Monday, July 4, 2011

Stereotypes of Bolivia

Stereotypes of Bolivia
Adiva Sanjinez
The world is full of different stereotypes. There are stereotypes in every society, culture, and country. But what is a stereotype? Stereotypes are qualities assigned to groups of people related to their race, nationality and sexual orientation, to name a few; the problem is that sometimes when you generalize a group of people with stereotypes you can be discriminating them. Sometimes people have different ideas about foreign countries; those are stereotypes that can be good or bad. Many tourists who come for vacations to Bolivia, my country, are expecting to see all the stereotypes that they have heard. Some of the most degrading stereotypes, that I’m going to explain in the next paragraphs, are the reasons why people from other countries have wrong ideas about how the life of a Bolivian is.
First there is the stereotype of extreme poverty which is the most common one. A lot of people think that everyone in Bolivia endures extreme poverty. That’s not true, although there are a lot of poor communities in Bolivia, there are some people who have a lot of money. Take for example the southern part of La Paz. What do you see there? You can see a lot of beautiful and really big houses that a poor country couldn’t afford. You can also find some of the most expensive cars. So how is it possible to find these extravagant belongings if we are such a poor country? Every country endures poverty, but that does not mean that the whole country is poor.
Another stereotype is that all Bolivians are ignorant because of the low quality education. Maybe there are some schools and universities that have to improve their teaching, especially public schools. But there are some schools, for example San Ignacio, Montessori and German school that can compete with international schools. Also a lot of Bolivian students have been awarded scholarships or grants in some of the most important universities abroad and they have managed to be the best in their courses. For instance, Adrian Campero, a German school graduate, that is studying physics at Harvard University and is the president of Harvard Organization for Latin America. So not all Bolivians are ignorant, there are a lot of intelligent people who have done such important things, but no one remembers them because of this stereotype. There are some communities in Bolivia that don’t have good education but if we can change that our country could improve and more people would have the opportunity to succeed.
The last stereotype is about the sense of responsibility. People think that all Bolivians have problems with the sense of responsibility. Responsibility is a duty or obligation to satisfactorily perform or complete a task (assigned by someone, or created by one's own promise or circumstances) that one must fulfill, and which has a consequent penalty for failure. An example of why people think that Bolivians don’t take their responsibilities seriously is the tendency of being always late, that is known as “Bolivian schedule”. Another example is how Bolivians have the tendency of leaving everything for the last minute. That’s why they have a lot of problems managing their time. Finally, a lot of people don’t trust in a Bolivian’s word because they never do what they promise. But not all Bolivians are like that. I think that Bolivians are really hard-working. For example people who don’t have a lot of money have to work a lot of extra hours to support their family. Bolivians have to work a lot to be considered good workers internationally and in our own country because nobody believes that we could be good workers.
In conclusion, stereotypes like extreme poverty, ignorance and lack of education and finally the lack of sense of responsibility don’t help our country. It makes us look bad because not every person in Bolivia is like that. What people from other countries see is only the bad side of our country. If they could see how well educated and hard working we are, they would give us more opportunities. We have to find a way to eliminate these stereotypes and make people see us like a country that wants to improve and grow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Laura's essay

Analysing Stereotypes about Bolivia because they are usually not true!
Laura Suaznabar

Even if we don't have the opportunity to go to different countries or talk with people from these places, we can get information about them by using the internet, books, and media such as TVs. It’s very convenient and great to be able to get information about people who live in distant places from us. However, is the information really true? We have some stereotypes about foreign countries. Such stereotypes are not always true and cause confusion when understanding a country. I will show with examples that some stereotypes about Bolivia are not true.

Sometimes, foreign people think that in Bolivia everyone is indigenous. This is not really true despite the fact that Bolivian people have indigenous roots. There are 37 indigenous groups, but most people in Bolivia and Latin-American countries are “Mestizo”. Thus, the fact that someone can be considered indigenous in Bolivia is going to depend on the international concept on “being indigenous”, agreements, traditions, history and people's own decision.

Another stereotype is that in Bolivia,a developing country, no one knows about technology. That’s not true at all. In fact, globalization has taken the whole world and Bolivia is part of this phenomenon. Thus, most people know about the existence of technology, and they have access to it as well. Perhaps a little percentage of the population doesn’t know how to get access to it because they don’t care about it or they don’t need it. For example, in the rural area, people who live there just need basic things like water and electricity; they don’t need anything more because the idea of the “well living” doesn’t mean having I phones or notebooks, that’s just living in harmony with the Mother Earth.

The last stereotype that is important to mention is that in Bolivia, people always drink a lot. It is true that there are several Traditional Festivities in Bolivia, for instance, Carnaval, Gran Poder, University Fest, etc. However Bolivian people don’t drink more than people do in other countries. Indeed, the “Alcohol Culture” is a global phenomenon. That’s the heritage of the humanity.

