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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013


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Mailing address in Bolivia
by Regina, Kyle and Emilie
Instructors
January 31, 2013

Hola Dragones!

 

This semester we want to encourage you to stay in touch the old-school way with your friends and family back home.  We have a PO Box in Cochabamba where you can receive letters, so please feel free to share this with loved ones:

 

Your Name

C/O Valentina Campos

Casilla Postal 319

Cochabamba, Bolivia

 

Keep in mind that the postal service is slow and sometimes unreliable, so it's not a good idea to send anything of value.  Also, it can be difficult to receive packages due to customs fees and taxes.  In general we don't encourage people to send packages to Bolivia, but in the case that you do want to receive a package keep in mind the following guidelines.  Your package must be:

 

-Under 2 kilos

-Uninsured

-Sent registered mail 

 

We may have irregular access to the PO Box while traveling and letters take approximately 3 weeks to arrive.

 

We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

los instructores 

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Mailing Address in Bolivia

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

Description

Mailing address in Boliviaby Regina, Kyle and EmilieInstructorsJanuary 31, 2013 Hola Dragones!   This semester we want to encourage you to stay in touch the old-school way with your friends and family back home.  We have a PO Box in Cochabamba where you can receive letters, so please feel free to share this with loved […]

Posted On

02/8/13

Author

Los Instructores

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Hola!

 

Some of these questions are tricky to answer but here is our recommendation. In the high mountains it will be cold. Meaning our treks that are high altitude. Currently we have only one of these. Ideally you should bring clothing for layering meaning a long underwear top and bottom, fleece (or similar) possibly a small puffy (down or synthetic) and a rain jacket. for bottoms fleece pants are nice but not necessary, and rain pants. If you get cold in the mountains it will generally only be once we are done hiking. This means you can always walk around in your sleeping bag (totally normal and common :)

 

AS for toiletries....it depends on how attached you are to the brands you are used to. You can find head and shoulders, Pantene, and herbal essence very easily beyond that you will not find the American brands. Typically somewhere around 6 oz should last for the 3 months (we dont get to shower on treks and that saves on toiletries :) 3 oz of Dr. bronners last me the entire trip, but again this is very dependent.

 

As for batteries: we will be able to charge fairly frequently. Currently the longest time i foresee without being able to recharge would be approximately 9 days. Usually as long as you have rechargeable batteries for things such as Steri pen and headlamp should last more or less the entire time as long as you remember to charge just beforehand. It might be nice to have an extra camera battery depending on how often you plan on using your camera.

 

A security belt can be nice but is not necessary. We will go over many techniques for how to keep your belongings safe. If you are careful and cautious you should be fine without it.

 

Sorry for the long-winded response! 

 

Hasta Pronto! 

 

 

 

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Answer to more packing questions

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

Description

Hola!   Some of these questions are tricky to answer but here is our recommendation. In the high mountains it will be cold. Meaning our treks that are high altitude. Currently we have only one of these. Ideally you should bring clothing for layering meaning a long underwear top and bottom, fleece (or similar) possibly […]

Posted On

02/8/13

Author

Los Instructores

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Keep the questions coming! Both sun block and bug spray can be bought fairly easily in country, but perhaps not the stuff you are used to. Depending on how often you apply and reapply sun screen I would recommend possibly about 2 of the medium size containers (around 6-10 oz total should be plenty and you can buy more if needed). Bug spray I would recommend one container and even more importantly is the afterbite stuff (any of the anti itch cream) since it is impossible to avoid all bug bites.

 

Hope this helps

Hasta Domingo!

 

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Answer to another packing question

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

Description

Keep the questions coming! Both sun block and bug spray can be bought fairly easily in country, but perhaps not the stuff you are used to. Depending on how often you apply and reapply sun screen I would recommend possibly about 2 of the medium size containers (around 6-10 oz total should be plenty and […]

Posted On

02/5/13

Author

Los Instructores

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Hi!

I just had a couple of questions about packing. How cold it will get on the trip, since I get cold easily and want to plan accordingly for packing? And I'm assuming that we'll have access to a store with toiletries once we're down there, but how much of stuff like the Dr. Bronners soap or other basic toiletries (shampoo, conditioner etc.) should we bring with us? Also, for my battery life concerns, how long will we be going, on average, without electricity? And is a security belt really necessary? 

 

Sorry to bombard you with questions, but since I'm a chronic overpacker, I'm having some trouble figuring out where to draw the line between necessary and unnecessary but possibly helpful. Thanks for the help!

