Just about 24 hours from now, I’ll be headed to Roanoke’s airport for the first leg of the journey that will take four GSE team members and me to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. GSE is group study exchange, a program through Rotary International to send young professionals overseas in goodwill and vocational exchanges. Jane and I recently hosted the team leader from the inbound team from Bolivia, Pedro Loza, who is from La Paz. His team will be returning to Bolivia on the same airplane we’re taking there.
Coincidentally, my team members are all schoolteachers. Doug and Anne are from Front Royal. Tamsen is from Elkton. And Judah is from Lexington. All were chosen in a competitive application situation back in October.
Our trip last for five weeks, returning on 3-May (which happens to be my 25th wedding anniversary). We will visit six of Bolivia’s largest cities: Santa Cruz, Potosi, Cochabamba, Sucre, Oruru, and La Paz.
Approximately one-third of the country is in the high Andes and La Paz is the highest capital city in the world at around 12,000 feet. Bolivia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin America, despite being rich in minerals and other resources.
We will be staying in the homes of Rotary members in our host cities. We will be giving frequent presentations to Rotary clubs and will be speaking in Spanish. I am the worst Spanish speaker of my group, so I’ll rely heavily on the others!
It remains to be seen what joys and hardships we may face in such a poor country. But we’re constantly told that our hosts will treat us royally and that the rich culture and fantastic scenery will overwhelm any inconveniences.
We’ll be blogging frequently at http://gsetobolivia.blogspot.com/ so please keep up with us!
(My posts here will be infrequent or absent entirely until my return in May.)