Hi again! I am now in El Alto with my second home stay family, who is also amazing. But in this post I want to focus on my independent study project that I completed while staying with my first family in Tiquipaya. There were many options to choose from when deciding on a project to work on, from music to cooking to graffiti to many more. In a relatively blind decision, I selected weaving, not entirely sure what to expect.
The ISP had four scheduled classes from about 3 to 6 in the afternoon. Almost immediately, it became clear that weaving required a lot more time than that. My classes began at one as opposed to three, and also had ”homework” – weaving for me to do after class in my home to be completed before the next class. Day one I learned how to make bracelets and simple designs by hand without the use of wooden blocks meant for the bigger projects. I also learned the technique known as choosing where you manipulate the strings by picking certain colors to create more complicated designs.
The following classes were all dedicated to the making of a woven bag, a huge project that required the wooden blocks and lots of strength. I learned how to manipulate the strings in a larger fashion, mimicking the bracelet making on a much larger scale. The bag was really hard to make, and that was with a very simple design. I have the utmost respect for the women here who are able to dedicate their spare moments working on hand woven bags with designs of animals and incredible shapes and patterns without a manual or any help. They are truly breathtaking works of art that require extreme amounts of patience, time, and commitment.
With the help of the extremely talented teachers, I was able to complete an entire bag, a belt, and also a couple bracelets. I am so thankful for my experience in my ISP classes because I really feel more connected to Bolivia after being able to work on a bag just like many women and girls my age do in order to sell them in the markets to help their family make some money. I am so proud of the work I was able to complete and I cannot wait to show everyone at home what I learned how to do in just four days.