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Pädagogische Hochschule Thurgau. Lehre Weiterbildung Forschung.

Newsletter Swiss-Bolivian (SwiBo) Partnership 12_2016

Dear reader

It’s year six of our Swiss-Bolivian Partnership between the two teacher education universities E.S.F.M. «Simón Bolívar» and the PHTG.
This year’s project cycle started, as always, in March with the visit of seven Bolivian students, Lic. Mirtha Apaza Montecinos (Academic Director) and Lic. Martha Alvarado Portillo (Lecturer in English) from Simon Bolivar at PHTG. In October, 7 Swiss students and one of their teachers went to Bolivia.
In addition to working on the main goals – getting to know the differences and similarities between the teacher education of the two countries, getting to know the two countries and practicing teaching in a foreign setting – this year in spring, the people in charge of this partnership also joined the International workshop of «North-South partnerships in teacher education» programme, March 10-12 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland (organised by «éducation21»). There, emphasis was put on sharing experiences and finding even better ways of making the partnerships sustainable.
As a consequence of this workshop, for example, we tried to start working intensely each year on a different topic. This year’s topic has been brought up by the Bolivians: «(The Problems of) Knowledge Production». This newsletter will explain the difficulties connected to it. Besides, the newsletter contains other project updates, student reports and notes from former participants and staff currently involved in the project.
In other words, with this newsletter we would like to follow our intention of connecting all former, present and future project participants as well as all the other people who support this partnership. May the ideas and the spirit of our common project last!

Furthermore, all the participants would like to express their many thanks for having had this opportunity! Again, wonderful moments were shared and everyone who has been involved in the projects enjoyed the common experiences. We do believe that staying in touch is important – more than ever!

All the best to everyone – MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Anna Volkart
Lecturer and interim project co-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, participants 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, students reflect on what GLOBAL EDUCATION means to them. Furthermore, 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


As promised, in this section, we keep you up to date on newly conceived ideas and the latest project developments. For this year’s newsletter, three main points have been elected for this section:

a) Financial Support

The North-South-Partnership of the Thurgau University of Teacher Education (PHTG) and the Escuela Superior de Formación de Maestros Simon Bolivar (ESFMSB) wouldn’t be possible without the financial support of various partners in Switzerland. Since the very beginning in the year 2010, éducation 21 (then named “foundation education and development”), the Swiss national competence centre for Education for Sustainable Development, provides substantial funds and supports the partnership with advice and in non-material ways. Similarly important was the funding of the TKB Jubilee Foundation. Its contributions allowed a mutual exchange between the students in Switzerland and Bolivia. The TKB Jubilee Foundation fully funded all travel expenses of our Bolivian partners in five successive years, from 2012 until 2016. We are all very grateful that not only the Swiss students can travel to Bolivia and experience the approaches on how to implement an education for sustainable development in another context, but also to be able to host the students from the ESFMSB in Switzerland, usually in the homes of our students, since only this exchange allows a mutual partnership. Thus, many families in the Canton of Thurgau have also contributed to the success of our partnership. Nevertheless, the funding of the TKB Jubilee Foundation ends by the end of this year and we are still applying for funding at other organisations. Let’s hope that we find another donor that believes in our endeavour to make learning and the future of our students a bit more sustainable.

Prof. Dr. Priska Sieber
Director of PHTG

b) More responsibility – and therefore more freedom - for our students

As opposed to past years, the Swiss students have been responsible for organising themselves one of their weeks of their stay in Bolivia. So far, it has been part of the frame work of the project, that an NGO has been putting together a field trip for them. This year, however, the students spent the first week at Simon Bolivar in order to get a profound insight of how teacher educations works in Bolivia, to then in the second week follow their own projects, organised by themselves according to a previously discussed guide to “sustainable tourism”. The third week of their stay, they spent again in La Paz and surroundings, in order to get to know the country – people and culture – and the Bolivian specific teaching circumstances even better. This change towards more responsibility - because the students had to organise their own 9-days-field trip - has given the students the opportunity to have a more profound insight into questions they were interested in, connected to sustainable education, e.g. they joined a course on sustainable construction techniques or they went to discover the microcosm of the amazon.

