Volunteer Review: Minato K., General Journalism Projects in Bolivia
I knew very little about Bolivia and even less about journalism when I arrived. It may sound like a very bad plan not doing any research beforehand, but it turned out to be a master plan. I wanted to have a totally new experience. I let the culture of Bolivia sink in everyday and at the same time learned different things as a journalist. Every single day my eyes were opened as the whole experience rushed past me.
It worried me at first that I did not have an idea what to write about. That did not matter. Ximena, the Cocha-banner editor, picked up on the fact that I like sport and suggested that I should write an article on it. I jumped on the suggestion and searched around to see what I could do. By chance Freddy from my office happened to be friends with Julio Baldivieso, a famous Bolivian soccer player. He was a player and manager of Aurora, a soccer club in Cochabamba. Freddy contacted him for me and in no time I had the date and the time for the interview set and ready. It was a big first step for me and I did not look back from there.
I didn’t speak Spanish, but that was no problem because David, a student from the San Simon University in Cochabamba, offered to be my translator. It was a difficult interview, but I got through it fine in the end. Doing interviews is just one of those things which you have to learn through experience and cannot ever be fully prepared for. My confidence grew and I learned to improvise.
After this it became clear to me that I could write about anything that I wanted. At this time it was very close to the festival of Urkupiña, a big and famous annual festival of Cochabamba. I was intrigued by this and Ximena quickly gave me the permission to write about this. I decided to interview some of the dancers in the festival to see what it meant to them. So I met them in the evening during their training sessions, where they literally practice on the streets. It was another new experience, interviewing outside in the streets!
My last interview was with a member from a band called Los Kjarkas. As far as I know, everyone I spoke to in Bolivia knew about them. One of the members happened to be Japanese and I just thought it would be great to speak to him. A quick phone call was all it took to have an interview with him. It was great because after the interview all the members of the band came in and I got to meet them.
In the office it was easy writing up the articles because all of them were on topics I was interested in. I learned how to edit and design my articles on In Design, and it is a very satisfactory feeling when your article is done and finished. I was occasionally asked to edit or read the other journalists’ articles and tell them my opinion. A lot of the work is obviously done in the office, but it was a very common to see us rushing off to our interviews. I got to see different aspects of Bolivia through my interviews.
Journalism is for anyone. If you want a new and rewarding experience, this is it.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.