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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Greetings !!!

Hello, participants of the 2021 HIES Payahuunadü course! I am SOOO excited to meet  you all, and it is coming up right around the corner!!

A little about myself — my name is Jac and I go by they/she pronouns. I am vegetarian and love biking, hiking, and watching a good midwest sunset on a warm summer night over a cool lake. I also love to write. And I am in love with my quarantine kitty named Inti (you can see him in the attached photo!) “Inti” means “sun” in Quechua.

I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona and am proud to call the Sonoran Desert my home, although I have not lived there for an extended time since 2013. I attended undergrad and my masters at universities in New York City, and so have called what some call “the greatest city on earth” home for the biggest chunk of my “adult” life (scare quotes around both of those concepts are very intentional!). In undergrad I majored in Comparative Literature with a concentration in Latin American studies, and in my masters I received a dual degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Journalism. Over the past 6 years, I have been incredibly privileged to have spent large chunks of time in southern Peru and central Bolivia, conducting research on Indigenous politics and resistance and also studying the beautiful Indigenous language of Quechua. I also have about three years of experience reporting on Peruvian and Bolivian politics, mostly for English-language leftist publications in the U.S. such as NACLA, The Nation, The New Republic, and Latin America News Dispatch (LAND). In 2019 and 2020 I worked as a Dragons instructor in our Andes and Amazon programs in Bolivia and Peru, and it was the most fulfilling work I have ever done.

As is the case for so  so many of us, my life was uprooted in March 2020. I returned back to the U.S. from Bolivia, hung out with my mom and sister for a few months in Phoenix, and then moved to the beautiful state of Wisconsin! I have been working as the Communications Director at an immigration and labor advocacy organization that is based in Milwaukee for the past year, but recently decided to shift back into working for Dragons – and I could not be MORE excited about it. This will be my first time instructing a Dragons course that is based in the United States, and I cannot wait to share that experience with all of you and to learn so much from the Nuumu people who are graciously welcoming us into their land and their home. I have had the privilege of spending time in the Owens River Valley once before, during Dragons staff training in 2019, and it was so amazing. Buckle up ya’ll, we are about to enter some seriously powerful magic! Can’t wait to meet you there.

And for those who are jonesing to learn a bit about the valley before our course — I highly recommend checking out the resources and work of the Owens River Indian Water Commission. You could start by checking out this Call To Action flyer, found on their website. You can also follow these instagram accounts: @owens_valley_indian_water, @payahuunadu and @indigenouswomenhike.

Nos vemos pronto!!

Xoxo Jac