Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Los Chaskis" Local Andean Music in Utah

"Los Chaskis" de Utah

If you are looking for authentic and exciting music in Utah, look no further. “Los Chaskis,” based in Salt Lake City, are your best option when it comes to Andean music in Utah. A diverse group of composers, poets and musicians, the members of the group create a unique sound that draws from various regions of the South American Andes. The members of the group all have different nationalities, and their different backgrounds are the framework for the blend of folkloric, traditional Andean music that they play.

Edwin Román playing Peruvian pan-flute

During our events, we strive to create an atmosphere that invokes a spirit of “being there,” as we are a humanitarian organization working primarily in Andean nations. “Los Chaskis” were the key to fulfilling this aspect of the show during an amazing night of great food, appreciation, and entertainment at the equally spectacular venue of LaCaille. The music, well exciting and uplifting, was perfect for our formal event and was never overbearing.

Mario Gonzales from Bolivia on Guitar

Although some members of the group rotate show to show, “Los Chaskis” performed with a three-man ensemble the night of our event. Each member masterfully plays a variety of instruments and knows a large repertoire of music. Traditional songs from Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile were performed with hints of each country’s influence permeating into each song. Instruments included the Charango (a small lute-like guitar played by Mario Gonzales from Bolivia), Peruvian Pan-flutes (played by Edwin Román from Peru), a Venezuelan harp (played skillfully by group member Eligio Garcia from Venezuela), guitars and assorted percussion.

Eligio Garcia playing a Venezuelan Harp

The Ascend Alliance was honored to have this amazing group perform for our annual Partner Appreciation dinner, and we were so surprised by their skill and professionalism that we decided to write this review on their performance and establish an ongoing partnership for future events. We highly recommend “Los Chaskis” for formal or informal events, and for people who are just looking to have great music at their event regardless of whether or not they are looking specifically for Andean music. You will surely not be disappointed!


Edwin Román
Phone: (801) 702-3075

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Park City 5 Bolivia Expedition

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Friendship Ambassadors

International Volunteer Work Helps Improve Foreign Relations

Sure, the United States has ambassadors in almost every country in the world. But do they really have a positive effect on the way people view us? Theoretically, an ambassador's job is to "negotiate and disseminate information in order to keep peace and establish relationships with other countries." One thing that is not clear is whether or not our ambassadors have succeeded in establishing GOOD, mutually beneficial relationships with other countries. That would probably explain the generally negative perception that foreigners have of our country. That's where we come in.

Through Ascend's international internship program, US Citizens are able to fully connect with the people living in these countries, establish real friendships and empower their friends to rise out of poverty and better their lives. Take for example Bolivia, with a notoriously anti-American government in power. Ask anyone who has worked with or benefited from our Bolivia program what they think of the US, and you will be pleasantly surprised by their response. They don't harbor negative sentiment towards individual US Citizens. They may be critical of our political policies and tendency to dominate international dialogue, but they know that there are good people living in the US that want to see them prosper on their own terms.

One of the best things about Ascend is that we don't impose on the communities where we work. We utilize an asset-based approach where we help identify what a community is good at and where they want to be in 5 years. We identify leaders within the communities and help them develop their ability to be the role-models and mentors that a community needs to better itself. Unfortunately, we can't reach all of the people who could benefit from the message that we offer. We are too small to establish personal relationships with whole countries or even whole cities, but that doesn't mean we aren't making a difference and it doesn't stop us from trying. Our mission is to empower those in need to save their children and rise out of poverty. However, improving international relationships on a small scale through our sustainable development programs is a welcome side-effect of our work.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday Workdays!

Coming into the office today, I realized how excited I was to come into work. Even though there are lots of things to get done and projects to finish up, it is always a great workplace. The people Ascend attracts are amazing and all very driven to make a difference. The most exciting thing, with the technological advances like skype, is keeping in touch with interns in other countries. Hearing first hand the projects Ascend has been working on makes me feel proud to be interning here. I have gained skills in many areas along with making great friends and fun memories.

