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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

¡Hola Queridos dragones!

¡Hola a [email protected]!

I was contemplating what to say to you all in this letter of intro as I was making my way back to the U.S. to visit my parents in Indianapolis. I was welcomed by a few inches of snow, a warm fire in the fireplace, and friends and family that also help to warm the chill of the winter days. For me, home is on the road these days, which makes my work with Dragons extra special because I feel as though we can create a connection to home in every aspect of our journey together.

Although I just began working with Dragons last summer, one of my homes is in South America. I grew up in Bolivia and in Argentina and have carried the spirit of these countries with me ever since. When I moved Stateside at the age of 12, I knew that I wanted to continue learning about the South—the history, culture, languages, etc. I’ve been able to do this in most of my personal and professional endeavors, but can practice this even more in this type of work.

My professional background is as an educator (my undergrad and Masters are both in teaching with an emphasis in interculturalism and cross cultural perspectives) and I enjoy appreciating and questioning what is around me and sharing this appreciation and questioning with students like yourself! Sometimes it is only when we get outside of our comfort zones and the places that we have always called home that we learn about ourselves and the world around us with much more intention and curiosity. I know that the semester that is just ahead of you is something that might be quite new and took a lot of courage to sign up for. I invite you to dive into this new experience head on and I hope that Sandy, Erick, Zack, and I can help you with this new challenge as best we can!

Apart from being an educator I also enjoy stories and poetry and I dabble in the creation of the same. This past semester I ran across a book of legends of Peru and I was struck by one that I would like to share with you now. It is a short Andean legend that involves Tata Inti (Father Sun) and Mama Quilla (Mother Moon). There was once a ceremony in honor of Tata Inti and during this ceremony the sun talked about the significance of the light. Tata Inti said that he would put a damsel in the sky, named Quilla, La Luna, which would reflect his light during the nights so that there would never be absolute darkness. She would meditate for seven days in silence in order to re-energize and be sure that her feminine energies would remain sacred. During those seven days of rest, the stars, who are the brothers and sisters of the sun would help to illuminate the sky, he assured. Without light, darkness is useless. The darkness, even in semi-darkness or penumbra, is important because it gives significance to the light. Without darkness, the stars or the beautiful moon would have no reason for existing. This is why the darkness provides the balance that is just right.

You will find that in Andean cosmovision, there is an important duality, a yin and yang, an equilibrium that is always important to maintain. In our first exploration of this belief, I’d like you all to reflect on what brings you to this new adventure. This darkness is what is at any beginning. And this light is our understanding, our knowledge-seeking, and our growth as students of life.

This new beginning that you are about to embark on is one of mystery and challenge, one that requires inner and outer strength, one that will be both transformative and an act of preservation.

I am excited to meet you all and learn about how your light shines. As Zack, Sandy, and Erick also mentioned, you are more than welcome to email me at any time: [email protected].

¡Abrazos y Feliz Año Nuevo!

Raquel

“Cada persona brilla con luz propia entre todas las demás. No hay dos fuegos iguales. Hay fuegos grandes y fuegos chicos y fuegos de todos los colores. Hay gente de fuego sereno, que ni se entera del viento, y hay gente de fuego loco, que llena el aire de chispas. Algunos fuegos, fuegos bobos, no alumbran ni queman; pero arden la vida con tantas ganas que no se puede mirarlos sin parpadear, y quien se acerca, se enciende.”

“Each person shines with his or her own light. No two flames are alike. There are big flames and little flames, flames of every color. Some people’s flames are so still they don’t even flicker in the wind, while others have wild flames that fill the air with sparks. Some foolish flames neither burn nor shed light, but others blaze with life so fiercely that you can’t look at them without blinking, and if you approach you shine in the fire.”

Eduardo Galeano