Pitt in Bolivia: Indigenous Languages & Linguistics

A country in which two thirds identifies as indigenous, Bolivia is an exciting place in which to learn about indigenous languages, government language policies, and bilingual education. Students will enroll in two courses: Language, Culture and Society: Bolivia and a language course in either Quechua or Aymara, the two indigenous languages with the most speakers in Bolivia. In the first, you will visit schools, talk with language policy planners, and explore city districts, such as markets, where language politics play out. In the second, you will learn from native speakers in a vibrant language-learning environment. 
Based on the feedback from the students, we are also adding a 1-credit spanish language course, that students will take as a pre-departure weekend workshop and during the first week in Bolivia. Students of all levels of Spanish (including NO EXPERIENCE AT ALL) are welcome to apply to the program. Taking Spanish language classes will allow you to connect with the locals and will make your experience in Bolivia more meaningful. And what a bonus for your resume!
 

What You'll Accomplish

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity:

  • to learn about indigenous languages, government language policies, and bilingual education
  • to practice Quechua with the native speakers
  • to explore Bolivia's most famous sites from La Paz to Chapare

Bolivia is located in the heart of South America. It is a land locked country with the Andes Mountains to the west and the Amazon Jungle to the east. Our program takes place in the city of Cochabamba or “Llajta” (its name in Quechua). Surrounded by the spectacular Andes Mountains, this city is Bolivia’s third largest next to Santa Cruz to the east and La Paz to the west. During the Inca Empire, Cochabamba was used strictly as farmland to feed the entire Inca Empire. Remains from this empire provide an excellent opportunity for students to study this ancient civilization. In Cochabamba as well as in the other nine departments of Bolivia, the indigenous groups still practice their traditional customs such as the winter solstice, “Andean cosmovision” (Andean view of the earth), “koa” (ritual to Pachamama, Mother Earth), language, food, “Urkupiña” (a celebration to the virgin), and a “Cholita,” (a traditionally dressed woman). However, due to the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1530s, these indigenous cultures have been mixed with Spanish cultures. Bolivia is a very diverse country reflected in its languages, indigenous practices, politics, ethnicities, and customs. This makes Bolivia an exotic and interesting country. The Bolivian people are very proud of their country’s journey throughout history and keep alive their traditions which all too many countries have already lost to the Western World. Bolivia is an adventure within itself making it an amazing place to learn and grow.
 

Where You'll Live

Students and the faculty director will be staying in shared accommodations at a local hostel in Cochabamba. The hostel is centrally located: within walking distance to many of the city’s main attractions and surrounded by lots of restaurants and markets, with both Bolivian and non-Bolivian food options.

You can expect the following:

  • Shared bedrooms (2 or 3 students/bedroom)
  • Bedding
  • Shared bathroom
  • Shared kitchen 
  • Internet access

Please note that meals are not included in the program fee.

 

We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change.  Contact your program manager with any questions.

What You'll Study

You will receive a total of 7 credits on Pitt in Bolivia program. You will get a letter grade for the Contemporary Issues in Bolivia course, as well as the Quechua course. 
Spanish course will be pass/fail base.
If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate, please meet with your academic advisor to discuss this program and what the courses will fulfill for you.
Information about how the courses on this program count towards general education requirements for different schools and campuses can be found here.

Introduction to Quechua Abroad (QUECH1901)

Students will study at a local language school with instructors who are native speakers of Aymara and Quechua. They will develop the skills to communicate at a basic level. Additionally, they will learn and experience first hand the context and history of the languages. Through language study, they will learn about the realities of Aymara and Quechua speakers in present day Bolivia and an understanding of the connection between language and culture.

Contemporary Issues: Bolivia (SOC1515)

This course will introduce students to issues facing current Bolivian society from multiple disciplines. The focus will be on the historical, geographical, social, economic, political and cultural contexts. Students will learn through lectures, observations and personal communication with the local Cochabamba community about social realities, social change, and local challenges.

Independent Study: "Beginning Spanish Abroad" (Bolivia) (SPAN1901)

Students are required to participate in a weekend intensive Spanish class prior to the departure, and will continue taking appropriate level of Spanish language at a Runawasi language school in Bolivia. This course falls outside of the Spanish department normal course progression. Students will need to take a placement test upon return to determine the appropriate level to continue. This course will be offered as S/NC. 1 credit

Independent Study: "Continuing Spanish Abroad" (Bolivia) (SPAN1901)

Students are required to participate in a weekend intensive Spanish class prior to the departure, and will continue taking appropriate level of Spanish language at a Runawasi language school in Bolivia. This course falls outside of the Spanish department normal course progression. Students will need to take a placement test upon return to determine the appropriate level to continue. This course will be offered as S/NC. 1 credit

We work closely with our Third Party Provider Connect2Bolivia to offer students this wonderful program. Connect2Bolivia was founded by Alexis Wieczorek, a former Pitt Alum and David Ruiz, Bolivian Architect. For more detailed info on their mission check out the Connect2Bolivia webpage: http://connect2bolivia.com/ 

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts

Oksana Stalczynski

Privet! I'm Oksana Stalczynski and I'm a Program Manager at the Study Abroad Office. I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, was an exchange student and Russian Language Scholar at Reed College in Portland, OR and did a summer language program in Dresden, Germany. A study abroad experience broadens your horizon, grows your circle of friends and improves your career opportunities. That’s why I think everyone should do one!

Feel free to contact me to find out more about study abroad programs at Pitt, and/or to learn/practice some Russian.  Get in touch with me at Oksana.stalczynski@pitt.edu or 412-383-3237!

 

Your In-Country Contacts

Alana DeLoge

Alana DeLoge is the Quechua instructor at the University of Pittsburgh. Currently a PhD student in linguistics, she also has an MA in anthropology and an MPH in public health. Her research focuses on how indigenous language is used in healthcare contexts in Bolivia. Alana has several years of research and residence experience in Cochabamba and is thrilled to travel to Bolivia with students!

 

  In- State Out-of-State
Estimated Expenses Billed by Pitt  $5,899 $6,099
Estimated Additional Expenses $2,500 $2,500
Total Estimated Cost $8,399 $8,599

Final program costs will be available by November 15.

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

What's Included

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition for 7 credits
  • Shared accommodations in a hostel
  • International travel health insurance
  • Cultural activities
  • Local excursions (Featured excursions include one of the Bolivia's most famous site - Chapare: students will visit this rural province in northern Bolivia. Here students will adventure through the Amazon, encountering monkeys, hiking through rainforests, and experiencing outstanding tropical fruits and foods).
When You'll Go

Program start date - early May
Program end date - mid June