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Pädagogische Hochschule Thurgau. Lehre Weiterbildung Forschung.

Newsletter Swiss-Bolivian (SwiBo) Partnership 12_2015

Dear reader

It is a great pleasure to present you the fifth SwiBo–Partnership Newsletter at the end of our fifth year of our partnership between the two teacher education universities E.S.F.M. «Simón Bolívar» and the PHTG.
This year’s project cycle started in March with the visit of eight Bolivian students to Switzerland. Again, we were able to share wonderful moments and everyone who was involved appreciated the common experiences. The visit of the Swiss delegation including the PHTG director Priska Sieber in October was the next highlight of our constantly growing partnership.
As you remember the Swiss-Bolivian-Partnership Newsletter was created with the intention of connecting all former, present and future project participants as well as all the other people who follow and support this partnership. Therefore, we would like to carry out the ideas and spirit of our common project into as many Swiss and Bolivian classrooms as possible in order to make them last.
To this end, this SwiBo–Partnership Newsletter contains again a short series of project updates, student reports and notes from former participants and staff currently involved in the project.

Many thanks to the authors for the interesting and detailed contributions and to all the readers for their interest in our partnership.  We look forward to staying in touch with you!

All the best to everyone - enjoy the holiday season for celebration, relaxation and recreation.

Prof. Dr. Christina Colberg
Lecturer and project coordinator at Thurgau University of Teacher Education

Newsletter Content

1. Project News and Information?
In this section, we keep you up to date on newly conceived ideas and the latest project developments.

2. Swiss Bolivian Encounters?

In this section, students share some of their experiences and impressions gained during their study visits in either Bolivia or Switzerland.

3. What are you up to?
This section is dedicated to reports, thoughts and reflections by former project participants who now work as teachers.

4. Global Education Notice Board?
In this section, readers are provided with short abstracts of relevant books in the field of Global Education and an insight into how the traditional Bolivian concept of «vivir bien/to live well» relates to it.
5. Create a profile and stay connected

Here, former project participants can update their e-mail address and create a short personal profile.

6. News, questions and comments?


Direct Links

Project News and Information
Swiss Bolivian Encounters
What are you up to?
Global Education Notice Board
Create a profile and stay connected
News, questions and comments


1. Project News and Information


A new phase with new chances

On December 1st, we hosted our annual «Journal Presentation Event». Our students who spent three weeks in Bolivia last October were the hosts and made available their inspiring and colourful journals to future project participants and interested staff. Reading about the students’ impressions and experiences and marveling about some of their observations and reflections made me really proud to be part of this wonderful project and the impact it has on every single of its participants.
We have come a long way since October 2010 when I had the chance to travel to Bolivia and visit the Bolivian teacher education university Simón Bolívar in order to present our initial ideas for the project to our colleagues there and to discuss possible contents and objectives for a collaboration. By now, we are about to start the 6th project cycle and are looking back on 5 intensive and exciting years continuously developing our partnership and improving the quality of the project. Currently, we are dealing with many changes, which initially looked like challenges but have turned out to be great opportunities!
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has now officially decided to launch a 4th project phase and to continue its financial support of North-South partnership projects between Swiss teacher education universities and their partners in the Southern or Eastern hemisphere. This is great news as it ensures the continuation of our project under the supervision of the foundation «éducation21» for another three years (2016 – 2018).
We are beginning this new project phase with new project leaders on the Bolivian side. Lic. Mirtha Apaza Montecinos (Academic Director) and Lic. Martha Alvarado Portillo (Lecturer in English) have taken over the administration and development of the project on the Bolivian side with a lot of enthusiasm and many new ideas for the future. It is also thanks to their initiative and efforts that we are going to be able to continue with the project despite the fact that there will be no more English specialists being trained at Simón Bolívar in the future. As a consequence, they are currently in the process of selecting 7 student teachers with different backgrounds and specialisms who have a sufficient knowledge of the English language to participate in the project in 2016. Personally, I think that this will prove very beneficial to our project’s goals and that the numerous discussions and reflections will be enriched by that fact.
2016 is also going to be a special year for our project because the foundation «éducation21» is going to organize a workshop on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) taking place in Zurich in March 2016. All Swiss coordinators of North-South partnership projects are invited to that workshop together with their foreign counterparts. It is a great pleasure for us that Mirtha Apaza and Martha Alvarado have accepted our invitation and are going to join us in Switzerland to discuss what ESD means in our respective countries and how we can strengthen this topic even more in the context of our project.

