For those considering volunteer work and/or language immersion in South America, Volunteering in Bolivia might not be first option to come to mind, but AmeriSpan has sent many a volunteer to Sucre who return with a positive report and plenty of enthusiasm. One such volunteer was our esteemed guest blogger Alison B., whose insight will enlighten future volunteers and Spanish students for years to come!
AmeriSpan's volunteer placements range from Social Work to Education to Environmental Studies, and we are always working to find programs best suited for each student. Bolivia has an endless array of natural sights, wildlife, and activities to explore in between classes and volunteer sessions. Another volunteer discovered a place where some of Sucre's most exotic wildlife lived – the Parque Machia.
Machia National Park was developed on 36 hectares donated by the Bolivian government and is now a protected area where the animals are cared for and protected by staff and volunteers from all over the world. This protected forest is found near the town of Villa Tunari, 4 hours from Cochabamba on the road to Santa Cruz. Another park where volunteers work is located in the Department of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, province of Guarayos (about 4 hours from Santa Cruz).
Volunteers can assist this organization to work with the animals and the natural environment. Some types of animals that typically are on-site include: pumas, parrots, monkeys, crocodiles and anacondas. Volunteers feed, care for and protect the animals before returning them to their natural environment. If not possible to return them to the wild, the park provides a better home for them than in the city. Volunteers are also needed to care for lakes, streams, rivers and forest. Other duties include: trail maintenance, cage construction and cleaning, volunteer lodging construction, announcement postings on trails and other tasks as needed.
A recent volunteer in Bolivia said, "The best was feeling at home in a really beautiful city that was so different from home, and how much my Spanish improved." Take a look at this video of one volunteer's experiences in Parque Machia: