Bolivia

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Located in central South America, Bolivia is one of the largest Andean countries with a land area roughly the size of Texas and California combined (approximately 1,098,580 square kilometers). La Paz, with an elevation of 12,000 feet, is the national capital and home to the executive and legislative branches of the government. The Supreme Court operates out of the constitutional or judicial capital of Sucre. The Peace Corps' main office is in the city of Cochabamba.

The Peace Corps initially entered Bolivia in 1962 with a group of health Volunteers. The program continued to grow over the next nine years, with Volunteers working in public health, agriculture, and community development in rural communities and in education in both urban and rural areas.

In 1970, a number of economic, political, and social circumstances strained the formely cordial relationship between Bolivia and the United States and in 1971 Peace Corps was asked to leave Bolivia.

The Peace Corps returned to Bolivia in 1990, following an almost 20-year absence. Volunteers now work with national agencies, municipal governments, and private volunteer organizations on projects in agriculture, natural resource management, integrated education, micro-enterprise and small business development, community tourism development, and water and sanitation projects.


Peace Corps History

Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Bolivia

The Peace Corps initially entered Bolivia in 1962 with a group of health Volunteers. The program continued to grow over the next nine years, with Volunteers working in public health, agriculture, and community development in rural communities and in education in both urban and rural areas.

In 1970, a coup installed a leftist military government. A number of economic, political, and social circumstances strained the formerly cordial relationship between Bolivia and the United States. At the same time, a popular 1969 Bolivian movie, Yawar Mallku (Blood of the Condor), strongly suggested that Peace Corps Volunteers were sterilizing indigenous women. While the film’s director denied any association and the film itself was not a documentary, many Bolivians believed the movie to be factual. Public sentiment toward the Peace Corps became increasingly antagonistic, and in 1971, the Peace Corps was expelled from Bolivia.


Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles

Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Bolivia

During training, you will live with a Bolivian family in one of several small communities in the Cochabamba Valley. Sharing meals, conversation, and other experiences with your training host family is the first step in developing the skills and attitudes that will help you fully integrate into your host community.

Volunteer site assignments are in both rural and urban areas and may be quite far from regional capitals. Associate Peace Corps Directors (APCDs) choose and develop sites prior to the arrival of each training group based on strategic project goals, community requests, and ongoing project needs. Your site may be at a high altitude, in the tropical lowlands, or anywhere in between. During training, your APCD will work with you and the technical trainers to assess which site best matches your skills and interests. Although you will have an opportunity to discuss site placement options with your APCD, you will ultimately be assigned to the site where your experience and work style best match the community’s needs.

Peace Corps/Bolivia regulations require that all Volunteers in Bolivia live with a family or within a family housing compound. It is widely recognized that living with a family helps you fully integrate into your community, vastly improves your language skills, and enhances your safety and security. Upon arrival to your site, you will live with a pre-assigned family for the first eight weeks of service. After this time, you may choose to live with a different family.

Housing usually consists of adobe bricks (sometimes covered with stucco) or cement. Roofs are often thatched or made of corrugated tin or tile. You may live in a room of a larger house, in separate rooms within a family compound, or in a totally separate small house. You may or may not have electricity or running water, and if you do not have indoor plumbing, you will have use of a latrine. Some Volunteers must construct their own latrines. Electricity and phone service are becoming increasingly more available in rural areas.

No Volunteer site is more than several hours (by foot or regular ground transportation) from another Volunteer’s site. In some cases, the Peace Corps clusters Volunteers to provide better peer support and facilite cross-program sector development.


Training

Main article: Training in Bolivia

Pre-service training consists of 11 weeks of in-country training in five major areas: technical training, language training (Spanish); cross-cultural training; health and safety training; and the role of the Volunteer in development. By living with a Bolivian family and sharing meals, language, and other activities with them, you will begin to adapt to the realities of life in Bolivia while you prepare to become an effective community development worker.

Classes are conducted in the small communities outside the city of Cochabamba. At 8,000 feet above sea level, the Cochabamba area tends to be warm during the days, but a sweater or jacket may be needed after sunset. You will spend time with your entire training group at the nearby Peace Corps training center on Wednesdays.


Your Health Care and Safety

Main article: Health Care and Safety in Bolivia

The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. Peace Corps/Bolivia maintains a clinic in the Cochabamba office with a full-time and several part-time medical officers who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Bolivia at local, American-standard laboratories, clinics, and hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to the closest American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.


Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues

Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Bolivia

In Bolivia, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ lifestyles, behavior, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Bolivia.

Outside of Bolivia’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Bolivia are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.

  • Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
  • Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
  • Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
  • Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
  • Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities


Frequently Asked questions

Bolivia
2008 Volunteer Survey Results

How personally rewarding is your overall Peace Corps service?|}} Rank:
2008 H1r::27|}}
Score:
2008 H1s::74.3|}}
Today would you make the same decision to join the Peace Corps?|}} Rank:
2008 H2r::35|}}
Score:
2008 H2s::83.7|}}
Would you recommend Peace Corps service to others you think are qualified?|}} Rank:
2008 H3r::19|}}
Score:
2008 H3s::87.6|}}
Do you intend to complete your Peace Corps service?|}} Rank:
2008 H4r::29|}}
Score:
2008 H4s::106.5|}}
How well do your Peace Corps experiences match the expectations you had before you became a Volunteer?|}} Rank:
2008 H5r::26|}}
Score:
2008 H5s::54.8|}}
Would your host country benefit the most if the Peace Corps program were---?|}} Rank:
2008 H6r::25|}}
Score:
2008 H6s::89.1|}}
2008BVS::Bolivia


Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Bolivia

  • How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Bolivia?
  • What is the electric current in Bolivia?
  • How much money should I bring?
  • When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
  • Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
  • Do I need an international driver’s license?
  • What should I bring as gifts for my host family?
  • Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
  • How can my family contact me in an emergency?
  • Can I call home from Bolivia?
  • Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
  • Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?


Packing List

Main article: Packing List for Bolivia

This list has been compiled and reviewed by Volunteers serving in Bolivia and it reflects their experience and needs. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. For example, if you are a business sector Volunteer, your attire is probably more formal than if you are an agricultural or water sanitation Volunteer. Plan and pack accordingly. You can always have things sent to you later. Many items of clothing and other items can be purchased in Bolivia. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. Clothes should be sturdy and practical (i.e., easily washable and without need of ironing).


Peace Corps News

Current events relating to Peace Corps are also available by country of service or your home state

The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.
<rss title=on desc=off>http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&scoring=n&q=%22peace+corps%22+%22bolivia%22&output=rss%7Ccharset=UTF-8%7Cshort%7Cdate=M d</rss>


PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Thursday September 18, 2014 )<rss title=off desc=off>http://peacecorpsjournals.com/rss/bl/blog/50.xml%7Ccharset=UTF-8%7Cshort%7Cmax=10</rss>

See also

External links