Thursday, August 21, 2008

la despedida

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in La Paz with UAC-CP students Alejandro Yujra and Gonzalo Silili. They were chosen to participate in a cultural exchange program with Adams School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Adams is a bilingual grade school that invites young people from Spanish speaking countries to work as teaching assistants in the classroom. The students gain practical teaching experience and Adams students are able to learn, first-hand, about the cultures and customs of people from other countries. Based on their grades and an interview, Alex and Gonzalo were chosen to participate in this program for the '08-09 academic year.

Family & friends gathered at Alex's brother's house in El Alto

It was exciting to be with them in their final moments of preparation before their trip to the U.S. As they packed their few belongings and family members stopped by to bid them farewell, Gonzalo and Alex asked me questions about U.S. currency, politics, and the weather. While I gave them a few last minute pointers about life in los Estados (and probably scared them with tales of frigid Minnesota winters!), they will soon be able to experience for themselves both the fun and frustration of living in another country.

Alex & Gonzalo prepare to check in at Aerosur

It is a great priviledge to be able to travel and visit other countries--a priviledge that many North Americans take for granted. Gonzalo and Alex both realize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and, despite a bit of nervousness, are excited to begin their adventure. Judging by Juan Carlos Quispe's experience, Gonzalo and Alex will thrive in their new environment!

Special thanks to the folks at Adams and Amity and to UAC Education Dept. Director Andres Pardo for making all this possible.

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