Photo by Rebecca Strull, Bolivia Summer Program.

Bolivia Educator Proposed Itinerary

Bolivia Educator combines a focus on climate change education with authentic cross-cultural interaction. This course examines how environmental issues affect the everyday lives of Bolivians, as well as considering how traditional Andean relationships to the natural environment can contribute new perspectives to the discussion on climate change. Through meetings and site visits with grassroots NGOs, home-stays with local families, day hikes and urban exploration, independent study projects, and workshops on experiential and classroom pedagogy, participants are exposed to a wealth of content, as well as techniques for delivering that content to students in or out of the classroom.

Day 1: Arrival – Cochabamba Participants arrive at Cochabamba airport in the afternoon and transfer to El Poncho Eco-Lodge, twenty kilometers outside of Cochabamba. In this picturesque setting, nestled in the foothills at the base of Mount Tunari, we rest from traveling and begin group orientation.
Day 2: Cochabamba Group orientation continues, with introductions to Dragons’ core values and pedagogical philosophies, a regional background lesson, and group container-building, as well exploring the trails around the lodge. Participants begin to plan the independent study projects they will pursue on the trip.
Day 3: Cochabamba After breakfast, we leave the foothills and travel to Hotel Monserrat in the city center. After having some time to explore downtown Cochabamba, our group visits Fundación Abril, a local NGO that was born of Cochabamba’s “water wars” and continues to focus on water issues.
Day 4: Cochabamba In the morning, we visit the Center for Alternative Education, a national organization committed to education reform. After lunch, we meet with the Gaia Pacha organization to learn about environmental issues facing Bolivians today and their efforts to protect the environment. In the evening, we celebrate the close of our group orientation and prepare for the trip’s next phase: home-stays!
Days 5 – 7: Tiquipaya Leaving the city center, we travel by trufi to Tiquipaya, a rural suburb of Cochabamba where Dragons has its Program House. Home-stay families join us here for lunch, after which each participant goes home with their new Bolivian family! The next two days involve sharing in the daily rhythms of life with home-stay families, as well as group activities hiking in the nearby hills, meeting with another local environmental NGO, and learning more about historical and current environmental issues in Bolivia and South America. On the last day in Tiquipaya, we have a despedida farewell celebration with our host families and take an evening flight to La Paz.
Days 8 – 10: La Paz Over the next few days, after debriefing the home-stays and discussing ways to apply the experience to student learning, we delve into this bustling, high-altitude metropolis. As well as exploring the city, the group meets with government officials, local schools, and activist organizations to discuss climate issues, as well as makes a field trip outside the city to visit a sustainable farming community.
Day 11: La Paz – Chacaltaya – Santiago de Okola Ascending from La Paz onto the altiplano, we go first to Chacaltaya for a hike and a lesson in glaciology, and then we continue on Santiago de Okola. In this rural community on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the group enters its second home-stays.
Day 12: Santiago de Okola We spend the day learning about the agro-eco-tourism project here, as well as getting a hands-on lesson in traditional Andean weaving. Participants take time to synthesize all that they’ve been learning and start to design lessons that they can take back to their classrooms. At night, we enjoy a bonfire and stargazing on the beach.
Day 13: Isla del Sol In the morning, we travel by boat to Isla del Sol, the legendary birthplace of the Incas. Walking across the length of the island, we visit ruins along the way and take in the views of glaciated peaks that surround the lake. We spend the night in a guesthouse on the island, each participant presenting their independent study project to the group.
Day 14: Isla del Sol – La Paz Beginning the day with a sunrise ceremony on the island, we then take the ferry back to the mainland and get on a bus to La Paz. After a final workshop to process all that we’ve learned and how to transfer those lessons back home, the rest of the day is open to explore the city and buy souvenirs before returning home the next day.
Day 15: Departure – La Paz We leave the hotel before dawn for an early morning departure from El Alto airport and say goodbye to Bolivia!