When we communicate with foreign people, we should remove prejudices. And we should remember all people are different no matter where the person is from. It is definitively stupid to generalize situations or contexts in a country because all societies are different and have many facets. The misery, the abundance, the diversity are part of the Earth, as the beliefs, multiculturalism, and things in a way. The main point would be to discover them, sharing experiences or maybe looking for information directly from international friends or reliable sites. If someone can do that, it is logical to think that’s he or she is discovering the real world.

Mayra's essay

Stereotypes of Bolivia
Mayra Reynaga

When you mention Bolivia in other countries, they immediately relate you (a Bolivian) to indigenous people wearing traditional clothes without education and having fun all the time. I`ll show you with examples that Bolivia`s stereotypes are not right.

First, people think that all Bolivians are indigenous people. This is not totally true because even though we have indigenous ancestors and groups in Bolivia, they are not the only origins we have. In fact, there isn’t a 100% Bolivian indigenous people because de majority are mestizo. However, we still practice the indigenous traditions that are part of our life even though we have different life styles.

Second, all Bolivians always wear traditional clothes. Bolivia has a lot of cultures and everyone wears traditional clothes, but nowadays the majority of these cultures just wear these clothes for special days in order to give a sacred identity to this clothing, but we have an exception our famous “cholitas.” These women wear their traditional clothes every day because they are part of their life style and a symbol of culture and traditions. On the other hand, most Bolivians wear regular clothes like everyone else. In other words, we wear jeans, blouses, jackets, suits, etc, and we wear world fashions clothes too.

Finally, people say Bolivians love parties. On one hand Bolivia has a very rich culture and with this a lot of traditions and most of these traditions include a party like “prestes” or the Oruro`s Carnival so our parties are related to catholic religion that came with Spaniards. These parties have specific dates and not all Bolivians participate in them, so some parties are for certain groups or certain cities and these parties are just one day and in special cases like Oruro`s Carnival are three days.

In conclusion, all people have certain stereotypes about other people because of the information that we have about them, and the things that you mostly remember are the bad things. But we must remember that all people have good and special things and we have to try to see these and understand their life style.

Pablo's essay

Stereotypes
Pablo Porcel

In the last years Bolivia has become more and more “popular” to other countries and the public sphere around the planet. This has generated a more complex opinion about Bolivian people. This includes a lot of stereotypes that are not at all true.

The first one and, I think, the worse is that foreign people think that Bolivian people are drug dealers. It might be true that Bolivians love coca leaf, but they do as a cultural heritage. The coca leaf was considered to be sacred in the past, precisely in the Inca period. In fact, most people don’t have access to drugs. Most cocaine is exported to other countries that do consume a lot of drugs, and also there is a lot of propaganda that prevents drug consuming here. Therefore, people here have a really small market for drugs which is good for the government’s image.

Another stereotype related to drug dealing is corruption. Maybe because of the last cases of police officers taking drugs to Brazil, you might think everyone in Bolivia is corrupt. This is another lie because of the great religious influence on low class people’s moral grounds. Most of the population knows that doing the right thing is the best way to help our country and themselves. Most politicians in the world are corrupt, this is known by society and it’s reflected in movies. However, this does not mean that the whole world is corrupt, the same happens with Bolivia, and the local politicians, they are corrupt, but this does not mean that the rest of the population is corrupt too.

Poverty is also another lie. Bolivia is not such a poor country. The real problem is that the money is not properly distributed as it is in other countries. I have a friend, who owns the importation rights for any famous car brands here in Bolivia, like Mercedes Benz, Honda, Porsche, etc. when he decided to get the rights for Porsche, the owners were concerned about the market in a developing country like Bolivia. They questioned him if it was really a good business for them, and they took a leap of faith. After the first month they were amazed, they explained that Bolivia had had more cars sold in the first month than Chile, Argentina, Peru and Colombia did in their first month, so Bolivia is not a country full of poor people after all.

Stereotypes sometimes can help you understand a culture, but in no society, in no country, and in no place, people are the same. One quality of mankind is that every person is different, stereotypes also generate prejudice and prejudice generates racism.

Andrea's essay

Stereotypes of Bolivia
Carla Andrea MontaƱo R.

The fact that we don’t know many countries affects the stereotypes we have of them. Also we have stereotypes of everyone we meet for the first time, and even more if that person is from another country because he/she comes from a different culture, and had other customs and behavior. These stereotypes sometimes can affect the way other people treat you. I’ll show this with stereotypes of Bolivian people.

Long time ago in the area of Bolivia and part of Peru there were the Incas and other tribes. They had dark skin, and all Bolivians have these genes because they are our ancestors. That’s the main reason so that most of Bolivians have different dark skin tones. But those genes of dark skin aren’t the unique so with all the colonization everyone is “mestizo”, that means that no one has pure Inca blood because we also have Spanish, American, Peru’s blood and genes of other countries.

Nowadays Bolivia has a native president: Evo Morales. This might make people think that all Bolivians are like him. It’s true that there are people who are like the president, most of these people work in the rural area, but there are also people who have more academic preparation and different physical traits.

