¡Hola a todxs!
This Yak is about the thematic content and specific lines of questioning we will explore during our 6-week journey to Peru. Our Focus of Inquiry for this course will be “Building Bridges and Making Connections” between four main components: 1) mind and body; 2) our group; 3) diverse cultures we identify with and encounter; and 3) humans and the environment.
Every experience, whether traveling or at home, begins with ourselves. Sometimes we operate in auto-pilot and develop habits which become ingrained in our personalities. Travel helps us break out of these unconscious routines and critically examine our deeper intentions, aspirations, and values. Throughout this course, we will strengthen our awareness of mind-body connection by engaging our physical senses in sacred landscapes like Apu Ausangate, Nacion Q’eros and Cusco while observing our psychological responses to both the familiar and unknown. Not only will we stretch beyond our comfort zones during rugged travel in high altitudes and extreme climates, but we will also practice mindfulness, self-care and mutual support to maximize personal safety and well-being.
In addition to connecting with ourselves, we will each contribute towards creating unity and a team approach within our group, based on the foundations of respect, inclusion, openness, and collaboration. Through structured and spontaneous discussions, educational activities, and play, the group will serve as a platform for sharing ideas, emotions, epiphanies, and unforgettable memories. Each member will enhance their capacity for leadership by working together to organize local meals and transportation, plan and coordinate navigation to destinations, and embark upon expeditions to some of the most beautiful and remote areas on the planet.
As we connect with the multiple identities and experiences of our group, we will also build bridges of understanding across diverse cultures in the Andes and Amazon. By participating in homestays in Q’eros, Huacaria and Urubamba, we will immerse in the daily life of families and communities as well as develop communication skills through language classes, experiential learning and independent study projects. Not only will we reflect upon our own perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes in relation to cross-cultural interactions, but we will practice suspending judgement and verifying our interpretations when listening to stories we encounter.
Finally, while traversing mountain highlands and tropical rainforests we will unplug and reconnect with Pachamama – the natural world and its elements. Visiting protected national parks and sites of cultural heritage will enable us to learn about conservation efforts, biodiversity and sustainability from global and indigenous perspectives. Interacting with local representatives and community members will enlighten us about development issues related to resource exploitation, human rights and environmental justice. Camping, hiking and exploring the wilderness will allow us to live close to the earth and witness ecological interdependence first-hand, providing insight on how to leave no trace and minimize harmful impacts on the environment.
We are so eager to delve into this Focus of Inquiry with you this summer in Peru and can’t wait to connect with each of you soon!