Bolivia

Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve

Country Information

Bolivia was named after the famous Latin American freedom fighter Simón Bolívar.  Legend says the infamous American bandits Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had their final shootout in San Vicente, Bolivia.  The Andes also run through Bolivia, which gives one of the highest cities in the world, La Paz, and Chacaltaya is the highest ski resort in the world at 17,785 feet (5421 m). 

Stories

You find out that there is always more love to go around, no matter how many times you welcome a new son or daughter into your home. It is about understanding, love, and lifelong relationships,” says AFS Host mom, Harva Paul, who has hosted a student from Bolivial. “The best part of being a host parent is the day your student calls you ‘mom’ or ‘dad’.

The first time [hosting] is always the big one, bringing another person into your home. Once you do it, it’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s such an amazing and unforgettable experience. Our community can feel insular and the exchange students help the kids in school gain a world awareness… There an emphasis on becoming a world community, not just country by country.

Lifestyle and Family

An institutionalized system of unequal access to political, economic, and sociocultural resources is a direct outcome of the Spanish conquest of culturally and physically distinct Andean societies and is closely wedded to the nation's ethnic and cultural makeup. Class, culture (including ethnicity and language), and race (physical characteristics) overlap, solidify, and mark the social hierarchy. Class boundaries are permeable, but the shedding of the Andean cultural heritage is an important prerequisite for social mobility.

Women are considered head of household and while Bolivia has be a somewhat matriarchal society in the past, the inequality between men and women seems to be growing as the economic position of women deteriorates. Boys are much more likely to have a full education than girls are.

Teen Life and Sports

Bolivian teens living in rural area generally have more chores than teens in the cities, with boys working outside and on the farms while girls help manage the home. Teens in the cities tend to spend more time hanging out with friends, watching television, playing video games, and going to arcades. However, there are many children in the cities who work as shoe shiners, sell candies or flowers on the streets, or work on the public transportation systems collecting fares in order to help add to their family’s income.  As is common in many parts of South America, kids in Bolivia play fútbol (soccer), and it’s very common to see homemade soccer fields scattered throughout the country.

Diet

The typical diet is abundant in carbohydrates but deficient in other food categories.Favorite national delicacies include guinea pig and deep-fried pork (chicharrón). Meals are served with hot pepper sauces. There are few food taboos, and almost all animal parts are eaten, although reptiles are not consumed. Most cultural restrictions center on food preparation, such as avoiding uncooked, unprocessed foods.

Language and Religion

Spanish is the official language of Bolivia, but there are still some Incan dialects spoken in rural areas.  The majority of Bolivians are Catholic, but there is some intermingling between Catholicism and pre-Hispanic Andean beliefs and rituals.

Karen's Mother's Day Message to her Host Mother, Lynda


I live with the most wonderful family in Rison Arkansas. We really enjoy to be around each other but what can i said about my mom.... one word AMAZING!

Mom:

I am so lucky to have u. i think since the first moment i start talking to you i knew u would be great. I love you so much and thanks for everything!! thanks for getting up early to prepare my lunch, thanks for supporting and wishing me luck in every softball game, thanks for consider me like ur daughter, thanks for being sweet, thanks for being my MOM.

happy mother's day!!

LOVE U SOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!

Lynda responds:

Thanks for making it easy!! You have been a welcome part of our family. We love you and wish we had more time!! You are a great daughter, I know your parents are just as proud of you as we are!!

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