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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013


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Hello! 

I am having trouble thinking of gifts to get for host families. Rather I am unsure of what to get..  I was given a reccomendation of pens from a friend who has done Doctors without Borders for several years in Bolivia. I have never done this myself, though. I cannot spend much on these as the rest of the gear is so pricey..

Does anyone have any reccomendations? 

Gracias, 

 

Lexi Nowak  

 

 

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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Host family gifts?

Lexi Nowak,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello!  I am having trouble thinking of gifts to get for host families. Rather I am unsure of what to get..  I was given a reccomendation of pens from a friend who has done Doctors without Borders for several years in Bolivia. I have never done this myself, though. I cannot spend much on these […]

Posted On

01/11/13

Author

Lexi Nowak

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Hello!

 

My name is Jack, I'm 18 years old and a gap year student, and I just spent my fall in Chilean Patagonia with NOLS. It was an amazing experience spent mountaineering, trekking and sea kayaking, but the one thing I regretted was not extending my return flight home after the program. Needless to say, I have extended my flight home for about two weeks after we finish Dragons Andes & Amazon this spring, but I was wondering if anyone else was considering staying around afterwards? I think travelling around with some other Dragons students would be awesome. As well, if any of the instructors have any thoughts on trip planning (my family will be joining me in mid May), that would be much appreciated.

 

Best,

Jack

 

jmkessler@visi.com 

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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After Dragons travel in South America

Jack Kessler ,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello!   My name is Jack, I’m 18 years old and a gap year student, and I just spent my fall in Chilean Patagonia with NOLS. It was an amazing experience spent mountaineering, trekking and sea kayaking, but the one thing I regretted was not extending my return flight home after the program. Needless to […]

Posted On

01/10/13

Author

Jack Kessler

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    [post_date] => 2013-01-09 00:00:00
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Hola Queridos Estudiantes,

 

I am thrilled to be joining you as an instructor for the Andes and Amazon Semester. While this will be my third trip as an instructor, but it is my experience as a previous Dragons student that gives me some insight into what you might be feeling right now; excitement and joy, curiosity, gratitude and maybe a slight tinge of anxiety or impatience. In just a few short weeks, you will leave home to embark on an unparalleled adventure. I thank you for making this decision. It is brave and bold, but one that you will not regret. As Robert Frost once wrote “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

 

My experience with Dragons started off as a semester student in Guatemala. The three month journey changed my life, and I am so grateful to my instructors for pushing me to think critically, tread lightly, question constantly and live presently. Their knowledge, curiosity, and passion inspired me. Their skills and confidence empowered me. I learned to slow down, to listen, and to reflect on my own goals, hopes, and aspirations. It was a really powerful trip, and ever since I have stayed close to my Dragon’s family. Their core values - global citizenship, awareness and leadership - align with my own life philosophy.

 

After my semester with Dragons, I spent the rest of the year studying in Argentina. Latin America, and its incredible diversity, fascinates me. When I returned to school at the George Washington University, I knew that I wanted to immerse myself in the region. I studied Latin American Studies at the Elliot School of International Affairs, and fell even deeper in love with Latin America and its many cultures, histories, problems and promise.

 

My junior year, after reading about the Water Wars in Cochabamba, I decided to study abroad in Bolivia with the School of International Training. I have always been interested in social movements, activism, and citizenship, so Bolivia's tumultuous history intrigued me. During my semester, we travelled the country learning about development, multiculturalism, and social change. It was an election year, so we attended rallies and political events. We met with Ministers, artists, academics, and activists, some of whom we hope to introduce you to this semester. I wrote my final thesis on the history of graffiti and street art as a tool for social and political change, while my peers studied everything from ayllus to immigration, the Water Wars to the role of radio in Bolivian politics. I learned so much about Bolivia, and its colorful complexities, cosmovision, and challenges. I am truly filled with gratitude to be returning once again to this beautiful region with you, and to have the opportunity to share a little bit about why I love it so much. 

