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Bolivia 4ward: Making Smiles/Meeting Needs

Bolivia Internships 24/08/2017 0

By Jon Tuttle, Summer 2017

The first day of the Khan Academy math program here at Bolivia 4Ward was slightly overwhelming. I was constantly surrounded by girls shouting “Tío! Tío! Me ayudas?! Tío, aquí!” Despite having worked quite a bit with kids their age before, this was very different. Everyone needed to be seen right away, and they usually wanted help with things they were pretty capable of doing themselves. After the initial shock, it all made sense to me. Coming from orphanages with limited resources that houses a lot of girls, with vastly different needs and abilities, they just needed a little attention. Instead of their neediness being frustrating, it quickly became a joy to share some time with them. Even when they asked for help on questions they already knew the answers to, it made me happy to work it out with them and see them smile when they realized they knew it.

I’m no expert in teaching, and I’m actually kind of bad at math, but that wasn’t really what was important here. The kids just need some attention, to know that they are important and that people care about them. It’s what we all need, and it’s even more crucial in developing confidence in a child that, in many cases, has come from a very scary or sad situation. They have folks at their homes that take care of them, but there’s only so much those good people can do towards replacing parents. I’m grateful to have found myself in a position to chip in a little bit, even if it’s just for two weeks, because kids need every bit of confidence and affection they can get. These past two weeks I got to see the enormous value in sharing time together, in giving someone your full attention, especially for kids who are just beginning to explore the world and themselves.

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How My Spanish Has Improved during My Bolivian Internship!

Bolivia Internships 26/07/2017 0

I can’t believe that 3 weeks ago, I arrived here in Cochabamba for my Bolivian internship with AHA Bolivia knowing only the Spanish taught to me by Dora and seen in taquerias back home. Though I didn’t have many phrases under my belt, I arrived with a willingness (no, a voracious appetite) to learn this important, widely spoken language.

Here we are, 3 weeks later. My boss and fellow interns have remarked at how much my Spanish has improved. And I would totally agree with them! I work incredibly my hard in my Spanish lessons (it helps that I truly enjoy my adorable tutor, Marta, who is incredibly encouraging and vocal about my improvement) and have been constantly practicing with locals!

Because I work better outside the busy office, I spend afternoons working and sketching in coffee shops. There I have to work on my Spanish, because the waiters don’t speak English! I continually push myself out of my comfort zone because that’s the only way one grows—this holds true for my language immersion experience. I figure that the more uncomfortable I am, the more I will improve.

I’m about to improve a lot in my last week here, because I will be spending the mornings of my bolivian internship with the tejadoras who only speak Spanish! How exciting!

I’m truly humbled by this experience and hope to continue having culturally immersive experiences like this one so I can keep growing in my abilities.

Jo Gopinath

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Flexibility: The Key to A Bolivian Internship

Bolivia Internships 20/07/2017 0

Typically, I am not one who enjoys leaving my comfort zone, so coming into my time in my Bolivian internship, I was unsure as to how I would react, knowing that I would most definitely need to try new things and go with the flow.  Now, 4 weeks in, I can say that I have embraced the virtue of flexibility, for which I am really proud.

I have become more flexible in a couple of different settings. One of which is in my work setting. Each day presents us with a new project and I have found that it is great for keeping me on my toes. I have worked on such a wide variety of projects, ranging from sending surveys to clients as well as working on generating content to be used for future marketing endeavors.

Toro toro plaza
The main plaza in Toro Toro
Bolivia internship participants in the cave.

Not only have I been flexible in the Bolivian internship, but I have also been flexible during our time traveling. Now, this flexibility is both literal and figurative. For instance, during our adventure to Torotoro, one of my favorite trips, we went spelunking in a cave. I never thought that I would ever go so deep inside of a cave and have to squeeze through such tight spaces – at one point, we had to army crawl through a space about 20 inches wide! Talk about flexibility! Either way, I had such a time during the cave spelunking trip as well as the hike down to the waterfall. I loved getting to bond with the fellow interns that weekend and I loved getting to see another side of Bolivia.

