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    [post_content] => The group has arrived to Miami, passed through customs, and on their way to connecting travel. Safe arrivals!
    [post_title] => Arrived to Miami
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

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Arrived to Miami

Instructors,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

The group has arrived to Miami, passed through customs, and on their way to connecting travel. Safe arrivals!

Posted On

08/8/17

Author

Instructors

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    [post_content] => Hola friends and family!!

Peru 6 students had a tearful goodbye to a couple of our instructors, Mateo and Jhasmany. But endings come with new beginnings and we are excited for our journey back home.

See you shortly! Hasta prontito!
    [post_title] => On our way home!
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On our way home!

Raquel Wigginton,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

Hola friends and family!! Peru 6 students had a tearful goodbye to a couple of our instructors, Mateo and Jhasmany. But endings come with new beginnings and we are excited for our journey back home. See you shortly! Hasta prontito!

Posted On

08/8/17

Author

Raquel Wigginton

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    [post_content] => As this is the last day of the trip naturally the biggest thing in my mind right now is going home. There are some things I have been thinking about regarding this though. When I was doing my homestay in Urubamaba, I noticed that my family used theur phones a lot and it left me a little isolated. I thought this was a little wierd until I realized this is how I live with my family in the United States. The only difference in Urubamaba was I didn't have a way to escape because I didn't have my phone. It's strange to me that all over the world families have started to just look at their phones instead of having a genuine conversation. I don't really know what to think about this. All I know I don't want to fall back into this once I return back home. I don't want to lose the good habits I've found here and regain my old bad habits.
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

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Going Back Home

Xavier Markowitz,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

As this is the last day of the trip naturally the biggest thing in my mind right now is going home. There are some things I have been thinking about regarding this though. When I was doing my homestay in Urubamaba, I noticed that my family used theur phones a lot and it left me […]

Posted On

08/7/17

Author

Xavier Markowitz

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Hello dear Dragons students, friends, and family members,

 

This evening Jhasmany and I will say goodbye from Cusco to a group of nine intrepid and passionate travelers, and to our patient, kind, and hard-working co-instructor Raquel. When our paths will cross again is unsure, however there is immense joy in the fact that they did cross for six weeks! We will miss each of you and the presence and energy you brought to our course. You are now forever part of the Dragons community, a community of inspiring, kind-hearted change makers across the planet.

 

To the families of our nine students:

 

The moment you have most anxiously been awaiting is coming in a few short hours. You will pick your child up at the airport and squeeze them tightly, and probably not want to let go. They have had unforgettable, adventurous, and eye-opening experiences. Surely you will have tons of questions for them about what they saw, who they met, and what it all felt like. While I know this group of gregarious (oftentimes loud) students will be overflowing with stories to tell you, pictures to show you, and gifts to shower you with, I also know there may be nuances and complexities of the journey that may be harder to articulate. Dragons programs take us into experiences that aim to foster a deeper understanding and love for our beautiful and fragile planet. This deep dive into the multifaceted and oftentimes painful meanings of what it means to be a human being can bring up emotions and reactions that students were unaware of before their departure from the U.S. I hope you will give them the space to process and open themselves to the ways this experience has inevitably altered their perception of reality.

 

Our students have each experienced homesickness and have had open and honest discussions about their deep love and appreciation for you all. You all are also part of the journey the have each been on. You all too will be impacted by their newfound passions, and their newfound concerns for the state of the world.  I keep in touch with many of my former students, and it is incredible to see how much an experience on a Dragons program can reverberate through a student as they make the journey home. The journey home is probably the most challenging part of this already very challenging experience. The journey home is where the bulk of the learning and growing will occur. We as educators and instructors can only hope we have guided and been supportive in a way that this learning and growing occurs without our 24/7 support.

 

And that’s where I turn my attention to our group of students. You have truly inspired me, made me laugh, made me cry, made me frustrated, and most of importantly allowed me to fall in love with the world again and again. The challenge of thinking about global citizenship, and the impacts of travel were only one piece of the immense challenge you led yourselves through. You also gracefully and bravely led your physical body through the challenges of altitude and trekking, and you led your heart through the challenges of building new relationships, and learning more deeply about yourself.

