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Photo by Benjamin Swift, Andes & Amazon Semester.


Hola familia y amigxs!

A lot has happened since we arrived in Coroico at 5am on the 16th, so I will just start by telling you about my mornings. I wake up no longer surprised to be greeted by the faces of six of my sleeping friends, who I practically just met but now feel like I’ve known for a long time. As I wash my clothes in the sink I see and hear the sights and sounds of Pachamama: mountains and flowers and lots of trees and birds I don’t know the names of. The urge to instinctively check my phone already gone, I grab a banana after my cold (but refreshing) shower and run down the stairs so as not to miss breakfast with my friends before walking up the hill to continue orientation.

We have been at Sol y Luna for four nights now, and one thing that our many orientation sessions and activities have taught me is that this semester is going to take a lot of work. Work to function well as a group and live by the rules we’ve made for ourselves. Work to better understand the 14 people I’m traveling with and those we’ll meet (and live with) along the way. Work to participate even when I don’t know if I have the right answer. Work to force myself to speak Spanish even when it isn’t a necessity. Work to take care of myself and others physically and emotionally. At first the idea of this work terrified me. Would I crack under pressure as I had in past academic settings? Was I really prepared for this challenge? But soon I felt grounded by my fellow dragons and instructors and remembered that this work and type of learning is unique to anything I’ve done in the past. Here I am able to live presently in a way so few can, with my friends beside me as we stay up late into the night talking and laughing, play bananagrams on the floor of our beautiful hostel, watch fires as they turn to embers, swing in hammocks as we write funny poems, and enjoy every minute together free of distractions.

I don’t know much about how this semester is going to go, but I do know that before this I had never given an ofrenda to Pachamama or felt so connected to her, I had never lived contently off of what I carry on my back, I had never felt so at home with a group of people so quickly, and I had never been so excited to learn about the history and culture of the land I stand on, and I think that’s a good sign for now.