I came across Sustainable Bolivia while researching legal internships in Human Rights for my first summer as a Law Student. I contacted Erik and asked him about internship opportunities that the Sustainable Bolivia could offer. He got back to me immediately and was able to arrange a 2-month internship with the Institute for International Studies (IDEI), a research institution run by several law professors at San Simon University in Cochabamba. With Erik’s help, I put together a proposal for my home university, and was approved for the internship. The entire internship was very rewarding. I worked closely with the staff of IDEI in researching and analyzing constitutional protection of human rights, namely the right to self-determination for indigenous communities.
Dealing with Human Rights issues in a Spanish speaking civil law country enabled me to gain first hand experience with civil law norms and procedures and to greatly improve my legal Spanish. Both these benefits are important to me, as I plan to pursue a career dealing with international human rights issues in Latin America. In addition to working in the main office, I traveled to other cities in Bolivia and Chile for various meetings regarding the status of Economic, Social, and Cultural rights in Bolivia and the development of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). I was also invited by the Law department at San Simon University to give a presentation of the relationship between international law and the U.S. Constitution; this speech was attended by faculty and students at the university. On a lighter note, living in Cochabamba with Sustainable Bolivia was an extremely enjoyable way to spend a couple of months.
The staff at Sustainable Bolivia is very knowledgeable, culturally in-tune and well connected in Cochabamba and Bolivia as a whole. The house available for volunteers is always full of travelers from different countries and with different backgrounds. There were also many local friends and partners of Sustainable Bolivia that provided plenty of information and opportunities to travel around and get to know the country and Bolivian culture. Cochabamba is a beautiful city located in a fertile valley with lots of universities, a mild and sunny climate, and a multi-ethnic population. The city is easy to get around with buses, walking, taxis, or a bike, not to mention it is very cheap. Erik and all the staff at Sustainable know the city very well and help you learn the transportation and so forth. I highly recommend spending some time in Cochabamba with Sustainable Bolivia.