Photo of the Week
Survey of Development Issues
Photo Title


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    [post_content] => Standing in the room where his body was shot,

in the room where his body was washed and inspected like dirty clothes,

in the trees, behind a boulder where he was finally discovered and surrendered from his mission.

The weight of a journey lies in powerful moments, and even when those moments seem a shadow hidden by the past, the passion, the fear still reverberates through the places, through steps in the cobblestones, and through the whispers from those who hold relics of some great wave of anger and unrest. Stepping through time, feeling the sensation of such a powerful life lost cannot be compared to much. I sit in museums staring at wax faces and painted portraits, people and history that have been trapped behind glass or canvas, beautiful, but somewhere safely distanced from myself, but standing in the room, smelling the dirt where his body lay, hidden for thirty years, sent a chill through me. There was no glass, no canvas, no protection from the impact of history that lay right before our eyes. Similarly, standing in an old schoolhouse, a tiny unsuspecting building where there was barely enough room for two large men, not to imagine a shot gun between them, where he lost his life, where he bleed out on the floor where we stood. In that moment all I could feel, in that small room was fear, for even such a strong man who believed with all of his heart in his fight must have felt it when those bullets pierced his skin, fear of a life not fully lived, of a cause and purpose not entirely fulfilled, of his loved ones, his children, his friends, his comrades, and the fear of death, because even if one says they do not fear death, when faced with it I cannot imagine that they would not blink and realize how terrifying it actually is. But in all of this, we cannot forget those who fought beside him, beside the one man whose face is splattered all over walls and tshirts, a man who has his likeness created in a monument every ten years, this man whose team hides behind his image and is reflected in his eyes. As we climbed the mountain road to visit our final destination, there were no words spoken about the other half of his team that lost there lives trying to cross the mighty river, the Rio Grande, that we all stared at in awe from a small house, a view overlooking what seemed like the entire world, where we listened to a story about how the man himself had once spent an hour or so there, at a fiesta. Che was the face of the revolution but it must be remembered that as powerful as one man may be, all credit cannot be given to one man alone because, that man was a creation not only of himself but of those around him, his family, his friends, those brave souls who fought by his side and lost their lives, and every person he encountered along his journey, his Ruta. Che Guevara is a name that will forever be synonymous with revolution but my mind recalls to what a revolution really is and what it really needs to be powerful, and that is its people. This also reminds me of our group of dragons, that we are here, together, to make an impact and learn from people like Che about the power of many and the power of passion. Now we leave Vallegrande behind and head to the Amazon, but I shall never leave behind the way in which history has touched me and our group of dragons in these past couple of days. I shall carry this feeling of power and strength home with me to a place that, right now, could use our passion and our voice.
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Ruta del Che

Caroline Turner,SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON, Survey of Development Issues

Description

Standing in the room where his body was shot, in the room where his body was washed and inspected like dirty clothes, in the trees, behind a boulder where he was finally discovered and surrendered from his mission. The weight of a journey lies in powerful moments, and even when those moments seem a shadow […]

Posted On

03/24/17

Author

Caroline Turner

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    [post_content] => I drive a car, have a smartphone, own United states pennies, have an iron skillet, and live in an apartment building in the United States.  In 2015, the United States was Bolivia's third largest export partner with a share of 12% of Bolivia's exports. All of these things intrinsically linked me to Potosi before I ever stepped into the city, let alone Bolivia. All of these consumer goods I own required the raw materials of petroleum, gold, zinc, iron, and tin to make and these raw materials make up a large percentage of Bolivian exports. A majority of these resources are mined in Potosi, from where I am writing this post. Potosi's story goes back long before I was born and is a direct product of european imperialism. The reason that I am in Potosi is to be in the heart of the machine that fueled european colonialism across the globe. When the Spanish first came to the New World they were searching for the legendary el Dorado, the city of gold and while they never found it, they did find Potosi, the city of silver. It's name comes from the Quechua word "Ptosji" because when the Incans attempted to extract the silver from the "Cerro Rico" ,which overlooks Potosi today, the mountain caused an explosion to warn the Incans not to continue mining. However, this did not dissuade the Spaniards when they discovered the mountain of silver decades later in 1545. While they immediately started mining incredible amounts of silver, it wasn't until 1572 that the colony Potosi was founded. This went hand in hand with a form of slavery called the "mita" system in which the Spaniards forced each local indigenous community to send workers who were meant to work three months but were subjugated to longer terms if they even survived that long. Before long, Potosi was providing almost all the silver for the Spanish empire and with any stories carrying prospects of wealth thousands travelled to see if it was true. By the end of the 16th century Potosi was a beautiful city of spanish archictecture which boasted a population of 160,000; much larger than any city in Europe at the time. Over the next centuries, Potosi would supply all the silver to support not just the Spanish economy but all the European economies. I am here to see the city that suffered the most and was most integral to European Imperialism.

