Rwanda Summer Program

Posts Tagged:

Yak of the Week

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 153331
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-07-12 11:00:16
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-12 17:00:16
    [post_content] => My home in New York. A place where appearance is valued and looking good has been ingrained in me by society since I was young. As I first arrived in Cambodia, I made sure my hair looked nice, my clothes were clean and looked flattering. First impressions matter, and I have always known a world where first impressions are based not on who you are, but how you looked.

Continuing throughout the first day, I felt vulnerable without my usual makeup and nice clothing. Then that evening, my first bucket shower. Standing in the bathroom with just myself, a few buckets of water, and my travel size shampoo, conditioner and travel wash, I had never felt so out of my element. However, after I took a deep breath, and poured the water on my head, the cold water in the warm air, I felt amazing. With each successive bucket, I forgot what it was like in my old shower at home. I began to prefer this one.
As I instinctively turned to the wall looking for a mirror, I noticed there wasn’t one.
As I instinctively turned to the wall looking for a mirror, I noticed there wasn’t one. I had never felt so liberated. I just didn’t care. I didn’t care that my clothes were a little dirtier, for I had hiked to a beautiful waterfall in them. I didn’t care that my clothes were extremely conservative and ill-fitting, because that way I was able to gain the respect of local people. I didn’t care that there was no hot water, for the cold water felt better than my shower at home ever did. And I didn’t care that there wasn’t a mirror, for I had never felt as confident or as secure in myself as I have these last few days. [post_title] => Where is the Mirror? - Yak of the Week [post_excerpt] => A student reflection on a homestay experience in Cambodia: "I took a deep breath, and poured the water on my head, the cold water in the warm air, I felt amazing. With each successive bucket, I forgot what it was like in my old shower at home...." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => where-is-the-mirror-yak-of-the-week [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-12 11:02:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-12 17:02:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 78 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 78 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) ) [category_links] => From the Field )
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 153260
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-06-14 09:34:19
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-14 15:34:19
    [post_content] => 
...for many students, the fundamental shift in perspective and personality does not take place right away.

Dear Parents of Team India Students,

I am writing with a note of gratitude. Perhaps it is unconventional in nature, but I hope you are able to enjoy a cup of chai as you read these words written from a small village in the Indian Himalayas. I am sitting looking at a mosaic of words that your child and their peers wrote during our mid-course reflection earlier in March. In front of me sits over thirty small slips of paper that share anonymously written fears & excitements, challenges faced and lessons learned:

I am excited for breathing in clean mountain air, star gazing, looking out train windows. I am afraid of leaving India without a clearer sense of who I am. I’ve learned that health and cleanliness are very important. I am nervous about time going by too quickly or too slowly. I have learned I love taking my time. It has been a challenge for me to open up in a way that I am most comfortable with, so that I am not bottling up my emotions. I fear that I won’t be able to do everything I want to over the next month. It has been challenging being sick in such a new environment. I learned that life at home continues when you’re away and that’s okay. It is most challenging for me to be present. I have learned that there are more Indias that the one I am witnessing.