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A couple packing questions

Kaly Moot,Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi! I just had a couple of questions about packing. How cold it will get on the trip, since I get cold easily and want to plan accordingly for packing? And I’m assuming that we’ll have access to a store with toiletries once we’re down there, but how much of stuff like the Dr. Bronners […]

Posted On

02/5/13

Author

Kaly Moot

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Here’s an assumption: if you were to ask 100 people if they could imagine living in a world with no biodiversity, a grey world of pigeons and cockroaches and cement, 99 of them would be appalled, unable to even imagine this world. Yet, the idea of a world with one language, one culture doesn’t seem so shocking. It’s even appealing; imagine worldwide communication and homogenous peace. But how is this any less grey? In a world where 50% of species dying out seems downright apocalyptic, how is the fact that the majority of indigenous cultures have already disappeared so easy to digest?

            In his TED Talk, Wade Davis suggests that the web of cultures that he calls the ethnosphere is equally important to the survival of the earth as is the biosphere. Each of these cultures is a “branch of the human imagination that goes back to the dawn of time.” These cultures are of the exact same importance as ours, no more, no less.  And yet, our culture is continuing forward as many others fade away.

I did not chose where I was born; in many ways, up until now, I have had little say in the perspective through which I see the world. At first thought, it seems so simple what we are doing, to go to another country to experience a new way of life. But as I sit to really think about it, there is so much tied into these three months. How can I, as a citizen of the United States for most of my life, approach the cultures we will encounter without preconceived notions, free of the lenses that Wade suggests that many Westerners hold in front of minds when thinking about indigenous peoples? How can I best learn from and about their ways of life?

Growing up it was impossible to imagine another way of life. The clean, easy pace of Volvos and electric ovens and ski trips during the winter felt universal and even as I grew conscious of other cultures, at 10 years old, mine still seemed somehow best. I live in such an Anglo-centric bubble. Rapidly, the Western way of life spreads across the earth and some call it improvement, or if not improvement, at least it’s progress. Sometimes I feel as though the American dream is projected on all 7 billion people, that happiness worldwide should mean a college education and 2 cars in the driveway. But how can we assume our way of knowing and being and feeling is best? In the Peruvian Amazon, there is a culture that uses a blend of hallucinogenic plants they call ioska in shamanic rituals. They recognize 17 varieties of the plant where we might see one, saying that “each variety sings in a different key on a night of the full moon.” How is this understanding any less profound than any paper that a major American university could publish on the plant? How could knowledge of the chemical makeup help these people see these plants through a more informed perspective than they already have?

            To Davis, the 20th and 21st centuries will not be characterized but the good we have done, but by the passiveness of the Western World in the face of diminishing cultures and life. He is afraid that as we continue to stand by  “that not only will the range of human imagination shrink, but we will forget that there were ever other possibilities.” This sentence alone reminds me why I first wanted to travel; to tie into a new perspective, to greaten my ability to understand the world around me.

 

(Disclaimer: I find it nearly impossible to talk about this subject. At every sentence, there is a place to make an assumption, not only about other cultures, but about my own. In his discussion of cultures, Davis gives some insight into the vocabulary to discuss other groups, but hardly covers how we discuss our own. When can I use we? During high school, I was taught always to use I-statements, to speak only for myself. But how can I do that when discussing the U.S. as a whole?)

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

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Response to Wade Davis

Anne Vetter,Best Notes From The Field, Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Here’s an assumption: if you were to ask 100 people if they could imagine living in a world with no biodiversity, a grey world of pigeons and cockroaches and cement, 99 of them would be appalled, unable to even imagine this world. Yet, the idea of a world with one language, one culture doesn’t seem […]

Posted On

02/5/13

Author

Anne Vetter

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Hi again!

Sorry to ask so many questions but I was wondering how much sunscreen and bug spray you would suggest bringing? Thanks so much! 

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Another packing question

Lydia Lichtiger,Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi again! Sorry to ask so many questions but I was wondering how much sunscreen and bug spray you would suggest bringing? Thanks so much! 

Posted On

02/3/13

Author

Lydia Lichtiger

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Hi everybody - Troy and I will be the student leaders in the Miami airport. We’ll meet you at the American Airlines international counter. Look for either a girl with reddish hair and a grey dragons shirt or for a guy named Troy. ;)

Just FYI, our job is to hold on to everyone’s passports, check in both A&A groups, and make sure everyone boards the plane. Sorry to be repetitive, but please make sure you bring:

your passport
original copy of your yellow fever vaccination card
$135 in cash for your visa (no “CB” serial numbers)
2 passport photos

Also, please wear your Dragons shirt so we’ll be able to identify you.

In case of problems (delayed flights, etc.):
Eva 720-363-9661
Dragons Office 800-982-9203 (extension 30 if you have to leave a message)
Me 615-428-5902 (In case you need it. However I will not be that helpful if your flight is delayed - call Eva first.)

 

Great - that's all. Safe travels everyone, and we'll see you Saturday!