In terms of Potosi's immediate impact on me, I have learned about the struggles it's people endured whenever the land was disputed or production of silver dropped. More importantly, I have seen how the city of Potosi continues to suffer from its history even though the silver veins have dried up. The exploitation of the raw materials from the mountain created an economic structure almost entirely dependent upon this limited source of materials. As time has passed it has become even more difficult for miners to extract these metals from the mountain and its citizens know it won't last forever. I, as a visitor, have a small amount of power to help change this dependency. Everytime I purchase food and clothes in this city I am helping to expand a growing service sector in this beautiful city of rich history. This city and its people are able to celebrate having more control over its future than ever before. The spectacular architecture of this city is theirs to maintain, restore, and take pride in. I have learned of how proud people are in being from Potosi. I have seen the pride in the eyes of miners about the brotherhood of their hard and dangerous labor. For while the economy is still dependent on global markets, its people can take pride in being able to provide for their families and work for their own future.
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SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON, Survey of Development Issues

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The Heart of Imperialism

James Lilley,SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON, Survey of Development Issues

Description

I drive a car, have a smartphone, own United states pennies, have an iron skillet, and live in an apartment building in the United States.  In 2015, the United States was Bolivia’s third largest export partner with a share of 12% of Bolivia’s exports. All of these things intrinsically linked me to Potosi before I ever […]

Posted On

03/7/17

Author

James Lilley

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    [post_content] => It´s amazing how quickly Tiquipaya has and become a home to me. From long walks home down cobble roads under stunning hills with picture perfect sunsets. To laughing until my cheeks hurt around the dinner table with my homestay family, this land and its people have found a place in my heart rather swiftly. My hosts are quick to laugh, even quicker to serve fresh food, and slow to judge. The children and animals are bubbling over with life and provide constant heart warming and entertainment. Upon my arrival on October 1st I was unbelievably nervous to stay so long with a family. Now I find myself shocked at how quickly the time has passed, and how sad I am to say goodbye. Over the past month, especially the past two weeks, my views and thoughts of the world and myself have transformed drastically. My appreciation and understanding of other cultures has grown, as has my realization how how much I love and cherish my home in Colorado. Talks at the wonderfully calming Dragons house have shown me a whole new side of education that I have never seen before. Learning about bolivian history, culture, and politics has  helped paint a clearer picture of the new world I´m currently in. The knowledge I have gained has proved for interesting conversations which have shown me even more opinions and views. The talks on Development and globalization have shown me a new side of the United States that I never would have learned in history class back home. Its stunning how much is sheltered from us, and has provided a great amount of food for thought. Challenging ideas and learning now has more incentive than just a letter grade, it is now a way of understanding and plugging into the world as well as my own mind and soul. Things I once accepted as fact or paid no mind to, I now find myself ever questioning. I find myself now searching for new ideas, different perspectives, and thoughts deeper and unlike any before. For once I have time and energy to process all of these thoughts and ideas. This is mostly due to not having a having a phone. Which at first was a great annoyance, I often found myself longing to fill my time with it´s pointless entertainment. However as time has progressed technology has loosened its tight grip on my brain and i now can finally experience the world around me as it should be perceived. Sleeping 11 hours a night is also a refreshing change of pace. Late night netflix binges have been replaced by getting lost in books and ideas before I sleep. Which in turn have opened a world of vivid and crystal clear dreams to me. As my time wraps up in Tiquipaya I find myself a changed person and ever grateful of this unknown adventure I´m on. The road now leads to Peru and the thought of the great unknown that it holds there has me eager to travel on.
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Tiquipaya

Bryce Greenwald,FALL: Andes & Amazon B, Homestay, Survey of Development Issues

Description

It´s amazing how quickly Tiquipaya has and become a home to me. From long walks home down cobble roads under stunning hills with picture perfect sunsets. To laughing until my cheeks hurt around the dinner table with my homestay family, this land and its people have found a place in my heart rather swiftly. My […]

Posted On

10/15/16

Author

Bryce Greenwald

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    [post_content] => I just arrived home after our second charla (or lecture). A man by the name of Huascar Rodriguez came to speak to us about the issue of indigeneity and specifically about the impact of colonization on indigenous groups here in Bolivia. His words were like a vortex...each fact he spouted brought questions I did not even know how to articulate.

