Back to
Photo by Anna Hiltner

Hola Amigxs! – Instructor Introduction

Hola dear Dragons,

I am excited to introduce myself to you today as one of your instructors for your upcoming bridge year in Bolivia. Together with the two co-directors of the program, Verónica and Pedro, I will travel with you for the first seven weeks of your experience. Why only for that time, you might ask? Well, as you know, the first couple of weeks (and in the final month) are when you will be traveling most and when you might need more support as you get to know a new place and begin to form close relationships with a new group of people. In addition, this is also a more intensive time for us instructors, so I will help Verónica and Pedro to ensure you all have a smooth start in Bolivia in general and then during your first few weeks in Tiquipaya.

I am writing to you today from my cozy apartment in Guatemala City. The city is still relatively new to me, but Guatemala is not – I have lived here for the better part of the last six years. As a Dragons instructor, I am therefore an expert for Central America and not so much for South America. In fact, I have never been to Bolivia before! As you can imagine, I am just as excited as you are (at least!) to explore and to get to know this fascinating place. While I feel really comfortable managing risks, logistics, Dragons’ philosophy and curriculum, working with groups and teaching a range of classes, I will definitely be a student when it comes to the country, its people, and their way of life.

However, there seem to be many parallels between Bolivia and Guatemala: Both were Spanish colonies, both are ethnically very diverse, and both have a majority indigenous population. Therefore, I am particularly interested in learning more about the nature of Bolivia’s plurinational state and how it manages to integrate all the different peoples. I also want to understand more about the dynamics between the indigenous majority and the rather white elite. In Guatemala, there has not been a non-white person ruling for 500 years, so I am really curious to visit a country that, finally, has an indigenous president.

A few words about myself: I come from a small village in western Germany, but I have spent most of the last decade living abroad; first for short stints in Cairo and Beirut, then for a year in Vancouver, and finally, since 2013, in Guatemala. Before working with Dragons, I was the social sciences teacher at a small high school in the western highlands of Guatemala. The country sits on the “ring of fire,” an almost continues ring of volcanoes that reaches around the Pacific. One of my favorite past times is to climb those volcanoes and enjoy the incredible 360° view or hike through the beautiful cloud forest on the volcanoes’ slopes. As you can imagine, I can’t wait to be trekking in the Andes! I also really like reading, painting, and just observing what is going on around me.

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can post them here on the Yak board (which is ideal because then everyone can read them) or contact us via email. Please also be sure to introduce yourself!

Looking forward to meeting you all very soon,

un abrazo,

Jochen Gahrau
[email protected]