So much variety in such a small group. An accurate representation of the diversity of thought, need, and lifestyle within our community. I am not a parent in the sense that I do not have a child who depends on me regularly for emotional or financial support. I have not witnessed my child’s first breath or tracked him/her/them through the phases of life: crawling, walking, talking, fighting, pushing boundaries, experiencing heartbreak, developing strengths, acknowledging weaknesses, discovering their identities in this fast-moving world. I can imagine it is a slow, beautiful, complicated, process to witness and be a part of. I look forward to when that is my reality. For months of each year, though, I do have the opportunity to be in loco parentis; to act and react as a parent may, to advise and counsel, to listen and hear, to inspire and frustrate, to discipline and let go of. Thank you, for giving me the chance to act and live in this way. I could not do it without you–truly and literally. Witnessing your child’s tears when she/he/they came home from school having been wronged by a classmate during the day; experiencing utter joy at watching them play in mud puddles, their fascination with the–what to us adults may be–seemingly mundane; sharing moments of vulnerability as you offer stories of your own high school hardships: I bet that each of these moments offered to you powerful insight into parenthood and its complexity. While not comparable, I have experienced many of these same emotions over these past three months. I have felt fiercely protective when my students have felt discomfort in crowded situations; I have laughed to the point of tears listening to stories about misunderstandings in how to use squat toilets; I have been frustrated by their lack of punctuality; I have felt tenderness in listening to tearful worries and concerns. I have lay in my bed, late into the night, wondering: are my students (read: children) healthy? Safe? Motivated? Happy? Sleeping well? Scared? Excited? Confused? If this is not parenthood, I am not sure what is. The timeframe post-high school is a fragile, complicated period. Young adults are told by our American and Canadian societies that after living 18 years on this earth they can vote in elections, purchase and smoke cigarettes, enlist in the military, give consent to marry another, drive a vehicle, work a full-time salaried position, and gamble away their money. They have legal freedom, if they choose to take it. Yet many, upon ending high school, do not have a sense of awareness for the future: they are unsure if they want to go to college, or more realistically why they want to go to college. With newfound privileges and real legal rights, these newly deemed adults have, in a sense, ultimate opportunities. But how to navigate the multiplicity of paths that are lain before them, to tease apart the meaning of a high-school education, to understand the next path that presents itself is neither a straightforward nor an enviable task. You, as parents, have experienced this time. You know the nights fraught with anxiety and confusion. The pull between wanting to do what your peers do, wanting to please your family, and wanting to understand a little more fully who you are and what your purpose on this planet is. Taking a Gap Year is a more recent phenomenon that is gaining popularity. This year away from formal academics does not mean a year away from learning; quite the contrary. I have only had the privilege of knowing your sons and daughters for 70 days, however I have witnessed them learn skills valuable for living: from technical skills like how to cook meals and clean clothes to interpersonal skills like how to provide feedback to a peer and self-advocate for personal needs. While I do not yet have a system in place to check, I would bet that if I spoke to each of these students in five years, they will not be able to remember significant dates from the US Civil War–excepting they become a US historian–or apply the Pythagorean theorem to an every-day life problem. Engrained within them, though, they may have the lived knowledge of how to have their basic needs met when in an unfamiliar place or how to have a hard conversation with someone they care about. That is my hope, at least. Critics of Gap Years think this time away traveling has merely been an experience of being transported from one hotel to another, eating at restaurants, and shopping. I would be lying if I said we have not partaken in these activities. But below the surface of these statements lies an experience that is not as easily shown: like when your hotel is actually a guesthouse that sits at 11,000 feet and took five hours to walk to, and you share a room with seven others, all of you sleeping on the floor, hugging waterbottles of boiled water– that you used your broken Ladakhi to ask for–so that you can stay warm while sleeping. Or when shopping means buying enough food for a group of fifteen so they have sustenance on their 24 hour travel day, 15 of those hours are confined to a moving train, which has the potential to be delayed for an unspecified amount of time. Sure, we partake in consumer culture, but there is intentionality behind it. The critics can look at this time and make assumptions, but they cannot know the worth of these experiences. Even you may not recognize the value of them, but for many students, the fundamental shift in perspective and personality does not take place right away. As your children physically re-enter your lives they will appear the same. But there will also be differences. They have had experiences that they will not be able to explain because they have not yet had the chance to make meaning of them. There will be moments of excitement to see old friends, sleep in their beds, and eat comfort foods. But there will be moments of sadness and confusion as well, as awarenesses begin to surface and take root, and newly acquired values are applied to old spaces. For some this time-frame may take days, others months, many years. Even I, at 27, am still discovering the immense value my Gap Year–which I took ten years ago– played in shifting my identity as a woman in this world. Just as you have done before, do again: be patient. Give space. Ask questions. Give hugs. That is, really, all I have been trying to do during our three months together. In moments of confusion or uncertainty, your children have had the answers within themselves; they have just needed the time and space to discover what those answers are. They will continue to live out the answers, especially to questions they have not even discovered yet. So, all of this to say: thank you. Thank you for trusting your daughters and sons to listen to their needs. Thank you for trusting me to be a witness of their transition into adulthood and to offer guidance, when it has been solicited and when it has not. I am merely a small piece of the puzzle in their life’s tale, as they are in mine, however there is a symbiosis to this experience that is bigger and more significant than our defined period of time together. I would not be able to exist as I do without your support of your children’s well being. I would not be able to live life as a learner and educator, both existing at once, every day. I am grateful for your generosity, your support, your willingness to raise engaged, aware children. In the first few days of our course I shared these words of Ranier Marie Rilke with your sons and daughters:
I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Their decision to take a Gap Year has only helped launch them into the abyss of living everything. I feel immense privilege at sharing in that experience, and I wish you all the best in helping to facilitate the next phase of this journey. With the most sincere of intentions, thank you, dhanyavad, jullay. With gratitude, Anna G. Stevens [post_title] => To Parents: A Gratitude - Featured Yak [post_excerpt] => Even I, at 27, am still discovering the immense value my Gap Year–which I took ten years ago– played in shifting my identity as a woman in this world. Just as you have done before, do again: be patient. Give space. Ask questions. Give hugs. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => to-parents-a-gratitude-a-featured-yak-by-anna-g-stevens [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-14 15:23:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-14 21:23:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 78 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 78 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 700 [name] => For Parents [slug] => for_parents [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 700 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [parent] => 0 [count] => 48 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 48 [category_description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [cat_name] => For Parents [category_nicename] => for_parents [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/for_parents/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 36 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 36 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, For Parents ... )
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 153072
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-05-10 12:24:20
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-10 18:24:20
    [post_content] =>  
In South America, I…
In South America, I learned that there is more than one way to live a “rich” life. I learned that indigenous groups can be a powerful voice in political movements. I learned that not every bathroom has toilet paper. I learned that dogs can be scary. I learned that we don’t need verbal language to communicate. And I saw a vast variety of new and beautiful climates. In South America, I gained clarity on some things and became much more confused about (or at least more aware of the complexity of) other things. The term “big picture” gets tossed around a lot. I think what I’ve really found are thousands of small pictures, like flaming sugar butterflies offered to the Pachamama and a perfectly intact sheep fetus and happy people living with less wealth than is lavished upon your average American golden retriever, which have interwoven like the figures in an Andean tejido and left me with the vague image of a massive tapestry whose meaning and purpose I’m still not totally clear on. Even if I never fully figure out the meaning, to be in possession of clues to forbidden knowledge is still a powerful thing. In South America, I learned to love a new culture, ate new foods, stayed with many incredible host families, developed new relationships, grew personally, learned about indigenous cultures, rediscovered my love for music and dance, began learning an indigenous trade, became more spiritual through the Pachamama, and began questioning my purpose in life. In South America, I learned of different ways to live life. I learned to much about the basics of living and where things come from. I learn there is so much to learn! In South America, I learned about things I didn’t know I needed to learn or could learn. In South America I learned how to truly be a good guest and how to make real relationships with the people here. I learned how topics like child labor and child discipline aren’t black and white and how American solutions or responses aren’t helpful or understanding. I actually understand the dangers of monoculture and its harm. I learned how to be uncomfortable but more importantly how to not be. Like how to fit in with the different rhythms of living. I learned just how amazingly nice Bolivians are. In South America, I walked and walked and walked over some of the highest mountains in the world. I figured out the best juice combination to order in the mercado. I became a part of a family that didn’t speak my native language. I confronted my own privilege countless times and was humbled and inspired by diverse indigenous communities. I learned how to do my laundry in a sink, and I also learned hot to not do laundry for weeks at a time. I healed a cut on my finger with an eggshell, held a cayman on a boat in the Amazon, and rode in the front seat of a military vehicle while pooping myself. In South America, I felt a strong connection with the environment. I learned to live with less, climbed mountains, and knew where my food came from. In South America, I I challenged myself in ways I never had before. From learning how to cook to making new music on the guitar to trekking for over a week at high altitude, I had an unforgettable experience. In South America, I made great friends, saw cool sights, learned culture, grew as a person and stepped out of my comfort zone. In South America, I learned how to weave, sleep on a bus, use sarcasm in Spanish, tie a trucker’s hitch, harvest, peel, & eat hella potatoes, catch reptiles, be sick, talk to strangers, get lost & unlost, chew coca, dekernel choclo, decolonize my body, and live with less. I learned about reciprocity, Pachamama, matrifocal societies, Evo, cacao & quinoa and what they look like when they grow, neoliberalism, how much I consume, and seeds. I learned that tuna isn’t just a fish, strangers are kind, the World Bank is pretty evil, cholitas are badass, poverty is relational, and I want to come back someday. In South America, I started with grand expectations, as first-time travelers often do, and instead the experience I found was rather grounding. I found that questions were easier to seek than answers, and that behind cultural difference there is always human similarity. I found that being overwhelmed by a place is a response to feeling like there is too much I don’t know, and being underwhelmed by a person means I haven’t asked enough questions. If I had a good experience here, it’s because I tried, not because I showed up. In South America, I learned how to be okay with being by myself. I learned how to navigate foreign markets, transportation, and language barriers. I don’t panic now when I’m alone and not sure which direction to head towards or how to communicate with body language to non-English speaking locals. I am confident now in my own skills to take care of myself, at home and abroad. Virtually, In South America, I grew up.