He spoke about Cholas, or Cholitas, a ¨mestizo¨ woman who wears the typical traditional Bolivian skirts called polleras, and holds an extremely interesting and vital role in the history and every day of Bolivian life. My host mother here in Tiquipaya is a Chola, wearing her two braids and multi petticoated style around the house as she completes her daily routine cooking, farming, and taking care of her ever-expanding family. After hearing Huascar´s analysis, I had such a newly formed profound respect for my host mother. When in La Paz, I quickly judged the woman in their traditional garb as perhaps the outcome of some Patriarchal oppression, as the men wore slacks and button downs that did not appear to be rooted in a tradition of any kind. Huascar emphasized that this way of dressing has actually been a historical sign of feminine power as Cholas began to disassemble the social ladder that was created as a product of colonization. Cholas were the epicenter of the Bolivian economy, being the ones in the marketplace to control the selling of goods. In addition, they began having sexual relations with wealthier European men, as their power was deemed ¨sexy.¨ This threatened the role of the upper-class European woman. A stereotyped sexual Cholita emerged from this upward movement and female power. I found myself conflicted in this simultaneously empowered and disempowered group of women that were sexualized almost immediately after showing their strength. Their power had largely been defined by a Patriarchy, which presents a double bind all too familiar to the system of sexism I experience daily in America. We learned that daughters of Cholas get to make a choice about whether they want to continue the tradition, and I wonder deeply about what that choice actually looks like for my generation. If I were a young girl with a Chola mother, would I choose to be the same? How does one reconcile the empowerment that comes and goes with this important and historically powerful choice?
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FALL: Andes & Amazon B, Survey of Development Issues

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Las Cholas

Talia Putnoi,FALL: Andes & Amazon B, Survey of Development Issues

Description

I just arrived home after our second charla (or lecture). A man by the name of Huascar Rodriguez came to speak to us about the issue of indigeneity and specifically about the impact of colonization on indigenous groups here in Bolivia. His words were like a vortex…each fact he spouted brought questions I did not […]

Posted On

10/10/16

Author

Talia Putnoi

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    [post_content] => From the moment the words "bienvenido al nación q'eros!" at the stop of our truck at Quico Grande, I knew this homestay would be special. After about an hour long hike we arrived at Quico Chico, the smallest community I had seen throughout our time in Peru. You could see only maybe five houses at a time while standing in one spot, all made of stone with no windows, and few larger than my bedroom back home. After a briefing with the whole group, me and the other people I was staying with headed to our homes. Our host father, Gerardo, tied a light to the ceiling so that we could see, and it was clear that this place had gone near untouched by the technology and advancements of the world. Later on in the homestay, we held a ceremony as a group and discussed if it would be better, for the community, to allow more tourism and technologies into Q'eros. We could of course not come up with any definitive answer, but we spoke of the apparent pros and cons. Perhaps things like education and reliable water and electricity and connection to the rest of the world would be great advancements for Q'eros, but the reason for the creation of Q'eros was to escape all of that. And if the people did decide to let tourism in and make this something like Machu Picchu, full of tourists, who are we to say no. Although we couldn't get an easy answer, I found it interesting how complex this issue truly is.
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week, Homestay, Survey of Development Issues

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El Nacion Q’eros

Kevin Chacon,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week, Homestay, Survey of Development Issues

Description

From the moment the words “bienvenido al nación q’eros!” at the stop of our truck at Quico Grande, I knew this homestay would be special. After about an hour long hike we arrived at Quico Chico, the smallest community I had seen throughout our time in Peru. You could see only maybe five houses at […]

Posted On

07/30/16

Author

Kevin Chacon

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    [post_date] => 2016-07-28 12:00:18
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-28 18:00:18
    [post_content] => The community of our homestay, Quico Chico, consists of about 7 families, is an hour long hike from the main road, and the most secluded village I have ever visited. Despite its isolation, however, it still has not escaped the clutches of the world's favorite sport: soccer. And so, I was excited when it was announced we would have a game down at the community's field. (As it turned out, the field was actually a potato field, gouged with rows of ruts.) As we prepared for the game, kicking away clumps of llama manure and organizing our teams, it occurred to me that I was the only girl playing. Then I saw why; the girls of Quico Chico were having their own soccer game on another field up the hill. Back on our field of 13 boys and one Karly, one of my teammates, Juan Carlos, advised me to immediately kick the ball to either him or Ethan whenever I got the ball. Now, I may not be used to playing on a potato field, but I've played soccer since I was 4, and I can hold my own. I was a little ticked off.

