June 21 to July 6, 2017
The time there is short, as the bulk of the service work will be in the most biologically diverse spot on the planet, the Bolivian Amazon. In this region, the rivers are the highways, and the indigenous communities lay scattered along its banks. The communities of the Rio Beni live a remote existence, with subsistence living conditions and minimal access to clean water. These local people (primarily Chimane, Mosetene, Tacana and Quechua Indians) historically have had little access to primary health care services. Our non-profit partner, the Rio Beni Health Foundation, provides these essential medical services to the people of the Rio Beni. The SStS project primarily focuses on supporting mobile clinics, participating in local trainings, and building filters for a clean water initiative.
After building filters for schools and homes that have no access to clean water, SStS students will travel, typically by river, to live with the communities they have come to support. The filters they will install literally save lives, minimizing the disturbingly high infant mortality rate in these communities. While there, SStS students will hear stories of life in the Amazon around campfires and enjoy soccer with local kids. They will also experience a jungle that provides life to more species than any other place on earth and explore why it is rapidly disappearing. After seeing firsthand the struggles that the Amazonian people face and the enjoyment that they derive from their lives, the course will culminate in a trip to Isla del Sol, an island in Lake Titicaca. While on this island, which is central in the Incan creation myth, students will have the opportunity to reflect upon their course in global citizenship in the midst of a strikingly beautiful Andean setting.
After spending a few days constructing bio-sand water filters, the group will travel to a remote Rio Beni community to install them in homes and schools.
Prior to their travels, students complete a series of online activities (30 minutes each). While traveling, they also read engaging articles, participate in cultural experiences, and create presentations in small groups.
While in Rurrenabaque, students typically take short hikes in the surrounding hills. Then, after arriving on Isla del Sol, the group walks a couple miles to their hostel. They also take lengthy day hikes at high altitudes to explore Incan ruins on the island.
In addition to staying in hostels while the group is in Rurrenabaque, La Paz, and Isla del Sol, the group will camp in the rainforest for a few nights while installing filters in the Rio Beni community.
After arriving in La Paz, the students take a short flight to Rurrenabaque. While in this area, they travel several hours, typically by boat, to the community receiving the filters. At the end of the course, there is also a 4-5 hour bus ride and a boat journey on Lake Titicaca to Isla del Sol.
Although the group will camp in a remote village while installing filters, they do not stay in the homes of individual families.
For a majority of the days, the group will be in rural areas (the small town of Rurrenabaque, a remote community in the rainforest, and a small village on Isla del Sol). A few days will also be spent in La Paz, a city of over a million.
During the travel phase of each SStS course, students spend time reflecting about the learning that occurs through their immersion and service experiences. These posts capture the impact of our programs on individual students. Explore the posts below to learn about the SStS Bolivia program from the important viewpoint of our students.