 

Maddie

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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In Miami/Student Leaders

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

Description

Hi everybody – Troy and I will be the student leaders in the Miami airport. We’ll meet you at the American Airlines international counter. Look for either a girl with reddish hair and a grey dragons shirt or for a guy named Troy. 😉 Just FYI, our job is to hold on to everyone’s passports, […]

Posted On

02/2/13

Author

Maddie Shankle

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Thanks again for the question Lydia...keep them coming! 

 

Again while Bolivia is not a super conservative country it is always best to keep away unwanted attention. My best advice would be to try to keep shorts and skirts around the knee area and you should be good. If it is a few inches from the knee not too big a deal. But if you are wondering if it is too short, it most likely is :)

 

As for the pants I think there shouldn't be a problem with them.

 

Hasta Pronto!

 

Los Instructores 

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Answer to Lydia’s question about clothing

los instructores,Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Thanks again for the question Lydia…keep them coming!    Again while Bolivia is not a super conservative country it is always best to keep away unwanted attention. My best advice would be to try to keep shorts and skirts around the knee area and you should be good. If it is a few inches from […]

Posted On

01/30/13

Author

los instructores

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Hola queridos Dragones,

 

We are down to two weeks before we start our adventure and we hope your preparation is going well.

 

We wanted to post a note bringing focus to Independent Study Projects and the diverse themes you will have the opportunity to engage with this spring.  As you already know, Independent Study is one of Dragons’ nine program components. Each of you has the opportunity to do a focused study on a topic/activity of their choice. Don’t worry, this is NOT the traditional school assignment that you may be used to. On the contrary, the ISP will be something of your choosing that you are passionate about and can engage with experientially. It is a way for you to explore your curiosity and creativity, connect with locals one-on-one and have an independent experience within the group experience.

 

In many ways the ISP is the culmination of your Dragons course; it combines many elements including language study, cultural literacy, skill building and leadership development and melds them into a project inspired by your own curiosity and sense of wonder. The ISP is perhaps one of the few times in your life where you can decide what you want to learn, instead of what others’ ask of you.

 

As we move through the first couple of weeks of the course we will help you to settle on an Independent Study Project that is: 1) experiential and 2) pertinent to the place. “Experiential” means that, first and foremost, you are learning from people, places and activities that you encounter in your course area. We will work with you to bring the focus away from activities that you could do equally well from your room at home, i.e. internet research, isolated book research, etc. While these may be valuable to your ISP, we will encourage you to keep these to a minimum and instead focus on the experience of self-directed learning.

“Pertinent to your place” means that it focuses on the context of the Andes and Amazon.  In Bolivia for example, you are not studying yoga and conversely in India you are not studying Bolivian weaving or dancing.  To build an experiential independent study you should be finding things that you can actively experience and engage with in your place.

 

The key to making your ISP as rewarding as possible is:

 

1. Careful selection of something that excites you and will keep you inspired

2. Taking initiative with the project’s creation and direction, and

3. Dedication to your project through all its challenges until its conclusion

 

At this point, we would like to focus on helping you find what you are passionate about: what would be fun and keep you inspired. Please don’t feel pressured to decide right at this moment! You will have until the first few weeks of the course to feel things out before making a decision as to what your study project will be.  Additionally, the sooner we (your instructor team) know about your ISP, the better we can be prepared for your arrival by already having contacts, mentors and placement lined up.

 

Please have a look at the following list of course themes and possible ISP’s.  This list is not exhaustive, but will offer you a good idea of some possibilities:

 

·      Sustainable agriculture and traditional agricultural systems: the basic idea of agro-ecology is looking at the way humans design living systems in the landscape around them, so it looks both at culture and community as well as ecology and the landscape around. How do we define “sustainable”? How does the agriculture in the Andes or Amazon compare to that in the US? Where does our food come from? What crops and agricultural knowledge has this region given to the world?

 

·      Andean and Amazonian cosmology and worldview: with workshops, ceremonies with spiritual leaders and, mostly day-to-day interactions with our host-families and locals we will gain a greater understanding of Andean and Amazonian lifestyle and worldview. Aspects you could dive into are with Andean creation stories, the Andean view of our human relationship to the natural world, perhaps comparing that to a traditional Judeo-Christian worldview. How does place and shared history inform our worldview?  In what ways is our worldview different? In what ways is it similar? What can we all learn and benefit from in this exchange of wisdom?

 

·      Andean and Amazonian cultural elements of ceremony, music, dance and art: this region has some amazingly rich traditions: you’ll have the opportunity to dive into traditional weaving classes, classes in traditional musical instruments (flutes, drums or various string instruments such as the charango or even guitar), folkloric dancing and costumes, etc. 

 

·      Lessons from Andean Society: communities in this region have an amazingly complex makeup and design, with intricate trade-networks and relationships that have existed for centuries. One example is that of an ayllu, where multiple communities network together through various agro-ecosystems allowing for more balanced nutrition and community health. How can communities maintain the strength of ties that they had historically with increased pressure from global markets and networks? What is lost in dissolving these historic ties? What is gained?

