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Andean priest and spiritual leader, Don Fabian Champi Apaza. Photo by Tom Pablo, Andes & Amazon Semester.

FOI Introduction Yak

[email protected] Estudiantes,

As we grow closer to our course, we would like to introduce you all to our Focus of Inquiry (FOI). On each Dragons course, the instructor team considers each component of the itinerary and instructor experiences/strengths to design a common thread that they incorporate into many phases of the course. During our time together, we will explore the following theme, and often refer back to it during different moments while traveling 🙂

Your FOI: Understanding Resistance/Resistencia in Peru, Bolivia, and Your Community

Over the next few months, we will be spending time with artists, activists, politicians, and grass-root community organizers. While many of them will have distinct perspectives and goals, they will often represent various forms of resistance — resistencia! In Parque de la Papa, we will be staying with families who are resisting globalized farming practices and climate change, taking collective steps to protect their traditional farming practices. In El Alto, we will be working with a theater collective comprised of local activists and young people, who resist colonization by sharing stories of identity, history, marginalization, and transformation through art. In the Bolivian Yungas, we will spend time with Afro-descendent communities, learning about their historic and current work to be recognized by their peers and receive equal rights.

These groups, and many others we will encounter, are doing work to resist discrimination, inequality, and homogenization of culture. They will be fighting for their languages, their traditional medicinal practices, their spiritual beliefs, their access to natural resources, their unique lifeways, and their overall well-being.  While we will be spending time observing the work being done in these movements, we will also spend time asking questions about what came before their work. For example, what historical factors caused the issues that these movements address?

Finally, we will use this opportunity to reflect on resistance movements in our own communities. After learning from community organizers in Peru and Bolivia, we will ask questions about what is happening back home and how we fit into it: What are resistance projects that people are working on in my community? What are they addressing? How do they relate to what I am witnessing and learning in Bolivia and Peru? Which movements do I identify with? Which ones do I not? What do I want my role to be in community organization?

Through this FOI, we would like to build empathy for those who are hosting us, as well as a rich understanding of the political and historical context of the places we will come to know and love. There is no better way to understand and respect an individual or a community than to understand and respect their lucha!

With love,

The Instructor Team