our community visit in the amazon and continuing with our homestay in Nacion ´Qeros. I have begun to understand what it is like to slow down and live a simple life of farming. […]

Posted On

05/2/13

Author

Eliza Davis

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Hi everyone - 
We have officially entered the "excursion" phase of our program. Excursion is a time when Dragons students take on the responsabilities of travel and organize their own trip(s) with the skills they have learned from the rest of the trip. The instructors have taken a back seat in all logistical planning, and we students are busy organizing a rural homestay in a region called Nacion Q'eros. Nacion Q'eros is a region a few hours outside of Cusco made up of Quechua communities. The region has been inhabited since the time of the Inca, and it is a special opportunity that we get to visit such a unique, remote, history-steeped place.  We have hired a guide from the Q'eros region whom Dragons has used before named Favian. Essentially we plan on hiking into the community, spending two days with the families there, and hiking out before heading to Machu Picchu! But, here is a more detailed itinerary for the next week, just so that you all at home have an idea of what we're all doing here in Peru!
Friday 26th - Bus from Cusco to Aukungate, spend the night in a hostel
Saturday 27th - Truck to a mountain pass (Paso a. Walla Walla) and then hike half a day to Quico Grande, spend the night in Favian´s house
Sunday 28th - hike to Quico Chico, arrive in time for dinner with host families
Monday 29th, Tuesday 30th - two full days in homestay with activities such as a day hike to hot springs and participating in the community-wide preparation of pachamanca, a Peruvian dish involving an animal killing.
Wednesday 1st - walk back to Quico Grande, arrive by midday, and drive to Aukungate
Thursday 2nd - bus from Aukungate to Cusco
Friday 3rd - Bus to Santa Teresa, walk to Aguas Calientes, a town at the base of Machu Picchu
Saturday 4th - spend all day at Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu (the next ruin over)
Sunday 5th - pack up and return to Cusco
The instructors have been supportive of us in our new leadership roles, and we are excited to jump into this new, independent phase of the trip. Wish us luck! 
- The Students of Andes and Amazon, group A
PS If you would like to learn more about Nacion Q'eros, check out this website about the region and a video project going on there.
http://www.qeros.net/
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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Where HAVE We Been?

Maddie Shankle,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi everyone –  We have officially entered the "excursion" phase of our program. Excursion is a time when Dragons students take on the responsabilities of travel and organize their own trip(s) with the skills they have learned from the rest of the trip. The instructors have taken a back seat in all logistical planning, and […]

Posted On

04/25/13

Author

Maddie Shankle

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Greetings Dragons, los estudiantes and los instructors:

 

This afternoon I was reading a book called "American Citizen, Global Citizen" by Mark Gerzon, a local author. The final section of the book is an Action Guide with short synopses of Gerzon's key insights into global citizenship.

 

 I thought of you and your A & A journey as I read:

 

1) Be the Change that You Want to See

2) Use Both Sides of Your Brain

3) Remember that "One" Comes Before "Two"

4) Make Sure That Your House Has a Door

5) Think Like a Minority

6) Increase Your Knowlege, Including How To Not-Know

7) Test Your Worldview Against the Actual Facts

9) Transform Stereotypes into Relationships

10)  Ask Questions that Stretch Your Mind

11) When the Earth Speaks, Listen

12)  Focus Patiently on What Works

13) Travel Far From -- And Close To -- Home

14) Seek Common Ground

15) Speak More Than One Language

16) Learn to See Through Walls

17) Explore the Mysteries of the Sacred 

 

As Dragons' students and instructors, you engage in many of these practices everyday. For example, I observed you "testing your worldview against the facts" at the Andean Information Center and "seeking common ground" as you engaged in group reflection on how to spend your time in La Paz and "using both sides of your brain" as you studied Andean weaving, music, agriculture, painting and traditional medicine.

 

As for "exploring the mysteries of the sacred?" what about those soccer games with your families in Tiquipaya, taking the life of a goose for Pasqua, and walking an ancient Incan trail, bone-tired, yet somehow coordinating one step after another?

 

The photos below are a small gesture of appreciation for you and your willingness to undertake the challenging moment-by-moment work of Dragons -- developing personal awareness (self-exploration), leadership and skill building, and global citizenship. 

 

This may sound easy but in my experience, Dragons requires the same kind of dogged heart and mind attenion as being a member of a family, "learning to transform stereotypes into relationships" over and over again -- even under strenuous, delicate and exhilirating "high altitude" conditions!

 

A Note to Parents: I spent 6 days observing the Dragons program in Tiquipaya as part of my work as a faculty member at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado. I am in the process of debriefing what I learned with colleagues at Naropa and Dragons in order to deepen our understanding of student learning and to strengthen the Dragons-Naropa partnership.

 

May the hummingbirds of the Sacred Valley sing to you and through you,

Candace  

 

 

 

 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Photos from Tiquipaya

Candace Walworth,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Greetings Dragons, los estudiantes and los instructors:   This afternoon I was reading a book called "American Citizen, Global Citizen" by Mark Gerzon, a local author. The final section of the book is an Action Guide with short synopses of Gerzon’s key insights into global citizenship.    I thought of you and your A & […]

Posted On

04/25/13

Author

Candace Walworth

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