Day 1: Bolivian History

Today was a full day! We started with a few reminders from Lee about Bolivian manners (greet everyone in the room, and be sure to say goodbye to everyone!) and safety (sadly illustrated by the stitches she got yesterday after a bite from a neighborhood dog). Then,  some general reflections about political anthropology and the vivir bien movement.

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Our guest speaker today was Rafael Puente, an ex-Jesuit and leading expert in formación política. He gave an expert introduction to Bolivian history, asking two profound question: how did Bolivia emerge as a country when it is made up of so many different regions that often have more in common with neighboring countries than with each other? And, how did Bolivia go from being one of the richest countries in the hemisphere to one of the poorest? (hint: Potosí is the key to both answering both questions).

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After our welcome lunch with the Volunteer Bolivia staff, we took a walking tour with David, who showed us some historic sites, ending up in the Convento Museo Santa Teresa, where we learned about the cloistered life of nuns in the 17th century. The convent is being repaired, so we only toured the downstairs, but is still in use. Then, everyone made their way back to their host families for dinner and well-deserved rest.

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