Anna Volkart
Lecturer and interim project co-coordinator at PHTG

c) Topic-orientated work in progress – or: «(The Problems of) Knowledge Production»

As mentioned in the introduction, another change was, compared to last year that the idea of working profoundly - and collaboratively - on a certain aspect/question/topic every year, has been established. This year’s topic was set by the Bolivians: «Knowledge Production».
A topic that has been mentioned, and labelled as difficult, quite some times by our partners.

To be frank, it took me some time to understand what exactly they summarised under this term. To be even more frank, until today, the very details are not fully clear to me – too very different is the cultural background where I am coming from. However, I try to share briefly what I have understood by now. Since I believe that this exactly is one of the goals of our partnership: Trying to understand each other – and raising awareness for each other’s problems and circumstances.

One of the main problems in teaching and teacher education in Bolivia is the lack of teaching material and their base: research. Of course, there is teaching material available in Bolivia (and through the internet) but it’s expensive and all imported/not Bolivia specific. And this leads to bigger problems: While we discuss for example whether «O Thurgau, du Heimat» (our local anthem) should be compulsory or not according to the current curriculum, students in Bolivia, on the plain wide empty – and often very poor - country side, have to learn English with school books where they have to repeat phrases like: «My hobby is shopping.» – Needless to say, that for all countries it would be important to have their own adapted teaching material.
However, exactly this is a problem in Bolivia! Where we have a long established tradition of research, universities, libraries, magazines, editors, publishing articles and so on, this is all less installed in Bolivia – which, to mention this explicitly, is not only a question of money, but also of tradition and the lack of infrastructure.

Anna Volkart
Lecturer and interim project co-coordinator at PHTG

In the following, Ria Kramer a Swiss participant will describe the problems connected to these complex of questions in greater details:

A student’s thoughts on the topic «Knowledge Production»
Within the framework of the student exchange project, I was dealing with questions regarding a widely discussed topic in teacher education at the moment in Bolivia: «Methods of Knowledge Production in teacher training».
Part of my task was to provide a general overview on the topic and, in details, how the current situation in Switzerland is. Also, I looked at the circumstances in Bolivia and the question of how I plan to deal with this topic in my future as a primary school teacher.
For this Newsletter, I would like to provide a short summary of what I found out about the topic which didn’t seemed to be very clear to me at the beginning. During my stay in Bolivia, it occurred to me, however, that the underlying question is very interesting: Where does all the knowledge come from that teachers are supposed to teach to the students?
It’s a well-known fact that you can’t teach a pupil something of what you have no idea yourself. During all lectures at PHTG we get provided with useful materials and knowledge about methods of teaching which later can be used in the classroom. But where do the lecturers get their information from? Who produces these books, magazines and articles, which are handed out in our classrooms?
For Switzerland, this seems to be a rather easy question to answer: There are many people like professors, lecturers, former teachers, etc., who are publishing pieces of work, of course in all different kinds of areas and therefore also in the pedagogical area. There are established journals and magazines, publishers of teaching materials, governmental institutions like “National Fond” and all universities contributing to research. In higher school levels, students are taught to be future «knowledge producers» – they are taught how to do research, how to deal with sources from the internet, that they cannot adopt things without critically questioning the content of a piece of information, etc.
However, how are these things done and organised in Bolivia? How is knowledge produced in a country, where there are less universities, less role models to learn from, less access to internet, less tradition in scientific research, less publishers, less governmental research institutions, less books in less libraries. More and more I’ve started to ask myself, how could you teach and train reading strategies when there are almost no books around? These strategies are not naturally inbred and therefore they have to be trained. Reading strategies are needed everywhere, even in Maths, when the children need to solve a task with a text. These are things I want to teach my future pupils, so they are able to provide themselves with knowledge, when leaving school.
However, what seems so essential to us, how is/can this be done in Bolivia? Moreover: How are «Methods of knowledge production in teacher training» taught in Bolivia?
When we arrived in Bolivia and had our first day at university, I understood my topic in a completely different way, as I did before our visit. For example, I couldn’t even imagine that a country has almost no publishers, and that therefore knowledge production is a real problem.
When discussing some ideas for a lesson which covers the content of knowledge production with my tandem partner, she told me, that knowledge production always is a part of their lessons in Bolivia. This means that they always set a concrete focus, on how they can foster skills, which are needed for knowledge production. I learned during our stay in Bolivia, that knowledge production is a central topic in this country. As I mentioned before, they have almost no publishers or research which is financed by the state yet. Therefore it is very hard for teachers to acquire suitable (Bolivia specific) literature or teaching materials. On my opinion, in a situation like this, it is essential, that the pupils gain skills, which are needed for knowledge production such as reading, reflecting and writing. It is even more essential that teachers try to communicate these basic skills to their pupils when the government is not putting enough money or effort in education for everybody.

