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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Instructor Introduction

Hola Compañeros!

Congratulations on being a part of a diverse community of travelers, educators, seekers, and cultural ambassadors!  Wherever these days of winter in the Northern Hemisphere finds you right now, I hope you’re staying inspired and are in good spirits.

In just a few weeks, we will all be sipping steaming cups of coca tea, hiking across stunning Andean landscapes, sharing conversations in the thin mountain air, and exchanging fresh encounters with our host communities and families in Peru.  As voyagers and travelers, we all bring something very unique to our journey. Each one of us have made many many decisions that have ultimately shaped the river-course of life, and this is a beautiful thing.  I’m looking forward eagerly to hearing your stories, sharing a little of mine, and learning together of the myriad lessons that Peru has to teach us.

My strand of the river starts as a teenager, growing up in my native country of Nepal to a Filipina mother and Nepali father.  My childhood was marked significantly by the “People’s War” that was brewing in Nepal. Our family immigrated to the US when I was sixteen, setting the stage for a dramatic cross-cultural experience.  After managing to stay in and out of trouble, I ended up graduating from UCLA with a degree in anthropology.  After college, I felt a deep yearning to learn about the world I lived in.  I took a big risk – I bought a bicycle and turned my handlebars south from Los Angeles.  That began a journey that lasted nearly two years, and after 23,000 kilometers, I arrived in Tierra del Fuego, the bottom tip of South America with a sore butt and wide smiles.  Along the way, I lived with local peoples, camped on different patches of earth, and set a foundation for my adult life to learn about how I can most authentically interweave my place in this stunningly beautiful world.

For me, Dragons has provided the perfect vehicle to merge the global and the local.  I’ve worn many hats at Dragons: as an Instructor, Program Director, and Staff Trainer.  It has been about four years now that I have left a full-time post with the beloved staff community at Dragons, and these days, I enjoy working occasionally, instructing select trips and contributing as an instructor on our Educator programs.  Most of my time these days is occupied by my job at the Colorado Mountain School as a certified mountain guide, an avalanche educator, and avalanche safety forecaster.  Through all of these endeavors – whether on a remote peak in Alaska or in the throes of a cultural exchange in the Andes, I’ve found that discovery and adventure lies at the heart of everything that we do; discovery of the world we live in, and perhaps more importantly, an adventurous and honest self-inquiry into that trackless wilderness that is our selves.

I want to thank you for making the choice to join us on this program. Our hope is that this journey will challenge you to step outside your comfort zone in a big way, and as you embrace that, I hope that you too can revel in the fruits of those learning encounters. This is going to be your journey as much as it will be mine, and I look forward to what we can craft together.

I can’t wait to meet you in a few short weeks, to discuss our hopes and goals and views of the world, and simply have a lot of FUN on our journey together.

Un abrazo fuerte,
Japhy