Gerit Jaritz, MA
Lecturer and project coordinator at Thurgau University of Teacher Education

Exchange of educative experiences between the Universities of Teacher Education Thurgau and Simón Bolívar

At  Simón Bolívar, this year our  Sociocommunitary Productive Project (SPP) aims at the consolidation of the  Sociocommunitary Productive Educative Model to transform realities from our own context.
The coming year we'll work with the following topics:

  • Taking care of our mother earth and the Cosmos.
  • Sociocommunitary values.
  • Incorporate this Educative Model as process to private and public institutions to transform our social and educative context.
  • To work on knowledge production.
  • Safety community

The interchange of educative experiences with students, professors and Directors of the University of Teacher Education Thurgau and our own institution was a meaningful action of complementarity for the formative process of students.  All students, professors and Directors of our study programmes learned about Global Education. The Director of Thurgau University of Teacher Education Mrs. Priska Sieber socialized us about the way they do their work on the educative process and economic, political and social reality of Switzerland.
We also exchanged teacher's formation experiences, like the researching process, intraculturality, interculturality and plurilingual aspects, the methodology of teaching and learning the English language as a complementary and needed language for both countries and we agreed that to improve the learning of a language starts from the practice as the daily use of the same language.
Our students developed curricular lesson plans with topics from our curricula using the methodology of Bolivia's Sociocommunitary Productive Educative Model here in our Primary public schools like School «Cosmini» in Calamarca in the rural area and school «Ecuador» in the city of La Paz.
The coming year we'll keep the exchanging of new educative experiences in forming teachers due to the agreement on continuing of our partnership on the Project North – South, Switzerland – Bolivia.

Lic. Mirtha F. Apaza Montecinos
Academic Director University of Teacher Education Simón Bolívar


2. Swiss Bolivian Encounters


My Bolivian Highlights

To decide which is the one and only Bolivian Highlight sounds like impossible for us. As we had the chance to get so many impressions of this colorful country Bolivia, so wide-spread our highlights are.
One of these is definitely the partnership between us and our Bolivian friends. Before the whole thing started, nobody of us ever expected that people from the other part of the world could have so many things in common with us. Even if we live in other circumstances and in another surroundings; we soon got a close relation with our partners that hopefully lasts forever.
The second highlight was the opportunity to teach in schools in Bolivia. How can we do it, without a black board, without papers and pens and with the fact that a lot of the pupils listen to English for the first time? The conditions we encountered were a real challenge - which has been rewarded as soon as we hadn’t expected it. In the schools, they sang their national hymn for us and received us afterwards with a warm welcome. We were eye-catchers (especially with blond hair ;)) and everyone’s attention from the first minute. The children seemed to have great fun and so did we - and this is a fact that made us definitely happy.
Last but not least, it was the scenery around Bolivia. In the third and our last week we travelled through a part of Bolivia. The Salt Lake for example, was just flabbergasting and it was definitely worthwhile to have a journey of some hours car ride to see places like this. The markets with the beautiful women - nicely dressed- gave an impression of the people and their lifestyle. We enjoyed every second, we have learned more about their culture and people.
As there are many more highlights we could mention - we decided we will definitely go there again and repeat all these good memories that will stay in our minds forever.

