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Readership Ambassadors Heading to Bolivia

May 9, 2013

COPY BY: Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@wtamu.edu

Readership Ambassadors Heading to Bolivia

CANYON, Texas—It will be the trip of a lifetime when 13 West Texas A&M University students travel to Bolivia May 12 as the 2012-2013 Readership WT Ambassadors.

But first, family and friends will join with WTAMU faculty and staff members at 1 p.m. just outside the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport’s security gates to wish the travelers farewell. The group includes the 13 students whose essay-writing skills won them the all-expense paid trip to Bolivia, plus two members of the University faculty and a student peer leader. The 12-day trip will take them to La Paz, El Alto, Isla del Sol and Copacabana. 

The trip marks the sixth international sojourn for winners of a Readership WT essay contest. Each of the trips has related to the Readership WT book selection, and this year’s journey to Bolivia is no different. The Heart and the Fist is author Eric Greitens’s account of his growth in leadership through humanitarian efforts and as a Navy SEAL. He takes readers on a journey through slums and war zones and shows what can be accomplished through compassion and courage. His words encourage readers to live a meaningful life by doing good and being strong. 

The WTAMU group will start off in La Paz, meeting with Mujeres Creando, a women’s rights organization and visiting the studio of Aymara artist Roberto Mamani. On May 15 the students will travel to El Alto, where they will learn how the Compa Trono organization uses art to help the homeless youth of the area. They also will learn about spirituality from Aymara healers and visit a local university.

Homestay visits begin May 16 in the Challa community of Isla del Sol. Here the students will take on a service projects working with students at Challa schools and also help the community with the construction of its multicultural center. The homestays also will give the WTAMU students an opportunity to learn more about the people of Challa, their culture and the role mysticism and spirituality plays in their everyday lives.

The remainder of the trip will provide opportunities for the students to participate in a multiculturalism and indigenous rights conference in La Paz. The students will attend workshops and seminars and participate in a major cultural celebration to close out the two-day conference.

The trip, originally scheduled for spring break, was postponed because of a personal emergency with the in-country partners. Postponing the trip ended up paying off in expanded opportunities for the group.

“It’s given the students more time than usual to get to know each other and connect as a group,” Kendra Campbell, director of First Year Experience and a trip sponsor, said. “They’ve had double the time this year, and the group is closer and more comfortable as we embark on our journey. Another bonus is that we get to participate in the multiculturalism and indigenous rights conference. It’s a very unique opportunity.”

Joining Campbell on the trip will be Dr. Amy Andersen, head of the Department of Education, and Daniel Zewde, a senior mass communication/public relations major from Amarillo, as peer leader. The 13 freshmen traveling to Bolivia are listed by hometown and major.

Emily Lomax, pre-nursing major
Alex Deaton, pre-medicine major
Cassie Ann Jones, wildlife biology major
Tessa Davis, mass communication/broadcasting major
Eric Casiano, sociology major
Mireya Jacuinde, social work major
Davon Harewood, accounting major
Mercedez Hernandez, pre-medicine major
Justin Schacher, undeclared major
Wade Fullingim, general business major
David Acosta, mathematics major
Alyssa Hickenbottom, psychology major
Silvia Soto, undeclared major            


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