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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

How did we get here? Where are we going?

¡No puede ser! Three months have gone by. It’s nearly over and I’m not sure where to begin. We have settled in to our final location in Pucusana, Peru, our last stop on this journey before we have to say our goodbyes in Lima. We are surrounded by fishing boats, views of the ocean, and most importantly each other. After weeks of intense trekking in the Vilcabamba mountains outside of Cusco , it is comforting to be back together as one single Dragons clan.

This last chapter is called transference. It is a time marked by reflection: first looking back at our experiences together in Bolivia and Peru and then looking forward to our separate futures.

So how did we get here?

Good question. Since many of you will likely be wondering exactly where your child traveled and what exactly they did over the last 3 months, the instructors have made an interactive resource to chart our travels. Check it out!

During our three months together, we have been on a journey that highlights the diversity of Bolivia and Peru’s landscapes, peoples, and cultures. From the rainforest of the Bolivian Amazon to snowy Andean peaks, and finally the warm beaches of the Peruvian coast, we have learned alongside people from all walks of life.

Rural Quechua speaking families cook meals with students in Cochabamba, young people in the bustling city of El Alto lead us in anti-oppression theatre workshops, our spiritual guide Siwar blesses us in a ceremony to Pachamama, and Amazonian families teach us the values of subsistence level agriculture. Of course, this is just a sneak peak. Countless other experiences and people deserve mention but these are stories better left for students to tell upon their return….

That’s how we got here. But what about looking forward?

Today, our final activities together address the difficulty of putting such a profound and life altering experience into words that can be shared with friends and family at home. This is not an easy task.

Be patient! Summarizing the impact and learning from this trip for students is not going to happen all at once. In fact, students will continue processing this experience long after they say their goodbye tomorrow morning.

Loved ones at home, take a deep breath and just listen. As students share their stories, friendships and emotions with you all, keep in mind that you are just as much a part of this “transference” as we are. Appreciate this gift. We definitely appreciate you.

With gratitude,

The instructors