 

Sidney: I will miss our connection and our conversations about justice and making the world a better place. You are truly an incredible human being that has the ability and drive to collaborate on some of the most pressing global issues. I am confident that as you continue on the path you are on, you will have a positive and lasting impact on so many people.

 

Emma: Your infectious joy for life will take you to many spectacular places. I will miss your willingness and ability to connect to anyone, even despite language barriers. The humor and openness you brought to the group was invaluable.

 

Alex: I feel like I could have a true hiking friend in you, and appreciate your love of the outdoors and the Apus. The wide-eyes you use to look at the world around you will always support you in understanding more.

 

Nina: You inspire those around you to take a deep look into their own lives. And you do this through humor, and through curiosity. I have never met anyone quite like you, and I feel so fortunate to have encountered your brave and inquisitive spirit. Never stop being YOU!

 

Xavier: I will miss your quiet, warm, good-hearted nature. Your gifts of humor, hard work and directness brought so much positivity to this group. Never stop trekking and finding yourself in remote areas. I hope our paths will cross again in the mountains one day.

 

Chelsea: It has been amazing to see how much you have pushed yourself on this trip. You pushed yourself mentally to understand and ask deep questions about the history and current context of this place. You pushed yourself physically to understand the limits of your own body. I will miss conversations with you around self-care, and about knowing what the right path to take is. I am sure you will find that path as you venture beyond high school and into college.

 

Ashley: I rarely meet people who have as much capacity to genuinely love those around them as you do. I will miss your laugh, your storytelling, and your ability to spark my imagination in ways I am still learning about. Thank you for pushing yourself into new spaces, and thank you for being uniquely you.

 

Will: From day one your integrity shone through to our i-team and to the rest of the group. It is rare to meet someone your age that is so grounded, introspective, and reliable. Our group certainly would not have gotten through some of the major challenges if not for your support and care. I will miss your steadfastness, inner depth, and love of the mountains.

 

Eloise: Your ability to overcome challenges and step outside of your comfort zone shone through on this course. Your humor and good-naturedness will be missed, and you were truly a joy to have on course.  You have a light inside you that I know will only shine brighter and brighter as you continue on your path.

 

I would also like to honor Andrew and Michael who were part of our group for over four weeks. The fun, insight, music, and gratitude they brought to our group taught us all a lot. They too were our teachers, our friends, and our fellow group mates. They have been missed during the last weeks of our course, and will always be a part of our group.

 

Raquel, I would also like to say thank you for being a supportive, caring, and real co-instructor. I will miss the insight you bring to complex situations. I will miss laughing with you, and miss the way you enter into relationship with fellow humans. It was truly a joy to work with you this summer!

 

And last, but certainly not least to all of the incredible and dynamic Peruvians we have met and spent time with in the last weeks. From Fabian, long time Dragons contact, to our new home stay families in Urubamba and Santa Clara, to our patient and compassionate mule-drivers in the Cordillera Blanca, we have been extremely fortunate to meet so many inspiring human beings.

 

Our Focus of Inquiry for our Peru six-week course is storytelling and communication. We have heard and experienced so many stories during our short time together. Stories of hardship, of trauma, of joy, of love, of privilege, of gratitude touched us from within our group of travelers. And stories with these same themes touched us from outside our group travelers. Stories have come to us about the magical place called Peru from the high snowy peaks of the Andes, to the dense green forests of the Amazon, to the citadel of mystical Machu Picchu. We have learned from people who inhabit all of these spaces, and thus learned a bit more about what it means to be a human in these often bewildering times.

