Friday, October 29, 2010

wanted: volunteers in bolivia

The success of the College is dependent upon the special skills and talents that each person shares within the community.  And I am always amazed by the dedicated team of faculty and staff who, committed to the mission and vision of the UAC-CP, make the seemingly impossible...possible! 

"The College is about much more than educating young people in Bolivia; it's about social justice and creating change." --Jessica Bellock, former UAC-CP volunteer English teacher

While the majority of faculty and staff at the College are Bolivian (many make personal sacrifices to live here permanently--far from their family--and others commute no less than 8-hours per week to teach here), there is also a significant number of professional volunteers and missioners from across the globe who make their home here in the little community of Carmen Pampa. They are the people who come here to teach...and learn.  

We are always looking for hard-working, dedicated, and mature volunteers who can help us carry out the mission of the College. For that reason, the College and Carmen Pampa Fund have identified special job opportunities (some paid and some unpaid) for professionals from other countries to have the opportunity to support the College's work and experience the transformative power of development and change through education. 

Visit Carmen Pampa Fund's website to learn about specific ways you can support our work and have a life-changing experience!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

how facebook is helping someone like francy

Why is a Carmen Pampa Fund donor pledging $1,000 for our Scholarship Partners Program if we can surpass 450 friends on our Facebook site by the end of October? 

It provides a worthwhile incentive to help Carmen Pampa Fund educate new people about the successful work of the College to provide a response to the poverty and educational inequalities facing people in one of Latin America's poorest areas--rural Bolivia. And, in the process of expanding our social network, we are raising money for our Scholarship Partners Program--a fund critical to the success of young men and women like Francy Quisbert.

Fourth-year Agronomy student Francy Quisbert. Her favorite classes are Microbiology, Entomology, and Biochemistry.

For 21-year-old Francy, the UAC-CP was the only chance she had to study at the college level.  And even then, without a scholarship the odds were stacked against the young woman who hails from a community in the mountainous Nor Yungas.

Despite the College's already subsidized costs (students pay $42 US a month for tuition, housing, and food), Francy's family--like most poor, rural bolivian subsistence farmers--was unable to support her financially. "I suffered a lot that first semester," Francy recalls. Without money, she was often forced to make the difficult decision of paying for tuition rather than eating. "There were many times when I only had a few cents to buy a container of yogurt to get me through the day."

With the help of UAC-CP classmates and staff members, Francy remained strong her first semester; she worked hard to earn a scholarship that would allow her to continue her studies. In the end, her hard work and perseverance paid off--she was awarded a scholarship beginning in her second semester.

The scholarship, funded by donations to Carmen Pampa Fund's Scholarship Partners Program and awarded by a scholarship committee at the College, provides for students like Francy who demonstrate academic merit, strong leadership skills, and extreme financial need. In return, scholarship students must complete 120 work-study hours per semester.

Now in her final semester of studies in the College's Agronomy Department, Francy is thinking about her thesis project (she plans to do an inventory of local insects) and post-graduation work. She is confident in her commitment to apply her professional knowledge and practical experience to help the people of Bolivia's rural area. "[My dad] has always known that, with my degree, there is a future."

Thanks to everyone who has helped to share the story of the College--its ability to respond to the needs and struggles of the poor through the power of higher education.  Because, in the process of raising awareness for our cause, you have also helped to raise money for the Scholarship Partners Program so that someone like Francy can have a college degree...and a better future.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

anniversary celebration

Today marked day three of the four-day-long Intercarreras celebration here at the College. Intercarreras is the annual celebration that takes place the first weekend in October in honor of the Feast of St. Francis on October 4th--the anniversary of the founding of the College. This year the UAC-CP is celebrating 17 years of providing high education and services to Bolivia's rural area.

An Ecotoursim student freshens up the basketball court on Wednesday by painting U.C.B. (Universidad Católica Boliviana) in the center.

Intercarreras is an olympics-esque event that pits the five different carreras (majors) and Pre-University students against one another in a variety of competitive events. Students play soccer, futsal, volleyball, basketball, and chess by day. And by night they take the to the stage to compete in poetry, karaoke, dancing, and theatrical competitions. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, College administrators take turns cooking--preparing enough food to feed 800 people each day. (Last night, I came into the kitchen of the Volunteer House to find Hugh and volunteer Chris DeLorenzo butchering 40 chickens for tomorrow's barbecue!)

In between games, students sit down to eat a bowl of soup. The lunches were prepared by UAC-CP faculty and staff members.

I can't keep up with all of the constant day-long activity. But students and staff don't seem to mind the long days that begin at about 6am and last until 1am.  "It's the one time of year when we all come together and just celebrate ourselves," an Education student told me. "All the pressures and difficulties we have in our lives...we forget them for a few days and just have fun."

Despite heavy rain today, Veterinary Science students faced off against Education students on the lower campus' mud-covered soccer field.

Intercarreras is also an informal homecoming event. Graduates return with their families to visit the UAC-CP and one another. This morning I chatted with UAC-CP Agronomy graduates Juan Suñiga and Leyla Yujra--the married couple came with their two little boys from Caranavi. "For us," Juan explained, "coming to Carmen's like coming home." Juan claims that he was the second person to register for classes at the College when it first opened its doors 17 years ago. "I am happy to be a part of an institution that is contributing in such a significant way to the development of Bolivia's rural area."

The activities will culminate tomorrow with a day-long parade and showcase of traditional dancing. In the late afternoon, the winning academic department for the multi-day event will be announced. And on Monday the little village of Carmen Pampa will be quiet--as everyone rests and recuperates and prepares for life to return to "normal" on Tuesday.