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REFLECTING

Bolivia Internships 09/03/2016 0

reflecting

Juliet Heid

Though I have been back in the United States for a few days now and out of Bolivia for several weeks, I am still struggling to digest my trip and put it in perspective. When returning, all of my friends and family were eager to hear stories about my experiences, what my work looked like, what the culture of Bolivia felt like, and I struggled to find the words to explain my experience. My short answer has been “it was so amazing, I loved it!” But that does not even come close to describing the trip. One sentence or experience cannot do the trip justice, as it was the moments and memories strung together that made the trip everything it was. Often, it was little moments which filled me with joy, such as the day when Bianca and I took the girls from the orphanage we worked with during the winter vacation session to the park and running wild with them playing tag. Though I didn’t feel culture shock when I arrived, sudden moments would jolt me into sudden realization of the different reality we were living in, like when we had to stop our car on the ride home from ToroToro national park because cows and bulls were crossing into the road.

I have discovered that I have the strength to push myself outside of my comfort zone and be adventurous. For me, this included forcing myself to ignore the embarrassment of making mistakes when speaking a foreign language and just fumble, until people understand. I pushed myself to go caving, conquer heights, and fight through a stomach infection. For many conquering these experiences may not seem to be revolutionary, but it proved to myself that I hold an inner strength to accomplish goals that make me feel unsettled.

I have cherished the time this adventure has given me for self-reflection. I often feel that when I am living my life at Santa Clara I get so swept up in what my next step in life should be, how I can get there, and my daily routine that I don’t take the time to enjoy the present and reflect on what I am current state is. Not having Wi-Fi gave me the space to step away from all of the outside noise, and enjoy time to journal, and process my day before going to sleep. This is something that I hope I can continue now that I have returned home, though I have already found that it is more difficult. I am so grateful for Peru and Brazil as transitions to entering back to the United States, because without that, I feel I would be feeling a little lost back in the United States. Not having a new and exciting adventure awaiting every morning has been an adjustment, and the stress of the real world and what to do post-graduation is hitting hard and fast.

However, I am infinitely grateful for the experience which I have had, and the people who went along the journey with me. I could not imagine a better group than Bianca, Halle, Kayla, Marcus, and Elahdio for the short time he was with us. We all brought unique strengths and weaknesses to the table, but despite how different we were from one another there never was dull moment. Every moment was filled with laughter and support, and I cannot imagine having the trip in any other way. Finally, I am grateful for the leaders we had the privilege of meeting and working with while abroad. It was inspiring to meet people who took their passions, whether it be fair trade, organic nutrition, or art and created a living from there.

Every moment I have had abroad has made me a stronger, more reflective, brighter individual, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I can’t wait to decide where my life will take me from here, and even though post-grad life terrifies me, I know everything is going to work out just the way it should.

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“IT’S NOT WHERE YOU GO, IT’S WHO YOU TRAVEL WITH”

Bolivia Internships 09/03/2016 0

Bolivia 4ward

2016-03-08_1906Bolivia is a beautiful unforgettable country with many adventures to offer, and the work that I did with Bolivia 4ward was rewarding, but the most memorable aspect of my Global Fellows trip is the people. Halle found a quote on Pinterest that sums up this sentiment very well: “It’s not where you go; it’s who you travel with.” I have been reflecting on this, and I have come to the conclusion that although we seemed like an oddly matched team at the beginning of the trip, we each have our individual gifts that complement each other. I could not have asked for a better group, and I know I have made friends for life. My Bolivia crews, my supervisor, coworkers and Bolivian friends have made this trip one for the books.

To wrap up our last week in Bolivia, Anna threw a “parrillada,” or barbecue, at her house to celebrate our time. Everyone was invited and it was a huge, lovely party. More meat than I thought imaginable was barbecued and the party continued well into the night. I will miss every one of these incredible people, as well as the students and teachers I work with.

2016-03-08_1906_001Bolivia is a beautiful unforgettable country with many adventures to offer, and the work that I did with Bolivia 4ward was rewarding, but the most memorable aspect of my Global Fellows trip is the people. Halle found a quote on Pinterest that sums up this sentiment very well: “It’s not where you go; it’s who you travel with.” I have been reflecting on this, and I have come to the conclusion that although we seemed like an oddly matched team at the beginning of the trip, we each have our individual gifts that complement each other. I could not have asked for a better group, and I know I have made friends for life. My Bolivia crews, my supervisor, coworkers and Bolivian friends have made this trip one for the books.

