The Latest Scholar Joins BQE

Pablo with BQE Class 2011


Pablo Pillco Cultipa joined our BQE family 2 months ago. In fact, he was added as our 40th, and we’re fortunate to have him. BQEF in 2011 decided our budget could increase our number of scholarship students.

Pablo’s almond skin sits tightly around a square head. His eyes crinkle when talking about his childhood. Like most Aymara people he is short, about a meter and a half. He’s more lanky than his peers. Centuries of survival in the Altiplano make for short broad stature, thick hair and a much larger lung capacity. He keeps his hair clipped close, almost a crew cut. He grins and I see the comic boy, Calvin. Instead of Hobbes, he has a llama grazing behind him.

What changes within his Friends church is Pablo dreaming of? Pablo is weaving in his life two careers, like a double strand of a DNA. He is a leader in the Holiness Yearly Meeting and he is in his third year as a agro-industrial student in the Catholic University in Achacachi. He has a proven track-record in keeping up good grades, moving fluidly between Andean rural life and city life, and attending business meetings. “This is no easy task,” Pablo shared with me. Almost in a conspiratorial way, he cautiously shares his hopes.

Pablo is only 25, and seems to have had 5 jobs already. He kept returning to the theme of bringing the Santidad Iglesia (Holiness Quakers) forward to the 21st century. When Pablo was a Pablicito or about 5 years old, the church discouraged any use of the radio or TV. What? I couldn’t believe that a loving community would censor current information. He explained that the music was vacuous and licentious (topics of drunkenness, spouses cheating on each other). Also TV also offered mostly soap operas talking about the same little dramas with lying, cheating and falling into addictive ways. The church still encourages reading and studying more than watching the media. Pablo sees three ways of lifting up Friends institution. This Aymara Quaker is a visionary. First, he wants members to see their career as a part of their Christian path. Second, Pablo is amazed at how few Quaker professionals (young people working in their career) continue in his Meeting. Why? He is eager to see the work of the church and the work in society feed each other, and inspire one another. Thirdly, he was thinking of the long history (from 1919-2000) of missionaries and that there could be another type of exchange with North American Quakers.

I totally agree with Pablo and silently I calculated how BQEF was that neo-missionary. We share our faith, we uphold the vision of God’s peaceable kingdom by offering an accessible education, Anglo and Aymara are working side by side. All scholarship students are asked to continue active membership in their church. How interesting if we required our teenagers to attend meeting if they want money to attend school.

Right now Pablo is clear that he wants to develop the agro-business in Bolivia without letting go of Friends. Many students studying with BQE, choose humanities as a profession. Pablo studies are completely different, called technologia superior, which is like business management using technology. He hopes to get a job, maybe with a large company like Tigo or another that produces cereals from grains. He envisions working for several years in commerce. He laughed at his dream of making rolls of money and then cutting back his hours at work to work part time in the church. He imagines one hand helping church members and one hand driving the country’s agro-business. He wants to take a native fruit like a pomegranate, native to Bolivia and make a juice or bottle to sell it around the world. I just looked at him in awe.

No longer did I see Calvin and Hobbes, but an entrepreneur. This Quaker could be a religious Bill Gates. Make room in the center benches, Quakers. Pablo Cultipa is on the move.