Reflecting on this incident, I've realized that Juan Carlos didn't intend to be demeaning or sexist. Rather, in his experiences and culture, women simply didn't play soccer to the same extent as men did. Well, what do the women do then? In every homestay I've been in, including Quico Chico, the women have been confined to very domestic roles. They cook, clean, care for the children, and weave. Now personally, I know I wouldn't be satisifed with that kind of lifestyle; I'd feel limited and subservient. I've always considered myself a feminist, so it might seem like I should advocate for these women to "become empowered!" or "expand their societal opportunities!" But empowering women isn't as straightforward as it may seem. First off, what does empower even imply? If some well-meaning organization were to go into Quico Chico and construct a system for women to find jobs and become literate in the intricacies of the broader social world, what kind of cultural repercussions would that leave? True, women may be more knowledgeable and equipped to instigate change, but what if they don't want that kind of change? The traditions and values that give a culture meaning would be majorly disrupted. Traditional weaving and cooking practices would be forgotten. Who am I, or any other foreign organization-- entities with completely different cultural backgrounds than the residents of Quico Chico-- to inform these women that they are, in fact, oppressed and should strive for more in their lives?Maybe these women are perfectly content cooking, weaving, and playing their separate all-girls soccer games; just because my ideals don't match up with theirs doesn't mean their life lacks substance.

On the other hand, however, what if women do want change? In Paru Paru, our previous homestay, I was chatting with my host mom and asked her if any women in Paru Paru worked; she said no. I then asked her if she wanted to work. She responded that yes, she did want to, but there weren't any jobs for women. The question, then, is how to approach the delicate dynamic between empowering women and respecting a culture's traditions. It's a difficult question that I don't have an answer to but will continue to ponder. And hopefully, society will continue to ponder it as well, as we strive to promote gender equality, while simultaneously protect cultures in this rapidly globalized world.

For the record, after the game (which was extended on numerous occasions due to lost time whenever the ball was kicked down the gorge into the river]), Juan Carlos exclaimed "¡Juegas muy bien!" to me.
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week, Survey of Development Issues

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Quico Chico’s Chicas

Karly Chin,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week, Survey of Development Issues

Description

The community of our homestay, Quico Chico, consists of about 7 families, is an hour long hike from the main road, and the most secluded village I have ever visited. Despite its isolation, however, it still has not escaped the clutches of the world’s favorite sport: soccer. And so, I was excited when it was […]

Posted On

07/28/16

Author

Karly Chin

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    [post_content] => Sitting around the campfire on our last night in Huacaria, I looked upon very familiar and entirely new faces. Listening to the leader of the community talk about the history of the community talk about the history of the Huacaria, I think many of my Where There Be Dragons peers began to imagine being in these people´s shoes. We imagined the discrimination they faced when they seeked education outside their small community and therefore the shame that grew inside of them of their beautiful culture. Although it is positive that the community is growing and regaining their pride, there were many years where their traditions were not passed down to their children or ever written down. The community leader was dressed in his traditional wear for this meeting, but it was the first time that we had seen anyone wear traditional clothing. Most citizens wore clothes that we are familiar with. I was surprised when we reached this tiny, isolated community and arrived at a house that had both electricity and solar powered lights. The community leader explained that the road that had been recently constructed from Huacaria to the larger town a couple miles away revolutionized their way of life. Something so trivial to us as a dirt road changed their lifestyles entirely. Coming from New Jersey, there is virtually no place around me that can only be accessed by walking.  Tourists have begun being able to reach and get to know Huacaria have saved their economy, but corupt their way of life. Ryan, our instructor, had visited the community a year before and told us that a year prior, there were only half the number of buildings and there was no electricity. I´ve never lived in a developing country before so it´s hard for me to understand how a road or someone donating solar panel lights can change a whole community´s life. It was eye opening to clearly see how much a place can change when it becomes in touch with and influenced by the outside world.
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SUMMER: Peru 6-Week, Survey of Development Issues