When I think about how I would set up my lesson of «knowledge production» I would try to do it as follows:
The children learn how to create and produce a booklet. In this booklet they write down everything they learn and discuss about the chosen subject.
When choosing the subject it is important that the subject covers another local or international problem apart from knowledge production. This way we make sure that the children learn what it means to produce knowledge and by doing this they (try to) solve another problem that people are suffering from. A good example would be recycling - we could produce a booklet out of self-made recycling paper.
Later on the class could present their books to the school, so everyone gets to know about recycling. This way, the class doesn’t only train their personal skills for knowledge production, but produce knowledge for the other kids in their school as well. And on top of that they have done something to save the planet.

Ria Kramer
Swiss project participant 2016


2. Swiss Bolivian Encounters


a) More Impressions  - from Bolivia (by Swiss project participants 2016)

La Paz - In October six students, an academic teacher and I went to Bolivia for three weeks. We had an exchange with the Pedagogical teacher training school from La Paz. During our time in Bolivia we spent two weeks in and around La Paz and one week travelling in smaller groups. The time in La Paz was really informative. We learned a lot about the Bolivian culture and enjoyed the hospitality. At the PH there we got an impression how it is to learn at a teacher training school without internet, only a really, really small library and without teaching aids like we have in Switzerland.
Another enormous difference between Switzerland and Bolivia is the hospitality. I don’t want to say that Swiss people are not hospitable and I know that I can’t generalize a thing like that. But the Bolivians are really unbeatable in hospitality. Sometimes it was too much for us because we are not used to it and we felt bad because we knew we could never give it back to them - not even a fraction.
All the time we experienced more and more differences between their school organisation and ours, their culture and our culture. I understand or I see a little bit better how we live in Switzerland and what the characteristics of our culture and our daily routine are.

Travelling - We had nine days to travel around in Bolivia. I travelled in a group of three girls. We first took the night bus to Uyuni. There we made a three days tour to the Salar de Uyuni and to the Lagoons. The landscape was awesome and we were just stunned how beautiful a landscape in this area can be. The Lagoons are on 5000 to 5700 Meter over the sea and it was freezing cold. The air was dry and there was not even a straw growing. The mountains had all the hues from white to black and from brown to red.  
For the second part of our trip we took a small airplane to the jungle. Rurrenabaque, the place we went is only 200 m over the sea. There we stayed also three days and made some hikes, went fishing, spent a night out in the jungle and we took a swim in the jungle river. The air was so humid that our skin was wet the whole day. It was 35 degrees outside and inside and everything, really everything except the river was green.

I think the most stunning thing on these two short trips is the fact that they were absolutely different. The climate, the landscape, the people, the food, everything was different but both places are in the same country!

