Naropa University offers four approved study abroad programs through a partnership with Where There Be Dragons, a pioneer in the field of cross-cultural experiential education, intercultural communication and team-building, and the development of global studies curriculum. President Obama’s daughter Malia participated in the Dragons’ program “Andes & Amazon” in the fall.
Last spring, Peace Studies major Awa “Faridah” Ndiaye participated in the Andes and Amazon program, below, she shares some journal writing about her experience:
“Yesterday I harvested Coca with Valentina and Tia Dona Marta y Tio Justino. Tia Marta so gracefully and unapologetically shared her story with us. Just listening to Valentina and Marta speak was incredible…Valentina held space for Marta in a way I had not seen done before, she was so attentive to her being…to her body, her words, her hand gestures, her tears. Valentina—sweet, fierce and intelligent—gives all she has to share…her time, her love, coca, her homemade goods.
Valentina held my hand and guided me in the beginnings of my journey in ‘finding home, finding belonging’. She offered me the great wisdom of gentleness, sharing one’s gifts (medicine) while also holding boundaries. Our hearts intertwined in sisterhood; I couldn’t have entered my solo journey without her relentless care for my well being.
I found home again in my body and the beautiful land of Tocana, Las Yungas—Bolivia. I found home with the Afro Bolivian community whom I share roots and ancestors with, whom I shared a home and family meals with, and more than this, I share stories and memories with… Stories and memories that are still deeply alive in my heart.”
Peace Studies program chair Candace Walworth, PhD, spent seven days observing the Dragons Andes & Amazon program in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in March 2013.
Below, she talks about her experience:
“I sat in on language classes, was treated to lunch with students at their home-stays, witnessed first-hand the skill and expertise of field instructors and local faculty, took part in student-generated ceremonies, and participated in a student-designed and hosted celebration to honor their host-families.
Most importantly, I stepped into a learning community infused with a palpable love of learning and love for the place and its people.
Dragons instructors demonstrated a commitment to excellence at every level—from caring for the emotional and physical well-being of students to mentoring them in developing self-awareness and leadership skills.
I highly recommend the Andes & Amazon program to Naropa students seeking a combination of Spanish language intensives, trekking and immersion in the history and contemporary social and environmental movements in the mountains and jungles of Bolivia and Peru.”