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Impactful Moment

Cynthia Livingston,SUMMER: Peru 6-Week, Survey of Development Issues

Description

Sitting around the campfire on our last night in Huacaria, I looked upon very familiar and entirely new faces. Listening to the leader of the community talk about the history of the community talk about the history of the Huacaria, I think many of my Where There Be Dragons peers began to imagine being in […]

Posted On

07/15/16

Author

Cynthia Livingston

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    [post_content] => Hi all,

This field note is a compilation of our group´s thoughts about our visit to Potosí and the mines we saw. Overall it was truly an amazing experience. It made us consider the effects of our purchases back home and understand a system that endorses poor labor conditions and dangerous practices.

We, as a group of 12, first stopped in a mining market outside of the mines. In this market, they sell anything a miner would need: coca leaves, tools, 96% alcohol (yes, for drinking) and sticks of dynamite. We all felt out of place and very touristy in this market: sporting full-on mining outfits and headlamps that stood out compared to the jeans and jackets others wore. As we gathered in a circle around one stand at a market and hurriedly passed around a stick of dynamite, it was strange to us how we didn´t discuss the gravity and significance of what we held and passed on to the next person.

Before going into the mine, we said hi to a little boy named Diego. He lived in a house right near the mine. We gave him some juice and watched him jog back inside his house. During a debriefing session of our experience, we discussed how it is difficult to escape the system of mining. Every generation of miners works hard with the hope that their children or their grandchildren will escape the system. We all felt sad because we realized it might not be long until little boys like Diego walk into the mine for their first eight hour shift.

Later, we entered the mine, the door leading to it was splattered with llama blood (sacrificing llamas is a symbol of good luck in the mines). It was dark, small, and dusty. Again, we felt incredibly out of place in our jumpsuits and boots as a real miner shuffled past us, without a face mask to protect himself.

We were all glad to have had the experience as it taught us to be more aware of our rapid consuming patterns back home. These individuals that work long hours in dangerous conditions are the ones who allow us to use the silver, zinc, and lead that are a part of our household items and daily lives.
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SUMMER: Bolivia, Survey of Development Issues

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Group Reflection on Potosí Mines

Keaton Smith,SUMMER: Bolivia, Survey of Development Issues

Description

Hi all, This field note is a compilation of our group´s thoughts about our visit to Potosí and the mines we saw. Overall it was truly an amazing experience. It made us consider the effects of our purchases back home and understand a system that endorses poor labor conditions and dangerous practices. We, as a […]

Posted On

07/14/16

Author

Keaton Smith

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    [post_date] => 2015-12-08 09:50:22
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    [post_content] => My family owns a humble, little restaurant. You should come for lunch some time. You'll sit down on your red, plastic chair and will promptly be served a piece of bread and a bowl of noodle, quinoa, or peanut soup. The soup will be warm, but not steaming hot. When you finish up, the main course will come out. You'll eat whatever they are serving that day, likely some form of chicken or beef with rice and a white potato. As you chow down, a few houseflies will come and go, landing on your food. They won't really bother you; they're much more interested in your lunch. It's quite a hearty meal for just ten bolivianos (a dollar fifty). Just make sure you get there by 1:15ish to avoid running the risk that the restaurant has already closed up for the day.

My family owns a humble, little restaurant. You should come for lunch some time. You'll be greeted by the piping pan-flutes of folklore music emanating from the stereo and then by my 16-month-old niece Lupe and she waddles around with eyes wide open and throws her hands on your legs with a welcoming "AHHM!" The regulars will be in their places, chatting in Spanish, Quechua, or a confusing fusion of the two. A stocky, dark-skinned, gregarious neighbor comes in to eat with his dark jeans, brown cap, bright smile, and gorgeous labrador retriever. As always, he leaves with a plastic bag full of the day's leftover meat scraps and bones. Sometime during your meal, a customer will pay with a hundred boliviano bill, and Mamita María will gasp, then laugh, then ask her family for change, then turn to her patrons, until finally the culprit manages to extract from his pockets enough coins to total ten B's. At 1:20 sharp, a man will arrive at the door of the already emptying restaurant and ask if there is still food. Mamita María will start to say no, but then she'll notice that he had come by bike. "¿Unito?" (Just one?) And then she'll find a way to muster up one last full meal. All the while, as you live in this moment enjoying your simple lunch, in the back corner of the room with her alpaca-wool hat and majestic black braids sits an old cholita woman peeling, peeling, peeling potatoes, gracing you with her presence without uttering a single word.