Chantal Aggeler & Seline Lichtenstern
Swiss project participants 2015

My Bolivian teaching experience

In Bolivia, we had a lot of different insights in how teaching there works. We once went to visit a school in La Paz with our tandem partners, but we also learned a lot about their values concerning teaching while being at the Simon Bolivar and getting to know the teacher training. However, the most defining experiences probably were when we actually stood in front of children and tried to teach them something.
To prepare for our teaching experiences, we had to work out a lesson plan in the Bolivian manner which was quite different from the one we know in Switzerland. It was an interesting experience but it didn’t give me the security of the Swiss lesson plans.
In addition, we didn’t have much information about the children we were going to teach.
For our first teaching experience, we drove about two hours to get to a place called Kalamarka, a small community in the middle of nowhere.
There was a small building and a roofed sports area where the children, the directors and professors and some family members were waiting. They welcomed us with some speeches and the children sang the national and the school hymn. Then, every one of us (the most with their tandem partners) got three children and looked for a small table and some chairs to start our work.
For me, this experience was quite difficult and required a lot of improvisation. I had problems with the language barrier – it was their first English lesson and one could say my first real Spanish lesson too. It was also hard because as I continued teaching, I got to know that the three boys were five years old and younger, which meant they couldn’t read or write, which made part of my plans quite useless.
Although I had some problems, it was a good experience – some of the mothers who came to observe our work helped me and motivated their boys to keep repeating the English words for different fruits and foods. I was also surprised how patient and calm I stayed, and I was very proud when each of my students could say one word he had learned in front of the rest of the school.
Our second teaching experience took us to a school in La Paz itself. We had a similar welcome ceremony as in Kalamarka. This time I had a fifth class, and the students age had a positive impact on my lessons. My tandem partner was there too and helped me with some translations. This time we could really follow our lesson plans, and it was beautiful to see how motivated and eager to learn the kids were.
Even though the schools in Bolivia don’t have the means we in Switzerland have, everyone makes the best out of it – and the children are very thankful for that.

Jennifer Zwicky
Swiss project participant 2015

What the participation in this project taught me

I took a profit of this participation in many ways. To dive into another culture was an extremely enriching experience, as I got to know different Bolivian people, students and teachers in university, pupils in primary and secondary school and people on the street. As the first two weeks were guided by the teachers of the University of Teacher Education Simon Bolivar, the students, or our tandem partners, I was grateful to have a kind of change in the third week. In my opinion, I could better recognize the values of their country after having travelled one week. I was able to feel the Bolivian atmosphere and the importance time has in their life. Time’s one of the most important things in our daily life and sometimes we feel ridden by it. The further quotation perfectly describes the aspect of time: «We don’t have insufficient time, but there is too much time we do not use.» (Lucius Annaeus Seneca).
In Bolivia, there is a different feeling of time. For example, if a lesson in school takes more time, the teacher just ignores it and goes on. They have less strict rules of the duration of one single lesson. Also, if pupils come to school too late, they don’t get punished. Bolivian people live more in the here and now. It’s a wonderful ability and I want to bring it into my daily life. When I feel stressed I want to stop and ask myself if it’s worth stressing?! Also, I got to know the importance of religion in a society. Most of Bolivian people take their strength and endurance from it. I could recognize what it is like, if people have a honest set of beliefs. If it’s almost the only thing you possess and it makes you feel happy. To have seen that makes me feel happy and I’m thankful to have met such strong people. Furthermore, I’ve realized that it is less crucial how much you do and how successful you do it. If you do this activity thoughtfully and with delight it is more enriching.
Another aspect I learned of these three weeks in Bolivia was the importance of trustworthy local people who told us a lot about the Bolivian culture – how we have to behave in a certain situation telling us what is polite or impolite. This is very helpful while travelling because it enables to save a lot of money and time. I learned a lot about «intelligent tourism» and how a country can be discovered in a «proper way», without “inhumane conditions”. By taking a train or a bus you get in touch with local people and see much more than by being driven around in a private car. You feel closer to those people, if you adapt your lifestyle to theirs, eat like them and respect their rules.

Annika Frei
Swiss project participant 2015

My Swiss highlight

My Swiss highlight was to get to know a new culture, a dream that does not come true for all. In my case, I was fortunate to visit Switzerland and to learn about their culture, customs and traditions. It was an enriching experience to understand life in a different reality with parameters so different from the usual standards of a society guided under rules and laws which were created to respond to a philosophy of life different from ours. On of the aspects which was surprising during our stay in Switzerland was the importance of punctuality as we are accustomed to a tolerance of 10-15 minutes from the appointed time. But we noticed the punctuality which is famous in Switzerland in the implementation of planned activities. Another aspect that fascinated me was the organization of vehicular traffic. There was no noise or pollution but an impressive silence. The treatment made to water resources aroused great curiosity in me during our visit to the city of Bern and lastly the consciousness of people in the management of the excreta of pets. These organizational developments motivated me to participate in activities that help to solve these problems in my city.

