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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Old Ways Won´t Open New Doors

There have been many times in my life where I have an experience that I believe will change the way I live, the way I think, or the way I act, but more often than not I immediately regress back into the lifestyle, thought process, and actions I put into practice beforehand. As we transition from our three week homestay in Tiquipaya into a month of travel throughout Bolivia, however, I am more confident than ever before that my three months spent on this Dragons program are going to dramatically alter the way I see the world and myself.

I would say that it really hit me that this was the case when Julianne gave our group a charla on development, with a particular focus on Latin America. Despite the fact that I missed half of the presentation making my way back from the hospital in Cochabamba (damn amoebas), I came into a talk that was not only extremely passionate and poignant, but one that opened my eyes to the vast expanse of information I still need to learn if I wish to be an informed citizen of my own country as well as the world. Too often in the past I have found myself speaking on issues that I know little to nothing about and acting as if I am a well-informed scholar on the topic. Among others, Julianne really showed me that knowledge is the most important tool for being able to understand and experience everything a place has to offer.

The second way that I believe that the changes I am seeing in myself are here to stay has to do with the way this Dragons trip has taught me to do more with less. Less money, less clothes, less connectivity, and certainly less consumption. As each day passes and is filled with wonderful, fulfilling experiences, I realize that the amount of money I spent to do what I did, the clothes I wore, the number of likes I got when I posted a picture about it, or the stuff I got from it were not what made it special. In fact, the opposite is true. Money does not generate happiness, and certainly likes on Instagram do not either. As I wear roughly the same clothing every day and consume less in general, I have come to realize that life is far too short to be caught up in the vicious cycle of consume, share, consume more, and repeat. More than ever I just want to live freely and enjoy everything I can.

So, even though we have roughly a month left, I want to say thank you to Dragons. You have already taught me more in two months than I thought possible. Thank you Julianne for teaching me so much in an hour and a half. And thank you to Jeff Wagner for teaching me to just get out there and do it.

¨Very little is needed to create a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.¨ – Marcus Aurelius