“Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.” –Denis Waitley
First and foremost, I can’t express how fortunate how I feel to have received the Dean Rusk Travel Grant. This is an opportunity for me to continue practicing Spanish in a professional space, but more importantly to study in La Paz, Bolivia. More specifically, the Dean Rusk Travel Grant is funding me to research the digital divide in La Paz and how digital tools are being used for educational purposes.
Admittedly, this won’t be my first time in Bolivia (in fact, it will be my third time). In January, I traveled there for the first time as a tourist; mostly “sampling” the culture and getting only a glimpse at what this beautiful country offers to its own people and foreigners. In June, I returned to spend more time with friends in the country, and to better understand the people, culture, and issues from within a house-stay. In 2 days, I will start a journey into developing my professional skills in another language within another culture. There’s no doubt that I have mixed feelings, but thankfully, I will be working with an organization named Elemental. Although they were not a part of my original plans, I learned how to be flexible and think of Plan A-Z. To this day, I’m not sure if it’s a cultural barrier that was built between the original partner and I, or whether it was a communication issue. Would our communication been equally as poor had the organization been in the States? Did the label of this being an “international” project become intimidating or overwhelming? I am not traveling as a stranger to the language nor the food. I am traveling as a stranger to its economic, political, and social problems, all of which affect education. And there’s no better way to get this information than from the people who watch the news and are affected by these issues everyday.