Marlene Quispe
Bolivian project participant 2015

My Swiss teaching experience

I really enjoyed this experience with kids. They were really kind and sweet, curious to know more about our country. They were always ready to do anything we asked, so energetic and focused on what they have to learn. Kids are totally aware that they go to school to learn, and that’s what they do, they use their free time also to learn. I really liked the idea of them feeling the school like home and not being forced to go. I think that’s how children should feel always, so they can learn better, and they learn for their life, not only to pass an exam.

Anahí Vargas
Bolivian project participant 2015


3. What are you up to?


A taste of Bolivia for my pupils

When I was asked by a lecturer from the PHTG to welcome some Bolivian students in my class, I suddenly thought back on my own exchange time. In Bolivia, people are full of joy and vitality, so of course I thought it would be a great experience for my 5th and 6th graders. It’s always profitable to learn about another culture but it also might be great to see in reality how important it is to speak other languages. So I took the chance and invited the Bolivian students into my class. Even if the English was a little hard to understand for my pupils, they followed the presentation with a lot of interest. Above all, they enjoyed the impressive pictures.
But I completely forgot the lovely Bolivian feeling for reality. The Bolivian students had high expectations about what and how they wanted to teach and therefore they prepared a lot of games for only two lessons. The last game is the one I remember the best. They ran out of time but really wanted to play that game until the end. The children had to work in groups. Using a lot of newspaper the children should create kind of funny “monster“ or anything similar. So they had to stick the newspaper around one pupil. The chaos was indescribable. I was reminded of my own experiences two years ago teaching a few lessons in Bolivia. Bolivians are very friendly people who always want to give their best, but they don’t value organization and planning in the same way we do. I was reminded of this during these two lessons. The student teachers from La Paz had wonderful ideas about how to entertain the children and how to catch their attention. But they hadn’t prepared all the material or thought about how long the activities would take. In general, they didn’t seem to realize how much organization is needed for such a game and that it’s not only playing but also preparing the newspapers, the stickers, having enough room for each group or making sure there is enough time for cleaning up the classroom at the end etc.
However, the children were so much into their work that they didn’t want to stop when the bell rang. They had fun and tried to ask the Bolivian students many questions in English. Also they wanted to know more about their life and therefore completely forgot the time. Due to the fact that my pupils tried to talk in English, they could apply what they had learned in their English lessons in an authentic situation. That’s what I enjoyed the most.
And exactly this is the best point of such an exchange: It reminded me to be more spontaneous, to think less and just handle more. So I can say it was not only beneficial for my pupils but also for myself.
All things considered, I think it’s a great experience not only for the Bolivian students but also for the Swiss pupils. There are so few chances to meet people from a completely different culture. They don’t only benefit from the content. Above all, they see differences between people, differences in their thinking, differences in their look and differences in their way of living and speaking. And exactly that is one of the most important things: to see differences and to accept them. Not to judge them.

Olivia Wüst
Former Swiss project participant 2015 & Primary Teacher


4. Global Education Notice Board


Different countries, same objectives

In October, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in La Paz at the E.S.F.M. Simon Bolivar. It was very precious to experience that we have partners who share the same objective: to train qualified teachers with locally oriented competences in a globalised world. At the same time we see and perceive the world from a different perspective with different experiences. What we in Switzerland imagine to be important competences for a teacher are - among others - subsumed under the concept of education for sustainable development and global education. This may have a lot in common with what our Bolivian Partners aspire with their model of education «Sociocomunitario Productivo», aiming at providing a good life for everybody - Suma Qamaña. These different concepts and perspectives are a fruitful basis to learn a lot from each other. I hope that the students and lecturers participating in our exchange programme will gain a lot of inspiration for their work in today’s schools, in Switzerland and Bolivia alike.

