Hola estudiantes, familias and friends!
Our first month in Bolivia will undoubtedly be one of our most important. It will be a time for us to learn about ourselves as a community, to learn about the country we will be living in, to set concrete goals, and to gain important cultural and language skills.
Below you will find an outline of the itinerary for our first month. I have also included some links to relevant articles and videos that might give you a better idea of what our first month together will look like. Enjoy!
August 29: Leave the U.S. on United Airlines flight 2326 with a layover in Bogota and arrive to La Paz, the highest international airport in the world at 2:50AM!
August 30: Upon arriving, we will be met by Pedro and Leah and board transportation to our orientation spot, Sol y Luna, in the Yungas in Coroico.
August 31-September 6: ORIENTATION! (a detailed orientation itinerary will be handed out to students on their first day)
We will have orientation at a beautiful location called Sol y Luna in the Yungas of Bolivia. This gorgeous and peaceful spot gives us many spaces to meet both inside and out, is near the center of Coroico, and offers amazing views of the sprawling green hills of the Bolivian cloud forest. Activities during orientation will include things such as…
September 7-14: Homestays! Ciudad Satélite is a sprawling community on the outskirts of La Paz, and part of the larger city El Alto. Here we will collaborate with Teatro Trono, an organization that aims to empower youth through the arts, particularly theater. Ciudad Satélite will be an amazing spot to begin to delve deeply into the political history of Bolivia, into ideas of colonization, as well as rural to urban migration, and activism. Afternoons will be filled with talks, lessons, and excursions into the city. You will also meet the wonderful Bolivian women who will be your Spanish teachers during your time in Bolivia, and start taking a few classes!
September 15-20: A gentle introduction to the mountains! Bolivian culture is intrinsically tied to peoples’ relationships to the landscape and to the mountains. During these days, we will have the opportunity to explore the high Andes, delving more deeply into ideas of Andean philosophy and spirituality. We will stay together in a community near Tuni, located about 2 hours outside of La Paz. We will hike up to the pico Austria, nestled in the Cordillera Real!
September 21-23: ORIENTATION…PART DEUX! This will be our orientation to Tiquipaya, Bolivia, our permanent home. Here we will prepare for homestays, situate ourselves in our local community and to the greater city of Cochabamba, and begin learning about our local contacts. We will also have time for talks, excursions, lessons, and planning for our learning objectives as students prepare to enter their volunteer positions.
September 24-30: Our first service project! We will work with the Fundación Abril, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to working alongside rural communities to ensure water security and to support participatory political processes. We will work together as a group to support the organization, get to know the members of the community, and begin to dive deeper into our discussions of service and development. Here’s a great TED talk by a former Dragon’s instructor about voluntourism and new concepts to ponder about service. (We will definitely be watching this one together, but might be good framing for beginning to formulate your own ideas of making meaning of service).
October and onward!: Our work begins! Students will begin work at their service placements and will engage in language lessons, activities, talks, and excursions. At a certain point, planning will become more student led. Keep watching the yak board for plans as they evolve!