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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013


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Hello everyone!!

 

My name is Amanda and I'm from the incredible Land of Enchantment-- New Mexico! I enjoy hiking in the foothills, hanging out by the river, skiing, dancing, and spending time with friends/family.

 

I don't really have an interesting story about what I was doing last semester. I did spend a lot of time in physical therapy, as I broke my back last summer (oops!).

 

I can't wait to meet you all, and I'm incredibly excited for our adventure together in just a few short weeks!! 

 

Amanda 

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Hello!!

Amanda Harley,Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello everyone!!   My name is Amanda and I’m from the incredible Land of Enchantment– New Mexico! I enjoy hiking in the foothills, hanging out by the river, skiing, dancing, and spending time with friends/family.   I don’t really have an interesting story about what I was doing last semester. I did spend a lot […]

Posted On

01/18/13

Author

Amanda Harley

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Muy buenos dias Dragones,

 

It’s about the time to start that first round of packing, right?! And since we are seasoned veterans of South American travel (and really, travel in general) we have some notes we want to share with you in addition to the extensive packing list available in your Course Preparation Manual.

 

Many of these are suggestions, not requirements. We think these things will make your trip/transition easier. But on the flip side, many travelers and locals live without any of the stuff listed here. It’s not going to be the “stuff” that makes your trip, so judge for yourself.

 

THINGS TO BRING

 

A bit more information on GIFTS. You'll want something for individuals who make your course special, such as ISP mentors and homestay families. As a head's up, we have the extended homestay in Cochabamba, two shorter homestays, and assume one more. The trouble is, you don't know the make-up of each homestay family. Do they have kids, how many, and how old are they? So rather than bringing age/size specific gifts, bring things that anyone would love. Photos of yourself and/or postcards from home where you can write a personal message on the back are huge hits. Any games from home that work for all ages and you can play with them are great.  Another idea is to take a photo of you and your homestay family together, get it printed and framed, and present it to them. Simple and meaningful is best.

 

Other hits are puzzles or games that you can do with your homestay families, or hats and/or T-shirts from your hometown.

 

For WATER PURIFICATION, if you are considering buying a STERIPEN, we suggest you buy the ‘Classic Steri’. The Classic is blue and white and takes AA batteries. This model seems to last longer than other designs and AA batteries are easier to find in Bolivia. We encourage either AA lithium batteries or rechargeable. It is difficult to recycle batteries so finding the most efficient batteries with the least amount of waste is crucial.

 

A small PHOTO ALBUM of people and places important to you. To be culturally appropriate, be sure to print photos as opposed to uploading them on an electronic device.

 

USB STICK for saving photos, documents for independent study projects, yak yaks, etc.

 

MAILING ADDRESSES of family and friends. You'll have the opportunity to connect old-school this semester by writing letters and sending postcards to family and friends.

 

First AID, CPR, or LIFEGUARD CERTIFICATION CARDS (if applicable). Dragons has a policy that there must be someone present with First Aid/CPR training while swimming. All instructors are certified; however, it gives the group more flexibility if some of you have your own certifications.

 

FLIP FLOPS are great for communal showers and informal settings.

 

EARPLUGS as there will be all sorts of new noises (think roosters).

 

A small SEWING KIT for those random repairs. A sewing kit from a hotel is perfect.

 

One plastic TUPPERWARE container. In REI or on Amazon.com a great one is the GSI Outdoor Fairshare Mug. This should hold 1L – 1.5L and be very sturdy. While on the trail, we often pack lunches in our “tuppers” and use them for take-away food. They need to seal tight – who wants leaky chicken sauce in their backpack?

 

Camping CUTLERY. This can be as simple as a spoon from home, or bring a wooden set or “spork” purchasable from an outdoor store.

 

A HOT MUG/THERMOS. It should be sturdy and have a lid. Or conversely, bring a plastic collapsible mug (can be purchased at outdoor stores). (Hint- if you buy the GSI fairshare mug it is best if you can get a mug as well as cutlery that fits inside it so that you end up not loosing any of the items in addition to easier packing and carrying).

 

On top of a JOURNAL, you'll also want to bring a straight-up NOTEBOOK – especially if you are taking any courses for credit. Bring a bunch of PENS to get you started, but know they are easily replaceable in-country.

 

RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES for any electronics, especially if you are bringing a Steri-Pen for water purification.

 

NATURAL TOILETRIES help decrease our footprint. Check your local grocery or health food store. Dr. Bronner’s is great and multi-purpose. LUSH (www.lush.com) has a great selection of solid shampoos that you can buy in a tin. They are small, all natural, will last you the whole trip, and best of all, they don’t spill! (Please remember, that you do not have to bring 3 months worth of toiletries - you can buy anything generic in-country.)

