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SFU Co-op Alumni

Group of elderly Bolivians
Finally, I was touched to be presented with a necklace of coca leaves and being showered with confetti by one of the graduates: intercultural learning at its best.

Sunday, February 17, 2013: Una Semana Paceña

“Paceña or paceño” is what you call anyone or anything from La Paz. Spending consecutive days out and about in the city was a great way to become more comfortable living here. Shopping for groceries in the street markets, meeting local climbers and checking out nearby indoor and outdoor spots–I haven’t quite found a rhythm to my life here but it will slowly come.

Some highlights of the week: eating fresh trout on the shores of Lake Titicaca, enjoying a night view of the city from the top of the Radisson hotel with lovely company, meeting local climbers and getting to explore one of the local crags, walking through the Alasitas market, and enjoying a local folkloric group at a peña. Work has been progressing well and we have both the coordinator of the project and the director of the centre currently in town. This coming week will be busy with planning meetings and visits to the community.

Christiane's team of facilitators/ co-workers

Monday, February 18, 2013:  A Little Bird Told Me…

This weekend a group of us ladies went to check out the Alasitas market, a market where people purchase miniature versions of things they would like to have for the coming year. This can range from mini cars, mini tools, mini degrees, mini money, mini passports, miniature food (to symbolize an abundance of food for the coming year), baby miniatures, roosters (to bring a man into your life), a hen (for a woman). There is a miniature for it pretty much anything you can think of.

The market also hosts a variety of food stalls featuring items like api, a corn-based drink made in a big vat. Also found are more traditional wares such as woolen goods and pottery from Cochabamba. There are also games and fair rides for children, roaming clowns, fortune tellers: just like a good old fair. 

While we were wandering the alleys of the market we came across a man with a birdcage. In it there were two budgies and their specialty was, upon payment of Bs3 (about 50cents), one would choose a folded piece of paper from a drawer below their cage, then bless it by kissing it and then touching it with its foot. This is what he choose for me (translated from Spanish):

For a young lady. Destiny's doors are open and you must cautiously choose the path of progress and well-being of your desires. Do not squander the little money that you have as you will need it later. Most likely, in the coming months, you will receive word that will give you hope in your love affairs. The man is a young worker with a great future. Prosperity will follow you both and you will be a exemplary mother to your children who will take care of you in your old age. You will live surrounded by your family well into an advanced age. In the coming months, you will travel and this will lead to good news in business/work and in capital gains.

P.S. What was interesting is that the two ladies I was with also had the bird choose their fortune. He chose ones which also began with "Para una señora" though they were different from each other. Quite the sweet little entertainment.

Green and Yellow parrot perched on the edge of its cage

Saturday, February 23, 2013: CED Times

This week, the CED (Community Economic Development) group with whom I am working held various graduation ceremonies in La Paz for those who have finished a complete series of CED program courses over the past few years.

These courses are designed to convey the principles of community economic development which include participatory involvement in order to maintain a bottom-up approach to economic development. Furthermore, CED also focuses on the idea that "capital" does not imply "economic", and that it includes physical, natural, human, cultural, social and other forms of capital which support the richness of a community. 

It was very moving to hear testimonials from the graduates about what CED means to them and how they are looking to apply it further in their lives. Additionally, graduates also shared about successful implementation of the CED process in projects that they have begun since taking these courses.
This was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the CED program in the Bolivian context and its utility for people and their communities. It was also a chance to meet members of Viacha (a local community) with whom I will likely be meeting and working with over the next couple of months. This included having a lovely conversation with a young mother in the community whose husband is a recent graduate of the program. This lady expressed desire to participate in the next course set as she appreciates having educational opportunities in her community and sees how much she could benefit from the program. She would have taken the program with her husband only she was carrying their now 6–month old son.

This was also an opportunity to learn about and be included in both Bolivian and indigenous cultural traditions. This included learning how and when events take place (they can start when people arrive–which can be quite some time after the "official" start time), social etiquette (accepting offerings of drinks or food, as well as pouring some of your drink on the ground in honour of the Pachamama or Mother Earth, sharing glasses with others in the community), as well as Ayni–the Andean act of reciprocity. 

Finally, I was touched to be presented with a necklace of coca leaves and being showered with confetti by one of the graduates: intercultural learning at its best.

SFU Co-op Alumni
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Mar 25, 2014

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