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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.


Hey guys!

My name is Ned and I’m from Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.  I graduated from high school in May, and I will be going to the University of Virginia in the fall of 2018.

I played soccer, tennis, and a year of lacrosse in high school, but I love pretty much anything that involves staying active (swimming, running, hiking, skiing, etc…).  I’ve done a lot of hiking in the past, but never really any serious backpacking, so I’m really looking forward to giving it a shot with you all.  I worked as a lifeguard this past summer, and spent a lot of time with friends before everybody left for college.

I didn’t have to look far to find a connection to Bolivia and Peru around me.  In fact, the connection has been a part of my life since I was born.  Lilet, the woman who has been babysitting/cleaning/caring for my family for 18 years is from Cochabamba, Bolivia.  When I was first looking at gap year programs, one of my initial draws to the Andes and Amazon program was the fact that I would have the chance to see Bolivia.  After ultimately telling Lilet that I had signed up for the program, she told me all about her favorite spots in Bolivia, and continues to give me tips on how to deal with the altitude and navigate through daily life.  Like Brian, I also learned that there is a pretty substantial community of Bolivian-Americans just 20 minutes north of my house.  Unfortunately, I don’t think our group will have the chance to visit Cochabamba, but there are so many other awesome spots we will get to experience.

When considering what home is to me, I’d have to agree with Liza in that the people are more important than the place.  Despite living in Maryland, home for me is wherever I’m with my family and friends (as cliche as it sounds).  Spending time with my older brother and younger sister is important to me, and I’d feel more at home with them in a foreign country than I would alone in my own house.

Everything is definitely starting to feel real as we are only a few days away from leaving, and I’m really looking forward to meeting you all soon!



(Just a heads up: I’m helping out to update Dragons on how our travels are going between Miami and La Paz, so on Friday I’ll be making sure we do things like take a group photo at the departure gate and I’ll also collect everybody’s passport before we leave Miami.)