South America Semester

Andes & Amazon

A 3-Month Gap Year Program

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Duration
83 Days
Description

Immerse yourself in the language and culture of the Andes and Amazon: trek along glaciated peaks, connect with local communities, and build Spanish proficiency in a range of dramatic settings.

Spring Dates

Feb 7 - May 1, 2019


Spring Availability

accepting waitlist

Fall Dates

Sep 15 - Dec 6, 2019


Fall Availability

open

Number of Participants

12


Suggested Ages

17-22

Spring Begins In

4 Weeks

Fall Begins In

35 Weeks

Land Cost

$15,285


Estimated Flight Cost

$1,495

Puno

Cusco

Cordillera Apolobamba

La Paz

Cordillera Real

Cochabamba

Potosí

Machu Picchu

Puerto Maldonado

Program Overview

The Central Andes is a region full of superlatives, existing at extremes.


From sparkling glaciers to lush tropical forests, this Gap Year program takes you through a dizzying tapestry of landscapes and cultures, exploring the links between land and people, past and present. The ancient Land of the Incas encompasses a fascinating blend of history and vibrant cultures, placed in a modern context of political change and social transformation. Through intensive Spanish language courses, trekking through a wide range of ecological backdrops, exposure to remote indigenous communities, and an extended homestay, Andes & Amazon students connect deeply with the local culture while exploring a rich panorama of Andean and Amazonian realities. Dragons students will also examine current political trends, social movements, and environmental conservation efforts in the mountains and jungles of Bolivia and Peru.

The Andes & Amazon Gap Year program is based in the tranquil agricultural town of Tiquipaya, on the outskirts of Cochabamba in Central Bolivia. Here students…

From sparkling glaciers to lush tropical forests, this Gap Year program takes you through a dizzying tapestry of landscapes and cultures, exploring the links between land and people, past and present. The ancient Land of the Incas encompasses a fascinating blend of history and vibrant cultures, placed in a modern context of political change and social transformation. Through intensive Spanish language courses, trekking through a wide range of ecological backdrops, exposure to remote indigenous communities, and an extended homestay, Andes & Amazon students connect deeply with the local culture while exploring a rich panorama of Andean and Amazonian realities. Dragons students will also examine current political trends, social movements, and environmental conservation efforts in the mountains and jungles of Bolivia and Peru.

The Andes & Amazon Gap Year program is based in the tranquil agricultural town of Tiquipaya, on the outskirts of Cochabamba in Central Bolivia. Here students live with local families, largely of Quechua descent, and have the opportunity to connect intimately with a local community. Our time is characterized by intensive Spanish instruction, exposure to local activists and social organizations in Cochabamba, and opportunities to delve into independent study topics. Based at the foothills of the Andes, this is an ideal backdrop for settling into the rhythms of a local community while offering students the time to develop critical language and leadership skills. Our Program House is situated on an organic farm, creating unique opportunities for students to engage with local food systems and agricultural practices.

Beyond Tiquipaya, the semester takes us to the fascinating twin cities of La Paz and El Alto, dramatic urban centers that sit above 13,000 feet in the midst of the sparkling snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Real. Here we partner with a local theater group in El Alto, the indigenous capital of Latin America, while meeting with local figures and exploring the bustling streets and markets of El Alto and La Paz. Excursions take us into dramatic mountain settings, traveling by foot to the base of glaciers and then down into the lush tropical forests of the Amazon basin. Peeling back the folds of time, we travel by boat along tropical waterways to lowland indigenous communities where rivers function as the only roads and the forces of past and present can be seen in stark relief. In the lowlands we are exposed to development and conservation issues in the most bio-diverse corners of the planet, while taking in the incredible cultural and ecological diversity of the Amazon jungle.

In Peru, our journey takes us around glittering Lake Titicaca to the heart of the Incan empire. Trekking routes carry us by foot to the lost city of the Incas at Machu Picchu, while remote mountain excursions take us farther afield to remote Quechua communities that exist much as they did a century ago. Our time in Peru is highlighted by dramatic mountain landscapes, exposure to remote indigenous communities, and a deeper understanding of development trends and contemporary issues in Southern Peru.  A second program base in the Sacred Valley town of Urubamba provides opportunities for further homestay, language, and Independent Study immersion in a beautiful town at the foot of the Andes.

On the Dragons South America Gap Year program, expect to hone your Spanish skills while discovering the links between vibrant indigenous peoples and the diverse and breathtaking landscapes they inhabit. Dragons students will come away with a deep understanding of indigenous political trends, important challenges in conservation and development, and a first-hand understanding of day-to-day life in some of the earth’s most dramatic locales.

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Student Profile

if taking Courses for-credit

Students participating on the South America Gap semester may choose to take courses for-credit.  Those who enroll in these optional courses will be invoiced additional fees on top of the land cost, as noted below. Students who take one or more courses for-credit will receive a transcript from Dragons School of Record after successful completion of the program.

For-Credit Course Fees                         Type
$800 Flat Transcript Fee 
$400 For-Credit Academic Fee (per course)
$1,200 TOTAL COST (1 course)
$1,600 TOTAL COST (2 courses)

 

To read more about the for-credit courses visit our FAQ Page.

