Now Voyager: From Pacific to Andes—A Field Environmental Philosophy Learning-Adventure in Chile
From December 27, 2016 to January 6, 2017, Now Voyager takes college students (& 18+ year olds) on an ecstatic journey through South-Central Chile, following the path of water from the Pacific Ocean in Pichilemu across the Central Range, the agricultural Central Valley, and onto the high Andean peaks of the volcanic Tinguiririca Range.
Now Voyager is a bi-national, 11-day field environmental philosophy (FEP) adventure-learning course that introduces college students to the natural and cultural history of Chile and, through these studies, the dynamic biophysical forces that comprise us.
FEP Adventure Learning
Now Voyager training occurs through the defamiliarizing experience of multiculturalism: the mixing of Chileans and North Americans together into a single expedition-group. The ensuing disorientation of languages, habits, aesthetics and cuisines is very stimulating. It causes each Voyager to present their perspectives for the first time to people who are unfamiliar with, and very interested in, them. A Voyager examines their perspectives in the very act of sharing them; and becomes, through this performance of self-consciousness, more fully aware of their own worldview. Since each Voyager absorbs the perspectives of every other Voyager, a cosmopolitan sensibility emerges. The loosening of national identity creates space for new and positive character growth; it also prepares Voyagers to open their senses, and sensibilities, to the natural and cultural vibrancies of south-central Chile.
During the day to day activities of traveling, natural- and cultural- history investigations, creative writing, lectures, discussions, performances, training in beginner’s surfing and climbing, yoga, hiking, camping, and constant group motion, the Voyager gains valuable insights into how national identity—especially their own—is constructed. This awareness is extremely valuable as we enter an era, driven by climate change, of rapid cultural and economic transformation.
Now Voyager training occurs also through deep biotic immersion: surfing the waves and absorbing the marine vitalities at Punta de Lobos, exploring the last stand of an ancient forest deep in a lake canyon, feasting on the abundances of the fertile Central Valley, climbing high on the glacial shoulders of volcanic Tinguiririca and after descending, soaking in its steaming thermal pools.
Above you see students making contact with the Pacific and below you see students camping the heights of volcanic Tinguiririca; these places are living “texts” Voyagers read, interpret, discuss, and—via journal writing—weave their own stories into.
As each day passes, Now Voyagers are presented with new environmental conditions that call forth their adaptive capacities, in the way Shakespeare described:
As Voyagers learn to surf, they comprehend the unity of ocean and self, vigorously and joyfully; as they challenge and test themselves, they learn the biophysical character of waves born hundreds of miles away. As they climb in the Tinguiririca Range, they enter a realm unlike any found elsewhere, where the bones of the planet are visible and each step occurs in the sky. Elemental connections are made and are extended, sustained and documented via FEP curricular activities that draw philosophical concepts out of these deep biotic immersions. Now Voyager is a college level environmental philosophy course that “lives its subject” and that supercharges purely conceptual understandings with surfing and mountaineering experiences supervised by expert-guides at Oceanos Chile, Superfun Chile and by Biocitizen’s NOLS-certified UMass intern Emmett Lollis-Taylor. Here’s Superfun/Now Voyager FEP teacher Emilio Garcia de la Huerta surfing at Punta de Lobos:
These are the kind of waves Emilio surfs with his friends; Now Voyagers won’t surf them, but — it’s good for parents to know that our teachers are the best not only in Chile, but in all of South America.
Through these direct encounter ¨vos velo¨ (you see it, make your decision) activities, the Voyager’s senses open, perceptual abilities increase, and the informations “downloaded” are felt. This holistic, full-body, psychosomatic way of learning natural and cultural history invites (and requires) the Voyager to dwell in the reality of land as an organism. In and through this dwelling, the character of the biocitizen is incorporated.
—Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.—
Active Conservation Research and Service: the Punta de Lobos Conservación Iniciativa
Now Voyager training occurs, also, through a hands-on introduction to the Punta de Lobos Conservación Iniciativa. Pichilemu is a burgeoning city in need of smartgrowth development that will ensure it conserves the natural and cultural resources that make it such a wonderful place. There are two conservation organizations rallying to protect Punta de Lobos and Superfun, Oceanos and Biocitizen will support, and contribute to, their efforts. These organizations are “Save the Wave” and “Punta de Lobos por Siempre.” Voyagers will spend parts of two days learning about economic-growth problems and solutions as they assist hands-on in important conservation activities.
Opportunity for Independent Study
To provide the basis of a public process of planning and decision-making, these studies are needed by CONAF, Chile’s version of the EPA; Biocitizen is inviting professors, graduate and undergraduate students in the USA to join us in Pichilemu to set up these research programs:
- marine: a) the biophysical character of Punta de Lobos needs to be defined, through analysis of a data derived from collection buoy (which needs to be put in place) and through b) species inventories
- economic: an assessment of the present and future economic uses and values of Punta de Lobos
- civil engineering: a transportation study for Pichilemu that can provide the basis for the city to (re)design itself so that various modes of transportation are enabled, traffic is reduced, and appropriate visitor access to Punta de Lobos is provided.
- sustainability: a study that will help Pichilemu invest its time and energy to produce a cost-effective, sustainable infrastructure, in a way that enhances the area’s natural beauty and vivacities.