 

·      Models of development: Bolivia has been a testing-ground for many different development models yet remains South America’s poorest country. Reasons for this are complex but you will have the opportunity to explore some of these and hear first-hand stories of the way different policies have affected the local people, from the large “neo-liberal” overhaul of the 80’s and 90’s to the liberal and leftist backlash of the past ten years. What is “globalization”? Why have aspects of globalization been contested in Bolivia? What aspects have not been contested? What obligation do we have as US citizens?

 

·      Issues in modern Latin American: we will gain a broad understanding of some of the issues facing Latin America in the last fifty years and some current movements, especially in the region’s relationship to the United States, and our own country’s historic sphere of influence. We will also be looking at the social structure of the region and other root causes of current issues and ongoing tension in countries such as Peru and Bolivia. What are some defining features of current Latin American politics and social structure? What historic events or circumstances have created these features? What is the role of education systems in this context? Gender roles?

 

·      Incan and Pre-Incan culture: ancient cultures of South America gained a level of development and sophistication some would argue was even more advanced than the invading Spanish at that time. We will visit numerous ruins and have the chance to study Incan and perhaps Tiwanacotan (a pre-Incan civilization in the Lake Titicaca region) architecture and social and political structure. Is the development of “high-civilization” a linear process? What made the Incan Empire so successful in its expansion?

 

·      Nature Awareness and Cultural Ecology: we will have the chance to dive into a specially developed curriculum that both allows us to gain a greater understanding of our relationship with our environment while also giving us an understanding of the way Andean people relate to and gain awareness of their surroundings. How do we learn from the land around us? What practices can we have to foster an awareness of the world around us? How does ritual and tradition transfer knowledge between people and generations? How do locals relate to their surroundings?

 

·      Ecology and Conservation: the areas we will be traveling to are some of the most naturally wondrous and ecologically important regions on the planet – from fragile high-alpine ecosystems of the Andes to complex and highly evolved ecosystems of the Amazon. We will both be exposed to the rich ecology and biological diversity of the region as well as threats to the sustainability of these ecosystems and approaches to conservation here. What pressing issues are facing the Amazon basin? Why is this ecosystem important? What conservation efforts are in place? What is not working? What is working?

 

·      Food and nutrition: from traditional cooking to modern foods and even baking, we have had students study with cooks and bakers at local panaderias, or taken broader looks at nutrition in the Andes. This includes traditional grains such as quinoa and amaranth and modern introduction of foods such as wheat and rice.

 

·      Medicine and Health: We will have exposure both to medical issues that are pertinent to this region as well as the roles of western and indigenous approaches to health and healing. Students have volunteered at clinics, worked with traditional herbalists and studied the complicated issues associated with this in economically poor countries like Bolivia.

 

 

The options are vast and you are in no way limited you to what we’ve put out here. This is merely to spark some ideas. You can also use your Andes and Amazon Course Reader or internet searches to get further ideas.

 

 

***For ISP Accredited Students Only:

 

While we would like everyone to begin thinking about ISP projects, it is important for accredited students to get a head start on project ideas.  If you are taking the ISP course for credit, please make a quick list of the things above or any other ideas that interest you and take some time to journal a response answering the following:

 

  • What are aspects of the Andes and Amazon are you most curious about? From this list or anything additional?
  • What type of project will keep you engaged? With your hands? Your intellect? Something personal to your value system?
  • What type of learner are you?

 

 If you are taking ISP for credit, this is your first assignment and needs to be done thoroughly and posted as a Yak Yak BEFORE your arrival in-country.  Please include a title in your post indicating that it is a response to this assignment.

 

 

Thanks for you patience in beginning to think through these themes!

  

¡Hasta pronto! 

 

Los instructores

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Intro to Independent Study Projects

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

Description

Hola queridos Dragones,   We are down to two weeks before we start our adventure and we hope your preparation is going well.   We wanted to post a note bringing focus to Independent Study Projects and the diverse themes you will have the opportunity to engage with this spring.  As you already know, Independent […]

Posted On

01/28/13

Author

The Instructors

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Hi,

Thanks for the answer to my other question- it was very helpful!

I was also wondering whether running shorts (that are about 12 inches long) would be ok to bring as a pair of shorts and whether not skin-tight jeans but relatively skinny jeans would be ok to bring as city pants?

Thanks!
Lydia

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Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

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Question about clothing

Lydia Lichtiger,Andes & Amazon "B" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi, Thanks for the answer to my other question- it was very helpful! I was also wondering whether running shorts (that are about 12 inches long) would be ok to bring as a pair of shorts and whether not skin-tight jeans but relatively skinny jeans would be ok to bring as city pants? Thanks!Lydia

Posted On

01/28/13

Author

Lydia Lichtiger

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