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Pädagogische Hochschule Thurgau. Lehre Weiterbildung Forschung.

Newsletter SwiBo-Partnership 12_2013

Dear reader

Just before the start of the festive season we send you our third SwiBo-Partnership Newsletter!

The project keeps flourishing and gaining ground within the two institutions involved. This is for example demonstrated by the fact that for the first time since the existence of the project we had more applications from PHTG students than places available. As a consequence, we have just been able to choose the maximum of 8 PHTG project participants for the next cycle starting in spring 2014.

The project highlight of this autumn semester has certainly been the visit of the Swiss delegation to Bolivia, which is the topic of most of the contributions you can find in this edition. However, authors also contributed an overview of the individual student projects which have been realized over the years within PHTG’s „Global Education – Diploma Specialization“ and are directly linked to the partnership. You can furthermore read about the connection between the Bolivian postulate of „Vivir bien“ and the concepts of Global Education and Education for Sustainable Development.

We would like to thank the authors very much for taking the time to write their interesting contributions.

As always, we hope that the content of this newsletter is of interest to you and that you would like to keep receiving it. Unfortunately, not many have yet filled in the personal and professional profile accessible via the link in the final section „Create a profile and stay connected“. It would allow us to keep better track of all former project participants and help us to stay in touch with you.

With this we wish you all a joy- and peaceful festive season!

Gerit Jaritz & Christina Colberg (PHTG), Editors

Newsletter Content

1. Project News and Information
This section contains news regarding the latest project activities from both partner institutions.

2. Swiss Bolivian Encounters
In this section you can find a report on the latest student visit.

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
You can find a short summary of some currently „hot topics“ in the field of Global Education and links to interesting articles in this section.

5. Create a profile and stay connected
Here you can update your e-mail address and create a short personal profile.

6. News, questions and comments
Do you have any news or questions of interest to all readers of this newsletter? We'd also appreciate your comments and ideas regarding our newsletter in general. E-Mail them to newsletter@phtg.ch and they will be posted here in the next edition of this newsletter.


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


Colorful student projects within the partnership project based on action, reflection and scientific research
Within the Diploma Project Global Education the Swiss students have to prepare a variety of assignments and a diploma dissertation. Over the years, a number of interesting and diverse projects have been realized.

We have seen teaching units at primary schools with topics like „Global aspects of waste production“, „What if there were no more trains?“ or „The journey of a pair of jeans“. The dissertations projects have covered issues such as „Development cooperation in Bolivian schools by the foundation Autapo“, „Climate change: importance of school projects for environmental protection in Switzerland and Bolivia“ or „Children's rights as a subject in Swiss primary schools“.

Moreover, the PHTG students who have the chance to visit Bolivia summarize their impressions, experiences and adventures in their personal learning journals „Learning and Teaching in Bolivia“. The colorful journals have just been presented on the occasion of a public event on December 12th, 2013 at PHTG, as can be seen on the photographs attached.

These contributions show the learning effects of the project at different levels. The goals of our partnership project are being fostered directly and additionally, the concept of the partnership is being carried out into local classrooms, both in Switzerland and Bolivia. At the same time, more scientifically orientated questions are being tackled in the knowledge-based diploma dissertations. Overall, many people are learning to experience what impact Global Education might have. We are therefore very proud to be able to make some small contributions to a sustainable development.

Christina Colberg, Co-leader of the project at PHTG

This year’s trip to Bolivia
This year’s trip to La Paz had pleasantly familiarly overtones. Even arriving at the airport in Alta Plana in the middle of the night after an endlessly long flight did not detract from the sense of knowing what to expect.

And indeed the first few days followed the programme of the previous two years, benefitting from the experience we have all gathered during this time. For the students and for my colleague, Dora Luginbühl, it was, of course, all new! Monday was our day to acclimatise and Tuesday saw a tour of the college, now renovated and gleaming new, a very different-looking establishment to the one I first saw two years ago. This was also the day for the cross-cultural event, when each country introduces themselves. This is for the Bolivians a chance to demonstrate the colour, diversity and flamboyance of the different regions of their country, which as always they did in fine style! On Wednesday we toured the city, which this year for the first time included a visit to the government building in the city centre, an impressive building full of history. As last year, we were also able to have a brief interview with an official from the Ministry of Education and hope that this meeting will again have drawn attention to our North-South project and help strengthen the ties between our two schools.

