From Alicia, with Love and Gratitude

Alicia and Friend at the SF Bay Bridge


I had the opportunity to participate in 4 yearly meetings (SAYMA, NPYM, NWYM & PacYM) and the Friends General Conference [Gathering] this summer.  My visit to the United States was for 9 weeks, during which I was in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon, and California.

I start by telling you, that this visit was a challenge for me with some difficulties that I had. When I arrived I could not access my yahoo mail, where I had all the contacts or references, then I saw that my suitcase wheels had broken.  The hardest thing was the poison ivy for 5 weeks, and lastly a severe cold for 2 weeks.

But you were always there:

Friends, the grace of God is very great because you were always there to support me when I needed it, in every place that I was.

I thank God, the Bolivian Quaker Education Fund, and the Quaker Foundation for Education in Bolivia, for giving me again this opportunity to visit the United States.  My mission during my visit was to share with you about the aspirations, passions, interests, and difficulties Bolivian Quaker Friends have in education, and how BQEF has been supporting and transforming entire lives with scholarships for university students, apprentice teachers in US Quaker schools, the student residence for high school students in Sorata, workshops on innovation in Quaker Education and other programs, with the support of all of you.

I want to remind you a little bit about my experiences - that sometimes I can't believe it still, that it seems to be a dream, but it is not, it is a dream come true. I was born in a Christian family. I grew up in my hometown with my parents and my grandparents until I was 18 years old; my first language is Aymara and as a second language I have Spanish that I learned at school.

Since I was a child my parents have been dedicated to the Friends Church.  My father was a pastor, missionary and now is on the Board of INELA in La Paz.  I am very proud of my parents and I follow their example. After finishing high school I had to move to La Paz city because I really wanted to study at the University. The first year I could not pass the test because my knowledge was not sufficient, and my Spanish was poor. I had to review many texts and prepare myself for the next year, without any professional help. Thank God I could pass the exam in 2002.

I had the support of my father in that year, but needed more financial support. In 2003 my father did not have the possibility of supporting me with more money. There came the blessing of God through Bolivian Quaker Education Fund when I was most in need. I could finish my studies with a scholarship and obtain my degree in Education Administration (5 years of study). Without the scholarship I would have been obliged to work and study at the same time, if I really wanted to study and become a professional. With your support many young Quaker Friends’ dream have been realized, as well as mine.

During my visit to the US, I enjoyed a lot everything in each place, the landscape, the flora and the fauna. Each place is unique and special for God's creation. I thought that it rained enough in summer here as well as in Bolivia, but not so! The climate between the East and the West varies, i.e., in the East is more hot and humid, while in the West [on the coast] it is more temperate and sometimes cold, so it was at the places and in the time that I visited.

I visited Oregon Garden,  Colombia River, Grow Point Park, and Multnomah waterfall.  I saw and touched the water in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, an unforgettable experience for me. I could have fallen into hours and hours of watching and listening to the waves of the sea, only that it was very cold; I had to wear warm clothes like in Bolivia.

                           An exuberant Alicia atop a bayside hill

You participated in my presentation about all the programs of BQEF in Bolivia. Please remember that your support is like planting a seed that will give very good results in the future and that others will be fed from this fruit, that education is the basis of the development of family, community and nation.

It is very special days to be at the Yearly Meetings, participating in different activities, ones that take a long time and others fun, breakfast, lunch and dinner all together. My favorite was ice cream after lunch and dinner, but when I had a cold I could not eat cold, I missed my favorite ice cream a lot. What is more special for me was talking with all of you about my life, my family, my experiences and BQEF programs in English - while sometimes thinking in Spanish and speaking in English.

My endless thanks from the bottom of my heart to all you brothers and sisters for all the help and support you have given me during my summer visit to the United States to be able to represent Bolivian Quaker Education Fund.  God bless all your family forever.

I hope to see you in La Paz - Bolivia!!