Ani - Learning to Bridge Worlds
Below is the expanded edition of our print story on Anahi Ticona Serrano. We hope you enjoy learning more about this dedicated young Friend.
Learning to Bridge Worlds
BQEF scholarship student Anahi "Ani" Ticona Serrano is using her university program in linguistics and languages, and her Quaker connections, to bridge worlds.
Ani chose linguistics because she loves to learn new languages. She is particularly interested in perfecting her English, but also studies Korean at a free class on Saturday mornings. Her connection to BQEF has given her the chance to correspond with her sponsors in English and to host and develop friendships with volunteers from the U.S.
Her linguistics program at the University of San Carlos includes research and practice in using language. In her history of the Spanish language class, students pair up for research on a topic. One of Ani’s topics was identifying why the Castilian dialect became the unified language for Spain during the eighth through twelfth centuries. Ani notes this was a difficult project because they didn’t have many sources of information. Two reasons she and her partner did uncover were because Castilian did not vary much from Latin, and because Castile began to gain territory.
Forming Fast Friendships
Anahi has used her language skills and interest in cultures to host visiting BQEF volunteers. Last December, Charlotte Blair came to Bolivia as a volunteer.
Ani wrote in English: “…she came to La Paz and stayed in my home for three weeks. God blessed us with the opportunity to know her… These three weeks were enough that Charlotte and I became … best friends. We shared the room, walked around the city while I showed her the attractive touristic of La Paz, such as el teleférico (the aerial cableway) and the main squares. We visited the Christmas fairs, went shopping, watched movies, went to a wedding. She taught me to make some of her favorite food, like peanut butter sandwich with bananas…It was a blessing knowing her because I made a good friend, knew a new lifestyle and improved my speaking and listening. Moreover, she spent the time with my family, especially with my mother.”
Earlier last year, in January, Alanna Badgley and Brian Bean visited Bolivia in the company of BQEF board member Jens Braun. Alanna stayed in Ani’s home where they, too, shared long talks getting to know each other, watching music videos and looking at school photos, and spending time with Ani’s family. At night they sang lullabies and laughed because they couldn’t sing very well. Ani had more opportunity to practice her English, while Alanna practiced her Spanish.
…and Practicing Cultural Tourism Skills
Ani gave Alanna a tour of her area of La Paz, and took her to meeting. During Alanna’s visit they joined Jens, Brian, and Magaly Quispe, a former scholarship student, on a visit to Lake Titicaca’s tourist sites. Ani and Magaly served as Alanna’s tour guides and told her in English about the Island of the Sun, an experience that brought them all closer together.
On another day, Ani was a little nervous because she agreed to be responsible for a day trip with the two visitors, who spoke little Spanish. She took Brian and Alanna to the Valley of the Moon, just south of La Paz. She enjoyed those days because she was able to improve her English and share in their activities, but “the most important thing was that I developed friendship[s]”.
Meeting Life and Leadership
Ani is very active in New Hope Monthly Meeting. She writes (again in English) “It’s a really pleasure [to] tell you that I am the vice-president of the young people of my church. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to work for the Lord taking care of my brothers and sisters. However, I am afraid because I would like everything [to] go perfect for God and it will be sad if it is not that way. But I know God is with us all the time and that makes me feel better and calm.”
Ani’s youth group has a lot of fellowship activities. In February, Bolivia celebrates Carnival. The young people in the church took advantage of the holiday to have a barbeque. Each of the members contributed by bringing an ingredient, frying the potatoes, toasting the rice, making the salad, or cooking the beef on the grill. “It was a lot of fun to participate … making jokes, talking among ourselves and sharing cooking secrets. After cooking, we played games and watched a movie.”
“The day before the Presidential election in Bolivia, the church [was] dressed white because two members of the church were getting married. The party was very nice; there were mariachis, the groom and the bride danced the waltz, the church band played in the wedding, we ate delicious food.
The party was fun, although we had a bit of fear when they told us that there were policemen in the room because the next day was the presidential election and it was prohibited having a meeting or concentration of people; thanks to God nothing happened because the groom had a permit given by the government. “
Ani participated in New Hope Monthly Meeting’s anniversary celebration. The event spanned three days beginning Friday evening with a small worship service, followed by a youth meeting on Saturday and ending on Sunday. They invited other churches and groups such as the New Jerusalem church choir and the New Song folkloric group. Ani helped her mother prepare breakfast, lunch, and sweet treats for the celebration. “I enjoyed very much this form of service for the church and especially for the service of God.”
The church youth group also organized a
sale of “api” (a hot drink made from purple corn) and “buñuelos” (a fried dough treat) to benefit a member of the group that needed eye surgery. “This sister is a member of the youth group and I love her very much because she reminds me of my mother because both are named Juana and also both have vision problems.”
“In August, my church made an Apthapi (Andean lunch where people put all kind[s] of food, such as: potato, rice, sardine, salad, chicken, etc.). This activity didn’t have a special reason just … to share between us. … I took the opportunity to share and talk to adult people of the church. This is the best and the nicest because they speak Aymara mainly and I don’t know how to speak this language, but in this opportunity I could talk to them. Also, we ate a lot of delicious food.”
Ani strengthened her peacemaking skills in a BQEF-sponsored Alternatives to Violence Project workshop for scholarship students. She was disappointed that she was the only one eligible for the Advanced workshop, so she took the Basic workshop over. It was held in a beautiful location that was full of trees. Ani made new friends and had a chance to review various themes from the Basic workshop, including some she had forgotten.
Like all of us, she has plenty of opportunities to practice peacemaking in everyday life.
“During March, my brother and I attended the wedding of two Friends from church in La Paz.
At the beginning of the time, I was very sad because I had a quarrel with my brother, Jhonatan. He didn’t want to wait for me to go together to the wedding; as is the custom, women are slower than men in getting ready to go to an event. But during the festivities we began to talk and laugh with our friends, and soon forgot all that had happened. At the end of the wedding we went together, meditating on what had happened between us and recognizing our errors so we could forgive and forget as the good brother and sister that we are, and above all as good children of God who can forget offenses and know how to forgive.”
If you'd like to help young Bolivian Friends like Ani study at university, participate in workshops to strengthen their peacemaking skills, and build cross-cultrual friendships with visiting Friends, please give now. Your support makes this life-enriching work possible.