Pitt in Bolivia: Culture, Society and Service-Learning

A country that faces challenges very different from those in the U.S., Bolivia is an exciting place to learn about contemporary issues facing a diverse and largely indigenous population. During this 6-week program students will take 2 academic courses and will also be doing service-learning placements at one of the local non-profit organizations. Project teams will work on daily assigned tasks and in addition will be guided to identify a sustainable project that meets the needs of the organization, based on students academic and professional interests and skills.

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. However, the preference will be given to students with some Spanish background. We encourage you to sign up for at least one semester of the college level Spanish before going on the program. Taking Spanish language classes will allow you to connect with the locals and make a greater difference through your service-learning experience. And what a bonus for your resume!

During the program students will also get to visit several of Bolivia’s most famous sites.  In the Chapare, students will adventure through the Amazon, encountering monkeys, hiking through rainforests, and experiencing outstanding tropical fruits and foods.

What You'll Accomplish

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

  • to learn about issues facing current Bolivian society with the focus on the historical, geographical, social, economic, political and cultural contexts 
  • to develop leadership and team-working skills through active community engagement projects
  • 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 Service-learning course. 

The Spanish course will be S/NC (pass/fail) based.

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.

Contemporary Issues: Bolivia (SOC1503)

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.  Topics that will be discussed include indigenous healthcare, health policy, education, interculturality, gender, and the war on drugs. Students will learn through lectures, observations and personal communication with the local Cochabamba community about social realities, social change, and local challenges.

Service-Learning Bolivia (SOC1511)

Service-Learning is continuous active learning designed to challenge you to create a new project (or extend on a previous one) that meet the demonstrated needs of the local Bolivian communities and organizations. The course reflects the core principals of Service-learning: engagement, reflection, reciprocity, and public dissemination.  The project is designed with the community to meet needs identified by the community.
 
You will be placed on project teams that are predetermined well before arrival. These project teams are based on students’ skills, abilities, and major(s). You will spend the majority of their time working on-site at a local Bolivian origination, completing daily assigned tasks, and developing a project. You will be supervised by the organization itself as well as by the Connect2Bolivia staff.
 
Besides the 120 Service-Learning on site and project development contact hours, the course will also have 15 hours of classroom instruction by local instructors.  You will learn the cultural, socio-political aspect of the Service-Learning course as well as the service-Learning educational aspects including theories, reflections, and project team management. Thus, both course components will allow you to conceptualize your Service-Learning experience in relationship to intercultural engagement, cultural diversity, inequality, and sociological and current political issues in present-day Bolivia.
 

Syllabus:
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

Experiential Learning Description

Service -Learning Placement Fields
Project teams will work on-site at a local non-profit or NGO completing daily assigned tasks and in addition will be guided to identify a sustainable project that meets the needs of the organization, based on students academic and professional interests and skills.
 
Students-identified projects provide an opportunity to creatively apply and develop skills and knowledge from almost any academic field. Education, ESL, ASL, Natural sciences, Computer science, Spanish, Liberal Arts, Environmental Science, Nursing and Pre-Health could all be instrumental in team cooperation to address some of the challenges that local communities are dealing with.
In an effort to combine the needs of local partner organizations and the skills of individual students, participants will be asked to complete a skills based application. The review committee will then place students into project teams. Please note that project teams are decided and assigned after acceptance into the program, based on the skills and academic background of the applicants and the needs of the organizations. You will not be able to request a particular placement.
 
See short descriptions of the organizations we have been working with and the projects students were able to contribute to here
Reach out to your Pitt program manager to learn more about placements.

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!

 

Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $5,432 $5,632
Program Fee $267 $267
Study Abroad Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $5,999 $6,199

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare $1,200 - $1,500
Personal Expenses and Meals $1,000
Vaccines $100
Visa $200
   

 

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).