Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Leading The Way" Ixta

I'm headed to Mexico later today to guide a group of blind and visually impaired teens and young adults up Iztaccihuatl (Ixta), one of the grand volcanos looking over the capitol city. I will be working with my blind buddy Erik Weihenmayer as we are teaming up with Global Explorers out of Ft Collins.

As the legend goes, the volcanoes of Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl were created from the tragic love of the Aztec princess Iztaccíhuatl and the warrior Popocatépetl. These magnificent peaks were formed by Popo's fiery emotion and immortalized in Ixta's womanly shape. From a distance, Ixta forms the outline of a woman lying on her back. Although few have explored their broad talus and snow slopes up close, they have a beauty, a history and a palpable presence which transcend their stunning visual prominence. Combining an unlikely team of blind and sighted young adults from Mexico and the United States, it will be an extraordinary journey of leadership, discovery and adventure.

For this expedition, Global Explorers has partnered their nationally recognized Leading the Way program with the Mexican nonprofit Ojos que Sienten. Their goal: to reach the higher limits of 17,159-foot Iztaccíhuatl and, in the process, to break down barriers and misperceptions about disabilities. This trip is made possible through the support of numerous sponsors, including Unilever. Thanks to the generosity of Fundación Televisa and Fundación Cinépolis, an eye operation will be donated for every participant who reaches the summit.

Not only will students explore a social and cultural exchange between Mexico and the US, but they will also examine the shared contexts of disability. A unique part of the project will be a collaborative art project with photos from the expedition taken by blind team members. These photos will then be posted to an online gallery as part of a continuing tactile and visual project of artwork created by blind students. Additionally, Ojos que Sienten will be hosting "Dinner in the Dark," where blind students serve their guests in complete darkness. This gala dinner is open to the public and gives the blind students an opportunity to share the experience of blind culture with their teammates and community.

Should be a wonderful trip with a great blend of culture, leadership, challenge an down right fun!