 

It is ok to bring JEANS, or any type of comfy, city pants. In fact you should know that we will be going back and forth through La Paz and Cochabamba several times where you will be able to leave behind things and grab them again. We will be spending nearly one month in our longer homestay in Cochabamba so some “not camping” clothes may be nice, though not at all necessary.

 

TREKKING POLES are not necessary, but worth considering if you have bad knees, weak ankles, or less-than-perfect balance. Check out this link for the pros and cons of trekking poles and see where you fit. www.slackpacker.com/trekking-poles.html. One big con for us, you'll be carrying them with you for the duration of the course. Most poles will shrink down to a third of their size for easy carrying between hikes; but still, you have to carry them.

 

IPODS/MP3/IPOD TOUCHES are okay to bring. I-PHONES are not. Once we all arrive in-country, we'll be setting out clear rules and guidelines about when it is appropriate to use these devices. There will be times on the trip to put on the head phones and listen to music individually, such as on longer journeys, and we'll let you know when that is acceptable. We are also going to put out a challenge to you all to ditch the earbuds and go more local for a short period of the course.

 

If you are bringing an iPod Touch with you consider downloading some of the free language programs from the Apple store. You can even download dictionaries. Please note, iPod Touches should not be brought to play games. Also be aware that the flashier the player you bring (i.e. Ipod Touch), the more attention it draws, and there is a potential for theft.

 

CRAZY CREEK CHAIR- we will be camping a lot and a chair comes in handy, though again not necessary and something you will potentially be carrying with you the entire time.

 

A COMFORTABLE SLEEPING PAD- while it is nice to have a lightweight pad, a few more ounces for a comfortable-nights rest is often worth it.

 

THE BIG PACK TOWEL- again the small ones are nice and do the job, but the big one will make you happy for the duration of the 3 months.

 

Some running shoes, sneakers or COMFORTABLE CITY SHOES. Most students will bring a total of 3 pairs of shoes (the other two being boots and sandals).

 

A GOOD HEADLAMP. This is possibly the most used item throughout the course. A recommendation is the Black Diamond Storm headlamp, it’s a nice one because it has all the dim settings to conserve battery life, a red light setting for night vision and the best part is a lock mode so that the headlamp doesn’t accidentally turn on, wasting valuable battery life. Also rechargeable AAA batteries for the headlamp.

 

SYNTHETIC UNDERWEAR and long synthetic socks. Nice for washing on the go and quick drying.

 

A BLOW-UP PILLOW or a fleece lined stuff sack. Nice for long bus rides and camping.

 

A GOOD PACK COVER- essential during the rainy season.

 

Along with the rainy season comment- GOOD QUALITY RAIN GEAR  (jacket and pants) is essential. Some students opt to leave their good rain gear behind and bring stuff that they are comfortable with damaging.  Keep in mind that you will be trekking through high mountain passes in the rainy season, and at the very least  will need a good quality poncho. An umbrella sometimes goes a long way as well, since it keeps you, your pack and your feet dry (we can teach you where to tuck it into your pack for hands free umbrella walking!).

 

A few STURDY GARBAGE BAGS.  While these are available in-country, in can be difficult to find durable trash bags.  These will be useful for water-proofing your backpack for treks, or leaving items behind during excursions.

 

Something to do as a group- you will have many moments together as a group, it is nice to have games (ideas are cards, Uno, Set, Bang, banana grams) and books that you can trade off.

 

 

THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME

 

Please leave cell phones (iPhones included) at home. For your time in airports pre and post course, there are pay phones should you need to get in contact with family. American cell phones tend not to work, prove to be a hassle, are expensive to use, and targets for theft. Throughout our course we will have intermittent access with internet shops and call centers to contact home. The Yak board is our main form of communication, which we will use often to share our experiences with friends and loved ones. We recommend getting a Skype account as many of the internet shops will have Skype, which works great to see and chat with people back home. Please note, if you do bring a cell phone for pre or post course purposes, we (the instructors) will be collecting them on the first day and carrying them for the duration of the trip. We cannot be responsible for loss or damage.

 

There is NO NEED to bring three months worth of feminine hygiene products (pads/tampons).  This is an error in the Course Preparation Manual, so please disregard that information.  These items are readily available in-country.

 

Kindles and other electronic reading devices are a risk for damage and theft, and not particularly culturally appropriate.