Prof. Dr. Priska Sieber
Director of PHTG

The «Sociocommunitary Product Project (SPP)» of our institution

The University of Teacher Education «Simón Bolívar» in the Curricular Communitary Academic issue forms teachers in an integral way for the Pluricultural State of Bolivia.
The formative process starts with the planning, direction, execution and evaluation of «Sociocommunitary Productive Projects» that responds to educative daily life problems. The whole educative community takes up an active participation with concrete actions, reflections, critical analysis in a constructive way as proposals on educational improvement;  the work that has been done in this institution has also been replicated in the Schools and High Schools on the phase on  Communitarian Teaching Practice and the knowledge production.  
In addition, this formative process on future educators starts from the basic curricula in harmony with the regional and diversified curricula through the recovering of wisdom and knowledge of our native people as well as through a cultural dialogue and resignification of the universal knowledge, the concretion of the methodological moments PRACTICE, THEORY, VALORATION AND PRODUCTION along with an evaluation that strengthens the holistic and integral formation of our students by developing the TO BE, TO KNOW, TO DO AND TO DECIDE dimensions. The curricular work is always articulated to the «Sociocommunitary Productive Project (SPP)» of our institution.

Lic. Mirtha F. Apaza Montecinos
Academic Director University of Teacher Education Simón Bolívar

What Global Education means to me

The global education is an important approach that opens people`s minds   to the reality of the globalized world and the most important goal is to change our society. For me, as a new teacher this kind of concept is so important in my life, because some time ago I did not know anything about this term.
Before and during my visit to Switzerland I learned and read a lot about global education, for that I recognized the importance of different topics as the climate changes, the role of religion in the education and more topics that are very important in our daily lives. So our work as a teacher is not only to teach in a rote way for an academic education with a great performance. We have to active learning processes based on human rights and values as tolerance, solidarity, equality, co-operation, inclusion and non-violence.
After some discussion with our Swiss and international partners I decided to apply all that I learned in my future teaching because global education begins with raising awareness of global challenges such as poverty or the inequalities caused by the uneven distribution of resources, environmental degradation, violent conflicts or human rights, thus creating deeper understanding of the complexity of the underlying causes. It aims to change people‘s attitudes by making them reflect on their own roles in the world.
So, global education motivates people to become active and responsible global citizens. First, we have to view the awareness raising of certain problems creating a deeper understanding with critical reflection making an informed action to change their attitudes and behavior all for a sustainable society, motivating and empowers people to become active in a responsible way. All the steps mentioned we can apply  with any topic that we want to work with some methodogical approaches like active participation, partnership-based: the teacher is not who transmits knowledge or skills, but is a learner as well it addresses, in the learning process, reflection (head), emotions (heart) and activity (hand), empowering the student`s knowledge and acts.
Finally, the education for sustainable development is  to think in the consequences of our past acts, present acts and the future acts always thinking in the future for as we say in Bolivia «Living well» in a intercultural education. For that, the four methodogical moments (practice, theory, assessment and production) in our education is so important to link it with the heart, hand and head for strengthen students and people with critical and reflective mind to solve the various problems and overcome the problems that destroy our world.

Silvia Mamani Rodriguez
Bolivian project participant 2015

Suggestions for teaching material for ESD

The foundation éducation21 has put together pioneering new teaching materials with the production of the BNE-Kit «1024 Ansichten».  As a national service centre and centre for competence, the foundation éducation21 supports the implementation of education for sustainable development (BNE) in Switzerland and also coordinates the N-S-partnership programme. The BNE-Kit ‘1024 Ansichten’ will support you to integrate education for sustainable development (BNE) in your teaching. The kit consists of the A0-poster which has been depicted in a smaller scale below and which can be downloaded here.
This is accompanied by an entire range of teaching sequences which are available in both German and French. These didactical impulses on various topics and for different age groups correspond to the poster.

Prof. Dr. Christina Colberg
Lecturer and project coordinator at Thurgau University of Teacher Education


5. Create a profile and stay connected


Dear former project participants!

Please let us know how you are and what has become of you!
You simply need to click here and create a short personal profile. You’ll thus allow us to stay connectd with you!

Thank you, all the best y que les vaya muy bien!


6. News, questions and comments


Event Preview

International Partnership and Education for Sustainable Development
Teacher-Education in Movement

Friday, 11. March 2016, 15.30 - 18.30, PH Zürich


  • Professor Emeritus William Scott, University of Bath. Website
  • Professor Ali A. Abdi, University of British Columbia. Website

More information can be found on the Fyler.

We would appreciate your comments and questions regarding our newsletter. You are also most welcome to post any news or questions which might be of interest to the readers of this newsletter. Simply e-mail them to