Saturday, June 14, 2008

dream in action

This past Thursday night, nearly 150 people gathered at Augsburg College to listen to Sr. Damon Nolan, founder and former director of the UAC-CP, talk about how she dared to dream of building a college in rural Bolivia.

She explained that when she first arrived in Carmen Pampa in 1980 to teach at the local high school, she encountered bright and talented young people whose opportunities were severely limited because they were denied access to higher education. With unwavering assistance from Dick and Ann Leahy (who later founded the Carmen Pampa Fund), Sr. Damon started the UAC-CP—a college for poor, indigenous Bolivian youth.

The college first offered classes in the early 1990s to a group of approximately 50 students. Today, under the direction of Fr. Freddy de Villar, the UAC-CP educates approximately 750 students and offers five areas of study: agronomy, primary education, veterinary medicine, nursing, and eco-tourism. When students graduate, they receive a diploma that is recognized by the prestigious Catholic University in La Paz.

As Damon spoke about her experiences in Bolivia and the importance of empowering people through education, my friend leaned over and whispered, “Does this make you excited to go back?” I looked at him and nodded my head: yes.

Last month, after much discernment, I accepted an offer from the Carmen Pampa Fund to return to the UAC-CP. I will begin working at the Fund’s St. Paul office in July and then move back to Carmen Pampa in early August where I will help with grant writing, program management, and the coordination of trips through Augsburg College’s Center for Global Education.

Obviously the decision to pick up and move my life back to Bolivia doesn’t happen without a bit of nervousness and apprehension, but Thursday evening’s event was a wonderful reminder for all of us living and working at the UAC-CP that we can count on the love and support of those who share their time, money, and professional talent with the Carmen Pampa Fund. I feel blessed to be part of such an amazing group!

Earlier in the day during a conversation I had with Sr. Damon, she marveled at how love sometimes grows in very unconventional ways. She mused at the notion of blind love. And I couldn’t help but consider this on Thursday night as I looked around at all the people gathered together to celebrate our common cause of improving the lives of Bolivians through education. It’s overwhelming to realize that so many individuals and families here in the U.S. are able to love so many wonderful, young people in Bolivia whom they've never met. Love is blind!

1 comment:

Nate said...

Hey there Sarah, how are you?! I have to say, you are such an amazing person with the work you are doing, and have done already, in Bolivia. Go Sarah!