As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know…
As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that I’m going to miss this place. I’m going to miss market breakfasts and coca culture, fumbling over my Spanish, and being wholeheartedly welcomed into strangers’ homes like family. Please be kind and patient with me as I figure out how to be in the U.S. again; listen to me, laugh with me, & cry with me. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that Peru is more than just a country. Peru, Like Bolivia, is made up of dozens of different indigenous groups and the dozens of different cultures that complement them. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know I refuse to be materialistic and environmentally-ignorant. I will learn where my clothes and food come from, and if I don’t like what I find out, I will change my habits. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that it’s very hard to express all of the things, concrete and non-concrete, that I have learned during this trip! This may be frustrating for me at first, but I’m sure with time and perspective my thoughts and actions will become more clear. With new views on life back home, it is also likely I may appear critical or withdrawn during the transition, but I still love and appreciate those close to me just the same. A I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know how much this trip changed me. I learned so much about Peruvian and Bolivian culture, but more importantly, about myself. I learned a lot about who I am and why I am the way I am and will bring this knowledge back home with me. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that I’m excited to live now. I’m so much stronger. I’m so much more competent. I can’t wait to be actively curious. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that coming home will mark the last and probably most difficult stretch of the entire trip. In some ways I’ve changed, in others I’ve unchanged; I’ve even kind of changed the way I change. I’m nervous and excited to be a little different while doing largely the same things in the same place with the same people. I just hope there’s more synergy than friction—I think there will be. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that I am growing but I am more confused than I used to be. My mind has expanded which means it is more excitable but more scattered and conflicted than it was before. I want you to know all of the strangers who have shown me kindness and landscapes that have left me speechless, but I know these things will be impossible to communicate. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that I am excited to come home but I don’t really know how to go back to American life after this. I might not be the same girl who left 3 months ago. I had an amazing time and memories to last me forever, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to go on this grand adventure. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that I don’t really know how to integrate back into U.S. society and that I might need a bit of patience while I re-learn my place in it. I also want you to know that I want to share my experiences in some way with you all but I don’t really know how to do that. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that I will be coming back to South America. I’m going to take Spanish classes and save up money to try to come back before this year ends. I want you to know that it is the most diverse place, in every single way. I want to learn way more about Peru. I want this country to be familiar to me. I want to be able to call it home. As I prepare to leave Peru, I want you to know that I am so grateful. I am grateful for this opportunity to get to know different South American cultures, and also for the chance to get to know myself better. My eyes and my mind have opened up in unimaginable and unexpected ways. I am also grateful for the life I will come back to in the US. I am grateful for the 4 years of college I am about to undertake. I am grateful for the supportive family I am coming home to. And to Bolivia and Peru, I am so grateful for helping me to realize why I am and why I should be so grateful. Thank you!   [post_title] => Course End Thoughts from the South America Group - Yak of the Week [post_excerpt] => "From our students, to those who they love dearly: some thoughts on departing from our space here in Bolivia and re-integrating into an environment that may now seem foreign." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => course-end-thoughts-south-america-group-yak-week [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-10 12:25:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-10 18:25:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 78 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 78 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 700 [name] => For Parents [slug] => for_parents [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 700 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [parent] => 0 [count] => 48 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 48 [category_description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [cat_name] => For Parents [category_nicename] => for_parents [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/for_parents/ ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, For Parents )
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 152950
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-04-24 10:31:45
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-24 16:31:45
    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_152952" align="alignnone" width="1510"] Photo by Teresa Tolo, South America Semester.[/caption]
The struggle for the recognition and acceptance of black, African-descendent communities all over the world is an ongoing challenge. However, the Afro-Bolivian community of Los Yungas proves that communities can join together and share their history and identity through the power of music and dance.
Driving into the North Yungan community of Chijchipa on Saturday afternoon, we could hear the rhythmic beating of drums and passionate singing of the local Afro-Bolivian community that served to welcome guests for the day’s festivities. This was the day of a musical perfomance/exchange between the local community and the Tigers of Africa, a traditional musical group from Senegal. Having spent the past five days embracing Afro-Bolivian culture in the neighboring community of Tocaña, we made the 20 minute drive to Chijchipa to take part in the important cultural exchange.

