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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Your Pre-course Assignment and FOI

Morning everyone,

We hope your course-prep is going smoothly. Be on the lookout for emails or calls from us this week, because we are all hoping to get in touch with you soon to chat over the phone. While a conversation with one of us instructors will help you be more prepared for the upcoming semester, we will also ask you to take some individual initiative to get ready.

Below you will find instructions for your first assignment, which we would like you to complete before September 8th. First, take a look below at our Focus of Inquiry (FOI), which is a threaded theme that we will weave through our course. Aspects of your assignment will be related to our FOI.

FOI: Understanding Collective Oriented Cultures

Every culture has collective and individualistic aspects. Some cultures, are understood as being more individualistic (North America, Western Europe), while others more collectivist (much of Asia and Latin America). While labeling any group of people with either of these terms typically oversimplifies their culture, they are useful ideas when learning about how other people experience the world.

During this course, we will be engaging with many communities that maintain a strong sense of the collective. Their communal outlook can be noticed in their organization and government as well within family structures. While it can be easy to appreciate these communal structures, it may be difficult to truly empathize and understand these perspectives for folks who hail from a more individual oriented culture. By beginning to understand ethnocentrism and how it affects our ability to empathize with those who are different us, we will work to understand how communal values shape the political, economic, and social realities of Bolivia and Peru.

Pre-Course Assignment (to be posted on the Yak Board by September 8th)

1. Introduce yourself: Tell us a bit about your culture, what you care about, and what you have been up to lately, and why you chose this program. We look forward to reading!

2.   Describe a few characteristics of individualist and collectivist cultures. Google Scholar, APA Psych NET, or plain old Wiki should give you some ideas if you are unfamiliar.

3.   Please answer: How is your culture collective and/or individual?

4.   Find out something about Bolivia that supports or discredits the idea that it is a collectively oriented country.

5.   Read Chapter 1 of “The Hold Life Has” and respond to the following question:

– Can collectivist values extend to the natural world? Can animals, mountains, and streams be part of the collective? What details from the chapter support your ideas?

6.   Finally, research the term ethnocentrism. How does your approach to this course/traveling through Latin America ethnocentric (deep)?

Thanks for reading and diving in to this first assignment! Keep an eye out for communications from us (its probably already been sent out to you :).