Princeton University Bridge Year Students Visit the Center for Ecological Agriculture
We were happy to have students from this year’s Princeton University Bridge Year Bolivia program stop by Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) on Friday!
Working with Lindsay from Princeton’s 2016-2017 Program
Mano a Mano had the good fortune to have Lindsay Emi from last year’s Bridge Year Program volunteer with us. During her time she wrote many blogposts for our website; you can read them all here.
“But what was truly especially rewarding were those moments of speaking with Mano a Mano’s beneficiaries, and really struggling and learning and pushing myself to understand and communicate small parts of their stories and lives through my writing, through these articles. I loved seeing people come through the CEA, a space I am so proud of and honored to have helped maintain. The workshops and tours really impressed and inspired all the visitors I met; farmers talked enthusiastically about the most useful things they learned, whether it was composting or interplanting, or marveled at how productive and healthy our crops were. The children told me about how they wanted to start gardens at their houses. As the months went on, I began to understand more, literally but also culturally, I became more knowledgeable about the CEA and our work and the vocabulary I could use to describe it, and I grew as a volunteer, as a student of complex, difficult issues like development and sustainable aid, and as a writer, story-teller, and communicator.
There were a lot of reasons I came to Bolivia, but of all of them, maybe the biggest was that I was interested in learning narratives of culture and people. I hoped to find and maybe better understand cross-sections of stories, culture, art, and lived experiences. And I wanted to learn more about story-telling—how I could use my knowledge and my privilege to serve others. Mano a Mano gave me that opportunity to see communities first-hand, meet their residents, hear their stories, and share my experiences in these communities and with these people. This was my first time writing this particular kind of piece, and there were so many challenges and lessons in my own little project. I know that I, an eighteen year-old American, see the life of Bolivian very differently than how he understands his own life, and every story I relay is through my own perspective.”
About Princeton’s Bridge Year Program
“Princeton’s Bridge Year Program is a nine-month, tuition-free program that allows newly admitted undergraduates the opportunity to defer their enrollment for a year to engage in community service work in another country. While abroad, Bridge Year participants study the local language, live with carefully selected families, volunteer in organizations serving the needs of local communities, and engage in a variety of cultural enrichment activities.
Bridge Year offers a truly innovative approach to learning, one that is more experiential and more profoundly transformational than anything most students entering college will have encountered during high school. The knowledge, understanding, and skills gained through the Bridge Year serve not only to enhance a student’s undergraduate experience at Princeton, but also contribute to the overall strength of the University’s educational community.”
About the Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA)
The CEA was started in 2012 with the goal of demonstrating good agricultural practices in action for rural Bolivian communities, and the site has been growing over the past 4-5 years to include many more tools & techniques. Also, 3 out of 4 Mano a Mano’s counterpart organizations are now on the same site as the CEA, which helps with integrating some of our projects, such as the sorting and distribution of donated supplies shipped from Minnesota.
Video Tour of the CEA
Take a tour of our Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia with Mano a Mano agronomists Camila and Victor: