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

Hi! + FOI Assignment

1. Hey whats up! My name is Olivia and I’m born and raised in New York City. I just graduated from a public high school in the Chelsea neighborhood and I am taking a gap year before attending Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA next year. I wanted to take a gap year so I could catch a break from academics and experience more of the world around me. I love to travel and this program seemed like a good fit because I have never been to Peru or Bolivia. I’m beyond grateful to have the privilege of being able to travel to these incredible countries and experience the different landscapes and cities with my own eyes. Also, I have always wanted to speak another language and I have been taking Spanish classes for years so I decided to stick with it and try to become fluent.

This summer, I travelled around Europe with my best friends after graduation, using money I earned from my after school job. For the past months I have mainly been working at my job and hanging out with friends and family and enjoying all the downtime at home. Since last summer, I have been working during the summers and after school in the office at The Art Students League. The Art Students League in New York City is an art school open to the public and people of all ages. This has been an awesome work experience for me and on top of that I get to take free art classes, which is the best because I’m really into painting, drawing and photography. I’m also really into most kinds of music and its a rare moment if I don’t have my headphones in.

I have loved growing up in New York City and it is a huge part of who I am.  However, I also have developed a strong affinity to the wild. There is something extremely special and heartwarming, at least for me, about being in an environment so natural and hidden from the larger world community and all its corruption. I am so excited about the incredible journey we are all about to embark on!

2.   Individualist cultures, such as most of the Western world, emphasize personal achievement regardless of group goals. While collectivist cultures, such as a lot of the Eastern world, emphasize group goals above individual needs or wants.

3.   Even though I grew up in New York City, a melting pot of people with different cultures and backgrounds, I have found that the culture I experienced is more of an individualist one. I see that individual’s wants and goals are prioritized over group success. People around me are more concerned with individuality, originality and their own success as opposed to bettering their communities.

4.  From a small amount of research it seems to me that Bolivia is a collectively oriented country. They place a lot of emphasis on family and in particular respect to their elders and ancestors. One of the key traits of a collectivist culture is that the rights of families, communities, and the collective supersede those of the individual and from what I can tell, especially the more indigenous  communities in Bolivia expect a collaborative approach to life and respect for elders. They govern their society in a way that places familial goals over those of the individual.

5.  The natural world and all the animals, mountains and streams are an essential aspect to any community whether individualistic or collectivist. Humans and societies adapt based on the environment they are in automatically making the natural world an essential part of the collective. A quote from The Hold Life Has that embodies this theory is, “The earth disciplines us”. We depend on earths commodities in so many ways whether or not the society’s culture is based in individualism or collectivism.

6.   The term ethnocentrism is essentially the act of making judgements about another culture based on preconceived notions and values from your own culture. It seems difficult to be able to approach another culture without making comparisons to your own, however being aware of your comparisons, and being able to shed preconceived notions and coming to an understanding of difference I believe is key to an immersive experience.