Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Peace

Actually, the full name is Our Lady of Peace.

That's right, I have my internship assignment for next summer - I'm headed to (Nuestra Senora de) La Paz Bolivia. Bolivia was my first choice and I'm very excited, so thanks Embassy La Paz!

I also made a potential tactical error by starting to prepare for Bolivia before I actually got assigned there. (Reading books and articles, writing papers about it, practicing my Spanish.) So I'm relieved that my risky choice paid off in the end and all that studying had a purpose. :)

You may be asking how I settled on Bolivia as a first choice, and I admit it was a tough decision. There was the whole world to choose from after all. In the end though I think I made the right decision for several reasons:

#1 Language skills I speak some Spanish, so I have at least the hope of communicating. We were, of course, allowed to try for countries where we don't speak the language, but I really want to be able to contribute, and for that language skills are a must. Unfortunately, they also really cut my options. I speak Serbian at an ILR level 2/3 and my Spanish is probably the same, though a bit rusty. So I was aiming for either South America or the former Yugoslavia.

#2 Safety Safety concerns ruled out a couple of places in my target bureaus, like Colombia.

#3 Off the beaten path. I wanted a relatively less touristy place. Not that people don't travel to Bolivia, but I imagine it gets fewer tourists than Peru or Argentina might.

#4 Bolivia is actually a really interesting place.
From a foreign policy perspective - we haven't had an ambassador there since 2008, but we've recently agreed to restore full diplomatic ties.
From a development perspective - it's one of the poorest countries in South America.
From a cultural perspective - it has the highest percentage of indigenous citizens.
Likewise, the history, the geography, and the politics are all unique and interesting.

#5 Family My brother and sister-in-law live in South America and while I wasn't able to intern in the country where they live I wanted to be nearby so I could visit them.

#6 Travel There are plenty of cool things to see and do in the general La Paz area. Machu Picchu is pretty close, as is the Salar de Uyuni, and Lake Titicaca and Death Road (not sure why this comes to mind, but I consider it a selling point).

In short, it seemed like a good place to spend 10 weeks. Without further ado I will leave you with some amazing photographs that I have shamelessly stolen from other websites. (I tried to put links into the pictures, so please visit the host sites too!)
Machu Picchu

Salar de Uyuni

Lake Titicaca

Death Road

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