Academics

Two college-level courses are available for-credit, although students are not required to take any courses for-credit while participating on the Gap Semester program. Students who do not take courses for-credit will still complete an ISP and participate in language study. Available for-credit courses on the South America semester include:

  • Independent Study Project (ISP): Methods and Application (ANTH/ISP 325; 4 credits)
    (Anthropology 325 / Independent Study Project 325; 4 credits) This course is focused on providing students with a basic understanding of ethnographic research methods and skills, while also giving students the opportunity to develop specialized knowledge in a topic of study. During the first half of the course, a series of thematic seminars focus on research methodologies, the importance of ethics in research, best practices in working in cross-cultural partnerships in the host country, and skills training related to designing a study proposal. Students develop an understanding of how to refine research question(s), determine appropriate research and learning methods, and address ethical issues related to their projects. During the second half of this course, students use the plan outlined in their approved study proposal to carry out an individualized and in-depth study on a subject of their choice using primary sources. With the support of an academic advisor and/or a local mentor, students select a topic which relates to the program’s scope, design an approach to study this subject, and conduct an individual project. The chosen topic of independent study may involve either an academic inquiry or the learning of a traditional skill through an apprenticeship. Typical ISP projects include: studying sustainable agricultural techniques, Andean folk weaving, or learning to play the charango.
  • Spanish Language Study Level I, II & III Language Study (SPAN 150/250/350; 4 credits) 
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    • SPAN 150: Spanish I
      (Spanish Language 150; 4 credits) This course introduces students to the Spanish language and is designed for students with no or minimal previous background in spoken or written Spanish. Students in this course focus on learning essential vocabulary, practicing pronunciation, and understanding simple grammatical structures. This knowledge prepares students to effectively communicate in Spanish on a limited range of topics related to everyday situations. Students practice listening and speaking in real-life situations and examine how culture and language interact in South America. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the oral proficiency and confidence necessary to initiate simple conversations. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.
    • SPAN 250: Spanish II
      (Spanish Language 250; 4 credits) This course introduces students to more challenging linguistic Spanish language material in order to establish a solid foundation for the use of the language. Students in this course focus on building on past language exposure to improve speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students expand their oral expression abilities by increasing vocabulary, improving understanding of grammar concepts, strengthening pronunciation abilities, and focusing on listening comprehension. This course introduces new language concepts to allow students to speak about topics pertaining to their daily lives and also focuses on deepening knowledge of South American culture and customs. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to engage in basic daily conversations, read simple texts, and write for daily needs. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the ability to appropriately use language and improve proficiency. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.
    • SPAN 350: Spanish III
      (Spanish Language 350; 4 credits) This course is designed to develop advanced skills in the Spanish language and is intended for students with extensive prior exposure to the language. This course focuses on consolidating linguistic knowledge and development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students in this course will develop advanced comprehension of and competence in using spoken Spanish in a wide-variety of experiences. Grammatical functions will be reviewed and incorporated as they relate to particular communication needs. A mix of communicative and interactive methods are used to develop advanced proficiency and materials are drawn from a variety of media sources and texts. In addition, students develop their understanding of the relationship between the Spanish language and culture. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to express sophisticated and nuanced ideas both orally and in writing. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

    Click on the download button below to view course syllabi.

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Program Components

3/5
Comparative Religion

Gain insight into Andean cultural and religious worldview, Amazonian traditions and practices, and the spiritual syncretism between pre-colonial belief systems and Christianity.

5/5
Development Studies

Engage with issues in resource management, modernization and globalization, indigenous movements and political representation, urbanization and poverty, environmental conservation, and community and sustainable development.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Explore land use and relationships, social and political activism, and indigenous identity and representation. The semester also delves into pre-Incan and Incan history and culture, the coca leaf, sustainable agriculture, and the arts.

5/5
Homestay

Enjoy a three to four-week homestay outside of Cochabamba in Bolivia or the Sacred Valley town of Urubamba in Peru, with two shorter homestays in the Amazon and a remote mountain community.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Independent Study opportunities include traditional arts in weaving, dance and music, Bolivian cooking, education, Andean spirituality, traditional agricultural practices, carpentry and sustainable construction, silversmithing, and a range of topics surrounding politics and ecology in Bolivia and Peru.

4/5
Language Study

Engage in three to four weeks of personalized language instruction with local teachers for 16-20 hours a week, in addition to opportunities for language immersion throughout. Quechua lessons also available.

2/5
Learning Service

Embrace several opportunities for community-led service engagement. Past projects have focused on sustainable agriculture, collaboration with local NGO's and community initiatives, and arts-based activities with urban youth.

5/5
Rugged Travel

Delve into homestays with limited or no amenities, extensive walking in high altitude mountains and humid rainforests, and lengthy travel by boat, bus and truck.

5/5
Trekking

Participate in multi-day treks moving from the high Andes to the Amazon basin in Bolivia. Wilderness exploration also includes travel through remote rainforests of Bolivia and Peru, and a challenging trek in the Ausangate range in Peru.