Thursday and Friday started to get a little more serious, with sessions on global education and some workshops for Bolivian English teachers. These latter sessions were very well attended this year, perhaps as a result of better advertising, and it was a pleasure to have contact with so many practising English teachers, to exchange ideas and to find out more about how English is taught in Bolivia.

The second week followed a similar patter to the previous years too, inasmuch as the focus was the teaching practice for English in local schools. We were lucky enough to be able to return to the Instituto Americano and the Gran Bretagna for this, and so are gradually reaping the benefits of building up a longer-term relationship with each of these schools. For sure, with large classes of very extrovert Bolivian pupils, this experience is a very valuable one for the Swiss students!

This year’s visit saw a special new highlight, namely the visit to Warisata, one of the oldest teacher training institutions in Bolivian and one with a special history as it is located some two-three hours’ drive from La Paz and serves the needs of the rural community and indigenous Bolivian people. We enjoyed a warm welcome and a tour of the school. The short and informal session for English teachers, planned for maybe twenty or so participants, suddenly exploded into a crowded room with over a hundred students, no doubt curious to listen to some English. Here again, we hope that this initial contact will lead to a longer-term relationship.

All in all, this trip gave a clear feeling that this project is slowly but surely finding its way and developing from year to year. The huge amount of work put in by our Bolivian colleagues contributes enormously to the success of the project, and this year we especially appreciated the new aspects of the programme - for example the visit to the government building and to Warisata, - initated by our colleagues. Let’s see what 2014 holds for us!

Annette Brechbühl, Lecturer of English at PHTG


2. Swiss Bolivian Encounters


What struck us during our visit to Bolivia
One of our highlights during our Bolivian visit was an incident with our little bus. In the second week of our stay we were on our way to a school in the country. Our bus was pretty full with the Swiss delegation and some of our Bolivian partners. To avoid the daily traffic jam we avoided the highway and drove on smaller roads out of the city. The only weak point in this plan was the higher up we traveled the steeper the roads became. And the steeper the roads the louder and more alarming the motors sounded as well as the bus slowed down. At one point we were joking that not long and we have to get out and push the car up the hill. Two hills later the bus drove slower and slower and then suddenly stopped. The motor was just not strong enough to carry all the passengers up the hill. So the younger generation had to get off the bus and walk up the hill. This was quite an exhausting task in nearly 4000 meters above sea level.

The transportation in Bolivia was always an experience itself. For once there were no seatbelts in a car for and usually more people were transported than allowed. Generally, we were quite confused about traffic rules. We couldn’t really understand how things were regulated on the roads. Cars would drive with nearly no room between rear and front bumper. We were quite surprised not to see more accidents.

Also, there are no bus stops and you just wave for a bus and they would then stop. And figuring out which bus drives where and how far was always a bit of a lucky guess. But I think you have to be a local to understand the Bolivian road and driving system.

Working and teaching with our Bolivian partners
To work with our Bolivian partners was very interesting but also showed us some differences in our cultures. One main thing is the understanding of time. We learned that 5 minutes in Swiss time is something completely different in Bolivian time. This switch was sometimes a bit hard for us, for example when one of our partners arrived 2 hours later than when we had agreed. We tried to adjust to this difference, but we found it very hard sometimes.

On the other hand, our Bolivian partners had very interesting ideas. We learned to plan a lesson in a certain way and with the same model, therefore we all plan lessons in a similar way. The working process with our Bolivian partners showed us many different ways and gave us some great inputs not only in planning but also in teaching. We found the Bolivian way of teaching very different from what we are used to and learned a lot about our partners’ views and ideals.

It was a great experience to see how teaching works in another country and this experience gave us new ideas and a different view of our own teaching.

Lasting memories
We took home many great memories. The kindness and friendliness for sure are one of them. We were very fascinated by the Bolivian way of life. For us it often seemed very relaxed and easy going. Nothing like our Swiss life style were everything is so structured and organized. At the beginning we struggled a bit with that adjustment. But it took us not long to switch to the Bolivian way. We learned quickly that plans often change a few times during the day but in the end it worked out well.