 

With love and light to all of those who have shared their stories in the past six weeks,

 

Mateo

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Farewell and see you later dear travelers

Matt Lynn,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

  Hello dear Dragons students, friends, and family members,   This evening Jhasmany and I will say goodbye from Cusco to a group of nine intrepid and passionate travelers, and to our patient, kind, and hard-working co-instructor Raquel. When our paths will cross again is unsure, however there is immense joy in the fact that […]

Posted On

08/7/17

Author

Matt Lynn

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    [post_content] => Two days ago, the Peru 6-Week group had the privilege of hiking up to one of the seven wonders of the world: Macchu Picchu… But oddly enough, I walked away wondering if the wonder had been industrialized out of the place.

Hundreds of years ago, Macchu Picchu was a sacred space inhabited by the Inka people. Now, it is inhabited by non-Peruvian tourists, most of whom are white, and I can’t help but wonder what that means.

All of these questions began to whirl around my head as our lovely guide, Siwarquenti, led the group to the closest place to quiet that he could find; which he needed to do in order to perform a Quechua ritual to say thank you to Macchu Picchu, because all indigenous ceremonies are prohibited by the park's rules. The spirit of this forbidden ceremony was filled with gratitude, love, and humility… And as I returned back into the crowded park, I found myself astounded by the lack of these things that was found there.

Just the act of saying thank you to Macchu Picchu helped me to understand that I was a guest there, and that is something for which I must be very grateful… Because after all, it was not made for me, and even so, I still get to experience it as a place that is sacred to so many people and truly like nothing else in the world. In that fact, there is an immense amount of privilege and it feels really wrong not to be conscious of that, yet at the sacred heights of Macchu Picchu, it seems that few people are.

Being a conscious visitor to any place means saying thank you for your chance to be a guest there, but Macchu Picchu seemed to be filled with people who acted as the opposite. Many of us, myself included, are guilty of carrying ourselves from site to site as if we own the place. We tend to walk with a lack of humility that is coupled with a sense of entitlement which all becomes so clear when you think about what Macchu Picchu used to be. But with the way that Macchu Picchu currently is, we may as well own the place, because it is built so that we can go in there and do whatever the heck we want: scream, make jokes, take selfies, tell our friends, check off our wonder of the world box… and there is nothing inherently wrong with these activities, but the thing is that they just aren't what Macchu Picchu was originally made for. And because of that, much of the wonder and value that is attached to it’s history seems to be abscent in present day.

Macchu Picchu is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it taught me that beauty is all the more present when we accept that we are not entitled to it.
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

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Hola From One of My Last Days In Peru

Nina Saligman,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

Two days ago, the Peru 6-Week group had the privilege of hiking up to one of the seven wonders of the world: Macchu Picchu… But oddly enough, I walked away wondering if the wonder had been industrialized out of the place. Hundreds of years ago, Macchu Picchu was a sacred space inhabited by the Inka […]

Posted On

08/7/17

Author

Nina Saligman

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    [post_content] => This trip to Peru has brought me and taught me so much more than I could've ever expected. I have met so many interesting people and have been able to hear so many different stories and I will never forget any of them. I have been able to see the Amazon all the way to the Top of Machu Picchu. The experiences I have gained and the places I have seen here are some that will stay with me forever. I have been able to experience Peru in such a unique way that is so different from the way the typical tourists experiences Peru. From this unique experience I have gained so much knowledge and have been able to change my perspective not only on Peru, but on the world. Traveling in a non traditional way always you to experience the country for everything that it is and not only the attractive, touristy parts. This has been the experience I have had, and I will always be grateful.
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

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My Peru Experience

Eloise Colon,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

This trip to Peru has brought me and taught me so much more than I could’ve ever expected. I have met so many interesting people and have been able to hear so many different stories and I will never forget any of them. I have been able to see the Amazon all the way to […]

Posted On

08/6/17

Author

Eloise Colon

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    [post_content] => It all started at Apu Eco-lodge. After several hours of travel, a broken down bus, spooning on a plane ride with someone I had just met, we have finally arrived. The sweet tea greeted me every morning and the 2am conversations put me to be every night. We shared poems, and stories all the more. I was not read for the treks I would endure.