 

Spanish language resources. There is a phrasebook in the back of your guidebook, and we have resources in country. But if there is a book that you love and learn well from, then feel free to bring it.

 

Water filters. Steri-pens or iodine and the like are great, but water filters are not particularly useful for the diversity of environments we'll be in.

 

More than a few personal books. We will swap among ourselves, we have a great little library at the Cochabamba program house, and you can purchase books in English and Spanish in the bigger cities. Please DO bring your Course Readers and Guidebooks, though!

 

Large containers/supplies of basic toiletries. You can buy whatever you need in-country. We do suggest bringing small containers (the 3-4 oz sized one) for shampoo and soap. These you can carry with you as we travel and refill when we get back to Cochabamba.

 

Old, smelly, torn up clothing or shoes. The state of your clothing and shoes often determines how polite or respectful you are.

 

A mosquito net. When they are needed they will be provided.

 

Anything you don't want ruined or lost.

 

THINGS YOU CAN BUY IN-COUNTRY

 

Clothing (traditional, American, and souvenir), knock-off footwear, books in Spanish and English, and (non-natural) toiletries, notebooks and writing utensils, replacement tupper ware and cutlery, souvenirs, among many other things. It's pretty easy to cover your basics in-country. Just remember to bring your staple items and technical gear from home. Waterproof-breathables, quick dry, anti wrinkle, light-weight gear is not readily available in- country. However, not all of your clothing needs to be technical. We'll be in Cochabamba for up to 5 weeks, and other cities and towns throughout the trip. You can bring clothes for town-time, or supplement once you are there.

 

For our time in the Amazon, we need to cover ourselves to protect from bugs and the sun. We wear long, loose shirts and tuck our pants into our socks. It is very easy to buy long, light XL button down shirts in the local markets.

 

Thanks for reading! If any of you have any suggestions for each other from your own travels, please post your own Yak!

 

Hasta pronto!

 

Los instructores

 

 

 

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Packing tips- Additional to the ones you have in your CPM

Los Instructores,Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Muy buenos dias Dragones,   It’s about the time to start that first round of packing, right?! And since we are seasoned veterans of South American travel (and really, travel in general) we have some notes we want to share with you in addition to the extensive packing list available in your Course Preparation Manual. […]

Posted On

01/16/13

Author

Los Instructores

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    [post_content] => 

Andes & Amazon Spring 2013 Semester Course
Pre-course Assignments

Queridos Dragones,


The days are flying by and your departure date is rapidly approaching.  As instructors, we hope that you are enjoying this time at home with friends and family and that you have a chance to relax and prepare both mentally and physically for the journey ahead.

In preparation for our trip, we want to ask that you complete a few activities to help with your understanding of the issues you will encounter on the trip. This pre-course work is designed not only to get you thinking about the Andes and Amazon, but also to encourage you to observe and question who you are, what you believe and what it means to be a citizen of your country.

When you arrive in-country, we will revisit and explore Dragons’ Core Curriculum of Global Citizenship (G), Awareness of Self (A) and Leadership/ Skill Building (L), or what we refer to as GAL. GAL underlies our entire course and is the strong foundation from which we will be building up for the 3 months we spend together. In addition to this there is an accredited progression of 4 interdisciplinary subjects. While only a few of you will be taking these courses for credit, the subjects of the Regional Seminar, Contemplative Intercultural Development and Leadership (CIDL), Spanish Language, and the Independent Study Project (ISP) are themes that will be interwoven throughout the semester.

Even students who will not be taking courses for credit will be involved in the curriculum, since these make up our Academic Focus of Inquiry. This will allow you to better process what you are observing during your time in-country. Accredited students have an increased work-load, but all participants will be exposed to aspects of these courses. You will all be participating in excursions, lectures and facilitated discussions, writing reflective journal entries, and giving oral presentations. You will be expected to research and facilitate your ISP, attend all Spanish language classes, and post regular yak yaks.



As part of the course material, you should have all received copies of the "Andes and Amazon Semester Reader." This is an amazing resource! Please take some time to explore the articles included and come to Bolivia prepared to share some thoughts on articles that were of particular interest to you.


In addition, please complete the following before your arrival in country:

Videos:


·       National Geographic’s Wade Davis on Vanishing Cultures

·       Sir Ken Robinson’s “Changing Educational Paradigms”

·       Calle 13’s “Latinoamérica”

Readings:


·       NACLA’s “Bolivia:  Indigenous Groups to March Against TIPNIS Highway”

This article introduces one of the most contested issues in Bolivia today, a highway project that will traverse one of Bolivia’s most important national parks in the Amazon.  This is a defining issue in terms of the Bolivian government’s engagement with national development, indigenous populations, and environmental preservation and we encourage you to explore this issue more (If interested let us know and we can send more resources!).   



