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Pre-Course Assignment: “On Possessing Beauty”


Can you think of a time when your desire to capture the memory of a beautiful place or an experience made you less present for the actual experience? Or a time when your desire to see more, meant that you didn’t really make time to notice the details?

In preparation for our course, we want you to read a few selected excerpts from “Chapter 8: On Possessing Beauty” from the book, The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton. Kaela will bring a hard copy of the book on our course if you like it and want to read more.

As you read, think about how we can be more fully present to what we are experiencing in Peru. Ruskin suggests drawing or “word-painting” as a way to create a deeper connection with and stronger memory of a place.

As a small pre-course assignment, think of a unique way that you would like to create deeper connection with and memories of the beautiful places we visit and people we meet in Peru. Examples could be writing a story, a poem, a song, drawing, carving, painting, etc. We will be exploring some of these during our orientation and throughout our course.

As a bonus assignment, experiment with capturing the beauty of some part of your home in a portable way. It can be a nice memento to have while you are traveling far away from home, and it can be a way for you to share part of your home with the people you meet in Peru.

Illustration credit: Kari Gale, “Under Ausangate,” 2017.