Every day I eat lunch in both of these restaurants. However, my head and and my heart only experience one of them. The other is rooted in "reality," but on an emotional level it simply does not exist. I lied to you while only telling the truth; I sparked within you emotions that I have never experienced myself in the family restaurant. Years from now, I will look back fondly on both the pan-flutes and the houseflies. I will look back fondly on a humble, little restaurant that exemplified the splendor of the human spirit, and more specifically, of the Bolivian spirit.

Every day I live in two Bolivias at the same time. There is the one-dimensional Bolivia that you can find on the Internet and in the news, a "poor," "Third World" country in need of development. This narrative is incomplete at best, incorrect at worst, and most importantly an egregious emotional misrepresentation. Then there is the Bolivia that has been my home since September; the Bolivia of brilliant, green, three-headed masks in festival parades; the Bolivia of packed trufi conversations en route to Cochabamba; the Bolivia of small, homey restaurants that unite communities for lunch each day.

The lukewarm soup and white potato may be the easiest concepts to understand from afar, where your five senses are not constantly exposed to the richness and beauty of Bolivian life. However, just because certain ideas are easily grasped by outsiders (soup, potato, GDP, poverty rate) does not mean that they are valid representations of an entire country or culture. Bolivia is not "poor" unless you adopt the narrowest possible definition of the word. I just hope you have the fortune to be able to visit one day, revel in its wealth, and maybe even stop by for lunch.
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Bolivia is Poor

Jacob Wachspress,Best Notes From The Field, Princeton Bridge Year Bolivia 2015-16, Survey of Development Issues

Description

My family owns a humble, little restaurant. You should come for lunch some time. You’ll sit down on your red, plastic chair and will promptly be served a piece of bread and a bowl of noodle, quinoa, or peanut soup. The soup will be warm, but not steaming hot. When you finish up, the main […]

Posted On

12/8/15

Author

Jacob Wachspress

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    [post_date] => 2015-11-06 15:51:01
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    [post_content] => Tuesday November 3rd, 2015

   I feel utterly and completely lost. These are the only words I can muster up in my brain. All other thoughts, any attempts at logic to try to reason out what I am going through flicker out and die the moment they come into existence. When I turn my awareness inside myself to search for my former beliefs about the world and about who I am, I find that they, in many ways have ceased to exist. Only one remains, the one that I have inscribed on my body in ink injected into my skin. Yet, even my love for the mountains has not escaped without being forcefully stripped of its previous connotations. I feel without culture, without people, and without home.

   Such strong feelings started four days ago when I watched "Schooling the World: The White Man's Last Burden" at our program house. The movie is a somewhat shocking depiction of the western education model and the ideals it teaches destroys cultures and causes somewhat mass migrations of young people from sustainable ways of life into slums of Asian cities, in addition to making elders, who collectively hold more knowledge than could ever be put down with ink and paper, feel devalued and just plain stupid. This is a system I have been brought up in and excelled in. I recognize now more than ever that it is also a system that trains everyone for jobs that 5% of the population can hold and not for the other 95% of jobs out there. Maybe you should just watch the movie before I butcher the rest of the description. In any case there was one quote that really left an impact. It was said by Wade Davis, an anthropologist and National Geographic's explorer in residence. Read: job title is Indiana Jones. He said that a culture is simply a group of people's response to the natural area in which they live. This made me understand two things, the second being more powerful than the first. One, one culture cannot work universally because the natural environment is not the same everywhere. There is no one solution. Two, western culture is not a culture at all and therefore I have no culture to belong to.

  Where I grew up, there are manicured lawns, houses all in a row and most people's idea of moving is driving to the gym to shift a few pieces of metal up and down. The forests have been paved over with parking lots and roads, and everyone goes to nature for a day or a weekend but does not live in it. Our food comes from a different continent and I could not have named you any of the plants around me much less what they could have been used for. On top of it all, I did not know my neighbor any better than someone in Tennessee because I did not rely on them. I am disconnected from the earth and I feel disconnected from the people around me. If knowing the land we live on is so important for life on this earth, how have we lost it and how can I get it back?