If you are a college student who is interested in being part of the initiative, and working out an independent study curricula that includes research that will be used to assist Pichilemu as it tries to “grow smart,” please send a note in the comment form at the bottom of the page, or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Professors who would like to know more about how they can do crucial research to assist CONAF, please do the same.
Tuition and Logistics
Now Voyager course summary
For 11 days, students explore the cosmopolitan dimensions of their self while they travel from urban Santiago to the surf paradise of Pichilemu through the coastal mountains, across the agricultural heartland, and then high into the Andes, for a several day expedition far above tree-line. As they go from sea to mountain top, they have fun facing the challenges of beginning to intermediate level surfing, climbing, and hiking. The direct contact and deep biotic immersions the students have with the sea, the earth and the sky becomes the basis for their study, and growing awareness, of themselves as “citizens of nature”: biocitizens.
—A conversational-level proficiency in Spanish is preferred but not required.
Course dates: Monday Dec 26 2016 to Jan 5 2017
Dec 27: NYC evening departure
Dec 28: arrive Santiago 9am, tour the city, then to Pichilemu
Dec 29: Pichilemu
Dec 30: Pichilemu
Dec 31: Pichilemu
Jan 1: Canon de Ancien Palmas
Jan 2:Termas de Flaco
Jan 3: Tinguiririca
Jan 4: Tinguiririca
Jan 5: Termas de Flaco
Jan. 6: Santiago evening departure
Jan. 7: Arrival NYC
We will leave the USA on the evening of December 27, 2016 and return the USA on the morning of January 7. You are responsible for your airfare, but Biocitizen will coordinate your flight so we arrive and leave Santiago’s Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International airport as a group. At the moment, flights cost about $1,200-1,500 RT.
A tuition fee of $1,300.00 will be charged that covers:
- all educational services and events as defined in the course description
- all transportation in Chile
- in Pichilemu, and our Pacific biome:
- 5 nights surf house lodging near Punta de Lobos
- 4 days early-morning sun-salutation Ashtanga Yoga with certified instructors Emilio Huerta (Pichilemu) and Michelle Ryan (Northampton)
- 5 classic Chilean breakfasts and dinners
- 3 days of 1/2 day Superfun surfing instruction
- 4 days of wetsuit and surfboard rental (surf without instruction on 4th day)
In Termas de Flaco and our Andean biome:
—Termas de Flaco (1/2/17 and 1/5/17): 2 nights lodging, with dinners and breakfasts
—Tinguiririca Expedition: (1/3/17 to 1/5/17):
- professional guiding and mountaineering instruction by Superfun
- cramp-ons, ice-ax, helmet
- shared dome tents
- trail food and 2 breakfasts and dinners
- heavy gear portage by pack-horses
You will provide your own lunches, because we want you to investigate Chilean markets and cuisine. You cover any alcoholic beverages, one museum fee ($6 adult, $2 ISID) and the hot springs fee ($5.)
Tuition does not cover medical insurance for you, so if you are injured your own insurance will cover expenses. You will never be forced to do any surfing, hiking or mountaineering activity that you do not consent to, and accommodation will be made for you if would like to not participate in these activities. Our itinerary is set up to allow different levels of intensity to be experienced at the same time. To participate in Now Voyager you must sign a hold harm form for Biocitizen and Superfun.
What to Bring
You need beach clothes for Pichilemu, which has a Pacific mediterranean climate: warm and sunny and then cool and foggy, occasionally quite windy. Bring your laptop, cell phone, camera, toiletries, and whatever else you need (but be minimal please for we will be on the move). Pichilemu has most kinds of stores, and you can buy there whatever you have forgotten.
For Tinguiririca, where there are no shops, you need to bring what you would wear to climb Mt. Washington in June, where it is hot one moment and a snow squall or thunderstorm the next:
- sturdy hiking boots and 2 pair good wool socks
- rain pants and jacket that breathe
- fleece jacket and leggings
- capilene/merino wool shirt or two
- scarf, hat and gloves
- large day pack (we will have heavy gear carried for us, and establish a base camp at about 2,500km/8,000 ft, so we don’t need giant backpacks)
- walking poles (not totally necessary but good to have)
- water bottle, sunscreen, etc.
- a copy of Neruda’s Canto General.
Assigned texts, excluding pdfs, links and hand-outs:
- The Chile Reader
- Canto General, by Pablo Neruda
- Walking, by Henry David Thoreau
- A Blank Writer’s Journal
a) Now Voyagers will be required to participate in activities to the best of their ability. This is not an extreme sports course; the FEP activities are meant to bring the body, as well as the mind, into the educational experience. The itinerary is designed to be accomplished by students who are physically healthy, and of average athletic ability; it invites students to push themselves as hard as they can without getting hurt. Students who apply should want to “find their edge,” because it is at that edge that positive growth occurs. Students are required to experience some pain, so they can gain. —Mountains do not climb themselves! It is the pleasurably-painful experience of climbing to the top that makes being on top a peak experience.
b) While the course is in session, Now Voyagers will be required to present 2 flash-accounts of any aspect of their experience on a Superfun or Biocitizen internet platform for purposes of public outreach and personal expression.
c) Now Voyagers will compose a blogpost that includes four photos they took and a short essay about their FEP experience.
d) Students can design an independent study course, to deepen the rigor and extent of these requirements.
To register for Now Voyager please send a note in the comment form at the bottom of the page or via email to email@example.com, or call Kurt Heidinger at 413.320.0522.