To wrap up our last week in Bolivia, Anna threw a “parrillada,” or barbecue, at her house to celebrate our time. Everyone was invited and it was a huge, lovely party. More meat than I thought imaginable was barbecued and the party continued well into the night. I will miss every one of these incredible people, as well as the students and teachers I work with.

Six weeks is simply not enough time to do all of the work that I expected to complete. We were so busy every day running from meetings to classes to more meetings! There were a couple setbacks including classic slow communication and the monthly Bolivian issue of “bloqueos,” well organized strike traffic blocks, which hindered progress, but all in all I am proud of the work we accomplished.

2016-03-08_1906_002When our time in Bolivia came to an end, we decided to travel to Peru, so we booked flights to Cusco departing from La Paz. On the way to La Paz, we took a detour around western Bolivia. We headed to a rainforest town called Sorata nestled under a majestic snow peaked mountain called Illampu. We hiked through the forest where we witnessed a pair of wild horses, ate t-bone steaks larger than the size of our heads and finished the night with a reflective bonfire. Then we traveled to Lago Titicaca, the town of Copacabana where the townspeople were celebrating a feast day. We took a ferry to the Sun Island “Isla del Sol,” which to this day remains primarily indigenous. Donkeys and llamas outnumber the people on this scenic island; they clomp up and down the steep stone walkways. We ate the most delicious trout on Isla del Sol and woke to watch the sunrise in the morning. We finally made our way to La Paz where we saw the sights before heading to the airport in the morning. 

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ARCHITECTURE AND URKUPINA

Bolivia Internships 09/03/2016 0

Sophie McDevitt

Cochabamba, Bolivia

outside_of_my_apartmentThe first week was a lot to take in. The apartment I am staying in is designed in an ecological/organic way, and it was designed by Moscoso, the company I am working for. The designs remind me of eggs as they curved structures from the base and are entirely open floor plans. The buildings optimize sunlight and air circulation, they are not ‘normal’ constructions.

My apartment is attached to a centralized structure with the head architect and his wife living in the house. They have many animals, five llamas, a horse, African geese, normal geese, parrots, South American ostriches, other tropical birds, and peacocks. They live their commitment to ecological development and maintaining organic integrity. It has become my job to feed all the animals before I go to work. At first I was hesitant, I do not like birds at all. Particularly geese. I still do not like the geese but it has been a nice way to start the workday.

As an intern for Moscoso I spent the first week seeing various projects and learning about their design outlook. It is radically different than conventional architecture and I have enjoyed understanding more about what they wish to accomplish. I will be working in social media expansion, translating documents, and biomaterial research.

The first weekend I was able to attend Urkupina which is the biggest festival that Cochabamba has. It celebrates the Virgin of Urkupina and culminates in a four day extravaganza. The Mary Knoll volunteers were kind enough to take me to the procession, which was the first day. There were different dances and ornate costumes from all areas of Bolivia. It was incredible and lasts for hours. The next few days have a midnight procession, mass, and other various celebrations. It was impressive to see such an incredible display of cultural heritage. It is rarely seen in the United States as indigenous populations were forced into the most extreme climates and their culture is not often recognized or appreciated by mainstream America.

My first week here was a great one, I feel welcomed and excited to be here. There is so much more I would like to know about this culture and even more I do not know about yet.

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Bolivia Rocks

Bolivia Internships 09/03/2016 0

bolivia-rocks

Blog Bolivia

Bianca Velez

Global Fellows is an incredible experience that truly changed my life. After spending seven weeks in Bolivia, I am a more mindful and empowered person. At Bolivia 4ward, we were entrusted with the responsibility of running seven blended learning programs in Bolivian high schools, implementing educational online platforms like Khan Academy to supplement existing mathematics curricula,

while collecting data that demonstrated the success of blended learning to propose future expansions to the Government. Conducting such great work and being responsible for this program allowed me to grow personally and professionally. We were at work bright and early every day, taking initiative and giving it our all while running around the city teaching classes and meeting with teachers and volunteers. Such independence allowed me to enhance my discipline and determination in my work. I greatly enjoyed living in Bolivia; I miss the bustling Cochabamba city and culture. Traveling to a foreign country to live for two months was the ultimate challenge, but thanks to Global Fellows, it was the ultimate blessing as well.

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