On our second bus ride we drove through the center of a mountain and it dropped us off in a tiny town called Pomabamba. From there, we trekked up up and up. On our first night of trek, we slept under a glacier and a man came and played us his violin, We all ate and sang and watched the stars. I will never forget the world that was just ours.

The rest of the trek is hard to remember, but mostly because I'm trying to forget. All I can say is, you'll know a 10 when you have it...especially 13 times in one day. When the 8 days were over and we could finally go back, we landed back in our safe-haven, Huaraz. With endless casinos and stories to share, it was really nice to finally be able to breathe the air.

From there we drove for 22 hours, almost ripping each others heads off, into the Amazon. There, I learned the beauty of weaving and stitched together every name and place. Yosalin and Rossy, my host sisters, were woven into the fabrics I made. The stories of the Shipibo stitched, leaving their mark on the fabric, imprinting themselves on me.

2 plane rides later we arrived in Urubamba. Intrinsic beauty blows with every gust of wind through this city. Luisa and Juan Jose spoke of huelgas and peace. There I learned resistance is a song we all march to, and its a song I know every word to. The steady spin of my host brother's homemade fidget spinner taught me joy is inherit. As we sang the Phineas and Ferb theme song day after day, ate tres leches, and danced, I learned the childhood has no age limit. Urubamba is my second home and a place I will revisit.

Macchu Picchu. The old man who chews coca. The inevitable tourist attraction taught me that Peru cannot be explored in the 4 days that people spend to visit one site. The whistling birds and the perfectly placed rocks kept the Incan secrets sacred, protecting them from gringo tourists who tormented llamas for selfies. Macchu Picchu taught me that imperialism is a 21 century problem.

Peru, you have showed me the inexplicable beauties in the delicate eyes of every one I meet. You have showed me glaciers, mountains, forests, and the true meaning of fulfillment.

I. Love. Peru.
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

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Not a Single Story

Sidney Velasquez,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

It all started at Apu Eco-lodge. After several hours of travel, a broken down bus, spooning on a plane ride with someone I had just met, we have finally arrived. The sweet tea greeted me every morning and the 2am conversations put me to be every night. We shared poems, and stories all the more. […]

Posted On

08/6/17

Author

Sidney Velasquez

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    [post_content] => Well...this is it. 6 weeks ago I had no idea what to expect from this adventure. I knew I would see a lot, learn a lot, hike a lot, and encounter countless other adventures. However, I did not know what I would gain when I first stepped off the plane into the cold grey fog that enveloped Lima. Now, almost 41 days later, I can say with certainty that I learned and discovered an enormous amount about both myself and Peru. This was the first trip I have taken where I really went outside my comfort zone, I no longer had the comfort of having everyone around me speak English, no longer had the comfort of a lavish room and tv. This trip brought me deeper into the country than I could have ever imagined. Throughout my entire life I have had the privelege of being able to travel all over the world with my family. Yet, I still felt that I was missing some important part of each country and place that I visited. It was not until a few days ago that I realised how blinded I had been through my previous travels. All my life, I stayed in the nicest hotels, had tour guides that showed me and my family around, and cars to take us to each location. All of these amenities sheltered me from the actual life of the people and the place. In Peru I was finally able to be part of the place I was in. I was able to connect with people in Spanish, able to navigate various cities and towns with no guide, and most importantly have an organic expereince that could not be replicated by just having the resources to do certain things. Dragons has changed my perspective on travelling in a way that I cannot fully comprehend yet, however, I know that it will impact my future adventures and will help me influence and learn from others.

Hasta la Vista,

Alex
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

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The End?

