Back to
Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Unknown Knowledge

Para diecinueveaños, I have never understood the wealth of knowledge that exists in other languages. We have had charlas with Rafael Puentes, Oscar Olivera and Wascar Rodriguez in Spanish and translated for us to understand. We have communicated with Don Mario and Linda of Toro Toro, learnt farming practices from Don David of a beautiful eco farm in Tiquipaya and of course unlocked mucha información from our three instructors: Jesse, Sandy and Jhasmany in Spanish. We have heard translated Filipino stories from Milo and learnt a few Hebrew phrases from Teagan and Maayan. All I can think about during each translation is how much of el mundo we are missing by living and existing in solely English. Hay mucha sabiduría to be unlocked in the idiomas y frases de otros lenguajes. There are so many palabras that can never be read through the scope of the English language.

This concept spreads far beyond languages and continues to cultures, beliefs maybe even religions. This is amplified in the lives of the indigenous, natives and oppressed societies whose languages, beliefs and cultures are being eroded and frowned upon. There is so much to be seen, heard and understood from others since we have only experienced a fraction of all the world has to offer.

I am reminded of this each time I watch TV with my host family and see the notable news reporters, celebrities and personalities of Bolivia. The same way I have never heard or seen the majority of these people before, is the same way Bolivians would not have the slightest clue who Ity and Fancy Cat, Popcaan or Vybz Kartel is. In fact, most if not all Bolivianos I have encountered so far, have no clue where or what Jamaica is. I am constantly asked if it is in the Estados Unidos. I found this quite shocking as Latin America and the Caribbean share quite similar histories and cultures. The two are often grouped together. It is a weird feeling to know that the place I grew up in is unknown to so many people currently around me. How is it that my whole world and reality of 19 years can be so vastly unknown to this many people? How is it that the same way I feel is the same way I will or have made others feel when I casually say I´ve never heard of a country or a place before? As I showed my homestay family the small island under Cuba called Jamaica I couldn´t help but feel slightly insignificant. Is this the same way others feel when our group flaunts English in trufis or when I jokingly say I have no clue what something that means the world to my host sister is? There is something to be said for the illusion that your experience is the same one that everyone else around you has had.

I have gained a new understanding of the position of not knowing. There is much that we do not and will never come to understand in the world but we must learn to respectfully and humbly acknowledge this. Furthermore, it´s  important to remember that the word unknown does not equate to unimportant. Jamaica is always will be my world. Bolivia always will be important to the people here. The world is vastly diverse. Our realities are conditional and biased. We must be mindful of acting as if we know it all and flaunting our authenticities. Ignorance is a part of the human circumstance. Unknown Knowledge lies all around us.