We the instructor team want to send an update on your kids and on the changes in our itinerary. Over the past 3 or so days, we three instructors have decided to make significant changes to our course itinerary because of COVID-19. The changes are partially to protect your students from being exposed to more people — especially to travelers and tourists. But primarily, it is to be aware of how we are moving around the world during this pandemic because we recognize that we impact the communities we visit and we want to be traveling as ethically as possible.
Our original itinerary involved us crossing the border from Bolivia to Peru next weekend, then spending time in tourist hot spots (Cusco and Machu Picchu), then going through a few airports and the massive city of Lima, and then going into very remote communities in the Peruvian Amazon. We do not feel it is wise nor ethical to stick to this plan. Instead, we have decided to slow down and do our midcourse here outside of Cochabamba in Henry’s family’s house in Sacaba. We arrived here yesterday and will be here until Thursday morning. During midcourse, we turn inwards as a group and reflect on our goals for the rest of the course, and we also give each other a lot of feedback. Henry’s house in Sacaba is secluded, up in the mountains about 3 kilometers from the town of Sacaba. It is extremely peaceful and beautiful — and homey — here. The kids seem to be loving the time to slow down and breathe together.
After our time here, we are going to be heading to El Alto for a 2-week homestay. The students will be living in pairs with students in the Ciudad Satelite neighborhood in El Alto, and participating in daily activities at the Teatro Trono/COMPA theatre collective. We feel it is wise now to stay put and dig deep into a community we know well, and where we know our students will have incredible educational programming without having to travel. We also will be 20 minutes away from the El Alto airport, one of Bolivia’s two international airports. This way, we have easy access to an international airport in case individual students decide to leave our course. We will be living in El Alto until Friday, April 3rd.
There are two potential things we will do after April 3rd: either cross the border to Peru and finish the last month of our course in southern Peru (Cusco and Puerto Maldonado region), or we will stay in Bolivia and finish our course here (spending time doing another trek around La Paz and in the Bolivian Amazon). Either option is optimal in terms of course programming, course quality, and educational outcomes. We are holding off a bit on the decision to see how other factors play out — will Peru increase travel restrictions? Will the virus calm down, or will travel bans increase? We will sit back a bit to monitor these questions, but we are positive that either option will be great for your students. And we are also monitoring things more broadly, especially in terms of travel restrictions.
Your students are looking forward to an incredible two weeks in El Alto, which will be full of theatre workshops and digging deep into Bolivia’s contemporary history of Indigenous resistance, of which the city of El Alto has been an important protagonist. We are also extremely proud of your kids — they are all very calm and have been incredibly mature in terms of our itinerary changes and the element of uncertainty. Above all, we have been impressed with how much they care and support for each other. So as we move forward on our course, we also want to thank all of you for your students. They are making our job joyful and inspiring, despite the circumstances.
The Instructor Team