‘Honor y gloria a los primeros negros que llegaron a Bolivia

Que murieron trabajando

muy explotados en el Cerro Rico de Potosi’

‘Honor and glory to the first Africans who arrived in Bolivia

Who died working

Exploited in the Cerro Rico of Potosi’

These were the words sang by the men, women and children of all ages who participated in the Saya, the Afro-Bolivian song and dance that incorporates African instruments, colonial-era clothing and powerful lyrics that share the Afro-Bolivian history. These lyrics have been passed down from generation to generation ever since the Afro-Bolivians arrived from Africa as slaves to work in the mines and coca plantations of Bolivia.
These lyrics have been passed down from generation to generation ever since the Afro-Bolivians arrived from Africa as slaves to work in the mines and coca plantations of Bolivia.
[caption id="attachment_152953" align="alignleft" width="300"] Photo by Teresa Tolo, South America Semester.[/caption] Along with several performances of the Saya, we also had the chance to hear from Alejandro, an important elder who was born towards the end of the hacienda (estates or plantations owned by the Spanish colonists)  and had witnessed the transition into freedom for his people. The festival took place in the Casa de Hacienda, the former residence of one of the plantation owners in the 1800s that now serves as a meeting point and cultural center for the community. Alejandro expressed how important it is for people to recognize how the suffering of the Afro-Bolivians took place in this same location yet they have been able to look past its exploitative history and use the space to exhibit their culture and educate others of the history. [caption id="attachment_152955" align="alignright" width="294"] Photo by Teresa Tolo, South America Semester.[/caption] Around 6 PM, the guests of honored arrived after a long journey from Senegal that same morning and were already in song and dance as they marched into the Casa de Hacienda with the local Saya group. After taking an hour to rest and prepare, the Tigers of Africa took the stage draped in their colorful, intricate costumes to begin their performance. The fast rhythm of the traditional drums complimented the movements of the dancers who jumped, ran, flipped and twisted around.
Although the performance was only 30 minutes long, the whole crowd was profoundly impressed. Afterwards, everyone had a chance to chat with the performers who are currently on a tour throughout South America. Although there was a struggle for communication between the Spanish-speaking locals and the French/Wolof-speaking Senegalese performers, both parties were elated to interact with their African brothers and sisters. This also gave me an opportunity to use my knowledge of French and Spanish to translate between them.
Our time spent in Los Yungas with the Afro Bolivian communities was an incredible, unforgettable experience. Everywhere I went the people referred to me as ‘family’ and expressed how happy they were to have their African sister visiting the community. Having based my ISP (Independent Study Project) on the Afro-Bolivian history and culture while in our Tiquipaya homestays, travelling to Los Yungas was an opportunity to immerse myself first-hand into the culture I had read and heard so much about. [caption id="attachment_152951" align="alignleft" width="343"] Photo by Teresa Tolo, South America Semester.[/caption] The struggle for the recognition and acceptance of black, African-descendent communities all over the world is an ongoing challenge. However, the Afro-Bolivian community of Los Yungas proves that communities can join together and share their history and identity through the power of music and dance.

Read more student reflections from the South America Semester on Dragons Yak Board. 

