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


Hey! I’m Madeleine, I’m 18 years old and I’m from Toronto, Canada. I just graduated high school and I’m so excited to finally meet everyone! This trip will be an exciting new start to my gap year before I start at McGill University in Montreal next September. During our time in Peru and Bolivia I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the sociopolitical issues in South America as well as greatly improve my Spanish proficiency. I studied Spanish for around 2 years in high school, but to this day I still struggle.

This Summer, I spent most of my time with friends and family before everyone headed off to university. I discovered new places just outside of my city like hiking trails and beaches, but I also traveled to Singapore and the Philippines with my parents. The past few summers I volunteered heavily with an outdoor children’s camp that I love, so this summer I decided to give myself a break.

During my free time you would most likely find me having a movie marathon (probably romantic comedies) , going to get bubble tea with friends (I’m obsessed with it) or going to the park with my dog, Ginger. As I live in the city, I don’t have many opportunities to venture into nature, but when I started canoe tripping in Algonquin Park a couple years ago I fell in love with being outdoors. I am inspired by Bolivia and Peru beautiful landscapes and wonderful people. I am so excited to start our homestays and to get to know them even better. Even though I am not the most athletic person in the world, I wanted to challenge myself and my physical limits while being able to see and meet some new and amazing people!

In my community, and as a nation, Canadians are working towards reconciliation by acknowledging and respecting the history of our indiginous peoples and the land that was stolen from them. The colonial history of Canada reflects decades of trauma while settlers worked to eliminate Indigenous peoples and communities. With the use of residential schools and the forbidding of native languages, many families were torn apart and suffered in horrible conditions. Now, many indiginous communities still have to fight for their rights within the government. My school, and many others across Canada, work to acknowledge our country’s history by crediting the indiginous communities that once owned the land we now live and study on. By doing so, we do not forget our history and at the same time educate future generations so that this does not occur again.

In terms of the pre-course assignment, I found ties between the excerpt from Chapter 1 and Calle 13’s song “Latinoamerica” through power and resistance against outside intervention. Both sources talk about the exploitation of labour and resources and how it affects the people of the city. In the music video, by showing different people, all working towards one goal, it shows how the community works together, yet all their hard work it destroyed due to greed.

See you all soon!