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Instructor Introduction

Queridxs estudiantes,

I am writing to you today from my parents’ beautiful old farmhouse in Western Germany, sitting at the fireplace and contemplating the last couple of months. Although I have lived most of the last decade away from home, I still cherish those few weeks a year coming back to friends and family. It gives me the time to really sit back and reflect on everything I’ve seen, heard, and experienced over the years living in Central America – and then, long before finding answers and with many new questions, I long to get out there again, ready to explore more, to connect with new people, and to understand more profoundly what is in front of me.

In just about six weeks, we will all meet in Guatemala and get to know a country and its people very close to my heart. When I first moved there, in 2013, I knew little about this place. Now, I call it my new home. For most of the last six years, I lived at the shore of beautiful lake Atitlán. There, I taught Guatemalan and world history at a small international high school before becoming part of the Dragons community. Atitlán and adjacent regions are the Mayan heartland of today where indigenous languages, cultures, and traditions are alive and omnipresent. To learn here, we often only have to observe. (Which, actually, I think is true anywhere.) I have also spent many days exploring the surrounding mountains and volcanoes – be ready for some stunning landscapes and incredible views while learning from experienced local guides!

A couple of months ago, I moved to Guatemala City, the vibrant capital – and again, I find myself watching and struggling to understand, and again I am learning at an incredible pace just by observing and talking to people (well, and a little reading). While many avoid Guatemala City because of its bad reputation, I have not had any bad experiences. On the contrary: People are just as welcoming and open-minded as in the rest of the country, and it is so inspiring to see them overcome the many obstacles history and society has put in front of them, whether they are related to economic disadvantages, racism, sexism, corrupt politics, or all of the above.

Because all of this can be overwhelming, I intentionally take time to reflect, be it at my parents’ place or through writing short stories or by painting abstract paintings. During our course, we will see and experience many new things, and we will also take time to dig deeper and to understand why things are the way are. In the long run, I really hope this will inspire some version of infinite curiosity in all of you, a form of observing, questioning, understanding, and observing again, of learning, that is so fulfilling to me.

Lastly, I am extremely excited to meet all of you! It is one of the many beautiful things about being a Dragons instructor to meet all these wonderful human beings from around the world, form a real team and often become friends for life. So please, let us know who you are and write an introduction here on the yak board. What is important to you? What are your dreams for this course? For the year? For life? I can’t wait to read all about you!

Please let us know if you have any questions. You can post them here on the Yak board if they are relevant for everyone or connect with us personally via email. In the coming weeks, we will continue to post updates and info here, so stay tuned!

Saludos desde Alemania!

Jochen

jgahrau.pci@gmail.com