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Saludos!

Dear fellow adventurers,

I hope you are as excited as I am to explore the amazing country of Guatemala! My name is Jochen, and together with Itzá and Este, I will be an instructor on our upcoming program. We are working hard to prepare an unforgettable experience for all of us and we are super excited to go on this adventure with you! Together, we will explore, learn, and grow – from the people, the environment, each other, and ourselves.

On our course, expect to see lush mountains and valleys, volcanoes, remote villages, sprawling, colorful markets, super friendly people, incredibly crafted trajes (the traditional dress of the indigenous people), and a host of different cultures. Guatemala, like no other country I have been to (especially considering its size), is extremely beautiful, diverse, and controversial. You’ll literally see and experience something new every other hour, something I can’t get bored of even after years of living here. While sometimes challenging, this ever-changing environment also provides for endless learning and almost dreamlike experiences.

Let me give you an example: After living for over four years in Panajachel on Lake Atitlán, I went to the town of San Lucas Tolimán on the same lake for the first time with our Dragons summer program in July – and I fell in love with the lake all over again. Just a few kilometers across the lake from Panajachel, San Lucas has a very different climate. Because of the clouds rising from the Pacific coast, it is much more humid year round and therefore much greener. I just couldn’t get enough of walking around the lush vegetation in the early mornings, watching the mist rise from the crystal-clear water of the lake and taking a quick, refreshing dip. I am sure that we will have plenty of these simply beautiful experiences as well!

However, amongst all the natural beauty, there are many marginalized communities, some of which we will visit and learn from. This can be a challenge, physically and emotionally, but I think it is very important for us as global citizens to look at both sides and to understand the world’s complexity, to reflect upon it, and to hopefully become better people. I really enjoy traveling slowly because I believe it is the only way to get to know a place beneath the surface.

I have lived at the shores of beautiful lake Atitlán for the past 4 ½ years. There I taught social sciences at a small high school before becoming a Dragons instructor this summer. The whole school has only about 70 students, and the biggest grade consists of 12 students – very similar to a Dragons group. I taught world history, but my favorite subject was Latin American and Guatemalan history. As all history, it is very complex and tragic, but also very interesting. I’m really passionate about this, so if you have any questions or would like recommendations for any type of resources (books, videos, movies, music…), please don’t hesitate to ask!

I am 32 years old and originally from Germany. I grew up in a little town surrounded by forest, where I spend a lot of my free time (I am sure this is where my love for nature is rooted.) After high school, I studied World History, German Literature, and Middle Eastern Studies. I have travelled quite a bit, mostly in Europe, the Middle East, and Central and North America. I also lived in Egypt and Lebanon for a few month each and in Vancouver, British Columbia for one year. I love to go hiking, read a good novel, swim in the lake, write, paint, draw, and be with my friends.

Okay, now I have talked a lot about myself – but how about yourself? I am so excited to get to know you all! A great way to start is to post a little something (or a lot) here on the Yak Board. This is also a good place for any questions you might have about our course or Guatemala in general. You can contact me directly through my personal email as well.

See you in just a few of weeks! Nos vemos en unas pocas semanas!

Jochen

Instructor

[email protected]