 

Dragon's mission is introduce students to a complex range of human relationships that affect shared resources, providing opportunities for exploration, self, skill building and leadership training. As a past Dragons student, I know that their programming offers so much more. It truly empowers students; as travelers, as learners, as activists and as global citizens.

 

 I am honored to embark on this adventure with you this spring, and to serve as a resource for you. Your questions, curiosity, and sense of wonder are what will drive this amazing journey. One of my favorite Andean principles is the concept of Ayni. It is translated as reciprocity and means the interchange of loving kindness, knowledge, and the fruits of one’s labor between individuals, between humans and the environment, and between humans and nature spirits. Reciprocity implies that one’s labor is shared: I will help you today, and tomorrow you might help me.

 

As we prepare to leave, keep the notion of Ayni in mind. Give thanks to those who have helped you make this trip possible. But also, start getting to know each other. We will become a team this semester, deeply connected to each other, our experiences, and our surroundings. If you have any questions, concerns, or fears, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to guide you through this journey.

 

I look forward to meeting you all soon!

 

Abrazos,

 

Emy 

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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Bienvenidos!

Emy Gelb,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hola Queridos Estudiantes,   I am thrilled to be joining you as an instructor for the Andes and Amazon Semester. While this will be my third trip as an instructor, but it is my experience as a previous Dragons student that gives me some insight into what you might be feeling right now; excitement and […]

Posted On

01/9/13

Author

Emy Gelb

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Yak Yak,

Intro

Emilie Walker

 

Queridos estudiantes,

 

There is a principle in Andean cosmology known as winay, that holds that collectively, we evolve in relation to one another, that, part of the same existence, we support each other in unfolding and becoming more of who we are.   We never are separate from each other and exist in relationship to the plants, animals, Mother Earth and all of existence in a perpetually unfolding and evolving existence.  My wish for this semester is for this principle to come alive in our group and help us evolve in relation to one another, so that we uncover the authentic, alive and awake human beings that we are. 

 

This said, I feel happy that we’ll meet in just a few short weeks and that soon, we’ll have time to get to know each other.  I imagine if you have signed up for this program you have many interesting experiences, people and life experiences that have led you to this point. 

 

This is my third time leading groups to the Andes and my first semester with Dragons. What most inspired me about the program is that it is infused with a healthy dose of integrity, guts and heart. From what I’ve read of Dragons, it is not designed to shelter you from the world, and this is, in my opinion a necessary ingredient for transformation.   

 

Dragons is also inspiring because it is designed in such a way that you have a say in creating your experience.  As you may already know, in the second month of the trip, you get to choose an independent study project and do a hands-on project of your choice.  The third month is the expedition phase, where, as a group, you help design the final phase of the program and have an input in leading and influencing the course of our last month together. 

 

Also inspiring is the orientation of this program towards self-discovery.  Mercedes Sosa, who is the mother of Latin American folk music, and just passed away recently was fond of saying that in order to really understand ourselves, the best gift that we can be given is the chance to go away to see another way of living.  It is when we see another way of living that we can see ourselves with fresh eyes and discover ourselves for the first time.

 

Bolivia and Peru are rich and fertile grounds for seeing life from a broader perspective and yourself with fresh eyes, in relationship to other people, cultures and the bigger mysteries of existence. 

 

My experience in Bolivia comes from when I lived and worked in Cochabamba, Bolivia for almost three years in the early 2000’s.  This coincided with the “water wars” a time when there was an organized movement to de-privatize water. It was a very unpredictable and interesting time to be in Bolivia, with considerable amounts of political and social change and uncertainty. The social unrest of the early 2000’s laid the foundation for changes that are still in place today.  It also gave way to a much more peaceful and stable political climate. 

 

Witnessing this political and social climate around me pushed me to look at the bigger issues of life.  It put many things in perspective.  Something about the uncertainty of the times also pushed me to focus on relationships.  I became close to my host family and had a good circle of friends.  One of my friends opened up our house as a makeshift art studio for making recycled paper with the children living on our street.  I also had the chance to volunteer with an organization that worked with children living in the prisons and this too, was transformative.  I remember becoming close to the children; creating art with them, just playing and laughing and learning so, so much.

