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UPDATE

After returning from Bolivia, I competed in a presentation competition with my MBA classmates about our summer experiences. I made it to the finals with 4 of my other classmates.  Here’s the link to our presentations (mine starts at 28 mins, 20 secs): http://ice.waltoncollege.uark.edu/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=872eff238861438bbb91873b521f4d17.

And the results? See below…

 

Post taken from Clinton School Blog: http://clintonschoolblog.com/cblog/?p=1512

 

Clinton School student Sarah Clark was recognized Monday night for her performance in the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business MBA Presentation Competition last week. After making it to the finals, Clark was voted 3rd place overall by a panel of judges representing local corporations.

Clark is the first student to be pursuing a joint MPS/MBA from the Clinton School and Walton College of Business. Unlike her MBA classmates who worked in corporate internships this summer, Clark presented on her Clinton School International Public Service Project in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

“I didn’t think the judges would be as impressed with my summer experience as they were with the traditional corporate internships of my classmates,” Clark said, “but they were, and it was encouraging. I think this really speaks to the relevance of public service to the private sector. It wasn’t my PowerPoint or presentation skills that really won it; it was the story.”

This summer Clark worked with the Bolivian-based NGO Ayni Ruway whose mission is to serve the Cochabamba inmate population. For her project, she worked on microenterprise development in the prisons by conducting workshops on microenterprise management and planning and implementing a marketing plan to promote the inmate’s products.

Congratulations to Sarah for her win.

3rd place trophy

3rd place trophy

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Last Post

This will be my last post. I returned safely to the States on Wednesday after a wonderful summer. First stop: Juanita’s for cheese dip. Biggest adjustment: Drinking tap water.

Thanks so much to all my friends and family that have kept up with my blog and encouraged me along the way. Your support means a lot.

What’s next? Tomorrow I start my move to Fayetteville where I will be living over the next year. I am pursuing a joint MPS/MBA degree from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock and the Walton College of Business in Fayetteville which requires me to split my studies between the 2 campuses. I am expected to graduate from both programs by the end of next year and then it’s off to the working world. Keep in touch for what’s to come.

Thanks again to everyone. I look forward to catching up now that I’m back on native soil.

Buenos Aires

A few pictures from our last 5 days in South America.  Buenos Aires was amazing.

Reunited with Memmer

Reunited with Memmer

 

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Christopher Columbus statue

Christopher Columbus statue

 

Old Argentinian Flag

Old Argentinian Flag

 

La Boca neighborhood

La Boca neighborhood

 

Absolutely delicious Argentinian beef

Absolutely delicious Argentinian beef

 

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Well, Nique and I decided to go with Option 1 below. After 4 days in Southern Bolivia, we hopped on a bus to Buenos Aires where we are now.

Our trip through the Salar de Uyuni was unforgettable. The first day of the trip we shared a jeep with two Brazilians, a Chilean, an Irelander, and a German who were doing a two day tour. With them, we explored the salt flats, mummies, and nearby volcano. When they headed back to Uyuni the next afternoon, we hopped in a jeep with 3 Brits, a Canadian, and an Israeli for the next 3 days. With them, we explored the lakes, geysers, flamingos, and other wonders surrounding the Salar, or “salt flat.” We slept on beds made of salt our second night and climbed to a chilling 16,000 feet the 3rd day. Both groups were great, and they made the trip even more unique.

After 30 hours in a bus where we were the only gringos – and after several failed attempts at understanding Argentinean Spanish – Nique and I finally made it safely to a hostel in Buenos Aires. We explored the city all day today and our classmate, John Memmer, is scheduled to join us tomorrow morning.

The three of us head home this Tuesday. Our last days in South America are upon us.

Enjoy the movie below of our recent trip (or go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDtSZnlmh0M). More to come on our time in Bs As.

On the Road

Our final journey in South America starts tomorrow (Friday) morning. Here is tentative schedule:

Friday, July 31

Nique and Sarah leave Cochabamba at 9:00am

Cochabamba to Oruro (4 hrs on bus)

Oruro to Uyuni (7 hrs on train)

Arrive in Uyuni around 10:30pm

Saturday – Tuesday

Guided jeep tour of Sallar de Uyuni (salt flats) and other natural wonders in southern Bolivia

Tuesday, August 4

Leave Uyuni at 10:30pm

Uyuni to Villazón (9 hrs on train)

Villazón, Bolivia to La Quiaca, Argentina (no time, just across border)

From here we have 3 options…

OPTION 1:

Wednesday, August 5

La Quiaca to Buenos Aires (24 hrs on bus)

Thursday – Tuesday, August 11

Hang out in Buenos Aires (John Memmer joins us in BA on Sunday)

OPTION 2:

Wednesday, August 5

La Quiaca to San Salvador de Jujuy (6 hrs on bus)

San Salvador de Jujuy to Córdoba (12 hrs on bus)

Wednesday – Saturday

Hang out in Córdoba

Saturday, August 8

Memmer meets us in Córdoba

Córdoba to Buenos Aires ( 10 hrs in bus)

Sunday – Tuesday, August 11

Hang out in Buenos Aires

OPTION 3:

Wednesday, August 5

La Quiaca to San Salvador de Jujuy (6 hrs on bus)

San Salvador de Jujuy to La Rioja (11 hrs on bus)

La Rioja to Chilecito (3 hrs on bus)

Thursday – Friday, August 7

Hang out in Chilecito with Memmer

Saturday, August 8

(The 3 of us)

Chilecito to La Rioja (3 hrs on bus)

La Rioja to Buenos Aires (22 hrs on bus)

Sunday – Tuesday, August 11

Hang out in Buenos Aires

 

Nique and I are going to choose which option we are going with tonight. The two of us plus John Memmer leave Buenos Aires on August 11th. Nique and I depart that night, get to Dallas early the next morning and to Little Rock before lunchtime on August 12th.

