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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.

Getting Ready

Buenas,

I’m currently sitting on a rooftop in Jodhpur, India. All around swells a mass of energy and noise. Honking horns, the braying of donkeys, the constant movement of people, and the delicious smell of brewing tea. Through the haze I can make out the towering spires of palaces, temples, and one massive fort. Yet even as I drink in all these sites and smells, my thoughts slowly turn towards places far away. I imagine the windswept pampas and rugged valleys of Patagonian Chile. I can imagine the vibrant and diverse mountains of Peru, and all the people and places in between. I’ve spent much of the last few years exploring and learning from the Andes and their people. I am excited to share this with you all as we set out together on a new journey. Welcome!

My adult life has focused on exploring and learning about other cultures through language study and many years living and working abroad. After taking a Bachelors degree in International Studies with a focus on development, these passions led me to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, work with a food security NGO in Benin, and instruct wilderness and cross-cultural exchange programs throughout the American Rockies, Africa, and Latin America. I split my free time between my duel passions of wilderness experience and cross-cultural exchange.

Just like me I’m sure many of you are starting to look ahead. This is normal. I encourage you to focus on staying present, where ever life finds you right now. In a few weeks you will set off on 3 month journey which will include more highs and lows that you can imagine. Right now be intentional. Love on your family, laugh with your friends, and don’t wait until the last minute to pack. (believe me, no one likes last minute stress). Take some time to think about where you are and what you’ve experienced in the past 6 months. What lessons have you learned? In a few weeks what will you bring mentally and emotionally? What will you leave behind? These question are just as important as packing a rain jacket (you must pack a rain jacket). Cachai?

I look forward to meeting you all. Until then be safe, have fun, make friends. Feel free to reach out with question to [email protected]

JP