Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Amizade in Bolivia?
Tessa: I found out about the opportunity to volunteer in Bolivia at my university and it happened to be organized with Amizade.
One of my friends was organizing the trip, so I took the flyer. My high school emphasized the importance of service work and after two years of not doing much service work, I knew this trip would revive my spirit of service.
From the beginning, this opportunity promised an adventure to go somewhere I’d never been, a break from a monotonous daily routine, and to finally use the eight years of Spanish classes I took.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Tessa: Our days in Cochabamaba began with breakfast at 7:30 AM and by 8:30 AM we were leaving for the service site.
From about 9 AM to 12 PM, we worked at the Cohachaca School. The tasks we were assigned included building two brick walls to complete two classrooms, bending rebar for structure, and painting classrooms.
During this time, we were strongly encouraged to take breaks about every 15 minutes because of the heat and altitude.
We went back to the guest house at 12 PM to eat lunch and rest before going back to the work site at 1:30 PM.
We continued to work on the same tasks until about 4 or 5 PM. After completing the day of service, we returned to the guest house and had some time before dinner.
After dinner, we had free time, which we usually spent playing cards or watching Bolivian movies.
Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?
Tessa: Absolutely my worldview has changed.Before this trip, my focus was primarily on United States related news.
Most Americans’ worldview is only what the media feeds us, meaning we watch what’s happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and others countries that concern the United States and our safety.
Unfortunately, I have to say that that’s exactly what my worldview was before this trip.
Now that I’ve spent almost two weeks in South America, I can say two important things: I have my own opinions of each South American country that I was in and I regularly check their news to stay informed about the places I’ve been.
We had an unplanned 24-hour delay in Bogotá, Columbia and we took that opportunity to explore Bogotá with a guide. When I tell people that I was in Columbia, their first reaction is “What a dangerous place! There is so much violence and drugs!”
After being there and seeing no guns or drug activity, I came to the conclusion that Bogotá is just like any other city in the United States.
There are sections of the city that are dangerous, but it still has so much to offer.
After this trip, my worldview is broader and I make a conscious effort to keep up with countries that aren’t included in the United States media.
What was the best moment of the entire trip?
Tessa: This is a hard question, but I’d have to say that the best moment of the entire trip was visiting Cristo de la Concordia.
It is the second largest Christ statue in the world! It truly was breathtaking and gave me chills when I was standing before it.
In my life, I’ve never seen anything that enormous.
Coming from a religious background, I thought it was awesome to see people waiting in line for over two hours to go up to the statue.
What was the most interesting cultural difference you encountered?
Tessa: The most interesting cultural difference was the open markets.
There were markets in every town and there were people there every day. Everything that you would need were at these markets.
I could also tell that these markets acted as a social for people living in the towns.
It was very different from shopping malls in the United States and it was fun to see what we could find.