Blogs by Linda E Allen
Rotary GSE to Bolivia
8/20/2009 12:01:27 PM
All these wonderful experiences covered in previous blog posts were part of a Rotary Group Study Exchange to Bolivia. From April 17 – May 16, Rotary District 5750 outbound GSE team lived outside our cultural comfort zone. Our life(and values)-changing, memory-making adventures and experiences in Bolivia made for long days and late nights – but any inconveniences were well worth it.
Team members, Liz Howard, sponsored by Stillwater Centennial Club, Misty Babb, sponsored by Oklahoma Heartland Club, Stacy Schrank, from Rotary Club of Oklahoma City Club, and team leader, Linda Allen, of the Stillwater Rotary Club, visited 18 Rotary clubs in the cities of La Paz, Cochabamba, Sucre, Potosí, Tarija, and Santa Cruz. We presented our program about Oklahoma and District 5750 projects and activities to the district conference in Sucre in buildings where the history of independence of Bolivia from Spain began. We were also interviewed by radio, a university TV station, and local newspapers.
Our Rotary hosts opened their hearts and homes to us and treated us like much loved family members. They included us in their daily activities including shopping at traditional markets, attending a wedding and even a funeral, experiencing the nightlife in the big cities, and more. Even after a stay of only a few days, it was difficult to leave each host family because we became close friends. That’s the wonder and beauty of these exchanges – sharing our similarities and enjoying our differences – and learning from each other.
We also caught up with three of the inbound team, Antonio, Tomas, and Patty, who had just returned from their stay in Oklahoma. They were excellent hosts for us in Tarija and Santa Cruz.
Along with our professional visits to banks, universities, public and private schools, and libraries, we got to see first-hand how essential Rotary is to the quality of life for the population with the least resources. Rotarians and the Damas Rotarias (wives of members) are committed to their service projects that include providing Shelter Boxes for earthquake victims in Peru, funding a children’s burn center with rehabilitation and preventive services, a cooperative community development project with Habitat for Humanity, providing medical services and school supplies to children with no resources. The number one challenge and need throughout the district is potable water. Many clubs have projects to address this critical problem.
We continue our exchanges with our new Rotary friends in Bolivia with e-mails. We are currently presenting programs to our district clubs and sharing possible collaborative projects.
Mark Twain summarized our exchange experience accurately long before we were born - "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." We proved those words to be true!
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More Blogs by Linda E Allen
Rotary GSE to Bolivia - Thursday, August 20, 2009
Santa Cruz - a Tropical Paradise! - Monday, August 03, 2009
Tarija - Wine Country! - Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Convento de Santa Teresa - Sunday, July 05, 2009
From the Mountain, to the Mines, to the Mint - Friday, July 03, 2009
Potosí - City of Silver - Friday, June 26, 2009
Sucre - Must See - Sunday, June 14, 2009
Sucre - Bolivia's Historic Capital - Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Cochabamba - Part 2 - Tuesday, June 02, 2009
On to Cochabamba - Monday, June 01, 2009
Eclectic La Paz - Sunday, May 31, 2009
La Paz - The City that Scrapes the Sky - Thursday, May 28, 2009
Belated Bolivia Blog - Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Countdown to Bolivia! - Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Home Away from Home - Tuesday, March 03, 2009
The Work will Find You - Sunday, March 01, 2009
About Konani - 2009 - Friday, February 20, 2009
Bolivia - Election Day 2009 - Wednesday, February 18, 2009