During our travels in the country we were surprised how simply the people still live and work. Farming was often done with no machines and a lot of hard manual work. Washing was done in the rivers and then laid out on the river banks to dry. Many houses didn’t even have electricity. It showed us how privileged we are with the many everyday luxuries we have access to and that we shouldn’t take them for granted.

We recognized that Bolivians are very happy people and that they set their priorities in a completely different way as well as their life style. Even if it’s different, we can only respect that culture and admire their way of thinking.

by Daniela Sallmann, Olivia Wüst, Nathalie Bock, Deborah Boos and Sandra Stark, PHTG project participants 2013


3. What are you up to?


Innovative education
Any experience with regard to the Global Education is effective for a better education, as it involves the experiences that students had in different contexts as they were in Switzerland and Bolivia.

In my personal opinion, I think the educational and cultural exchange is relevant for a better performance in education and in the same way it includes a change in the personality of each student who shares the experiences in another context. The perceptions that we have about education in other countries may vary, so it is important to know what background you want to accomplish with a Global Education, because it is not only to visit and to know a different environment to share experiences, but this process should lead us to the reflection on the importance of education and the impact for future generations.

In this way, we can help create a better world sharing experiences and creating more opportunities for our future students. It will be achieved encouraging all the actors and participants in education with new pedagogical practices created by ourselves. For example, I started to renew educational practices with some aspects that I observed in the classroom lessons taught in Switzerland, I hope it will also inspire my Bolivian partners and also my Swiss partners, as future teachers, to create and innovate education in different contexts where we are and in this way generate a better education.

Marcos Ibañez, La Paz, Bolivia, project participant 2012


4. Global Education Notice Board


Vivir bien - Living Well
The postulate „Living Well“ is an ideal that considers life of human beings in ideological, social and economic terms. It is a comprehensive perception of life, where people are protagonists of productive development. Lifestyles with equity are redefined. Consumerism and the accumulation of goods that cause social inequalities are questioned.

Etymologically, the concept „Living Well“ is derived from the Aymara principle „Suma Qamaña“ where, the term Qamaña, refers to those who know how to live, „Suma“ means fullness, magnificence, excellence. Modernism has coined the term „quality of life“, which is understood as the provision of goods necessary to have a life with basic services and other goods that allow living humanely and with dignity.

The ideal of Living Well raises equity and is against forms of life generated by inequality which comes with hunger, misery and death.

This postulate is integrated into primary school curricula in Bolivia by means of the four fields of knowledge: Cosmos and thought; society and community; Life, earth and territory; and science, technology and production. This is carried out in coordination with the National Plan of Development, which postulates a free and dignified Bolivia.

There is a link to Global Education and Sustainable Development when classroom work is engaged in the field of Life, Earth and Territory, with regard to the values of the ancient cultures living in harmony with nature, respecting the Pachamama (Mother Earth), practicing agriculture focused on crop rotation in different ecological zones, where platforms are built on the low and high land. This postulate promotes harmony with nature and coexistence with human beings. One cannot live well when the others have a low quality of life. Basic services, employment, resources, food and opportunities should be equally distributed. One should rejoice himself with his culture because one is recognized, accepted as he is, and valued throughout the territory.

Melva Laime, Academic Director,  ESFM SimÓn BolÍvar
Jorge Barcena, Lecturer of English, ESFM SimÓn BolÍvar


5. Create a profile and stay connected


We hope that you liked our newsletter and would like to continue receiving it. Please don’t forget to inform us whenever you change your e-mail address in order to make sure you stay connected with the project. You can update your address here.

If you are a Swiss or Bolivian project alumni, we would appreciate if you use the link below to create a short personal profile and let us know about where and what you teach. Link

Thank you for your time and interest!


6. News, questions and comments


Do you have any news or questions of interest to all readers of this newsletter? We’d also appreciate your comments and ideas regarding our newsletter in general. E-mail them to newsletter@phtg.ch and they will be posted here in the next edition of this newsletter.