[post_title] => From Senegal to Bolivia: A Cultural Celebration, Yak of The Week [post_excerpt] => From the Yak of the Week: "The struggle for the recognition and acceptance of black, African-descendent communities all over the world is an ongoing challenge. However, the Afro-Bolivian community of Los Yungas proves that communities can join together and share their history and identity through the power of music and dance." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senegal-bolivia-cultural-celebratio-yak-week [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-25 10:45:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-25 16:45:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 78 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 78 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 653 [name] => Global Community [slug] => global_community [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 653 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [parent] => 0 [count] => 50 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6 [cat_ID] => 653 [category_count] => 50 [category_description] => Featured International People, Places, Projects. [cat_name] => Global Community [category_nicename] => global_community [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/global_community/ ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Global Community )
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 152844
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-04-04 09:57:39
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-04 15:57:39
    [post_content] => 

This Yak offers a lovely reflection from Dragons Instructor Jeff Wagner, on why we study and learn foreign languages. A must read for parents and students on the philosophy underlying Dragons core program element of language study.

In this community, when we speak amongst ourselves, it carries love, care, and power. - Mario
I sat across the table from our host, Mario, as he explained why he returned to the tiny mountain village of Paru Paru from the modern metropolis of Lima. His story of adventure, of travels from the high Andes to the Pacific coast and the Amazon jungles, of heavy work in the mountains and mines centered on language. “In this community, when we speak amongst ourselves, it carries love, care, and power. The words people in the modern cities don’t speak beauty. Their words carry no love or power. Quechua is a language of beauty. It’s so sweet. When we talk in Spanish, it’s not so sweet.” So, after more than a decade, he returned to Paru Paru, that sweeter place, determined to preserve that culture and way of life that had nurtured his heart when he was young. And now, even the way Mario spoke Spanish was like the sweet smell of flowers. His words and his heart still belonged to that gentle eloquence of his first language. [caption id="attachment_152845" align="alignnone" width="755"] Photo by Dragons Instructor Jeff Wagner. South America Gap Year Program.[/caption] Unlike Mario, I grew up in a monolingual world. I took Spanish classes in high school, but it felt like calculus or chemistry: something that I doubted I would ever actually use. I took language classes because they were required for entrance into most colleges I might want to attend. I never really wanted to learn Spanish, just like I never really wanted to learn calculus. And I never enjoyed it all that much. If it was easier to speak fluent English than broken Spanish, why should I learn to communicate in another language? But nobody ever asked me why I wanted to learn Spanish. Here in South America, the reason to learn language is right in front of us every day. And it’s not just to translate our thoughts and communication into a language that people here understand.
We encounter these stories in newspaper columns, love letters, bed-time stories, idle chatter on the street corner, and philosophy.
Across the world, we learn language because each one has its unique stories to tell, and we open ourselves to new possibilities. We encounter these stories in newspaper columns, love letters, bed-time stories, idle chatter on the street corner, and philosophy. They’re told around campfires, written in beautiful curly scripts, and carved into ancient stone walls. Stories in English today have become dominated by the pragmatic, blunt language of global business, capitalism, and material success. Spanish stories express a multi-continental history of struggle and complex identity. Most speakers of Spanish are descendants of colonized people, building a resistance against imperialism out of the language of their former colonizers. Tibetan stories seem to be built around knowledge and understanding of the mind and devotion to a greater purpose. Life in Hindi seems to be a poetic unfolding over infinite time; the words for tomorrow and yesterday are the same in Hindi. A language is made from the stories that its people tell and the manner in which its speakers move through the world.
Life in Peru cannot fit into the English language. Without knowing a few Quechua words, we cannot understand the stories here, even if they’re translated into our own language.
As English-speaking people from the United States, the narratives and stories that we have heard all our lives are simply not large enough enough to accommodate this place, the people we meet here, and the vast history. Life in Peru cannot fit into the English language. Without knowing a few Quechua words, we cannot understand the stories here, even if they’re translated into our own language. Marcel Proust says, “The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes, in seeing the universe with the eyes of another, of hundreds of others, in seeing the hundreds of universes that each of them sees.” It’s a beautiful thought, and I share it with my students. But in 2017, I could walk through any tourist market in the world with my eyes wide open and still find somebody to barter with in English, all the while further isolating myself from the place I am supposedly trying to experience. It’s the stories we hear that change the way we know the world.
