Name: Dave
Major: Political Science
Minors: Latin American Studies, Spanish
Program: SIT
Where: Bolivia
When: Fall 2006
Favorite Course: Independent Study
Highlight: Searching for 20 cows with a farming family on mountains for 7 hours.
Best Excursion: Village stay in Bella Vista Next Destination: Peace Corps


What did you learn to love about the cultures?

While many countries have adopted a "westernized" approach to development and set their goals to mimic the lives of wealthier countries, Bolivia has retained its distinctiveness. The majority of Bolivian people keep their own unique customs, traditions, and even ancient languages. While the country remains the "poorest country in South America," it is, in my opinion the richest in culture. The people are proud of who they are, and, unlike many things I have observed in the United States, even entire student populations of cities will take to the streets in mass and unity to celebrate their heritage.

How did the location enhance your academic experience?

Bolivia, currently and historically, is a country of overwhelming pride and power in its masses. Every day it seemed as if there was a new demonstration or new, very energetic, chapter occurring in the Bolivian society. Also, through my program's networks, I was able to meet many of the people at the forefront of the various topics being discussed throughout the country. This became my first experience abroad where I could easily observe a country's desire to follow its own path towards development, outside the influence of capitalist institutions.

How did you fund your study abroad experience?

The Gilman Scholarship focuses on providing larger scholarships ($5000) to students who wish to study abroad in non-traditional countries. While you can still apply if you plan to study abroad in more traditional country, this is an excellent resource to look into if you do chose to go somewhere slightly more unorthodox.