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Hello from the Desert!

Hello, future family of the Good Life! I am SOOO excited to meet you all 🙂

A little about myself — my name is Jac and I go by they/she pronouns. Right now I am writing to you from a coffee shop in South Scottsdale, Arizona, a few minutes from my childhood home! I used to do homework here when I was in high school and the coffee tastes like studying for the SAT haha. I am vegetarian and love biking, hiking, and watching a good midwest sunset on a warm summer night over a cool lake. Can’t wait to do that with y’all soon! 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 proud to call the Sonoran Desert my home, although I have not lived here 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, learning and writing about 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 Indigenous labor organizing and 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 made a big and super intentional move to the beautiful state of Wisconsin! Over the past 4 years or so, Wisconsin has kept calling me back, and when COVID forced me to pick a home in the United States it felt natural to call Wisconsin home. In the summer of 2017, between my undergrad and my masters, one of my dearest friends invited me to the Wisconsin Northwoods to work at a YMCA camp leading canoeing trips with underserved youth from Chicago. That summer changed my life. I had never been around so much fresh water before — at first it scared me! But over time I came to know the lakes, the trees, the loons. I also healed so much that summer — from what the land had to teach me, and from the community I found. I formed many important relationships that summer, relationships that are still central to my life in Wisconsin today. And I also met Mama Superior for the first time that summer — her healing waters reminded me of Lake Titicaca, where I had spent months conducting an oral history project on the Peruvian/Bolivian border. There’s something to be said here about a peoples’ sacred devotion to their lake, but we’ll have plenty of time to explore that in July 🙂 I cannot wait to spend more time healing and learning with Mama Superior, and this time with all of you 🙂

This will be my first time instructing a Dragons course that is based in North America, and I could not be more honored or feel more privileged about the opportunity to grow and learn on unceded Anishinabewaki land, and with many people who are native to this land. Over the years, the Midwest has kept calling me back, despite so much chaos and change. Here’s to slowing down enough to hear Mama Superior’s call, and having the incredible opportunity of following that call with all of you.

I encourage you all to share a bit about yourselves as well on this Yak Board! What are you excited about? What are you nervous about? What burning questions do you have? Treat this space as your resource 🙂

Nos vemos pronto!!

Xoxo Jac