 

At that time I was also sensitized to some of the more difficult realities of life around me. I remember walking home one day when I was off of work after a morning of volunteering to see a street lined with funerary shops and the front windows filled with very tiny caskets.  This was a street that I passed often, but had never really paid attention to before.  The director of the NGO in the prison has just mentioned to me how the biggest challenge for children, even the children that I volunteered with, was making it to five years old.  We had just had several babies from the prisons in the hospital for diarrhea. Something about seeing these tiny boxes shook me into a reality check and made me realize how far we have to go as a society.  I came home and cried, overwhelmed and saddened.    I wanted to do something, change something, but didn’t know what I could do, if anything. 

 

I can’t say that I came away from Bolivia with any big answers. In fact, I think it did just the opposite and pushed me to ask more questions and mostly, left me without answers.  But I did leave Bolivia feeling like I had been changed to my core.  Bolivia broke me open in unexpected ways and taught me so much about life and people and that if anything, we’re all in relation to one another, and that we’re each responsible.

 

I hope that Bolivia and Peru also have an impact on you too, in ways that are meaningful and particular for you. I have a feeling that, if you have chosen this program, you must be a pretty spectacular person, one that has the courage to step out of the comfortable and familiar into the unknown and to explore.

 

This said, we have a few weeks until we meet, so, until then, I hope you have the chance to spend some good, quality time with your family and friends and do some of the things that give you the most happiness!   I will do the same!

 

Peace and blessings,

Emilie

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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Saludos Yak Yak-Intructor Intro

Emilie J. Walker,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Yak Yak, Intro Emilie Walker   Queridos estudiantes,   There is a principle in Andean cosmology known as winay, that holds that collectively, we evolve in relation to one another, that, part of the same existence, we support each other in unfolding and becoming more of who we are.   We never are separate from each […]

Posted On

01/8/13

Author

Emilie J. Walker

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Hello fellow students and instructuctors!

I figured I should introduce myself, what with the trip being so soon.I am so excited to meet everyone and get to know you all!

I am a Junior at Naropa University in Boulder, CO.. I'm 20 years old and will be turning 21 during the trip in March :) .. yay birthday abroad! Mountain hiking and trail running are my main passions , along with acrylic painting and spending time with my friends. Boulder is an amazing place for hiking and I am so blessed to be there most of the year. Dr. Who is my favorite show : I am going to miss it while I'm out of the USA.

I am excited to meet you all- If anyone wants to chat, I am around and I would love to talk to you. I'm home for break until we leave in February , so I have a lot of time to talk ;). Send me a post back and let's talk!

Wishing you all the best,

Lexi Nowak

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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Hi!

admin,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello fellow students and instructuctors! I figured I should introduce myself, what with the trip being so soon.I am so excited to meet everyone and get to know you all! I am a Junior at Naropa University in Boulder, CO.. I’m 20 years old and will be turning 21 during the trip in March 🙂 […]

Posted On

01/3/13

Author

admin

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    [post_content] => 

Hello fellow students and instructuctors!

  I figured I should introduce myself, what with the trip being so soon.  I am so excited to meet everyone and get to know you all!

I am a Junior at Naropa University in Boulder, CO.. I'm 20 years old and will be turning 21 during the trip in March :) .. yay birthday abroad!  Mountain hiking and trail running are my main passions , along with acrylic painting and spending time with my friends. Boulder is an amazing place for hiking and I am so blessed to be there most of the year. Dr. Who is my favorite show : I am going to miss it while I'm out of the USA.

 

I am excited to meet you all- If anyone wants to chat, I am around and I would love to talk to you. I'm home for break until we leave in February , so I have a lot of time to talk ;).  Send me a post back and let's talk! 

 

Wishing you all the best,

Lexi Nowak 

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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Hi!