 

…Keep posted over the next week or so for updates/pictures from our journey and a final post on what’s ahead for me.

Final Project Update

Yesterday was my last official day of work. The ‘strike’ I mentioned in my previous update has yet to be resolved. A meeting that was scheduled for this Tuesday has been moved to Friday and could potentially be postponed again. The staff of Ayni Ruway does not seem too optimistic about reaching a compromise soon. Power has definitely been one of the themes of my work this summer, and watching the daily, subtle dance of authority and deference – of fronting and bluffing – has been interesting. These power struggles occur in relationships in the U.S. but in an entirely different way it seems. This language is just one other area that makes cultural competency so complex and critical to acknowledge. 

As a result of the indefinite termination of Ayni Ruway’s prison work, the grand re-opening of the store I have been working on was cancelled. It was supposed to happen yesterday. This was disappointing and frustrating, but I still managed to do a lot this week. We have nearly finished the mural on the exterior, and I added some lettering. We picked up the hanging racks that we commissioned the prisoners to make. We got our banners, flyers, businesses cards, and the catalog printed. We organized the products in some of the other prisons to bring to the new store. I also wrote two proposals for future projects of Sustainable Bolivia volunteers working with Ayni Ruway that will build on the work I’ve done. Overall, I stayed very busy and am happy where I’m leaving things.

Last night, my co-workers had a ‘despedida,’ or going-away party for me and two other volunteers who have worked with Ayni Ruway this summer. We had a big dinner at the office, they made speeches, and they gave us all certificates and presents. It was sad to leave – especially the other volunteers who have been really great to work with and get to know.

One short blog post could never summarize my thoughts and lessons from my 10 weeks working here, and I probably won’t even grasp what all I’ve learned until much later. But I know it was invaluable. Thanks to the Clinton School for making it possible and for their foresight to require something like this as part of their curriculum. Thanks for everyone else for all their support. I can’t wait to share more in person.

Enjoy the pictures below.

Store: Before

Store: Before

Store: After

Store: After

More mural shots…

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Banners/flyers and cards we printed…

FINAL POSTER[1]

FINAL CARD GENERAL[1]

Accompanied by Emily, Nique, my host-family, and even my parents at times, I have been able to see a lot of Bolivia. I’ve mingled in the courtyards of the prisons of Cochabamba and seen the many faces of its inmates – I’ve visited the giant Christ statue watching over the city, even looking out over the city from inside his body  – I’ve walked along Lago (Lake) Angostura and enjoyed fried fish from a boat docked on its shore – I’ve retraced the steps of dinosaurs, swam in waterfalls, watched falling stars, and explored the canyons and caves of Toro Toro – I’ve seen the Cathedrals, shopped the witch’s market, and walked the busy streets of La Paz – I’ve played with monkeys and swung through the trees pretending to be one in the parks of Villa Tunari – and I’ve seen where the Incas say the sun was born…and watched it set over one of the world’s highest lakes.

This Friday (July 31st), I will leave Cochabamba with Nique to explore the unique salt flats in Southern Bolivia. Then we are crossing the border into Argentina to have a brief reunion with our classmate John Memmer who has been working in Chilecito, Argentina this summer. Depending on this health (right now he is bed-ridden with pneumonia) we will either meet up in Cordoba or in his town of Chilecito. Then Nique and I head to Buenos Aires for our last few days in South America before flying home to Little Rock.

Although we did our best to explore Bolivia, we’ve still missed a lot. Some places worth mentioning:

The Yungas – another part of the Amazonian jungle, closer to La Paz

Sucre – known as the most beautiful city in Bolivia (architecturally, at least). This city is where Bolivians claimed Independence and is still the judicial capital

Potosí – This city’s silver mines once bankrolled the Spanish Empire – and were also the source of some of the worst working conditions and subjugation in history. Due to its growth, it was one of the most populous cities in the world in the 17th century but the mines eventually stopped producing as they once did and the city has never really recovered

The Amazon – although the Yungas and the area around Villa Tunari are part of the jungle, they are only the fringe. The heart of the rainforest is a little further north of Villa Tunari close to the Brazilian border. This is home of toucans, piranhas, caiman, anacondas, wild rivers, and towering canopies – and also home to malaria and acres of coca used to make cocaine (it has been estimated the 30-40% of Bolivia’s GDP is derived from the cocaine industry, mostly nourished by this region).

Santa Cruz – In Western Bolivia, this department is perhaps the most distinct (culturally) from the rest of the country

San Vicente – remote Bolivian town where Robert LeRoy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh (better known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) met their maker

And so much more…