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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

First Month Itinerary

Hola estudiantes, familias and friends!

Our first month in Bolivia will undoubtedly be one of the 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 28: Leave the U.S. on Avianca flight AV211 from JFK with a layover in Bogota and arrive to La Paz, the highest international airport in the world at 1:30AM (Aug. 29)!

August 29: Upon arriving, we will meet Pedro and Jochen and board transportation to our orientation spot, Sol y Luna, in the Yungas in Coroico.

August 29 – September 4: ORIENTATION! (a detailed orientation schedule will be handed out to students on their first day)

We will begin our 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…

  • Health and Safety 101
  • Sessions on culture shock and integration
  • Sessions on Bolivian history and current politics
  • Introductions to topics such as coca and Andean cosmovision
  • Creating our group culture and group norms
  • Scavenger hunts and market visits in the local community
  • Hikes, rest, and reflection!

September 5-15: 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 fundación COMPA, 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 16: Day in La Paz to prep for out first trek together. 

September 17-20: 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: Day in La Paz to rest, debrief our trek, and get to know the city better.  

September 22: Travel from La Paz to Cochabamba and arrival and overnight at our program house: Casa Amaru. 

Septermber 23-26: 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).

September 27-28: ORIENTATION… ¡SEGUNDA PARTE! We will head from our service site to the Eco-Lodge “El Poncho” not far from Tiquipaya. This will be our orientation to Tiquipaya, Bolivia, our permanent home. Here we will prepare for homestays. We will also have time for talks, excursions, lessons, and planning for our learning objectives as students prepare to enter their volunteer positions.

September 29: Beginning of homestays! We will arrive from “El Poncho” around noon and students will meet their homestay families and head to their new home for lunch. 

 

September 30 and onward: Our work begins! Students will visit different service sites and will soon begin to work at their service placements, 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!