Dear friends, travelers, dreamers, families, and fellow adventurers,
¡Bienvenid@s a un verano inolvidable en América del Sur! I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying the spring season. Wherever you are, I imagine hints of summer are in the air and anticipation is building for your time abroad. I wish you a warm welcome to your journey with Dragons, and congratulate you for signing up for a program of this kind. By now school is wrapping up, summer is around the corner, and a magical and transformative adventure with Dragons awaits.
As you begin to prepare for your summer in South America I invite you to use this space, the Yak page, to begin to build community with your instructors and fellow students and voice any questions or concerns you may have. Both in the pre-course process and during course this will be an important venue for getting to know each other, sharing information, and then translating your journey to friends and family back home. In the coming days and weeks, discussions will begin to build and your instructors will offer advice for course preparation regarding packing, recommended readings, the itinerary, and other tips to help you feel prepared for our time abroad.
Your instructors for this summer are incredible! Collectively, they bring many years of in-country experience, are seasoned guides and educators, and as you will discover over the course of your journey, are some of the most thoughtful, kind, and inspiring folks in our community. Your instructors will be introducing themselves here and we encourage you to do the same.
Dragons prefers to keep our hands in the dirt, allowing us to sculpt courses that represent our unique goals of profound cross-cultural learning and self-cultivation. When it’s all said and done, and you finally gather in late June at your course’s point of departure, you should know that you are about to embark on an adventure that is intensely personalized and has been many months, and in many cases, years in the making!
The Yak board is the most appropriate place to address your pre-course questions and concerns. We hope that you will discover the magic of this forum (have a look at past courses to get a sense of how this venue can be used), and learn to love it! It’s a powerful tool for communication and community building, and once you head into the field, it will undoubtedly become the default homepage of your parents and friends at home – all of those who WISH they could be out there with you!
Bolivia and Peru are known for being lands of extremes; massive snow-capped peaks descend at an astonishing rate into the lush lowland tropics, where rivers function as the only roads and jungle communities live much as they did 500 years ago. The past and present exist alongside one another in a union that is at once exhilarating and at times bewildering, offering a unique window into a world that is changing rapidly and yet deeply linked to traditional systems of cultural exchange, indigenous identity, and connection to the natural world. You will have the opportunity to witness diverse facets of the Andean world, drawing out lessons and experiences with global relevance. You will also learn valuable things about yourself in the process.
The mountains and valleys, villages and striking landscapes of Bolivia and Peru have offered me some of the most profound learning and revelations of my life. I first came to the Andes as a young girl and have been captivated by this part of the world ever since. Bolivia became my permanent home in 2009, and this work continues to nourish my enduring passion for learning, adventure, and personal discovery. I look forward to each of you discovering your own love for the unique sights and sounds of the Andean landscape.
I have been closely involved with our South America programming for several years, both as an in-field instructor and as the Program Director. Feel free to be in touch with me at any time with questions or concerns about your program, or post your queries here on the Yak board. This summer I will be in our Boulder office, supporting all of our Latin America groups as your journeys unfold.
A magical world awaits you; a world of endless beauty and adventure, of life-long friendships and personal discovery, of shamans and ceremony, jungle and laughter, of dizzying peaks and profound questions. This world awaits you, but it is also a journey of your own making. I want to encourage you to make the most of this dazzling opportunity. Your time on course will be both a gift and a challenge. It is my hope that each of us may embrace this gift with humility and gratitude, with an open heart and eager mind, and with intentionality for a powerful and successful experience. I assure you, you will not regret it.
Latin America Program Director