Posted by: HelenRortvedt | 23 February 2008

Tech Weekend, etc.

This has been quite a busy week. Time is flying. I have worked in three different schools this week, traveled outside of the Cochabamba municipality for the first time and experienced my first Bolivian road blocks (bloqueos)—two in one day!

As part of my Spanish class, I am doing an independent study project, working in schools in the area to gain an understanding of the perceptions students have of the environment. I have a few age-specific activities (drawings, questionnaires and informal discussions) that I am implementing in classrooms and so far it’s been really challenging and really fun. I did my first lesson last week with 2nd graders at a primary school in my neighborhood. I’m hoping to go back to the school later on and work with some older students.

Through my technical training sessions (in the afternoons), I have had the opportunity to visit two schools so far. We are designing charlas (informal presentations about a specific theme) to give to a target group at our school in barrio Kami, which is near where we are living. On Thursday and Friday of this week, we had a tech field trip to the towns of Cliza and Toco, which are about an hour outside of Coch. We worked in a vivero (tree nursery), taught workshops on composting and recycling to 11th and 12th graders at a local colegio (high school), visited the municipal landfill/dump and a slaughterhouse that provides over 30% of the pork for all of the city of Cochabamba. It was a very full and challenging, yet rewarding 36 hours. And it was a nice warm up trip, as we prepare for our tech week (which is actually 10 days) in Mid-March, where we will trek all the way to the Chaco, in the southern part of the Santa Cruz department.

The Quechua learning has been slowed recently by lots of schedule conflicts and what not, but I’m hoping to be able to focus more on it in the coming weeks. The students we worked with in Toco yesterday were fabulous, and got really involved in the composting activity, and as we worked, they sang the Bolivian National Anthem for me, and tried to teach me some more Quechua. Poco a poco…Little by little…

I think I’ll leave you all with that for now. And enjoy the following pictures! I think I’ve finally figured out the system.

Bolivia continues to challenge and inspire. There are lots of great things to come in the following weeks. Thanks for being with me on my journey so far! Love from Coch…


The students of “segundo A” smile for a picture while they work on their environment drawings.


Barrio Quijarro. It´s rainy season here. The clouds like to hang out in the mountains…


Fellow Env. Ed. PCT, Yolanda, teaches some 11th graders how to crochet baskets from recycled plastic bags.


I get excited about compost. It happens.


Giving the talk about compost. Dirt and decay aren´t always bad.


Students building our “monton de compost” in their schoolyard. Hopefully they will be able to use the final product in a few months when they do their tree planting project!


The dome of the church in Toco. Bolivia is beautiful.


B47 Environmental Ed. group with our technical trainers in Toco.



  1. So I must say your blog kicks ass.

  2. Helen…i couldnt’ help but notice you look like the only one in chacos…umm this concerns me, are you not spreading the love of chaco?? You know PC gets a pro deal…lead the people!! Miss you and love the blog. Hope your having the time of your life!

  3. H: Your reverse raccoon mask indicates a lot of sunshine (and big sunglasses)! D

  4. Hola Helen, yo estoy contente que tu estas muy bien! Mas (en espanol) luego! XOXOXOX Rita

  5. What beautiful kids! Like the uniforms, too. We’re enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work. JKW

  6. Oh, Helen. I, too, noted your happy little Chacos and tan lines. Thanks for your wonderful photos and wise words. There is something spiritual about clouds hovering in mountains…like they want to whisper something. I think they’re saying, “Hi, Hel. You smell like compost.” 😉 Love you and keep the blogs coming!!

  7. Helen, I could totally use your expertise to help me teach the children of Pilsen to recycle! Tis the one down side of this neighborhood – it’s so dirty!
    Anywho, keep up the good work lady!

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