We have spent the last three days helping out in various classrooms in the surrounding communities. Our students have been out and about supporting the students and teachers at Coke’s View Primary School, the Galloway Early Childhood Institute, Ferris Primary School, and the Petersfield Primary and Infant School. It certainly has been a rewarding (and challenging) few days for our students. Over they last three days, they have assisted teachers in the classrooms, graded papers, gave the students some much needed one-on-one support, and interacted with the hundreds of students attending these four area schools.
Today, December 5th, we celebrate the culmination of an online initiative by United Nations Volunteers to mark International Volunteer Day 2011– an initiative intent on showing the world why volunteering matters. Since October, UNV has been accepting photo submissions that document volunteer action from every country across the globe—that’s right, every country
Just outside the town of Jukwa, Ghana- where Amizade has been working for over a decade- is the village of Anhwiam. Anhwiam is a small rural village of just 600 people, who sustain themselves with small farms. The village is also where Nicholas Osei Koduah, a dear friend of Amizade, grew up. As a leader of the Ghana Students Association and community activist, Nicholas continuously worked to better his community.
After our first week of classes, we took a weekend trip out of the Cochabamba valley and into the jungle. We traded in the dry, high altitude Cochabamba for the humid lower lands of Villa Tunari in the province of Chapare. As we left Cochabamba, the road began climbing the mountains, but everything was still brown and dry like the city. Little towns and farms lined the road, which with the mountains and hills provided for a beautiful landscape.
Today, Monday Sept. 12, was another beautiful day in Cochabamba. It was also an important day; today was the first day of classes. The four of us from Amizade met at 9 AM to meet our new Spanish instructor, Toni. I had heard very good things about her from many people, so I was excited to meet and work with her. We met at her beautiful house where our class will be.
Sept. 10, 2011 On our first full day in Cochabamba, the four of us in the group decided to meet up in the afternoon at a park to walk around some of the city. As I walked to the park, I passed a lot of houses. Walls to protect from robberies surround most of the houses in the northern part of the city. This is a bit upsetting because the houses are very beautiful, but the five-foot walls that are topped with electric wire, barbed wire, or even broken glass mask the view of them. A lot of people have dogs, and there are also a lot of stray dogs on the streets. Most of the time though, these dogs are calm and harmless and don’t even lift their head as people walk by.
All four of us from Amizade were on the same plane to La Paz, and we ended up meeting each other in line for immigration and customs. All of us were unsure about what to expect while actually entering into Bolivia. Even though my Spanish is pretty good, I was really hoping the immigration and customs officers spoke English; they never spoke a word of English to me. I had to use my Spanish skills right from the beginning.
When Amizade volunteers travel to Bolivia, they are welcomed by the stunning landscape that is the Bolivian Andes. High and magnificent snow-capped mountains surround, offering breathtaking views in every direction. Amizade volunteers have the thrilling opportunity to ascend these lofty elevations as they journey to the heights of Cochabamba and the even more elevated La Paz during programs in Bolivia.
On August 31, 2011, Amizade will welcome for the first time a delegation of 6 individuals from Santarém. From Amizade’s point of view, the delegation represents a powerful advance in the hope for bilateral exchange. West Virginia University is a central player in the realization of this vision. In May of 2010, Amizade’s site director in Brazil, Nathan Darity, hosted Mike Lastinger, Associate Provost for International Academic Affairs and George Lies, Grants Administrator for the Office of International Programs both of West Virginia University, for a three-day visit composed of meeting with local universities. The visit opened doors to negations about university-level exchange of students and professors. Now, 15 months later, members of the academic community in Santarém are traveling to the US in the hopes of clarifying a mechanism for exchange as well as exploring opportunities for international research and collaboration.
Puerto Morelos is a quaint little town, but one that is truly divided. A major four-lane highway that stretches North to South paralleling the sandy shoreline and connecting the famous tourist destinations along the Mayan Rivera also separates the town into two distinct sections.