Pascale Allenspach
Swiss project participant 2016

How the stay in Bolivia has changed me - I chose the diploma project global learning because I wanted to learn, how to treat our earth better and how I can teach my students to become caring earth citizens. Everywhere I heard about climate change, about the terrible consequences that will happen and that we have to change immediately. However, no one I know really does something… myself included.
Arriving in La Paz I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome and the attention we received. Everyone at the university knew about us and volunteered to do activities with us. They were enthusiastic to show us everything. Then, I had to think back when our Bolivian tandems visited us in spring and it made me sad and ashamed. Hardly anyone of the students even knew, they were here and the ones, who saw them, were wondering, who these foreign girls with the same jackets were. The warm-heartedness of the Bolivians is something I wish for Switzerland too. On one hand, the Bolivians have less (welfare) on the other hand they have more (happiness).
Our tandems were fantastic. They took care of us, accompanied us to many activities and helped us if needed. It made me very happy when two of them invited us to eat with their families. The most touching moment was when my tandem partner and her mum cried when they said us good-bye at the airport in the middle of the night.
My «free week» I planned to use in a more sustainable way.  I wanted to do one thing properly rather than rushing through Bolivia in one week and learn something that I could not learn in Switzerland. Browsing through the internet I discovered the terms «permaculture” and “bioconstruction». Looking closer into it, I knew: «This is what I want to do!»
I never visited a more paradise-like place than the Quinta Conciencia close to Samaipata. You enter the property over a narrow wooden bridge over a clear creek flowing under a roof of trees. A small house, which is home to a family with two children, three little guesthouses, a kitchen and a camping area - that’s all. In the camping area, young volunteers from various countries, who helped the family during the day and played the guitar at night sitting around a bonfire, had set up their tents. The temperature is not too hot, not too cold, so the family can grow their own food all year. The wastewater they treat with banana circles and warm water is heated on the roof by the sun. The food is vegetarian made from fresh and local products. All this embedded in a valley covered with trees close to a national park.
At this beautiful place, I participated in a course for bioconstruction and sustainable gardening. In the bioconstruction course, we made adobes out of a mixture of earth, sand, water, dung and straw. With them, we built a bench and decorated it with empty glass bottles. For the second course, we made a vegetable patch and two paths, which work like a compost and nourish the vegetable patch.
Returning to the highlands, I saw many things in a different light. I looked at houses and thought: «This house is built with bioconstruction, this one not.» Visiting the urban gardens was fantastic and gave me new ideas. I appreciated the great work the volunteers did there. Further, I realised that many things we did in La Paz, had nothing to do with sustainability. Why are we driving around the city when there is a cable car station two streets from our hostel that stops close to the university? Why was there so much talking and little acting? Why didn’t we create a garden together with the professors, students and even a school class instead? This would have been a lot more sustainable in many ways.
I experienced it myself that by actually doing something you learn and change more than by just talking about it. After I returned from Bolivia, I had little motivation to write essays and read texts, of which I forget the content after five minutes. I saw no sense in it. Therefore, I started to collect seeds from vegetables we grew in summer to plant them next spring and I reactivated our compost. (Because composts are great!) Now I am going to write my thesis about how schools can be created in a sustainable way. I even decided for my own future that I will live on the countryside, build something with bioconstruction, grow some of my food myself and even leave Switzerland to move to my Australian boyfriend.

Rebecca Fässler
Swiss project participant 2016

b) More Impressions - from Switzerland (by Bolivian project participants 2016)

A SEED FOR THE FUTURE - In the development of life one does not know what to expect in the future, and at the present, we face challenges that strengthen the experience and made us stronger through time. However, the past treasures are the most valuable memories marked by feelings that are treasured forever. One of them, for me the most important and enriching, was to be part of the North-South project, which allowed me to know a different country from mine.
Currently, my country is undergoing a process of educational transformation based on the socio-communitarian productive educational model that stablishes an education with comprehensive training of people development of productive, skills, and abilities linking theory with practical actions, linking the physical and intellectual conditions to protect the environment and the biodiversity on a territory to live well. This is very similar to the objectives of a global education for sustainable development, which prioritizes the conservation of nature for future generations. And in conclusion both want "an education that is the seed that we must sow in the present to reap a better future".
The lived experienced expanded my knowledge based on experiences with the tandems, especially with Anna Volkart and her family, as well as sharing with friendly and well-versed people working at the University of Thurgau. I learned more about the traditions and customs reflected in their lifestyle. I had the opportunity to appreciate the natural biodiversity on the other side of the world that is equally striking and beautiful. Undoubtedly, it was a very important event that allowed me to appreciate life in all its expressions and beyond, it contributes meaningfully in my academic training and I am looking forward to put in practice very soon with my colleagues and in a future not very distant in classroom teaching.

