La Paz, Bolivia

Bolivia, Bolivia, Bolivia; wow.

It has been amazing. This morning we had our first morning meeting: Here are a couple of things that we talked about:

  • Anthropology is about breaking down the fear of difference
  • “Assuming makes a butt of you and me” and unless you communicate with someone you don’t really know anything about the culture
  • Cultural relativism – this is what we are trying to cultivate; the opposite of cultural relativism is ethnocentrism (they miss the mark; you are placing your ethnicity at the center; inferior; maybe even wrong or evil)
  • How do you cultivate cultural relativism: going to a different country/place and putting yourself in their shoes and experience what they are experiencing; the idea is getting rid of the fear and judgement
  • Practice of ethnography itself: look at the world through the other perspective
  • Being aware of the space that you are occupying

Great news; a classmate named Joey is my partner!!!!! Joey is a fluent and “muy bien” Spanish speaker. The professor’s goal was to put two people together who had overlap in topics, but ALSO to put a non-Spanish speaker with a intermediate or fluent Spanish speaker. His topic and my topic have a couple of overlapping concepts as far as what we are going to be studying in Coroico, Bolivia; one of the overlapping concepts are the medicinal and traditional usages of coca, and depending on the incline or decline of the usage, how does this affect the local economy?

The discussions about our final paper and our research topic was very scary in the sense that sometimes I don’t feel as though I’m capable of having an anthropology attitude/mind. I know that with the help of Joey, I will have an amazing experience broadening my horizons.

Our travel agent came to meet us outside of the hotel to walk us down to our seats, and as soon as I saw the public and how massive the human traffic was in the streets I started to become a bit scared. I realized that we are actually stepping into the festival (Gran Poder). The “Gran Poder” is a festival where a variety of Bolivians dance their hearts out. They believe that if they dance their absolute best then good things will come from God.

There were so many videos that were taken.

There were so many pictures taken that I just didn’t feel like I should have held back. The texture and designs of the dresses and suits of the Bolivian people and the passion within their dance was absolutely amazing.

Another classmate, Kaila and I, took a break to go shopping. I bought a beautiful ring, a poncho for “mi madre” (shhhhh — don’t tell her), a chaqueta (“jacket” (in English)).

Kaila and I then went back into the festival. I realized that the Bolivian people were engaging in the festival a lot. They were drinking and enjoying each other’s company…Bolivians that didn’t even know each other. Everyone was sharing cups of wine and beer. There was a sense of community and happiness in this environment. I realized that the children, the community, the enjoying of others, the picture taking, the food sharing was all about community and the love of others.

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