We don’t learn language to barter in the market for bracelets. We learn language to think and communicate more like the people who have different stories to tell, to understand the world as they perceive it not through their eyes, but through their ears.
We don’t learn language to barter in the market for bracelets. We learn language to think and communicate more like the people who have different stories to tell, to understand the world as they perceive it not through their eyes, but through their ears. We learn language to understand other mindsets and ways of being. Anywhere we travel, there are stories waiting to be told; stories that could never exist in an English-speaking world.  
Read more Yak reflections and posts written by Dragons Instructor Jeff Wagner.
[post_title] => Why We Learn Language, Featured Yak [post_excerpt] => "We don’t learn language to barter in the market for bracelets. We learn language to think and communicate more like the people who have different stories to tell, to understand the world as they perceive it not through their eyes, but through their ears." This Yak offers a lovely reflection from Dragons Instructor Jeff Wagner, on why we learn foreign languages. A must read for parents and students on the philosophy underlying language study. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => learn-language-featured-yak [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-04 10:26:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-04 16:26:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 697 [name] => Dragons Travel Guide [slug] => dragons-travel-guide [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 697 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 25 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 2 [cat_ID] => 697 [category_count] => 25 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Dragons Travel Guide [category_nicename] => dragons-travel-guide [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/dragons-travel-guide/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 655 [name] => Continued Education [slug] => continued_education [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 655 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Continued Education, Webinars, Curriculum, Transference. [parent] => 0 [count] => 15 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3 [cat_ID] => 655 [category_count] => 15 [category_description] => Continued Education, Webinars, Curriculum, Transference. [cat_name] => Continued Education [category_nicename] => continued_education [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/continued_education/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 700 [name] => For Parents [slug] => for_parents [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 700 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [parent] => 0 [count] => 48 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5 [cat_ID] => 700 [category_count] => 48 [category_description] => Blog posts specifically curated for parents wishing to know more about Dragons culture, programs, company, and community. [cat_name] => For Parents [category_nicename] => for_parents [category_parent] => 0 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 640 [name] => Dragons Instructors [slug] => dragons_instructors [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 640 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [parent] => 0 [count] => 36 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8 [cat_ID] => 640 [category_count] => 36 [category_description] => Featuring the words, projects, guidance and vision of the community of incredible staff that make Dragons what it is. [cat_name] => Dragons Instructors [category_nicename] => dragons_instructors [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Dragons Travel Guide, Continued Education ... )
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 152545
    [post_author] => 21
    [post_date] => 2018-02-16 11:03:38
    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-16 18:03:38
    [post_content] => 
...this country has great wealth that goes way beyond economics.
This new year, I’ve taken a lot of time to explore Dakar, and I wanted to share some of my stories with you. Some experiences have been profound, some not. Some fun, some uncomfortable. Sometimes I do touristy things like a local, sometimes I do local things like a tourist. This is (arbitrarily) the first of my Dakar travels. The unfortunate background to our first tale is that Sophie had to leave Senegal early. In light of this, during one of our days off, we decided to take an adventure, exploring a side of Dakar we hadn’t seen before. This included going to the wonderful Espace Maam Samba, a fairtrade boutique associated with an NGO that seeks to revitalise Senegalese villages faced with desertification (Berte, one of our instructors, works with the NGO). There we bought some gifts and spent a little while chatting with the women working at the boutique. After spending a little too much money, we headed towards the sea, trying to figure out how to get to the Ile de Ngor. We walked down some small sandy alleys, tall houses on either side, asking for directions on the way, and just as we were getting skeptical we saw a stunning beach brimming with pirogues, busy with fishers, tourists, vendors. [caption id="attachment_152546" align="alignnone" width="854"] Photo by Benjamin Roberts, Princeton Bridge Year Senegal Program.