Lexi Nowak ,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello fellow students and instructuctors!   I figured I should introduce myself, what with the trip being so soon.  I am so excited to meet everyone and get to know you all! I am a Junior at Naropa University in Boulder, CO.. I’m 20 years old and will be turning 21 during the trip in March […]

Posted On

01/3/13

Author

Lexi Nowak

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    [post_date] => 2012-12-28 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Hello upcoming Amazon travelers!

As you are all likely beginning to visit travel doctors and make a plan for vaccinations and medication, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide some additional information, especially with regards to malaria prophylaxis.

Dragons has no specific stipulations or requirements regarding malaria and you should know that it is up to your discretion. We hope the following information from us can supplement info you’ve already received.

As a caveat, and in line with all of our literature, please consult your travel doctor for ALL medical recommendations. We do our best to provide clear information, but also recognize that we at Dragons are not medical professionals and cannot give specific medical advice. This is to be worked out with your doctor, but we encourage you to come to them with questions because it is not uncommon for many doctors to offer blanket-prescriptions while not considering the specific details of their client’s travels.

 

Also note that many malaria prophylactics have side effects that should be considered and tested before committing to 13 weeks of travel in a foreign country. In addition, it is important to note that medications for malaria do not prevent you from contracting the disease, but they do lessen the associated symptoms.


An important way we can help in your decision with your travel doctor is to give you a very clear breakdown of the regions and altitudes where we will be, which are the two determining factors in coming up with a plan for malaria prophylaxis. And we can also provide informative references and ultimately, we are in full support of whatever regimen your travel doctor has prescribed.  

THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL REFERENCES
The CDC website for Bolivia (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/bolivia.aspx) states the following:
“Areas of Bolivia with Malaria: All areas <2,500 m (<8,202 ft) in the following departments: Beni, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, La Paz, Pando, Santa Cruz, and Tarija. None in city of La Paz.”

And for Peru the following
“Areas of Peru with Malaria: All departments <2000 m (6,561 ft) except none in Arequipa, Moquegua, Puno, and Tacna. Present in Puerto Maldonado. No malaria in highland tourist areas (Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca).”

OUR ITINERARIES
Our semester will begin in the La Paz and/or Cochabamba departments at altitudes between 2600 and 5000 meters above sea level. Our travels will then take us to various parts of the mountains in the La Paz department or perhaps to Peru in the Cuzco and Madre de Dios Departments at similar altitudes (over 2600 meters). Your groups will descend to the Amazon Basin no sooner than the end of March and until that time we will be at altitudes higher than 2600 meters. Once we have descended to the Amazon lowlands students should expect to spend a maximum of three weeks at altitudes between 400 and 1600 meters (either in the La Paz, Cochabamba and/or Beni Departments of Bolivia or in the Madre de Dios and Cuzco departments of Peru). 

PLAN
While we cannot give specific medical advice, note that the CDC does say the cities of Cochabamba, La Paz, Sorata, Cuzco, and other areas we will travel in the first 4 weeks are at altitudes that are above malarial risk areas. 

Additionally, we can plan for the specific day that we drop into the Amazon lowlands and can advise each of you in advance to begin your medications (no sooner than the end of March). And then when we come back up to the mountains, the divide is very clear as well and we can come up with a plan for finishing the prescription. 

Our total time in malarial risk zones, according to the CDC, will be no more than 3 weeks.

Please talk to your travel doctor about this, bringing a print-up of this yak as well as the sample itinerary offered on our website and in our catalog and see what they recommend. We will work with whatever recommendations your doctor makes.

VISAS AND MOSQUITOES
It is imperative that you bring an ORIGINAL COPY of your Yellow Fever Vaccination Card (the yellow paper that many people just staple to their passport) for entry to Bolivia.  This is not just to get across the border in Bolivia for your visa, but also to board the international flight from Miami to La Paz.  American Airlines has been known to be a stickler on this one.

We hope this helps, and please send us an e-mail or give us a call if you have any questions. We hope all your other preparation is going well!  

