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Photo by Ryan Kost, Andes & Amazon Semester.

Introduction

Hey! I’m Noah Daniel, and I was born and raised in Los Angeles. One of the things I most appreciate about this city is its diversity, with respect to both its broad and niche communities. Exposure to a vast constellation of distinct perspectives, whether derived from experience with race, religion, money (or lack thereof), art, politics, something else, a little of everything, or absolutely nothing (frighteningly popular), is what’s fueled my desire to widen my own global perspective. Here, you’ll find stock market enthusiasts living next to musicians, doctors, athletes, and rabbis. It’s fascinating to force yourself into a direct encounter with the unknown; living in a city as all-encompassing as LA has helped me overcome biases, misconceptions, and fears about the world.

I love music. Though it began as a hobby, music has become an integral part of my life and a fundamental piece of who I am. I have dedicated the most time to playing guitar and studying theory, but I also play drums and some piano, I enjoy producing, and I could convince a non-musician that I play flute and bass. Music is what keeps me sane. It’s how I process emotion, and it’s how I express myself. I’ve never been great with words or felt comfortable articulating myself verbally; music has always been an outlet through which I am able to share what I consider to be a sacred piece of myself, in a way which is pretty inexplicable. I’ve found that my brain is essentially dominated by logic; I refuse to make emotional decisions, I am unhealthily conscious of making logical fallacies, and I try to never believe anything I can’t support with concrete evidence. Music, however, is entirely illogical. A string vibrates, that vibration travels through air, your brain interprets it as a pitch, and you feel something. It is beautiful simply because it is. Music is a personal refuge – a momentary relief from my own constantly logical-dominated brain. I play what I hear, simply because I love to, and I can.

I have a passion for thinking. Tinkering with outlandish ideologies or various types of puzzles – be them logical, mathematical, philosophical, moral (which usually end up being philosophical), social, political, etc – are some of my favorite things to do. This manifests itself in many ways. It fuels my love of good literature (though cliche, some of my favorites include Jane Eyre, the Plague, and the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock); it traps me in front of my computer, watching videos and reading articles which explain scientific phenomena; it has made me a proud existentialist; and it’s why I love productive debating, really about anything that makes me think. One of my favorite subjects, which I debate over with my fellow artist friends, is the paradox of art. How can artistic value be defined? If a masterful painting or composition utilizes complex artistic theory and science to convey a specific message, yet evokes less meaningful emotion in someone than a red square – which is more valuable? In a society where transactions are black and white, how do you put a fair price on art?

Beyond these, my time is pretty evenly distributed among the following activities: playing Nintendo games with my close friends, spending time with my girlfriend, playing with my dog, and watching Parks and Recreation.

I am excited to try Papas Rellenas. Fortunately enough, my girlfriend – who is also vegetarian – has some experience with Bolivian cuisine, and cannot speak highly enough of this dish. It consists of balls of mashed potatoes, fried to create a golden-brown crust and filled with egg or cheese.

In order to prepare myself mentally and emotionally, I’ve been getting into Bolivian music! One of my favorites that I’ve found is this one: https://youtu.be/l7U_tnxdPq8. I love the rhythmic structure of Bolivian music, and the way it doesn’t fall into the typical Western grid. The instrumentation, of course, is both fascinating and beautiful, and the joy on their faces as they play is radiant. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have, and I am incredibly excited to delve deeper into Bolivia’s music and its culture as a whole.