Monday, April 14, 2014

¡Mucho gusto! Nice to meet you!

As the new team leader of Up Close Bolivia I would like to give a very warm welcome to the new team! The six of us will be working together over the next three months and we can’t wait to get started. The team is made up of four UK volunteers; Jonathan, Kav, Laura, our two in-country volunteers, Anita and Raquel and myself, Cerys. Within the team we have a wide range of experience and talents which we are excited to bring to the project. Having worked in international volunteer coordination for a number of years, I am lucky enough to meet and work with diverse and passionate groups of young people from around the world. I am now thrilled to be working with Laura, an enthusiastic Spanish student who has experience of teaching English in Mexico, Jonathan an international relations graduate who is interested in pursuing a career in development, and Kav, a history graduate who has a passion for film-making. Of particular importance to the team is the experience and relationships that our fantastic cooperantes Raquel and Anita have established over their ten months of working with the Up Close community, which is crucial to the team.

(from left to right; Anita, Jonathan, Raquel, Kav, Cerys and Laura)
The volunteers arrived on Sunday morning, and are spending the first week in the International Service office in La Paz for induction, where they will be getting to know all the staff, projects and learn about life in Bolivia, their new home for the next 3 months. Once the induction process is over, the volunteers will find out which of the Up Close projects they will be working with, and have their first team meetings to organise themselves for the coming months.

Up Close Bolivia encompasses a variety of projects which we are excited about joining. Each of the volunteers will be working with several of the following projects:

Centro Infantil Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon Children’s Centre): This children’s centre was the first project established within Up Close, nine years ago. It provides a safe and nurturing environment for local children between six months to four years, which allows both parents to be in full-time employment.

Nuestro Espacio (our space): An after-school club where children can develop their personal and social skills through value-based games and team-building activities.

English classes: Volunteers help design and deliver workshops to local school children with the aim of boosting their confidence in speaking English. These classes are facilitated through activities which look at other cultures from around the world, and encourage students to be creative.

Football: Volunteers help the local coaches to teach football and team-building skills to local children. The aims of the project are to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage gender equality through sport.

Self-esteem workshop: These workshops provide a space for open discussion of topics which may affect adolescents, such as bullying, sexuality or racism. The students who attend the workshops benefit from the sessions, as they allow them to talk about subjects which they may feel too shy to discuss in other areas of their life.

Fundación Porvenir: Volunteers help with the day-to-day running of this project, which provides equine therapy for children with disabilities.

Mallasa Zoo: This volunteer-run zoo is a good source of income for the local community as it brings both national and international tourists to the area. Many of the animals in the zoo are rescue animals, and the volunteers work on enrichment activities to stimulate their development.

Keep following our blog and Facebook page for updates on Up Close Bolivia and to follow the volunteer’s progress!

Para leer en español, haz click aquí

Written by Cerys Tilston

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