Yamileth Gabriela Nina Pacajes
Bolivian project participant 2016

MY EXPERIENCE IN SWITZERLAND - This year, 2016, I had the pleasure to visit Switzerland. Especially I got the opportunity to see the culture of this amazing country. I have met new friends and I understood the great importance of global education and education for sustainable development for us as teachers.
I think that every person has his/her own way of thinking and how each one sees the world. This means, the perception of life depends on the place where one was born. However, when you go abroad and live the culture of different people you are able to learn from them, but also learn how it feels to experience a different way of living without forgetting what you have learned since being a child.
That is why during my visiting Switzerland I learned a lot about the cultural way of thinking, the tourist places, their traditions, the music and the food. Also in education, that is one of my personal challenge: a teacher is able to change the world through his students by opening them their eyes and then they realize that the future of our world is in their hands. I learned a lot how to actually use my knowledge about sustainability and global learning in my future classroom.
The other thing that I remember very well from my time in Switzerland is the courses at the Pädagogische Hochschule Thurgau. We had different classes about technology, music, arts and training for a teaching placement at schools from Thurgau - all related to education in this country. The opportunity to do a teaching placement was good for my training as a future teacher; I realized that if you have an organized class, you can get the objectives of your lesson plan. That experience with the Swiss students was incredible; they really are different to Bolivian students. For example, the class and students are organized strictly under a specific time and it is good for doing all the activities planned in the lesson plan.
To have lived in Switzerland makes me thinking about culture. It means, I learned a lot from the Swiss people; their kindness, their punctuality, the organization, the way of their living and how they see the world.  All this makes me think in excellence for my future career as a teacher.

Fabiola Tapia Flores
Bolivian project participant 2016

IMPRESSIONS OF SWITZERLAND - As a member of the group awarded with a scholarship to go to Switzerland this year, I felt very lucky since this was a big experience not only a pedagogical one but also as a cultural exchange.  During my stay, which was not very long, I learned many things that contributes to my professional training and as the personal aspects.
The pedagogical  methodologies that I have seen fit in my career and I can use them in accordance with our context. Also I learned that the care of the environment is crucial, since this is the environment in which we unroll ourselves every day. We found out new customs, different types of music, the typical meal in Switzerland and something that got my attention mainly is the personality of a Swiss person; their character seems to be very different from ours. For example they are more serious than a Bolivian person, a little quiet and they do not eat too much and take care about what they eat.
Undoubtedly Switzerland is still a place we must learn from, especially on the organization's capacity like punctuality of the transportation system. Bolivia also have many things to like: cultural wealth (music, specialties of the house, customs and traditions, clothing in accordance with the place), beautiful touristic places that are necessary to preserve, the happiness of the people. All these aspects make me feel proud of my lovely Bolivia.
Since the trip, I can say that not only I got to know a way of life different from mine, but also,  I learned to value and revalue more the things that my country has and that it is not needed to be the same as another country. It is important to share and to transmitting the knowledge and way of life of our country. I believe that every country is unique and it changes in accordance with its context and rhythm of life.  

Nelvy Thalia Copa Sarzuri
Bolivian project participant 2016

c) Impressions of Switzerland by Lic. Mirtha Apaza Montecinos (Academic Director) and Lic. Martha Alvarado Portillo (Lecturer in English)

The training of teachers in Bolivia, it is performed into the outlines of the Socio-communitarian  Productive Educative Model, which main objective is to train and form in an integral way, taking as important matter the Area of Specialty, the Pedagogy, the Didactic, the educational researching and knowledge production.  All these are the curricular elements of our Educational Model.  The Pedagogical Teachers Training School (Escuela Superior de Formación de maestros ESFM) «Simón  Bolívar» has been developing the Exchange of academic and intercultural Experiences with the Pedagogical University of  Thurgau. This offers the opportunity to the students to live and make experiences on both sides of the countries.
Since the Educational  Law  Nº 070 «Avelino Siñani – Elizardo Pérez» was promulgated  the year 2010 in Bolivia, in a gradually way the teachers left behind the traditional teaching practices in an individual way. A training process incorporating the integral and holistic dimension in contact with social and cultural reality has been developed. The contents are becoming theoretical, starting from the experimentation issue and taking into account the knowledge, and the sapience of the indigenous and native people looking the inclusion of complementarity with the universal knowledge; this learning process is being analyzed and reflected critically from the practice of socio-communitarian values. Each student, every day internalizes and learns new knowledge, from his/her own reality creating a pedagogical route, which it makes easier to get knowledge production for the future teachers of any country.

