Experiential education & community service in Bolivia

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Operation Groundswell.

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About

Bolivia is a country of contradictions and extremes, boasting one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Bolivia is home to a highly-elevated portion of the Andes, a chunk of the Amazon rainforest, tropical savannah, dry valleys, and the largest salt flat in the world. Culturally, Bolivia boasts 36 official languages besides Spanish, all of which belong to indigenous people of the Andes and the Amazon.

On Operation Groundswell’s Lands & Livelihoods program, we will try to understand how livelihoods are impacted by globalization’s push for rapid change and how one can resist this mass movement. We will examine how systemic pressures, food sustainability, and access to clean water all intersect with and affect climate change. And of course, we will also see the different forms of tourism and how it can impact a place and culture.

Get ready to think critically about the space we occupy as a traveler and deconstruct that power and harness it positively!

Highlights
  • Discover diverse neighbourhoods, navigate the continent’s largest black market, and get your hands dirty with Fundacion Alternativas, an urban food sustainability project.
  • In the shadow of Bolivia’s snowy peaks, explore La Paz, the world’s highest capital city.
  • Hike to a remote community in the altiplano around Sucre to collaborate on a local development project while camping under the stars!
  • Immerse yourself in Bolivian culture and unpack the effects of climate change with local organizers and ecological producers in Central Bolivia.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 2 reviews
  • Impact 10
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 8.5
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 2 of 2
Blair
9/10

Environmental and Human Justice in Bolivia

Working and traveling with OG was genuinely the most incredible experience of my life; so far. I experienced cultures beyond Bolivian city-life, stretching from rural communities that spoke Quechua in Bolivian communities to meals in the backyards of Peruvian mothers in Colca Canyon. Along the way, I was taught how to be respectful and analyze what I was learning with a group of passionate adventurers. Each organization worked with had a unique mission but a similar goal, to improve life for someone. This journey encompassed service and the mountains-climbed and salt flats-licked in between were the cherries on top. I would advise anyone to take a leap of faith and travel with Operation Groundswell time after time.
From working in schools, gardens, and communities to playing fútbol with local kiddos, climbing an 18,000 ft mountain, and taking in Southern Hemisphere stars while in a natural hot spring, the potential for growth is endless. Group time prepares you for the encounters along the way and ensures confidence in your independent travel time. Lesson learned, book bus tickets at the station, not online. However, four taxi rides to fix the problem was a fun way to improve my Spanish. Returning home after this trip is when the culture-shock hit me in the best and hardest of ways. I am now conscious of any waste I produce, yearn to work with my hands and have cut down on all of my possessions. This trip put into perspective how little you need to truly be happy. In my 40 South American-days, I learned more than could fit in my joyfully full 65L backpack.

How can this program be improved?
More of the cost of the trip could be allocated to the NPOs worked with and less to organizational fees at headquarters.
Yes, I recommend
Ryann
10/10

Incredible and Profound

What an incredible 40 days of experiencing new cultures, learning more about myself, and making friendships for life! I'm so very lucky to have gone on this amazing journey with Operation Groundswell throughout Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, with such courageous and like-minded people. I can only hope this is the beginning to a lifetime of adventure. The friendships that I have made on this trip are deep and profound. Even months after being back home, we message back and forth daily and are extremely supportive of each and everyone's endeavors. Truly an experience to make friends for lifetime.
-Ryann Van der Zwiep (Bolivia: Lands & Livelihoods, Summer 2017)

How can this program be improved?
I loved the autonomy that this program allowed us, but I do wish there was time set out with our leaders to help prepare ourselves for the 10 days we traveled alone.
Yes, I recommend

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Meet the Staff

About Operation Groundswell

Operation Groundswell is all about backpacking with a purpose. With ethical travel at the crux of our philosophy, Operation Groundswell designs financially accessible programs that tell a story, addressing key challenges unique to each region and...