Tuesday, July 27, 2010

everything is possible

There is a common saying here in Bolivia: "Todo es posible." Everything is possible. It's something the locals say (though, not necessarily with 100% confidence) when they seem to be up against all odds. It's like an aloud expression of faith to themselves and others that all will work out. In the end, if you believe in the possibility, everything will be okay.

Todo es posible.

With four years of Bolivian life experience under my belt, I've been able to trace a personal evolution of my reaction to this way of thinking; this idea that it's better to believe in the possibilities of success rather than consider the odds of loss. In the beginning, amused by the positive reaction to seemingly insurmountable problems, I would smile and then repeat the words, "Todo es posible." Admittedly, I was thinking, "Well, okay... yeah, but realistically probably not gonna happen."

Students, faculty, staff, and UAC-CP Director Fr. Freddy (center) take on the "impossible" task of moving a tractor...by hand.

But experience has taught my doubting-self that, in a place where things seem more improbable than possible, folks are on to something. With dedication and determination and, perhaps most importantly: the faith that everything really is possible, small wonders are often worked. The things people might consider improbable or impossible become reality.

A simple example. A couple weeks ago I caught myself doubting the ability of a group of students, faculty, staff, and UAC-CP Director Fr. Freddy to move an old, no-longer working CASE tractor from the women's dormitory to its new resting spot about 30 feet away. "Seriously?" I asked a colleague as we examined the multi-ton yellow beast, "how are they going to move this thing...by hand?" He shrugged. "Todo es posible."

And so I watched, my digital camera in hand, videotaping first the inability to even budge the tractor, and then the discussion of what to do next, and then the gradual progression of more and more people joining in with new ideas and solutions and pushing/pulling power and cheers. And then, just like that, everything became possible (as indicated in the following super short videos):

Video 1. --The Push.

Video 2. --The Arrival.

I'm often reminded here in rural Bolivia, a place where the odds seem stacked higher against people than in other parts of the world, that if you truly believe that todo es posible, you do have the power to move mountains, as the say. Or, at the very least, move tractors.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

guest blogger: stacy rooney

Stacy Rooney, my dear friend and avid Carmen Pampa Fund volunteer and donor, has been visiting for the past 10 days and flies back to Minnesota today. Borrowing an idea from Hugh, Stacy agreed to do a guest blog spot to share a little about her experience.

Visiting Carmen Pampa has been an amazing experience. My only previous visit was six years ago and it is wonderful to see with my own eyes how the College and the community continue to thrive. While I keep current on all the happenings at the UAC-CP through Sarah and her blog, it is obviously a special treat to get to witness it all with my own eyes.

With a UAC-CP graduate and her children preparing for the 3-hour ride to the UAC-CP reunion.

Most of the students are gone right now on their winter break, but there are still some who continue to work during vacation. I've had the pleasure of meeting many alumni (at the reunion Sarah mentioned in her previous blog entry). It was wonderful to meet the students who have gone on to bring their creativity and talents to various communities throughout Bolivia.

I have no Spanish skills, but through their tone and facial expressions, I could instantly pick up when they were speaking about how much they value their opportunity for education at the UAC-CP. All of the graduates wanted to know the recent happenings on campus and what their classmates are accomplishing in other parts of Bolivia.

Those who were here while Sr. Damon served as director of the College always inquire about her. They have all wanted to tell me their own stories of how her vision of creating the UAC-CP has impacted their lives.

Visiting students and graduates in the rural town of Taipiplaya--transportation was in the back of a truck.

In addition to the students at the alumni of the UAC-CP, I hold the faculty in high regard. With minimal resources by U.S. standards (e.g. refilling ink cartridges for printers rather than buying new ones and sporadic access to Internet), they dedicate their lives to the work of this College and challenging the students to hold the highest standards for themselves.

The overwhelming sense of being on campus is being a part of a community. For the successes and challenges, the effort and the reward, the mistakes and the learning from mistakes, this community is journeying together. I feel honored to have been a part of the community during my short visit and I am inspired to continue my role as a volunteer, donor, and friend of Carmen Pampa Fund when I return to Minnesota.

I am immensely proud to be affiliated with the work of the UAC-CP. For any of you who haven't visited, make plans to visit. If you haven't donated in the last few months, I encourage you to do send what you are able to donate today! You will get an amazing return on your investment!