Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I remember Sr. Damon saying that the UAC-CP isn't just about the academic part; it's also about the human formation--particularly helping young people develop successful leadership skills.

Juan Carlos, a UAC-CP Education student, has finished all of his classes. He needs to write and defend a thesis project in order to graduate from the College.

She always talked about how in small Bolivian communities, people usually turn to the local teachers to help solve problems because teachers are considered the peace makers in remote areas where police, lawyers, judges, etc., are nonexistant. So when our UAC-CP students return to their home communities, Sr. Damon said, they will be seen as educated and experienced leaders--which means they will be called upon to be the peacemakers and leaders of their villages and towns.

In fact, that is exactly what happened with UAC-CP Education student Juan Carlos Quispe. This past February he was elected by the members of his town, Trinidad Pampa (located on the other side of the mountain ridge from Carmen Pampa) to a leadership position: secretaria de actas. It's a job that had him exercising his leadership and peacemaking skills for a few days last week as a mini "civil war," of sorts, broke out between two neighboring communities.

Essentially, Juan Carlos explained, members of two communities were arguing about land. The disagreement, which had apparently been a couple of years in the making, escalated to the point where one man was killed and several were taken to hospitals in La Paz to be treated for serious injuries.

Juan Carlos was a bit shaken when I talked with him in my office last Thursday, but from what he told me, it seemed he handled himself and the situation really well. "I listened to each side," he said, "and of course everyone has their own story, but I listened and I didn't take sides. I think it's important to listen now, make decisions later." He added, "I walked the middle road with them."

Juan Carlos, former president of the UAC-CP student body, said that for now, things are calming down. That said, things are also far from over. "I believe we'll find a solution," he said, "but it will take some time, some mediation."

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