We hope you found the last packing yak helpful. Before you throw those laptops and cell phones in your suitcase we want to highlight our tech policy. We know you have already heard about our no cell phone policy during your admissions interview and we want to provide a little more background on that here.
We understand our lives have become increasingly dependent on these tiny portable magical devices. We are never more than a few feet away from them at any time and within the last minute you probably took a photo, looked up a question, found directions, checked social media, or you may be reading this right now from your phone. We understand smartphones serve many purposes and are deeply ingrained in our lives. You may feel helpless and lost without information and distraction at your fingertips. So this is a fantastic opportunity to disconnect!
As we intentionally plan our upcoming journey, we’re going to try to unplug to plug in; the world will be our entertainment and source of energy. We will be in Bolivia for only four short weeks and we want to offer you this incredible opportunity to be fully present in this experience. In order to form deeper connections with the communities we visit, with your homestay families, within our group, and with yourself, we ask that you leave your cell phones and any devices that connect to the internet at home.
You will, however, have plenty of opportunities to get online. While we are in towns and cities, your instructors will set aside times for you to visit nearby internet cafes to post photos, write emails, Skype home, and share your stories with friends and family on this wonderful Yak Board. We ask that outside of these times you practice moderation with the approved technologies and enjoy all Bolivia has to offer.
Please DO NOT BRING:
Cell phones, computers, tablets, iPads, iPods, or any device with phone/internet capabilities
OKAY to bring and use as directed:
Cameras that are not cell phones (if your phone is your camera and you don’t want to buy or borrow a regular camera, we encourage photo sharing! We will make sure to set up a group file sharing system after the course).
Music players without Wi-Fi/phone capabilities. Keep in mind that we will have a strict music policy while on course: you will be allowed to use music only at appropriate times, such as on a long bus ride, before bed, or during solo time. Because MP3 players and earplugs can often distance us from the communities and cultures we came to visit, you will not be allowed to use them during homestays. We love music as much as you do and as a group will find as many ways to dance, sing, and celebrate sound together in as many ways as possible.
E-readers whose primary function is reading (instead of surfing the internet). In the spirit of building a vibrant learning community, we encourage you to consider bringing physical books instead. That way, you can more easily trade (and discuss!) with others once you’ve finished.
**If you need to bring a cell phone or non-permitted item with you for your travel time pre and post program, we will collect it and return it to you upon completion of our course. Instructors are not responsible for items that are lost, stolen or damaged during the trip.
**Make sure to prepare security for email or other online accounts so you can access them WITHOUT using your phone.
Q: If I deactivate my phone can I still use it as my camera and music player?
A: We acknowledge that smartphones can wear many hats but we’ve found that even a deactivated phone has incredible potential to alter your experience. So to be clear, phones in any form will not be allowed. The same goes for iPod Touches, since they are basically the same as a deactivated phone.
Q: I’m worried about my connecting flights before/after the trip. Can I bring my phone for that?
A: Yes, you can, but we encourage you to try it without your phone because as soon as you meet us in-country, we will collect the phone. To ensure that your travels go smoothly we recommend you carry a hard copy of all required flight information and a written list of important numbers (i.e. your emergency contacts and the Dragons office’s number +1-303-413-0822).
Q: I feel that it is a waste of money and resources for me to buy new electronics that meet these requirements since I pretty much use my phone to do everything. What do you suggest?
A: Yes, we realize that not everyone is going to have an old MP3/Music player or point-and-shoot or DSLR camera sitting around since smartphones have replaced most of those devices. However, many past students were able to borrow music players, eReaders, and cameras from friends and family for use on the trip. Ask around and see who can lend you one! Or, you could purchase a used or refurbished one on Ebay or from Apple for pretty cheap.
For family and friends back home, know that the instructor team will be in regular communication with the Dragons Boulder office (even while on treks and in remote communities). If family needs to contact you, they can contact the Boulder office and we will receive forwarded questions. Watch our Yak Board for exciting updates every few of days.
Thank you for understanding this policy! If you have any questions, one of us will be contacting you over the next couple weeks for a pre-course phone call.
Happy Tech Fasting!
Your Bolivia Instructor Team