Bolivia with its 10.825.000 people is a country where education works for the social, cultural and economic development. To do so, it requires teachers trained in an integral way. The Pedagogical Teachers Training School «Simon Bolívar» in order to transform the traditional practices, it is working and executing educational innovative projects to strengthen to the future educators so they can be prepared to perform an education with quality to Live Well in an harmonious way with mother Earth. Since 2009 the ESFM SB had been taking active participation in the academic and intercultural exchange with our partner the Pedagogical University of «Thurgau» from Switzerland. The methodological strategy that strengthens the integral training of students that took part of this Project is a great experience for Bolivia as well as for Switzerland. The worked topics are Education for sustainable development, Suma Qamaña (Living well), Global Education, Educational researching and knowledge production. All the communication was done in English Language.
The process of an Educational Revolution in Bolivia requires and claims for a change of attitude and changes on the way of life of human beings, like: the development of responsibility and punctuality, to get an organized city, to get a stress decreasing, the organization of transport services, the reduction of plastic use that day by day is increasing the amount of garbage. To do so, we need to work out projects with Education for a Sustainable Development in Bolivia and in Switzerland through our curricular components in our institutions.
During the visit in Switzerland in March 2016, the delegation of seven students, the Academic Director and one professor from the ESFM «Simon Bolívar» had the opportunity to learn new and different things like: the organizational culture of Pedagogical University of Thurgau, the way Swiss people lives and to be detailed how much time that they spend on library and what they do on weekends. Furthermore we had an insight into the well-organized means of transport, the use of bicycles and of course the importance of being on time for everything. To continue the list we were impressed by the well-organized shopping malls, the kind attention at hotels and every place where tourists arrive, the consumption of natural water after each meal, the healthy food with lots of vegetables and fruits, etc. Lakes, streets and squares are always clean. People already know the urban rules and it´s hard to find delinquency and robbers on streets.
As a Bolivian citizan to be in an Europe country such as Switzerland, it was an opportunity to see and experience for real, how the life is on the other side of our earth and I have generated a reflection on the differences of a developed country and a country which is still working to get there. I took consciousness over the strength and weakness of my country and that helped me to love and value the socio communitarian values that are still being put on practice, the cultural and linguistic richness, the natural resources that we still have in our political and geographical space, to get and develop in harmony with Mother Earth. To do so we need to keep on preparing and training human resources in an integral way to live well.
Thanks to Phd. Priska Sieber, Director of Pedagogical University of Thurgau, I had the opportunity to take part of the encounter of many professors from different places of the world. This educative event took place in Zurich where we all evaluated the Educational Projects executed in different countries about Global Education. Also, intellectual people were invited to do educational conferences about Education for sustainable development, living well and taking care of planet Earth as a responsible answer to the climate change.
The two weeks at Pedagogical University of Thurgau, allowed to the Bolivian delegation to analyze and reflect critically on the educational practice, the lesson plan and its development in the own university and at the schools, high schools (the public and private ones with international students). We also looked carefully at the infrastructure, equipment, resources and materials to use in the training process.

The academic and cultural exchange where we took part was in March 2016 and in October 2016 it took place in Bolivia. All the activities were performed in English language to understand Education for Sustainable Development. Here in Bolivia we performed activities like planting trees, a rational use of water in order to contribute to the care of environment and planet earth, formative processes took place in different areas of specialty and in educative units of the context, we also visited touristic and historic places in both countries Bolivia and Switzerland. This educational experience is considered as a starting point for knowledge production for the Bolivian students based on the framework of socio-communitarian Productive Educative Model.
The interinstitutional agreement between Escuela Superior de Formación de Maestros “Simón Bolívar” and the Pedagogical University of «Thurgau» has been developed since year 2009 with positive and meaningful results on teacher training in Bolivia and in Switzerland.

Lic. Mirtha Apaza Montecinos
Academic Director Escuela Superior de Formación de Maestros “Simón Bolívar”, Bolivia

WHEN INTERCULTURALITY AND PLURILINGUALISM BECOMES REAL - To have had the opportunity to visit a country at the other side of the world as it’s Switzerland, it means that I reached a dream that I never thought it would happen. And every time that friends, colleagues and people ask me how it was, then the following comes to my mind: beautiful images of Bolivians, Irish, Chinese, Swiss, Israeli and other people being together smiling, talking, joking, reflecting, playing and singing. But overall, living and enjoying life the way it is, makes me smile and think that the true experiences from what we learnt are the things we get from simple things in life.
As professors most of the time, we want to explain life based in rigorous categories and concepts, which isn’t bad. We are forced to explain these concepts as abstract theories, hard to memorize and understand their real meaning, when it can be explained just by observing around us with examples from our daily life.
The encounter of students and professors from different places of the world, like in Zurich at the Pedagogical University and later on at Kreuzlingen Pedagogical University of Thurgau- Switzerland, and finally at Pedagogical Teachers Training School «Simon Bolivar» – Bolivia, with only one main objective to talk and share experiences on the dynamic process of learning and teaching was amazing. To be part of this intercultural encounter and see how real international exchange takes place showed us the meaning of interculturality .
Interculturality becomes more meaningful and functional when we observe and live how and why it happens that way. The greatest experiences in life are the ones that make us reflect and think on the role of education has in our society. But, it gets even better when over that reflection we find out that we had learned more about the education system itself.

