How Bolivia Is Changing My Perspective

Natalia Caprile2

Natalia Caprile, Sociology and Pre-Med ’18 

Before the Privett Global Scholars program, I had never spent more than two weeks outside of the U.S. The thought of changing that through such a challenging program was daunting. However, being in Bolivia and having the opportunity to open myself up to the people here, as well as listen to their experiences, has given me an increased understanding of the world and myself.

One of my most challenging and rewarding experiences thus far has been the work I have done with my organization, Vivo en Positivo. Vivo does work surrounding HIV and AIDS (primary and secondary prevention, direct support for people living with HIV, as well as their family and loved ones, etc.) throughout Bolivia. For my project, I am focusing on primary prevention among youth in Cochabamba. To meet this end, we are going to middle and high schools in five municipalities and performing training sessions on HIV, human rights, and discrimination.

To prepare for these trainings, I conducted research, created PowerPoint presentations, and designed an informative brochure. Even with all this preparation, I felt the nerves as we went to our first training. I did not have complete confidence in my ability to talk in Spanish about such a specific topic for an hour. I sat back and listened to my coworkers lead the presentation while writing down key concepts on the board and passing other materials out to the students.

At the end of the training session, my coworker asked if there were any questions. One student raised her hand, pointed at me, and point-blank asked, “What does she think? Why hasn’t she said anything?” I could feel my heart beating, but I responded, “Sorry that I haven’t been talking a lot–I’m still working towards speaking Spanish fluently. But, for me, the most important thing is that you all know your rights and have correct information. I hope that you can talk about this amongst yourselves and with your other friends and family.” The young woman who asked the question nodded her head at me in response. I survived my first session.

The next day, I was leading training sessions on my own in a different school. Though my coworkers have been helpful and understanding while I have worked on my project, I was pushed out of my comfort zone pretty quickly. Other than learning how to lead an hour-long presentation in Spanish, I have also learned how important transparency and honesty are in doing work with communities in which you are an outsider.

When I go to schools to lead sessions, I own up to where I am from and what I am doing in this community. I touch on what I hope to bring as well as what I have learned from people and experiences here, and I encourage students to ask questions or call me out if they feel it is necessary. After multiple sessions, I have had students (mostly young women) come up to me and thank me for coming, ask me for more information, or ask if we can lead these sessions in other areas of their communities.

At the request of one of the principals from a school in which we held trainings, we have already branched out with our sessions. We held two at an organization that offers food, shelter, and activities to local children with less access to resources. After finishing the trainings there, they asked us to come back and hold more sessions.

I love doing work that allows me to have interactions with people in communities in Cochabamba. This project has given me more than just public speaking skills or technical knowledge about HIV. I have been fortunate enough to have real conversations with students who allowed me to see into parts of their lives. Some of them have told me stories that have changed the way I conceptualize things like health, family, and responsibility. Because of this, I have gained a greater understanding of others and myself on a global scale. The way I see things has shifted. There is no going back from here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Global Privett Scholars Summer Update

The 2017 Global Privett Scholars are spending the summer in Bolivia and Argentina working on community-based sustainable development projects. Our students are cultivating an appreciation for their responsibilities as global citizens and developing personal skills, professional competencies, and values consistent with the mission of the University of San Francisco.

Scholars in Cochabamba, Bolivia  

 Gio Paganini – CeDRUS (Centro de Desarrollo Rural y Urbano Sustentable)

“I’m really excited about meeting my host family in Bolivia. I’m from South America and can’t wait to be able to see how other countries in the continent live. Working side by side South Americans is a priceless experience.”

Natalia Caprile2

Natalia Caprile – Vivo en Positivo

“I’m looking forward to meeting people in my host family and organization, and to start growing in community with them. After learning so much about the social, political, and historical contexts of Bolivia, I’m ready to jump in and start to experience life there!” 

IMG_9311

Juliet Baires – Pro Mujer Bolivia

“I will be working with Pro Mujer, a nonprofit organization that works to support women who are living in the conditions of socioeconomic exclusion. I am excited to be a part of a movement that supports women with their small businesses, while recognizing and including women’s values and potential, opening the door for women to have an active role in their own personal and community development.” 

