Hello Fall CSA South America Students and Families,
If you ask any Dragons’ instructor what they love about their job one of the answers you’ll likely hear is that there is a tremendous amount of freedom in this work. As instructors we’re not told exactly where we must go or what we must do, we’re encouraged to put as much of ourselves as we can into the program planning and make it as personal as possible. Because of this, in Dragons 30 year history no two programs have ever been the same. This Fall CSA Semester team has spent a lot of time in the last few weeks putting together a unique experience for this group. Of course we always reiterate the idea that the itinerary is flexible and that things can change for a number of reasons. Nonetheless we are excited to present to you here the itinerary we envision for this Fall.
Weeks 1 and 2: When you arrive to Cusco you’ll be met by Luis and Kaela and as a group we’ll travel to the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of Peru. In Ollantaytambo we’ll begin the program with our orientation. We’ll spend a few days together not only getting to know one another but also giving you all the information you need to stay safe, healthy and be fully present for the remainder of the program. We’ll discuss history and traditions of the Andes as well as introduce you to cultural norms and expectations.
After our initial orientation we will then move to the community of Paru Paru, located in the Parque de la Papa. Paru Paru is a community dedicated to the sacred agriculture in the Andes. In Paru Paru you will have your first glimpse of life in the Andes. We will stay with community members who will introduce you to their traditions, lifeways and beliefs.
At the beginning of our second week in Peru we will head to the mountains for a beautiful 3 day trek in the Andes. This will be a unique opportunity to experience Peru’s remote nature. Finishing the trek we will head to Cusco for a couple of nights before heading to Urubamba.
Weeks 3-7: During this time we will be in homestay in the town of Urubamba. You will have the chance to live with local families and learn by sharing with local people. To make this possible you will also study Spanish intensively during this portion of the program. Homestay and forming meaningful relationships with people is often the most rewarding part of any Dragons program. This is a unique opportunity to spend an extended time in homestay and to really increase language fluency.
This will also be the time when Sara Diamond is with us and will be delivering the Regional Seminar course. Between Spanish class and Regional Seminar you can expect to spend a good amount of time studying and learning. There will also be opportunities to get to know the region through weekend trips, student led excursions and other cultural events. You’ll get to know not only Urubamba and your homestay family but the reaches of the Sacred Valley as well during this time.
After spending an extended amount of time in Urubamba it’s not going to be easy to say goodbye. We’ll wrap up our time here by celebrating our successes and offering gratitude tot he families and larger community that hosted us.
Week 8: Saying goodbye to Peru this will be our transition week into Bolivia. Although they are neighboring countries sharing deep cultural roots Peru and Bolivia are very different. We’ll take buses between Cusco and La Paz in Bolivia. We’ll spend this week in the La Paz area exploring this new country and orienting ourselves to Bolivia.
Weeks 9 and 10: From La Paz we will transfer by bus to the city of Cochabamba, the third largest city in Bolivia and Dragons home base. Just outside of Cochabamba is the town of Tiquiapya, a semi rural quechua town where you will be in homestay for the second time.
Upon arriving in Bolivia we will also be joined by Jochen, the instructor who will be delivering the Intercultural Development and Global Citizenship course.
These two weeks in Tiquipaya will be very interesting for many reasons. On the 23rd, a few days after we show up, are Bolivia’s presidential elections. The current president is running for a fourth term and it’s sure to be an issue you hear lots about. Following the elections is the largest traditional dance and music festival of the year in Tiquipaya, the day of San Miguel.
Apart from these national events, you will also being your Independent Study Project during this time. You will have the chance to choose a topic that you are passionate about and pursue it with a local mentor. This is the topic that you will continue to pursue during the independent travel portion of the program and so you will also plan your independent travel during this time as well.
Week 11: This week will be dedicated to traveling in Bolivia as a group. Bolivia has many amazing places to visit and learn from and as a group we will decide where we would like to go.
Weeks 12 and 13: These are the independent travel weeks of the program. This section of the program is what makes the CSA program unique. By this time you will have had the opportunity to work with your mentors and design a course of study that supports your interest. You’ll then have the chance to travel on your own and use all the skills that you’ve learned during your time on program to independently pursue your passion.
Week 14: During this week we will come back together in Tiquipaya. During this time you will have the chance to reunite with your homestay family. You will also have the opportunity to compile the information you learned during your independent travel. By then end of the week you will present on your project. We will wrap up our time in Tiquipaya by celebrating the families that have hosted us and the all the learning that we have been part of during our time in Tiquipaya.
Week 15: This will be our final week together and we will spend doing what we at Dragons call ‘transference’. The transference process is where we reflect on the experience and begin to digest all the learning from the past months. We will find a beautiful spot in the mountains to enjoy our final days together as a group before everyone departs from La Paz.
This is our plan, thanks for taking the time to read through this! Please let us know if you have any questions, you can reach us at [email protected]. Again, we’re really excited to meet you soon and don’t hesitate to be in touch.
Luis and Kaela