Best,

Julianne Chandler and Dragons Administration

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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Information on malaria in the Andes and Amazon

Julianne Chandler,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello upcoming Amazon travelers! As you are all likely beginning to visit travel doctors and make a plan for vaccinations and medication, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide some additional information, especially with regards to malaria prophylaxis. Dragons has no specific stipulations or requirements regarding malaria and you should know that it is […]

Posted On

12/28/12

Author

Julianne Chandler

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Dear Semester Students and Parents:

We would like to call your attention to the rabies pre-exposure inoculation. Please reference page 14 of the Parent Support Kit for the following response:

 

Question: Should we get the pre-exposure for rabies?

Answer: Ask a professional physician. (That’s our answer for most inoculation-related questions.) We can tell you, however, that Rabies is a uniformly fatal disease transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal.  In the developing world, dogs are the most common carriers of rabies.  Rabies pre-exposure vaccine exists and is effective, but even with these vaccines, exposure to rabies requires follow-up therapy. The pre-exposure vaccination does not eliminate the need for additional therapy after a rabies exposure; however, it simplifies therapy by eliminating the need for human rabies immune globulin (HRIG). HRIG, suggested by the CDC as part of the post-exposure treatment, is NOT AVAILABLE in many developing countries, and families who wish to treat potential exposure with HRIG may have to evacuate to a country where HRIG is available. Students who have been inoculated with pre-exposure vaccine will not need to evacuate if bitten. Students who have not been inoculated with pre-exposure vaccine and who require evacuation will incur evacuation costs not covered by Dragons.


Our experiences in Latin America have shown that dogs are a prevalent risk that we actively mitigate through training and other proactive measures. However, we have also learned that in the case of a dog bite, HRIG is not readily available in most Latin American countries. Therefore, depending on the circumstances of the bite, students without the rabies pre-exposure inoculations would likely need to be evacuated to the US where HRIG is available. This can cost would not be covered by Dragons evacuation insurance, and it could compromise a student’s ability to finish the program. On the other hand, students who already have rabies pre-exposure inoculations would not need a HRIG treatment in the event of a dog bite; instead, students with pre-exposure vaccination can safely rely on the available in-country post-exposure treatment.

While Dragons cannot formally recommend any inoculation, we want to clearly communicate the benefits of the pre-exposure vaccine, available through any travel clinic and through most family physicians, since in the rare event of an animal bite it may allow a student to remain in-country without program disruption and additional expense. 


Sincerely,


Dragons Administration

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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IMPORTANT Rabies Inoculation

Administration,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Dear Semester Students and Parents: We would like to call your attention to the rabies pre-exposure inoculation. Please reference page 14 of the Parent Support Kit for the following response:   Question: Should we get the pre-exposure for rabies? Answer: Ask a professional physician. (That’s our answer for most inoculation-related questions.) We can tell you, […]

Posted On

12/28/12

Author

Administration

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Hola Dragons, I hope you are all as excited as I am to embark on this adventure through the high Andes and the lowlands of the Amazon. Currently I am participating in a Food Systems course in Mexico. I hope that I will be able to share with all of you some of the great information that I am gleaning here in the Yucatan.

While I am excited to get to know all of you soon, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a bit about myself and how I started to travel in Latin America and finally ended up in Bolivia. I am originally from Boise Idaho and while I grew up with a love for the rivers and mountains of Idaho I hadn’t traveled much internationally until my first year of college. My second semester in college I was invited by my anthropology professor to study Cultures of Mexico on a ranch in Veracruz. The program was transformative for me and I opened up to a whole new way of seeing the world. We traveled to out of the way ruins, and through busy market places all over southern Mexico. The flavors and the excitement of the trip stuck with me. Wanting to recreate this experience again and again I subsequently returned to the ranch to help with the next groups of students and I finally started to grasp the language. Since this experience Latin America has been a huge part of my life. I return every chance I get and I am a better person for it. I have come to Dragons because I have seen that their work in the field has the same transformative effect on students that led me to be a passionate traveler and learner.