What attracted me to Ascend was the opportunity to work in country alongside the local people. Getting involved with hands on experience is what makes Ascend great! Ascend primary focus is the sustainability of projects, so the community can thrive long after our aide has been given.

I highly recommend interning or volunteering at Ascend. It has given me wonderful skills and has introduced me to wonderful people.

Check out our expeditions and internships at:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reflections on 9 Months in Peru

Many people ask me after living in Peru for 9 months, “is it weird to be back?” My answer up to this point has been in the affirmative; yes, it is weird to be back. It feels strange to no longer have to avoid massive potholes in the street, it feels weird to be able to pet dogs without the fear of getting fleas, it feels weird to speak in ENGLISH again, but most of all it feels weird not to be able to visit the communities where I have worked and to say goodbye to a previously foreign place which I had begun to call my home. In retrospect, 9 months isn’t really that long. It is the same amount of time to finish a school year, have a baby or digest an In-and-Out Burger. If I live to be 80, which may happen if the world doesn’t end in 2012 and I stop drinking coffee with ample sugar and cream, this experience will only have been about 1/100 of the time I will have spent living. However, I feel that the time I spent as an international intern with ASCEND will mean 100 times more to me than the other experiences I will have had in my life. But how can I possibly say that this is my defining life experience if I still have so much life left to live?

It’s simple, interning with ASCEND helped me to identify what it is that I want to do with my life AND put the wheels in motion. We did SO many different things throughout my time in Peru, whether it was teaching basic disease prevention to parents and watching them writhe in disgust after viewing our video clip about intestinal worms, or organizing a group of children to pick up trash after a health campaign and then having them wash their hands before buying them all corn and cheese as a reward, or installing a banner publicizing a fledgling business of culinary geniuses, or putting the finishing touches on a new, beautiful school that would replace a 60-year old mud hut that was about to fall over, or…… (this list could go on for 100 pages). This is the stuff that memories are made of. These are the experiences that help you determine what you want to do with your life. These are the experiences that give your life purpose.

I’m not just walking away with an inkling or some vague, general outline of what I want to do (like what happens to most when they take that walk down the red carpet to pick up their rolled-up piece of paper). I have a plan for the next 10 years of my life, something that I don’t think that most of my friends my age can say that they enjoy. I have established relationships with people that can help me to achieve this plan. One thing I like a lot about ASCEND is our approach to setting goals. We know how to set them so that they are achievable, realistic and measurable while simultaneously worthy and ambitious. Working with the people of Peru, the REAL people, not the tour guide, not the wealthy businessman from Lima, I discovered that I want to work in international business entrepreneurism in Latin America as a career. That’s not a stretch considering my major is business entrepreneurism with a minor in Spanish. Nevertheless, I needed the practical experience of living and working in Peru to confirm what I had previously identified as a possible career path. I’m not going to go into specifics because I don’t want you to steal my ideas, but I promise you that there are good things in store.

More than anything else, ASCEND helped me learn to identify opportunities and have the personal motivation to act appropriately upon these opportunities. Looking for opportunities to work with Humanitarian projects is a lot like looking for business opportunities. We are in the business of identifying NEED. We identify a need, and we fulfill the need. Once that need is identified, we set goals and measure our progress on an ongoing basis. After that need has been met, we do follow-ups to make sure that the need continues to be met and how we can meet that need even better in the future. So I would like to send this message out to anyone who knows what they are studying but don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Become an intern with ASCEND, either at HQ in Salt Lake City or in South America. No matter what you are studying, there is an opportunity to put your skills to work with ASCEND. I promise you that your experience will be as rewarding as mine if you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone and embrace the unknown and unfamiliar; you will NOT be disappointed. Also, you will get to go to the coast, the jungle and the sierra HAHAHAHA! More to come…