Alex Buckfire,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

Well…this is it. 6 weeks ago I had no idea what to expect from this adventure. I knew I would see a lot, learn a lot, hike a lot, and encounter countless other adventures. However, I did not know what I would gain when I first stepped off the plane into the cold grey fog […]

Posted On

08/6/17

Author

Alex Buckfire

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    [post_date] => 2017-08-06 19:28:57
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    [post_content] => 

The day before we reached Machu Picchu, I was walking Andrew Forsthoefel-style along train tracks with Raquel, one of the instructors.  At one point, Raquel said to me, “It’s interesting hearing all these varieties of languages of accents.”  We’d heard a variety indeed.  Just during that day we’d heard French, German, Deutsch, Spanish, Chinese, and English from Australia, Britain, and America.  The influx of all these foreign languages and cultures was pretty cool, but it’s also quite sad because it has worn away the culture that was once here.

The next morning while surrounded by misty clouds and the sun coming up over Machu Picchu, some tourists from Israel repeatedly crossed into restricted areas and taunted the llamas with bananas just to take a photo with the llamas with their selfie stick.  I was disgusted, but then I realized that I’m not much different than them.  I too am a foreigner who speaks a different language and was taking photo after photo of the ruins of an ancient and complex civilization.  I like to think of myself as a curious traveler and viewed those people as ignorant tourists, but in reality, how different are the two?  How distinct is the line between traveler and tourist, and is there even a line at all?  Later that day during lunch, we partook in a ceremony with our guide Fabian, thanking Machu Picchu for our health and safety.  How many people come to a place like Machu Picchu and give thanks like we did with Fabian and how many people come obnoxiously waving selfie sticks?  I’m afraid the latter is much more common.

Being at Machu Picchu, it was hard to miss how much of the indigenous culture had been sacrificed for foreigners.  For example, the language of the Inka and most prominent indigenous language in South America is Quechua.  Yet every sign at Machu Picchu labeled things in two languages: English and Spanish.  English always came first and was larger than Spanish, and Quechua was nowhere to be seen in the entire park.  It’s a shame how much the local culture has given to outsider and how much outsiders have taken from the local culture.  Attending Machu Picchu was almost like seeing a re-enactment of the conquistadors arriving in South America.

 

I repeat the question I asked earlier, how many people come to a place like Machu Picchu and give thanks like we did with Fabian and how many people come obnoxiously waving selfie sticks?  Or simpler than that, how many people are forced to give like the indigenous people and how many people unconsciously take and take and take?  What’s scary is that I’m not sure who I or who anyone is more like, the taker or the giver, and I’m afraid the taker is more common.  How can this change?  Frankly, I have no idea, but I do know that when I get home I’m going to throw away my selfie stick.

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Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

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Giving and Taking

Will LeVan,Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

The day before we reached Machu Picchu, I was walking Andrew Forsthoefel-style along train tracks with Raquel, one of the instructors.  At one point, Raquel said to me, “It’s interesting hearing all these varieties of languages of accents.”  We’d heard a variety indeed.  Just during that day we’d heard French, German, Deutsch, Spanish, Chinese, and […]

Posted On

08/6/17

Author

Will LeVan

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    [post_date] => 2017-08-04 17:46:27
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    [post_content] => 
When I reflect on my experience in Urubamba, pure happiness comes to mind. My homestay family ran a kindergarden, so I spent ten days in a home filled with joy, love, and screaming children. Nevertheless, my family taught me a lot about the difference in family dynamic in Peru versus in the US.
In Peru, my mother lived with her in-laws. Both couples showed love to me and each other with both actions and words. The simple washing of the dishes after dinner could demonstrate respect beyond linguistic capacity.
In the US, my familial relationships are somewhat limited by our extensive use of language. Our ability to communicate through talking often hinders our ability to demonstrate emotions through actions.
Living in Urubamba showed me the extent to which actions speak. Though my Spanish is limited, I was able to develop a profound relationship through the actions that I chose to take.
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

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Urubamba

Emma Bailey,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week

Description

When I reflect on my experience in Urubamba, pure happiness comes to mind. My homestay family ran a kindergarden, so I spent ten days in a home filled with joy, love, and screaming children. Nevertheless, my family taught me a lot about the difference in family dynamic in Peru versus in the US. In Peru, […]

Posted On

08/4/17

Author

Emma Bailey

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