Posts Tagged:

Central America

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    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-08-16 10:56:40
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-08-16 16:56:40
    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_152682" align="aligncenter" width="431"]Guatemala Program Photo by Sydney Yang, Guatemala Summer Program.[/caption]

A lovely landing-home reflection from Guatemala Summer Student, Rose Fitzgerald:

As my final flight touches down, the bump of the wheels shudders through me and I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
It’s over. It’s all over. I’m home.
I step off the plane, down through the airport and into the waiting arms of my family. Pressed against my mother’s chest, I cry unashamedly. In a flurry of moments, we’re picking up my bags, walking out of the airport, piling into cars- real cars! – and driving away. In the New York night, surrounded by air conditioning and English, Guatemala feels like some sort of fantastic and hazy dream. I can’t quite tell what is fiction and what is fact, like maybe I made it all up in my head. At home, I stumble into the apartment and promptly dump everything into the washing machine. I shuck off my clothes, reeking of travel and sweat, and once I remember how to turn it on the shower feels like being reborn. In the hot water, I lather up my hair and body with soap and shampoo, caring for my countless cuts and bug bites and cleaning the last remnants of dirt from under each nail. Curled up on the shower floor, I silently wonder if my host mother from Cotzal has ever had a shower like this. I think of the square-meter shack of a bucket shower, laundry soap and a torn curtain hung so low I’d had to crouch. I have to keep myself from crying a second time. When I emerge from the shower, dripping wet and gloriously not-dirty, I pass the mirror in my room and have to stop and stare. I do not at first recognise the person staring out at me. While the changes are minor, they are changes all the same, and my eyes gobble them up, reading differences like a book. There are new scars on my body- long thin scrapes up my leg from a fall while swimming, now-permanent rub marks on my ankle from when I was too stubborn to tie my boot right, a single line on my right arm- a burn from an iron, the very first night in the Miami airport. Along my stomach, thighs and back, hundreds of fading bites dot my skin and I grimace, remembering the flea fiasco in Cotzal. And all over my body is the patchy, uneven tan that comes with wearing a strange mixture of swimsuits and hiking pants every day. The final thing I notice is that the way I hold myself has changed. I can picture the me of a month ago, probably stooped beneath the weight of a bag, wringing her hands and talking everyone’s ear off from nerves. Now, my back is straight, and when I squeeze my thigh I feel muscle, most likely from carrying that same heavy bag every single day. I feel stronger than I’ve ever been. My family ushers me to the table, eager to hear my stories and force food down my throat, regardless of the late hour. On the table in front of me they lay out toast, corn flakes, cookies, tea, a slice of cold cheese pizza- a veritable American feast. They grill me for details, asking about my host families, the food, the other students, the trek, on and on and on. It’s nearly one A.M. by the time I go to bed. I am wrapped up in clean clothes and cozy blankets and surrounded by everything that I love and I am so deeply exhausted but I cannot seem to sleep. I am startlingly aware of the ridiculous excess I find myself drowning in. There is wi-fi at my constant disposal, and a phone and a computer and a TV to use whenever I like. Our kitchen if stuffed to the brim with food, food and more food, some of which we will never eat. I own more than twenty different products, lipsticks and concealers and eyeshadows and liners that I can press over freckles and dark circles, to hide my face away, and I own more clothes than I could possibly need. Again, I am reminded of my family in Cotzal, who I did not see change their clothes once during my visit. I am disgusted with myself. In the dark of my room, my mattress soft and springy beneath me, the night is eerily quiet. Even the ever-present hum of the AC cannot replace the trucks and wagons and barking I expect to hear in the street below. It feels like there is a hole in my chest, aching and raw. Where there once were butterflies, nervous and bright in my chest there is now an empty ache. I want to feel them again, fluttering against my ribcage, their wings whispering adventure and yes.
I am still Rose. I am still that same person, silly and impulsive and alive.
But in my heart, I know that everything has changed. ~Fin

Read more featured student reflections on our Yak of the Week board.

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    [post_content] => 
Here are some sneak-peek excerpts from the featured essays of our winter edition of The Map's Edge. Be sure to check your mail to get your hands on all the glossy pages of stories, photos, and updates from four corners of Dragons global community!
PAGE 4
BRAZIL
Princeton Bridge Year: To Have a Home
By JIMIN KANG
"I believe that there are qualities in each of us that can only be realized in different contexts. I discovered that Brazil brought out a version of myself that inspires me most. To this day, I miss the candor with which I greeted strangers on the street and told them about my love for acarajé, the fried bean fritters I'd eat with friends after hours of practicing Portuguese. I miss the music and the visual arts that flourish across Salvador, and the days I painted lampposts with spray paint oozing down my hands. I miss the confidence with which Bahians wear their own skin, and the way I felt more comfortable in my own body than I'd ever been. More than anything, I miss the people who greeted me with a "seja bem-vindo" (be welcome) and bid me farewell with a "volte sempre" (return always). People who taught me that home can be anywhere in the world, as long as there are people with space in their hearts."
PAGE 8
SIKKIM
Lepcha: Children of the Snowy Peak
By SHARON SITLING
"The Lepcha believe their people originated within these valleys. They call themselves 'Mutanchi Rong Kup Rum Kup,' which translates as 'Children of the Snowy Peak and Children of God.' The Lepcha are nature worshippers, whose religion blends animism and shamanism and is called bongthingism, or Munism. The tribe shares an inextricable relationship with nature as evidenced by their vocabulary, which contains one of the richest collections of names for local flora and fauna recorded anywhere, and reveals a vast knowledge of naturopathy as well as holy texts. By some estimates, there are only 40,000 Lepcha remaining in Sikkim; their language is quickly disappearing and they are fighting to preserve their lands and what is left of their culture."
PAGE 12
SENEGAL
Photo Essay: Between the Lens & Me
By CRYSTAL LIU
"I was hesitant to bring my camera with me to Senegal. I suppose I approached photography with more of a moralist's stance than a scientist's, and I felt some intuitive distrust of images and imagemaking as it related to my educational experience. I worried about the fraught relationship between subject and photographer. I didn't want to reproduce clichés and reduce people to flat, aesthetic purposes. At the same time, I wanted to remember what I would experience, and the fear of forgetting eventually overcame other qualms about the medium. I brought my camera, and I am both glad and regretful that I did."
PAGE 22
MOROCCO
Interview: The Beat of a Different Drum
By MOHAMED ARGUINE
"...after hours of trekking, Ben M'barek would take out his drum, sit on a rock and start playing whatever came to mind. He never thought his songs would attract the attention of tourists who didn't understand a word of the Tamazight language. [...] The guide explained that M'Barek was singing about his love for the High Atlas Mountains and that he hoped not to see what might be hiding behind them. The oxygen of his life, its meaning, flows down from the peak of the highest mountain to his soul through the drops of rain and flakes of snow-pure and white as his heart, and imbued with love for this region, which to him is heaven on earth."

 If you didn't get one in the mail, here's the full digital issue!

 
Dragons bi-annual Newsletter, The Map’s Edge, explores a subject of interest to the Dragons community through the voices of our Alumni, Instructors, Partners, and our International Staff and contacts. Feel free to view our archive of editions of The Map’s Edge or even submit a piece to be featured in our next issue by sending an email to [email protected]
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