Community Service Component Makes UAC-CP Unique
You won’t find this on every college campus! The first week of the second semester at the UAC-CP was a bit different than some. A large number of students hadn’t been able to make it to campus due to a mudslide on the highway between Coroico and Caranavi (one must travel through Coroico to get to the UAC-CP). So a one day “el comunitario” turned out to be a full week while the start of classes was delayed and students who had arrived were kept engaged.
Comunitario is like work study in the U.S. – but instead of lowering their own fees, in Carmen Pampa it helps keep fees and tuition low for all students. This compliments the “common good” philosophy the school was founded on and still operates within.
All students are required to do 80 hours of comunitario each semester – the equivalent of 4 hours per week. Once per month, there is a school-wide comunitario for students to do maintenance and cleaning. That was what was initially planned before the mudslide.
Instead, Monday through Friday the week of February 4th, one could see groups of students working around campus and the broader community. All of the school gardens were tended. Grass along the road between the upper and lower campus was cut. Narrow “short cut” paths that shave off steps on the curvy road between campuses were widened into super-highways. Ditches were cleaned so the extra rainy season water had somewhere to flow other than the muddy road. Repairs were made to the muddiest section of the roads. And that was just the activities one could observe outside. I’m sure there was inside cleaning and maintenance tasks I didn’t observe, as well.
The day was capably orchestrated by Carlos Fernandez, the campus operations director. Carlos could be seen organizing groups of students throughout the day, offering words of encouragement and working alongside them. Sometimes there were other school staff working alongside the students. I chatted with Señor Donato, an elderly community member and former UAC-CP staff, who was wielding a shovel to even out the muddy road. Sometimes one of the students seemed to be supervising their group.
I was most impressed with the machete wielding skills of students, their consistent and hard work despite the 75+ sunny weather and the happy chatter that was taking place among them. Here’s a short video of students clearing the ditch area with their machetes.
This blog post was written by UAC-CP volunteer Barb Jeanetta. A former CPF board member, Barb is spending a 3-month sabbatical from her work as executive director at Alliance Housing in the Twin Cities, to volunteer at the College in Carmen Pampa, Bolivia.