[/caption] We stood for a moment, stunned by the array of colours, the sheer quantity of boats and the beautiful view out to the island and beyond. And as we stood, a pirogue floated calmly towards the shore, then suddenly a flurry of activity as a large group of men and women, previously sitting untroubled on the beach, leapt into action, hauling the boat onto shore and examining the catch of the day. Having soaked up the atmosphere, we returned to our mission, crossing to the island. As we walked along the beach, I found myself hauling a boat on to shore; it felt only natural as it landed right in our path. Continuing on, we found a man selling return tickets to the island, and as we sat waiting for the boat to come, we saw a few groups of foreign tourists come and take private boats to the island. Sophie and I preferred to wait for the cheaper, more communal option. That gave us time for a little chat with a sunglasses seller called Babacar, who impressed us with his English as we impressed him with our Wolof. Eventually the pirogue came, giving us the cue to don our life jackets and scramble in. Not wanting to get in the way, I hopped on and made my way to the back so that others could come aboard. Once I was seated, I realised that I had lost Sophie (not the tallest among us), for whom the high-sided boat was not so easy to climb as it was for me. Fortunately someone more considerate than myself helped her clamber up, and the boat began its short yet exciting journey to the island. With our feet in the sand on the other side (and a rogue sandal rescued from the quietly thieving tides), we sought to explore. Wary of an offer of a ‘free’ guided tour, we decided to find our own way around the small island. It wasn’t long before we bumped into a local artist. Though we were at first wary, we engaged openly with him, and I’m glad we did so, as we ended up spending a long time talking, with him telling us about the island as well as his home in the southern Casamance region of Senegal. As we parted, he gifted us bracelets, telling us that though he may not travel far, his art will. I assured him that we take his name with us, and reccomend his traditional art to our friends. Barely ten paces along the island and we felt it rude not to chat with a lonely artist at work. After a brief chat about music of all types, Senegalese mbalax, disco, reggae, we took a seat at the tip of the island, looking out to the humblingly vast ocean. Dakar being the westernmost point in mainland Afro-Eurasia, the atlantic here feels particularly vast: sitting there on the Ile de Ngor, only the ocean kept us from being on the beaches of Honduras. At the same time, it really is a world away. There on the cliffs of the Ile de Ngor, with waves crashing on the rocks beneath us, was a spot ripe for reflection, and we sat there for a long while. Eventually came time to move on, and we took a stroll around the picturesque island, taking in some incredible buildings, one house covered in seashells, a Christian school that looked like Noah’s Ark, and many less incredible but still beautiful creations. [caption id="attachment_152547" align="alignnone" width="755"] Photo by Benjamin Roberts, Princeton Bridge Year Senegal Program.[/caption] Eventually came time for our return. We sat on the beach, waiting for the next pirogue to come, eating beignets (a wonderful doughnut-like treat). While not all of my time here is spent going on fun adventures like this one, I have found them to be perhaps some of my most valuable time in Senegal. Seeing the beauty of the world is a treasure in itself, and I encounter a lot of thought-provoking experiences, good and bad. The space that these adventures have given me simply to think has been so far priceless. Days like this one make me realise all that Senegal has to offer. Often in the West, there are incredibly simplistic views of Africa, not helped by some of the de-humanising ‘humanitarian’ advertising campaigns we see. But this country has great wealth that goes way beyond economics. It’s in the art, which abounds in quantity and beauty in Senegal. Even the buses here are a psychedelic explosion of colour inspired by some of the country’s richest and oldest cultural traditions. It’s in the folk traditions that have been built up and preserved for centuries, underpinning community life and providing wisdom from generations past to generations present. It’s in the landscape, from the plateaus in Thies that emerge from nowhere and disappear just as quickly, standing over vast flat plains; to the lush, green waterfallls that dot the mountains of Kedogou; as well as the peninsula of Dakar, where we were sat. And of course, the intrinsic wealth of everyone here. This is a wealth that we have all had the benefit of experiencing in our homestay families, as we are welcomed with open arms, and we encounter it on the street so often with all the incredible people we meet. All of these experiences mean that by the time I leave Senegal, I’ll be a lot richer than when I came.

Read MORE from the Princeton Bridge Year Senegal Yak Board.

  [post_title] => Yak of the Week: Dakar Travels [post_excerpt] => Seeing the beauty of the world is a treasure in itself, and I encounter a lot of thought-provoking experiences, good and bad. The space that these adventures have given me simply to think has been so far priceless. Days like this one make me realise all that Senegal has to offer. Often in the West, there are incredibly simplistic views of Africa, not helped by some of the de-humanising ‘humanitarian’ advertising campaigns we see. But this country has great wealth that goes way beyond economics. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => yak-week-dakar-travels [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-16 11:11:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-16 18:11:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 78 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 78 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) ) [category_links] => From the Field )
1 2 3 4 5