Continuing as a student and wanting to explore more of Latin America I was involved in a travel course with Prescott College on Political Ecology in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela. Finally toward the end of my college career I took a travel course in Bolivia called Agro-ecosystems of the Central Andes. Impressed with the incredible landscapes and people of Bolivia I decided to stay. The country offers incredible mountain landscapes and the resulting diversity is unmatched to anywhere else I have ever visited. In Bolivia I have worked in a variety of small eco-tourism projects while exploring the mountains and valleys around La Paz. Then from January to June 2010 I instructed a course in Tropical Ecology at the Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa in rural Bolivia.

I have also led trips with the wisdom of my anthropology professor in Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Costa Rica, and in the United States. My interests in Latin America vary greatly, ranging from food and agriculture to ethnic minorities, development and migration. Recently I completed my master’s research, which involved six months of field work in rural communities in Bolivia and explored how farmers in Bolivia lead in the organization of their communities and as a result protect agro-biodiversity.

I am really excited to share with you all this region that I think you will really come to love. It is not always an easy relationship and there will certainly be challenges. But if you come with an open mind and let go of your expectations the experience has the potential to challenge assumptions and be transformative.

Please feel free to email me with any questions:

kylepiispanen@gmail.com

Hasta Pronto

Abrazos

Kyle (Quique)

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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Instructor Welcome

admin,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hola Dragons, I hope you are all as excited as I am to embark on this adventure through the high Andes and the lowlands of the Amazon. Currently I am participating in a Food Systems course in Mexico. I hope that I will be able to share with all of you some of the great […]

Posted On

12/26/12

Author

admin

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    [post_content] => 

Buenos días Dragones!

 

I am currently in a small village surrounded by beautiful mountains in Argentina. I just got back from a fairly epic climbing trip and have plans for a few more before our course begins. But for now I am on a deck of a little café, looking out on the mountains and thinking that I find it hard to not let myself in on my small moment of apogee; that moment, borrowed from rocket science, when the final engine thrust ends and the rocket loses its upward battle against gravity, but before falling back to earth the aircraft pauses for just a brief moment, this fraction of a second is called the ‘moment of apogee’ and it often surfaces towards the end of a trip when you start thinking about the things back home, or in my case for my future adventure with all of you on the Andes and Amazon course.  

 

This will be my second semester course in Andes and Amazon and I have also worked several summer programs in Guatemala. I have spent over 4 years in Central and South America; I love Latin American philosophy, art, music, literature and the warmth of the people. I love getting to know another culture so different than my own.

 

A little bit about myself, I was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the US just months before the fall of the Soviet Union. I arrived the day before Halloween and as a 7-year-old thought that I had moved to the scariest place imaginable. (Feel free to ask me later about this story because it’s a pretty funny one too). After years of struggle, my family finally started figuring out how to survive in America and we all soon learned English and found jobs. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in Engineering Geology, I went traveling for nearly two years throughout Central and South America as well as Southeast Asia. I then joined the Peace Corps and lived for two years in a little village on the north coast of Honduras building water treatment systems. I spent a few years working in California but always planning my next trip.  

 

I have a rather serious addiction to traveling and while my family seems to think that it should go away at any moment now that I have traveled through all 7 continents, I know that it is my passion to get to know as much of this amazing world as I possibly can. I love anything that involves being in nature and am always looking for a new adventure. I recently gave up my latest permanent job as an engineer and traded it in for my full time love of Dragons. 

 

Estoy muy emocionada de conocerles y explorar junto a ustedes la cultura, la gente, la comida, y todo lo que hace que Bolivia y Perú sean de los países más increíbles del mundo!

 

Hasta Pronto!

Regina

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Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

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A letter of Introduction

Regina Kruglyak,Andes & Amazon Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Buenos días Dragones!   I am currently in a small village surrounded by beautiful mountains in Argentina. I just got back from a fairly epic climbing trip and have plans for a few more before our course begins. But for now I am on a deck of a little café, looking out on the mountains […]

Posted On

12/21/12

Author

Regina Kruglyak