I apologize for the late blog posts, but due to the lack of wifi and computer use, I will only have a few posts throughout my time in Bolivia.
Spending my first three weeks in Bolivia has been wonderful. The atmosphere in Cochabamba is very lively and gives a good vibe. I have been paired up to live with both Trevor and Vanessa, along with five other German students who have been living in the house since August. We live about a 30min walk from Sustainable Bolivia. Sustainable Bolivia is a non-profit organization based in Cochabamba, who is partnered up with 36 different organizations in order to help improve human and financial resources in Bolivia. It’s been great working with the Sustainable Bolivia team, and also on the Agrecos farm, just further north from where we are all living.
At the farm we have continued to restore the landscape to what it once was five years ago. We have been creating new planting beds for different fruits and vegetables, repairing the adobe house on the farm, fixing water canals and cleaning animal pens. Just this past Thursday and Friday, we began working with high school students. Every Thursday and Friday we teach them new farming techniques and healthy/sustainable ways of eating. Working on the farm has been very difficult because of the strong rays of the sun. We work from Monday-Friday at 8am to 12pm. We’re constantly outside trying to help out in any way possible.
After work at the farm is over, we get driven back on our bus and have lunch at our homes. The next thing for us on our schedules ranges between Spanish classes (which are two hours on Mondays), Media Project time, or another Seminar. Spanish classes are held at Sustainable Bolivia and have been quite helpful. I and two other girls have signed up to have extra Spanish classes throughout the week. With the exchange rate in our favor, classes aren’t very expensive compared to private lessons at home, which make them very worth it. We now have set aside hours for our Media Projects which will be due in approximately one and half weeks, and we will be presenting them here in Bolivia and then later in Washington DC. Seminars have maintain a general focus towards agriculture. We have discussed how agriculture has become unsustainable, technology towards sustainable agriculture, and how agriculture effects culture.
During our time here, we have held another “Who Am I?” seminar. This seminar mainly focused on the personal privilege that each of us do and do not have. We performed an exercise where we all lined up in the street, shoulder to shoulder, and were asked questions. Depending on our answer, we would either step forward or step back. If you were to step forward, this meant that you were more privileged than those that didn’t move, but if you were to have stepped back, this meant that you were less privileged than those that didn’t move. By the end of the exercise, we were all scattered up and down the street. It was an emotional site for many of us to see the physicality of everyone’s privilege.
Our first weekend with our families was free, the second weekend we went out to a camp called, Camp Kewiña, and this past weekend was also free. Next weekend we will all be traveling to Torotoro National Park, located along the eastern mountain ranges of the South American Andes. There we will be going on a number of hikes, go caving, view archaeological dinosaur sites, waterfalls and canyons. The next weekend we will be flying back to Washington DC. There we will have meetings with the World Bank, Center for Global Development, Peace Corps, Natural Resource Defense Council, and some others.