The great adventure is less than one month away – can you believe it? We are super excited and are working each day to make sure this trip will be an unforgettable experience for all of us. But there is one thing even more important than a great itinerary or lessons: the connection we all will have as a group. The first step to really become a high-functioning team is to get to know each other beyond basic biographical information like our names, where we’re from, what school(s) we have attended, or how old we are (though that is important too!).
To achieve this, we would like you to write an introduction and post it as your first Yak on our Yak board along with a photo or two. Here are some guiding questions: Who are you? What excites you? Why did you choose to go to Guatemala? What do you expect from the course? What, if anything, do you know or have experienced about Guatemala or Central America? What type of group culture would you like our group to start to build? How do you like to connect to others and be supported by them? Is there anything that you are nervous about? What interesting travel, hiking, camping, or group experiences have you had in the past? Tal vez ya puedes escribir un poco en Español!?
Speaking of Spanish: I’m sure you can’t wait to finally speak your first words in this beautiful language – or to use it again if you already know a bit. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn and speak once we are in Guatemala, but why not get a head start? We strongly recommend you try duolingo, an app that helps you in a fun way with the first steps of learning Spanish. There is also plenty of great music to get you in the mood. I personally really like Calle 13 and Bomba Estereo.
I also want to encourage you to watch the documentary “When the Mountains Tremble.” It’s a bit heavy, but gives a good overview of Guatemala’s long civil war, the repercussions of which are still felt in some of the communities which we will visit and the country as a whole. When you watch the film, you’ll meet Rigoberta Menchú, a Quiche Mayan woman who grew up very close to San Juan Cotzal, where we’ll stay about halfway through the course. She wrote an autobiography, telling the story of her people’s plight, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. Here are some passages from her book.
Finally, we, the instructors, will reach out to you over the phone in the coming days. We know that you’ve already been talking with folks at Dragons, but now you can talk with the people you’re actually going to be traveling with. We’d like to hear your voices, give you a chance to ask questions, and get to know each other a little. Please check your email so we can schedule a call.
We look forward to reading your introductions on our Yak board (don’t forget to include a nice photo or two!) and we look forward to seeing you in person in just over four weeks!
Jochen, Katherine and Parker