11 Oct My First Days in Bolivia
Camina Harrison-Chery, an EQWIP HUBs Volunteer who is in Bolivia for the next year working as a facilitator. Read on to learn all about her experience supporting Canada World Youth/Youth Challenge International’s new youth livelihood project, EQWIP HUBs!
It only took standing in front of thirty pairs of attentive eyes once to realize the importance of the work I will be doing here in El Alto, Bolivia. On Tuesday, August 16, 2016, I had my debut as facilitator alongside my amazing Bolivian co-worker, Wara — or as we call her, Warita.
Until that moment, the reality of what I would be doing here for the next year had not set in.
As well informed as the pre-departure training had left me, nothing could prepare me for the impact of working in a language other than English (my native tongue), with youth who were so similar to me yet shared different life experiences and obstacles, a fact that added an extra dimension to the way I had to facilitate.
I have seen first hand the excitement, interest and knowledge volunteers bring to the EQWIP HUBs trainings and the result is incredible. The training course I helped deliver was on Toma de Decisiones, or for non Spanish-speakers — Decision Making. The curriculum included videos and PowerPoint presentations, but I also had the opportunity to give my opinion and suggestions on the training’s content.
What makes EQWIP HUBs different than other projects? You really see the process from start to finish; from project organizing and finances, to the training programs and evaluation. After the first week, I could already see the impact on the students attending our training courses. Not only has the group of participants I assisted in facilitating finished the program, but some of them have founded a youth engagement and support group called Emprende Amigos which will focus on improving youth livelihoods by discussing opportunities available to youth in El Alto through strategic alliances, mentoring and peer empowerment.
The youth laughed at some of my silly Spanish slip ups, had endless questions about Canada and what I had done in my life to get me here, a facilitator in Bolivia, which only added to the incredibly fulfilling and enriching experience.
I cannot wait until I am facilitating on a daily basis, as there is nothing more rewarding than being met with a sea of smiling and engaged students. And besides, saying “enfermera” instead of “enferma” is all part of the experience, no?
Want to be an EQWIP HUBs volunteer? Submit your application today.