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Rio Grande Semester Technology Policy

Hello to the Rio Grande Semester crew!

We hope everyone is doing well, staying above water in this wild season of transition, and getting excited to launch out of routine and into unfamiliar territory this fall! Our instructor team is all in Colorado now making final preparations and we can’t wait to meet you soon! We look forward to reading your introductory Yaks over the coming days.

Right now, some of you are preparing to experience a part of the country completely new to you while others are getting ready to explore a place very familiar through new eyes. Regardless of where you’re coming from, we want to give you an opportunity to be fully committed to each moment on this course. Our modern portable electronics have many benefits but they also make it easy to distance ourselves from our immediate surroundings and things that might be unfamiliar. We believe that understanding a culture most fully means experiencing the intricacies of everyday life with all five senses and being present to ourselves and others through moments of joy as well as discomfort.

We encourage you to read this article on the effect of phones on human interaction. This is probably not anything you haven’t heard before, but we spend so much time explaining our electronics policy because as straightforward as it is in theory, we understand how difficult it can be for students (and families!) in practice. We want you to be on board with the reasons why we ask you to leave these things behind.

With that in mind, in lieu of phone calls and personal social media, this Yak Board will be the primary window you open to family and friends at home! A place to share thoughts, reflections, and experiences while we’re on course. Take a look at some Yak Boards from previous courses to see what a beautiful record it can be long into the future.

Now, for the do’s and don’ts!

What CAN I bring?

  • If you want to take photos, please bring a small camera and a memory card large enough to hold all of your course memories!
  • We welcome and encourage you to bring a Kindle or other E-Reader! Please download all reads pre-course so that there’s no need to connect to the internet along the way. If you’re looking for inspiration, make sure to check out the Suggested Readings & Resources on page 22 of your Course Preparation Manual for some books that speak to the region and course themes!
  • If you want to listen to music, dig under couch cushions or scour Craigslist for a retro deal to find an old-school MP3 player that doesn’t connect to the internet. There will be some limited opportunities to tune in on long car rides and during personal time.
  • Please also bring your phone along! The I-team will hold onto it most of the time but we’ll have opportunities once a week on average for everyone to have a brief check-in with family.

What CAN’T I bring?

  • Please don’t bring laptops, tablets (including E-Reader tablet devices like Kindle Fire), iPod touches and the like, watches that are also phones, or anything that will be burdensome to carry or catastrophic to lose.

Q: If I deactivate my phone can I still use it as my camera and music player?

A: We acknowledge that smartphones can wear many hats but we’ve found that even a deactivated phone has incredible potential to alter your experience. So to be clear, phones in any form will be carried by instructors. The same goes for iPod Touches, since they are basically the same as a deactivated phone. We’re taking it back to 2005 with iPods and digital cameras!

Thank you for taking the plunge and trusting us on this! If you have more questions beyond what’s covered here please don’t hesitate to post a quick Yak. Keep your eyes peeled over the next few days for pending Yaks from us about the itinerary, packing tips, and more, as well as to read intros from all the amazing peers who will be joining you on this experience!

Wishing you all well,

Your instructors