·       Latin American Perspectives:  “Bolivia under Morales”  (attached below as PDF and also in your readers)


2 years ago, the journal Latin American Perspective’s published two consecutive issues focused exclusively on social and political transformation in Bolivia under President Evo Morales.  This introductory article offers a summary of some of the major issues facing Bolivia today.  As Bolivia and Peru both have large indigenous populations, some of the issues raised in this article are relevant for the Peruvian landscape as well.  If you find this article interesting we encourage you to further explore the articles on Bolivia published in this journal, which can be found in Issue 37; Volumes 3 and 4. 

For more recent resources you can refer to these but also make sure to do your own research as there is much to be learned from the inter-webs!

http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/06/bolivia-from-police-mutiny-to-indigenous-vigil/

https://nacla.org/blog/2012/12/13/bolivia-end-road-tipnis-consulta 

http://nacla.org/blog/2012/8/17/women-forefront-bolivia%E2%80%99s-tipnis-conflict

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/07/20/the_bully_from_brazil

Assignment:
After viewing the videos and reading the articles listed above, please post a Yak Yak responding to one of the five readings/videos that is of particular interest to you.  In your response think about the following prompts:

·       What were some of the main issues introduced in the text/video?

·       What were your impressions of the material?  Do you agree or disagree with the issues raised?

·       In what ways would you like to explore this issue further during your time in-country?

·       In what ways have these issues changed overtime? (do some personal research and/or  refer to the more recent material from the links above).


When posting responses to assignments, including assignments for accredited students, please include a heading/title on the yak board that references the assignment, such as “Response to Ken Robinson’s Video,”etc.  This will help us to keep track of your assignments!

The material we have included in this post is just a small glimpse of some of the topics we will be exploring on our semester together.  As you will surely learn when you arrive in Bolivia, having a foundation for the places you visit makes the experience that much richer, and we hope you continue to explore issues that interest you and that are relevant to our course.  This may be through readings, conversations, or films and documentaries about this region of the world - as a benchmark of the Dragons philosophy, we encourage a diversity of learning styles and mediums that best respond to your personality and character!

As mentioned above, you will find a wealth of resources in the reader sent to your home.  In addition, in the following you will find links to local resources, both in English and Spanish, to further your understanding of the Andean and Amazonian landscape:

 

 

  • Los Tiempos – The local newspaper in Cochabamba, Bolivia

 

·       Andean Information Network – Information and analysis on issues around human rights and socioeconomic justice in Bolivia

·       The Democracy Center – Provides reporting and investigative journalism on social issues in Bolivia and the Latin American region.  Check out their blog on Bolivia, which can be found on the site!

·       Cochabambino – Politics and Change in Bolivia – A blog that highlights recent issues in Bolivian society

·       Bolivia Rising – Translations of Spanish-language news articles on Bolivia

·       Upside Down World – Articles on politics and Activism on Latin America

·       Bolpress – Articles with information on Bolivia from a variety of sources

We apologize that this Yak is so long and thank you for your patience in reading this and completing the tasks above.  We promise it will make your experience that much more rewarding!  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to post a Yak or get in touch with us.

We will be calling each of you soon and can’t wait to connect with each of you more!

Un abrazo,

 

Los instructores

 

 

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Pre-course assignment

Los Instructores,Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Andes & Amazon Spring 2013 Semester Course Pre-course Assignments Queridos Dragones, The days are flying by and your departure date is rapidly approaching.  As instructors, we hope that you are enjoying this time at home with friends and family and that you have a chance to relax and prepare both mentally and physically for the […]

Posted On

01/16/13

Author

Los Instructores

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    [post_date] => 2013-01-15 00:00:00
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Hi! My name is Margaret but most people call me Meg. I am 17, a senior in high school and am essentially graduating early. Being from Vermont, I am surrounded by mountains, though they are quite different from the Andes. I am very excited for the coming semester! 

 

Cheers,

Meg 

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Hii

Margaret Chandler,Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi! My name is Margaret but most people call me Meg. I am 17, a senior in high school and am essentially graduating early. Being from Vermont, I am surrounded by mountains, though they are quite different from the Andes. I am very excited for the coming semester!    Cheers, Meg 

Posted On

01/15/13

Author

Margaret Chandler

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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 "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Instructor Welcome

Kyle Piispanen,Andes & Amazon "B" 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

Kyle Piispanen

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