IMG_9327

Diego Jones – Tukuy Pacha

“I’m really excited about three things: meeting my new family, working at my internship, and taking cool pictures of Bolivia. I’m really looking forward to also meet the rest of the U.S. students who will be working with the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) this summer.” 

IMG_9343

Carter Santini – Martadero

“I’m filled with both excitement and nerves. My job placement at Martadero seems like a gift from the heavens as it aligns all my interests in music, community development and public service. I’m excited to throw myself into a new place and give my all.”

Rosa Olascoaga1

Rosa Olascoaga- Performing Life

“I am super excited to be an intern at Performing Life. I can’t wait to work with young people and to be surrounded with the beautiful culture in Bolivia.”

Rachel Starling4

Rachel Starling- Asociación Amigos del Árbol, Bosques, y Parques Nacionales

“I’m hoping to learn more about the role of community engagement in development this summer.  I’m looking forward to the challenge that working in another language presents, and I’m excited for the chance to work in my community with the issues that are important to me.”

IMG_9294

Kaitlin Chassagne- Caminar Con Valores

“Although I was nervous for the language barrier with my rusty Spanish skills, my host organization has done a wonderful job integrating me into their community and making me feel both needed and welcomed. I’m excited to apply my perspectives as an outsider raised in other countries and schools to their newest project focused on gender perspectives.”

IMG_9290

Elizabeth Spears- CeDRUS (Centro de Desarrollo Rural y Urbano Sustentable)

“I’m most excited to be in a position to learn about how the local people of Salta understand their relationship to the non-human world, or the rest of the environment. Also, I am looking forward to seeing how the relationships between people and their environment differ between a community in city of Salta, San Rafael and an indigenous community farther north in the province, Pichanal.”

IMG_9304

Janelle Nunez- Caminar Con Valores

“I am looking forward to putting into action everything I’ve learning in the classroom. I’m excited to participate in a cultural experience unlike any other and I look forward to all the new amazing relationships I make along the way.”

To Be an American: Unpacking the Land of the Free

 

Gonzalez_Isabella_Sac_2016_6

Isabella Gonzalez Potter

McCarthy Fellow ’16

Isabella Potter served as a McCarthy Fellow this past summer working as an intern for Tony Thurmond, Chair of Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. The following post is an Op-Ed that was written as a part of McCarthy Fellow course, taken in conjunction with the 12-week fellowship. Isabella graduated in 2016 with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Latin American Studies and is currently still working with Assembly member, Tony Thurmond.

 

I have been thinking a lot about separating the personal from the professional. But how can politics not be personal? How can my physical appearance or anyone else’s not be political within a system that has everything to do with the color of your skin? The neighborhood you were raised in. The family you belong to. The community that you come from.

In lieu of recent events (by events I mean murder) I have been spending a lot of time on Facebook, reading, digesting, attempting to process. Today one of my Facebook friends posted something that caught my attention and was receiving many comments; “…we are Americans before we are ethnic and racial groups.” My first thought was what type of kool aid is he drinking? He himself is a person of color and my intent here is not to call him out, but break down what this means to me. What this means on my timeline as I scroll through the hash tags, news articles and video clips of killing. The continual cries by myself and my friends who are scared for their life in this country. Who never really feel safe anymore because so many people who look like us are being killed everyday and you don’t want the next hash tag to be your name.

What does it mean to never really be free in a country that calls itself the land of the free? Living here in “America” (I mean the United States because everyone seems to have forgotten about Central and South America) undeniably awards us with privilege within this country. People have died to make this so, including of course Police Officers and other Armed Forces who fight and risk their lives everyday. What is missing from the dominant narrative is the story of people who risk their lives everyday by simply existing within a political structure that wasn’t made for them. It means fearing the people who are supposed to protect you. This NOT to say that I do not like police officers, or the law, but rather the fact that even when you comply you might end up shot 5 times because you are seen as a threat to the one who is pulling the trigger.

I am an American, yes. But, I am a young, brown woman born to Spanish-speaking immigrant parents who lives in America. I grew up in the America that legalized racial profiling in my hometown, banned Mexican American History at my high school, and that built a literal fence to keep out people who are seen as alien, including my family. Being an American in 2016 means you are your Ethnic group before you are a person, and that won’t change until people stop dying for the color of their skin.