Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sam´s Reflections

Ever since I arrived in Bolivia to begin my volunteering with Up Close, life has been a bit of a blur! I first applied to volunteer in Bolivia because I wanted to be able to contribute and do some good with my time. However, my experience since I arrived here has been so much more than I could ever have hoped for.

The Up Close Team dancing through the streets of Mallasa
The Up Close project was set up and is run by Emma and Rolando Mendoza, who are some of the nicest and most welcoming people I have ever met. They have taken us into their home and made us feel as welcome as family, providing a safe space for us to work in and really helping us integrate into the local community. They have made us feel accepted straight away by introducing to the all the locals, and even inviting us to dace in the Festival of Mallasa.

Animal Enrichment at the zoo
A few weeks ago the various projects that we're involved in all started up in full force, and ever since then I've hardly had a moment to stop and think. I spend most of my mornings working in the Vesty Pacos Zoo in Mallasa. Between 9 and 12 every day we find ourselves doing anything from building strange contraptions to hide the animals’ food in order to make their experience in the zoo more interactive; to observing the animals’ behaviour and helping out with maintenance. The job can be hard but it always feels very rewarding and the assistance we're providing to the zookeepers is always appreciated. It's also been a great learning experience that's taught us a bit of everything; from how maintenance work is essential to the upkeep of a public space, to how to properly care for all kinds of animals you would never find in the UK, such as tejones.
Teaching English at Colegio Herman Gmeiner

One of the most challenging projects I've been involved in has been English classes at the Herman Gmeiner School. As a team we've been working hard to provide an interesting series of lessons for the students. Our aim has been to help them learn about cultures around the world whilst also teaching them some useful and fundamental English. The class itself has been fantastic; everybody is well-behaved and comes to each lesson eager to learn more. Our Spanish has steadily improved with each class as we’ve gotten to know the students more. It’s been a real cultural exchange and we have learnt a lot about Bolivian traditions and customs from our students.

All in all the various projects I've been involved in with Up Close have been great for me personally and hopefully by the time we leave the country we'll have been able to do some lasting good for the people we've been working with.

Written by Sam Ferina  
Edited by Sarah Cassidy 

No comments:

Post a Comment