Lic. Martha L. Alvarado Portillo
Professor at Escuela Superior de Formación de Maestros «Simón Bolívar», Bolivia


3. What are you up to?


In August 2016, I started teaching a 6th grade class in Opfikon-Glattbrugg, a city which lies very close to Zurich. So far, teaching this class has been a beautiful, but also an extremely intense and exhausting experience. During the week, I’m always busy and when I come home after a long day, I just have time to eat something and relax a little by watching TV. I have to admit that I fall asleep in front of the TV a lot of times. A lot of times I think that it’s good that I really like my job. If that wasn’t the case, I probably couldn’t deal with all the work I have to do. My pupils all have a migration background and I try to include the knowledge they have about their home country and their mother language in my lessons. I noticed that they are quite into talking about such subjects. Since the end of the autumn holidays we are talking about prejudices and stereotypes of different people and countries, and next week they are going to make group presentations about European countries in order to compare the prejudices we have with facts. Before they’ve started their work, I told them about my stay in Bolivia, because for me, it was an absolutely unique experience and an insight in a country, I didn’t know much about. I still think a lot about the three weeks I’ve spent there. Sometimes, I receive a message from a Bolivian friend or send one to one of them, and that makes me happy.

Jennifer Zwicky
Swiss Student 2015

My trip to Bolivia in 2015 touched my personality. I was and still am impressed by the deep kindness of the people, coming from their personality and elementariness of being. During those three weeks in Bolivia something happened to me, for what I can’t find any words. But this feeling shows me, that I have to go back to the roots of this impression.
In summer 2016 I got a job for two months in a cottage in the Swiss Alps. I worked there as a maid, a cook and especially as a teacher for one child. It was very intensive; I learned much about the narrow relationship of a teacher and his student, and also about parenting-collaboration.
After the summer, I got a job for two weeks near Zurich. This was the complete opposite experience of the two months with only one child as student. Here I had 25 children from the first to the third grade.
In December 2016 until February 2017 I will work as a volunteer for the organisation Rokpa in Kathmandu (Nepal). And from March 2017 until February 2018 I will work in the Swiss school of Lima, Peru. This will be my first real job as a teacher. I’m looking forward for this chance, but I’m also a bit nervous. New culture, new language and new people... But because of the good impressions of Bolivia, I’m sure, Peru will be similar. And I hope also to see some of you personally soon in Peru or in Bolivia!

Varinja Vogel
Swiss Student 2015

HOW DOES MY EXPERIENCE IN SWITZERLAND BEAR ON MY PROFESSION? - The experience that I have lived in Switzerland was very important in my life and also in my profession as a teacher. I already had the opportunity to teach English in some schools and I could share this experience in order to motivate the students to learn this language as an important tool in global education. Some of the activities that I used in classroom were about Swiss culture. Most of the students were really interested for these lessons. Every time that I remember the experience of travelling to Switzerland I feel very happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know another country, one of the most important in the world of education.

Wendy Paola Mamani Calerno
Bolivian Student 2015


4. Global Education Notice Board


a) Global Education – What does it mean to me?

Global Education means to me, that we have to educate our children to be cosmopolitan and to be able to show empathy. We as future teachers are responsible for showing the children, that they have to widen their horizon and see the big picture… not only a part of it. Therefore, we have to focus on foreign countries and cultures.
We have to figure out where there are chances to learn from each other and help each other, in order to create a peaceful world with social justice and human rights for everyone.
For me, Global Education has something to do with finding out about worldwide correlations, where the children become able to reflect about their role in the world and in addition to that, attainments, like thinking independently and responsibly, can be reached.

