Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hannah´s project reflection

In North West South America lies Bolivia. From the peaks of the Andes to the Amazon basin, Bolivia continues to impress and inspire me.

Getting to know the culture

Since recovering from altitude sickness, I have come to appreciate the quirkiness and colourfulness of La Paz.  It´s a bustling city full of unique markets, plazas and food stalls. It’s quick, easy and cheap to get from place to place using minibuses, and where I live in Sopocachi is within walking distance of most places. As a place, I find both Bolivia and La Paz to be very relaxed, the locals polite, the community I live in safe, and everything I need is on my doorstep.

I had the opportunity to stay with a host family on Isla de la Luna, which gave me a great insight into local life and culture.  Not only did my family -  Angelica, Andy and Marie Louise  - show great hospitality, they also allowed the other volunteers and I to see how they live, cook and socialise. From the Bolivians I have come to know, both Islanders and Paceño, I’ve found many people I’ve met to be at first shy, but kind, appreciative and enthusiastic about their traditional culture.

Something I still find confusing about Bolivian culture is the custom of greeting people. In Bolivian culture it is traditional to kiss someone on the cheek when greeting them, but this can change from a singular kiss on the cheek, to a kiss on the cheek followed by a hug and another kiss (dependent on the person and relationship).

Getting to know the project

In addition to the Bolivians I’ve met through day to day life, I have also met people through my project, including some very committed and inspirational educators, whom I am very excited to work with over the next few months. My role in the ChildFund team revolves around developing “products” which contribute towards the strengthening of the centres we work in.  This includes a Human Rights mural and school trip. I already have plans in place for a school trip to Mallasa Zoo with one of our partner centres, Avance, and I am lead in facilitating workshops with the young people to develop with them the mural on human rights. We are looking forward to getting going with this in the next few weeks! 

I believe that La Paz and its communities will make my time here really enjoyable.  After meeting some of the mums and educators in the centres, I feel that our work will be truly valued. I have also learnt that over the next few weeks patience will be key as ‘hora Boliviana’ can be very different from ‘hora Britanica’. 

Written by Hannah Folwell 

Edited by Sarah Cassidy

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