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


Hi! I’m Annika from Oakland, CA. I’m taking a gap semester before starting college in February, and I’m super excited to start Dragons and work on my Spanish, eat new food, spend lots of time in the mountains (and rainforest!), meet tons of new people, and  get a break from classroom learning. I’ve been working all summer (camp counseling, waitressing), so I’m feeling ready to get out of the world of minimum wage jobs and into something a little more stimulating. My family is outdoorsy, so I’ve spent a lot of time on skis, kayaks, bikes, and (mainly) in hiking boots, and while I love California wholeheartedly, there’s nothing like the Andes or Amazon around here. In my free time I play tennis, I’m drawn to this course because it matches all of my interests: traveling, engaging in experiential learning, and studying environmental issues, Spanish, and international studies.

I’m lucky to come from an area that is a hotbed for activism- Oakland is the base of a huge number of resistance movements throughout history, from labor strikes to anti-war protests to the Black Panther Party to Occupy to Black Lives Matter movements and Womens marches most recently. Growing up surrounded by a culture that was always striving for better rights and a more equal society undoubtedly instilled in me the importance of activism. While Oakland is this progressive center, it also has deep history of inequality and racism, especially through government sponsored redlining that effectively segregated the city (the effects of which are still visible today). Right now, with the huge influx of techies and soaring cost of living, there’s a lot of resistance against gentrification, which targets mainly Oakland’s low-income minorities who have been living the in flats for generations. Organizations work to protect renters from huge surges in rent costs, as well as neighborhoods from undesired new development, while also building low income housing for those who can’t afford the new prices.

After reading/watching the sources, I see that “Latinoamerica” is a song of resistance against the centuries of international, especially European and American, intervention in Latin America, especially through the exploitation of labor and natural resources. The song also fights against capitalism and the belief that profit serves as an excuse for treating the land and working-class people as subhuman, less deserving entities. With the image of the beating heart entwined in old roots at the very end of the video, it gives the sense that that our livelihood and wellbeing, our very beating hearts, are rooted in the land, and as we damage and exploit and extract from ground, we damage our own spirit.

I really can’t wait to start this adventure!!

See ya soon. -Annika