Ria Kramer
Swiss project participant 2016

Socio-communitarian values and education for sustainable development – Global education allows students to be educated in an integral and global way where it is necessary that ways of connection exist between us. Also, it must be integral and global because we must realize that now in the world we are all interconnected by networks and that's why it is important to be taken into consideration mutually.
The world is in constant globalization so young people need to complete their education in places out of his/her country in order to be competitive and successful. For these reasons they need to explore and meet new contexts, so they can identify and know different ways of life. But to be careful not to lose their socio cultural identity which is also very important.
Undoubtedly, educational institutions must be established on the understanding, collaboration, solidarity and reciprocity. These are some of the socio-communitarian values that the Bolivian educative socio-communitarian productive model considers at the moment. If we look closer what Global Education and Education for Sustainable Development want to achieve, we find almost similar principals as the educational model in Bolivia: new forms of education and implementation of skills, the methodologies that should be used, the contents and topics, the resources, analogical materials and also materials that we can find in the everyday life to use with students.

It seems that nowadays the education is kind of out of our hands because the children and youths learn and train themselves every day at home, on the streets, with the television, with internet in any public place, at work and in every place of their environment. Looking at these facts it is even more important than ever, that young learners are able to unroll themselves with a helping hand from the teachers. In this context we can see clearly that the teacher will become more and more a mediator for his students. He needs to make sure, that all his students learn how to produce knowledge for future generations and also to be kind of a control what the students learn every day and that it is important not only to read something but also to build his own thoughts and reflect the learned information.

Nelvy Thalia Cops Sarzuri
Bolivian project participant 2016

GLOBAL EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN BOLIVIA - As educators, we have to be informed about what is happening around our world. We know that recently the world has a big problem related to our Mother Earth, so through education we can do something about it.
Global Education and Education for sustainable development tries to change the way we look at those problems that affect our world socially, economically, and ecologically. The solution for each one of these problems is in our hands. Therefore, as teachers, we have to contribute to the community by having a clear perception of the problems and challenges of the world. That way, each one can take decisions to solve those problems by himself. For that reason, it is necessary to apply the components of education for sustainable development in our schools because children acquire different skills for a better future in the society. In addition, the ESD (education for sustainable development) focuses in educational competences to connect various objectives from different interdisciplinary areas of education and thus to avoid dissipating one’s energies. Therefore, the students have an active participation in ESD so they can be conscious of sustainable development and they can recognize that they are responsible in socio – cultural, economic and ecological development. For Example, Bolivia has implemented a new educative model, which takes account to the ecological aspects. This means that in many schools, we are trying to take care our Mother Earth through activities in the classrooms. The most interesting is that the schools do not work alone, they work with the community. Other example is about the family and demography: in Bolivia we have 10.027.254 habitants with a big cultural diversity and we try to involve the families in the process of learning to take account to some usual costumes that focus the reciprocity like ayni. Something important to highlight in the education in Bolivia is the term: «communitary». It means that the teacher staff, the students and the community are involved in this process in order to change the reality and transform the knowledge for our daily life - always looking for the common good.
In conclusion, as teachers we need to be the first ones to apply the ESD in our lives, to be an example and be conscious that we are responsible in the process that the world is going through.  

Fabiola Tapia Flores
Bolivian project participant 2016

b) Global Education Notice Board – suggested platform and material

UNESCO responds to climate change through education within the framework of the Global Action Program on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). UNESCO aims to make climate change education a more central and visible part of the international response to climate change with its Climate Change Education (CCE) for Sustainable Development program which could be followed in detail here.
With this program the following objectives are being pursed:

  • raising awareness about climate change
  • understanding the impact of global warming today
  • increasing "climate literacy" among young people
  • strengthening the capacity of its Member States to provide quality climate change education
  • encouraging innovative teaching approaches to integrate climate change education in schools
  • enhancing non-formal education programs through media, networking and partnerships

The platform itself is a worthwhile pastime. Many interesting materials and links could be obtained from there.

As a key publication:
NOT JUST HOT AIR: Putting Climate Change Education into Practice
This publication could be downloaded here.
The book has been published to give five recommendations for policy-makers on how CCE and ESD can be integrated at the national level.

Christina Colberg
Project Co-coordinator and Lecturer at PHTG


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


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