Wednesday November 4th, 2015 - Morning

   The next few days passed as they normally do here in Kalimpong, with a few exceptions. The same night as "Schooling the World" I stormed a bit with a fellow Dragons student. It was resolved in a healthy way and I actually felt like I was making progress. Towards what I don't know. There was badminton with some of the neighborhood kids on Sunday and on Monday I finished making my Khukuri knife as part of my ISP. It feels good to know how something is made and to actually make something from start to finish, it makes me feel a bit more connected if only to the knife. I also have started walking everywhere, including the 4-6km to my ISP and the 4-6km back. While it's not fast, nor quite as safe, I would be missing many things simply because I rumbled by in a taxi. Like the woman polishing her metal balcony that I only noticed because she coughed. It too makes me feel connected in some small way to the area in which I am living. Despite those small connections, the rock in my gut still lets me know that I am lost in this world, without a culture, without connection to the earth, and without elders who hold the knowledge stretching back generations.

   Last night we watched an equally, if not more powerful movie than "Schooling the World." It was called "Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion" and it depicted the genocide and the absolute cultural oppression of the Tibetan people that started in the 1950's and continues today by the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA). Even those words seem too weak for what is happening now, 120km from where I sit comfortably drinking my tea. Tibetans cannot say "I am a Tibetan" without risking beatings, imprisonment, torture, and death. As with the other movie, I do not think I have the words to faithfully describe what I saw so please, please just watch it. I also learned that the rest of the world goes on, probably ignorant, funding the PLA by shifting manufacturing to China into factories owned by none other than the PLA. The PLA is the force responsible for not only the genocide of the Tibetan people but the destruction of the culture of China itself. Already feeling adrift, it brought up questions about every purchase I have ever made, and more importantly bigger questions about how to move forward in my life, knowing that this type of behavior is not limited to Tibet at this time in history. Is the Dalai Lama's practice of non-violence the right one? Can it get the results against all that money? DO I BELIEVE IN NON-VIOLENCE? Is it acceptable, for me, in some circumstances? If it is acceptable sometimes, where is that line drawn? Can a line be drawn? What values should I hold so that I can operate in today's messed up world so that I can be closer to the earth, and that I can find a culture to belong to, that is passed down not by books but from person to person, and what decisions can I make to not promote horrors like Tibet? Big questions I know.

   I think to say I feel lost is only half true. It may be more accurate to say I feel wiped clean. Last night, as I sat on the floor eating phase, listening to my brother smacking his lips every time his jaw moves up and down, watching the Delhi Dynamos and Northeast United play football on the TV, I couldn't make sense of what was happening. Before, I would have had a judgement of everything in the scene. The sound emanating from my brother would have made me frustrated and angry, and I would have felt attached to one of the teams. Last night, without the context of a culture to belong to or guiding principles (eg.  non-violence, consumerism, spirituality), I could not make up thoughts and opinions about the sensory inputs coming in from around me.

   This feeling, of being without bearing in the world, sometimes is clean and liberating, and sometimes I think I want to cry yet no tears, no emotion springs forth. It is certainly interesting, being presented with a clean slate, a formless blob of clay with which to mold myself. Now, as I look forward to college, my enrollment in the engineering school at the University of Colorado seems a bit useless. I cannot see it helping me answer the questions of what it means to be human and why it is important to do things not for myself, but for my children's children's children's children's children. People who I will never meet and who will live in a world I will never see. Maybe anthropology? The anthropologists in these movies have maybe captured my imagination a bit. But truth be told I do not know where to start searching for these answers. In many ways I am happy I do not know.

   Furthermore, even though I have written out so many words to try and describe my experience, in truth, there are no words for what I am going through because it cannot be intellectualized. I can only feel it, deep in my core. As a result I have had a hard time relaying my daily experiences in emails back to my parents. I fear I seem distant and detached. Mom, Dad, I am truly sorry and will call soon. To everyone else, if you are still reading at this point, thank you, I know this is long and probably quite confusing, so once again, thank you.

I hope this reaches you in times of peace.

Your adrift friend,

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Lost, a Yak/Journal Entry

Nolan Averbuch,Himalaya B, Survey of Development Issues

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Tuesday November 3rd, 2015   I feel utterly and completely lost. These are the only words I can muster up in my brain. All other thoughts, any attempts at logic to try to reason out what I am going through flicker out and die the moment they come into existence. When I turn my awareness inside […]

Posted On

11/6/15

Author

Nolan Averbuch

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