Before television became a part of the mass media, people in other countries used to think that in Bolivia there were just houses made out of “adobe” and that we didn’t have a comfortable life. For example, in schools when some student came in exchange, they used to bring with them all the things that are of daily use because their parents used to think that here in Bolivia there weren’t stores that sold those kinds of things. After they arrived in Bolivia, they realized that our reality was very different than the reality they created about us. However, this stereotype isn’t considered so important anymore because the media shows how the cities are actually here in Bolivia. In the rural area there are houses made out of “adobe” and the reason that other countries thought that of us was that there were pictures of houses made out of adobe in postcards of Bolivia.

In conclusion, the reality can be very different from the stereotypes we have of other people. Bolivia is a developing country but has many comforts and beautiful places to visit and isn’t always in the rural areas. The globalization has broken many stereotypes but created others too. We can see how a picture can affect someone who doesn’t know us.

Kinno's essay

BOLIVIAN STEREOTYPES
Pareja M. Kinno I.
In our current times, many countries are being demeaned by many critics. And almost all of those comments are not based on good things that countries have. If you want to criticize countries and people living there, you must spend some time living among them. Our country is one of those countries because foreign people have a wrong idea about Bolivia. They have heard things from persons who have had a bad experience in our country, or they have watched us in news. Whatever you think, those things might be partially right, but you shouldn’t believe all the news; in fact, you should be open-minded. I will show you that not all those things are true.
A thing that everybody believes is that we are violent. It might be partially right, but you have to consider that we are a developing country and like anyone in our situation, we have a lot of conflicts because we are trying to improve. If you believe we are ignorant or we are not smart, don’t say that. There are several schools, universities and like anywhere else you can think that some of them are better than others, but our standards of education are better than ever and we are improving day by day in order to solve our conflicts the best way we can.
The most interesting stereotype that I’ve heard and I’m sure you know, is that all of us are indigenous like our president and therefore not attractive. You shouldn’t believe that we are not attractive or that we all have the same tanned-skin and physical traits. Well, this is the funniest stereotype, because people might be considered attractive or not, depending on the perspective you have. Even you might not be the most attractive person in the world according to others’ standards. You have to know that like other countries, our country has many indigenous groups. We got 80 ethnic groups more or less, but our whole country is not indigenous. As all South American countries, we have a “mestizo” population.
Another point that we completely disagree is that foreign people think we are not hard-working or skilful. People say that we just want to earn enough money to live. Well, the thing is that we do all the jobs that we can because our country is a developing country and the incomes that we can earn, are for our families. We get all kinds of works that we can do because our skills are our best resources. And our skills are used to do things like crafts, sculpture, painting, etc. Whether we know how to do something or not, we do our best to figure it out. Even if we don’t know how to do it, we can learn fast like anyone who uses his whole skills to improve in his life.
Nowadays, we should consider that there are a lot of Bolivians in any countries like the United States and Spain. These immigrants might be an example for those countries. They were good or bad, but foreign people can’t think that all of us are the same and you should meet us before getting a wrong idea about us. I’ve explained some points and arguments that refute some stereotypes, which are partially right. Sadly the stereotypes follow us like a shadow, there is no country without stereotypes. And we should know that people are just different.

Carolina's essay

STEREOTYPES OF BOLIVIA
Carolina Medeiros

Most people in other countries don’t know much about Bolivia. They know something about Aymara culture and they think it’s the only one that exists in Bolivia. When international reporters talk about Bolivia, they often announce news related to cocaine and some people think it is our unique production. Many migrants have gone to other countries and many people, who know them, think everybody is poor and untidy in our country.

For many years, several television documentaries, photo books and postcards have showed to the world some features of the Aymara culture: their music, their dances, and their physical traits. Also some very important cities like Potosi at colonialism age, or La Paz, the administrative capital, are in the altiplanic area. This information led foreign people to think that Bolivians are all indigenous people; however, in our country there are many different cultures and many mestizo people. There are various geographical regions with climatic diversity that generates diversity of culture, for example Guaranies or MojeƱos who live in Santa Cruz and Beni. When I was young I used to live in Argentina and people who I met never guessed that I was Bolivian because I’m tall and not dark skinned. They used to say I looked like Spanish people. Often had I to explain that in my country, as in other American countries, there was a lot of migration causing different types of people.

In recent years, many migrants have been going to countries such as Argentina hoping to improve their living conditions or to have a job. Paula, an Argentine friend who works in a kindergarten that helps low-income people in Buenos Aires, told me that Bolivian migrants are hard working people, but they are untidy, and they are not that smart because they don’t care about their living conditions. They usually work for many hours and even on weekends. When I was there, many classmates asked me why Bolivian people didn’t understand very well what other people told them. They thought it was about malnutrition or something related to this. I had to explain that the real reason is that Spanish is not their first language. In my country we have about 36 different languages and even if people mainly speak Spanish, the largely indigenous and mestizo people speak Quechua or Aymara which are their mother tongues. In general, these are the people who migrate to Argentina. In Bolivia, there are smart and not educated people like anywhere else

People think La Paz is like Amsterdam because everybody can buy drugs easily because there are drugs dealers everywhere. That’s a common stereotype about Bolivia due the fact that world news often report about seized drug scandals. These are a few examples: “Bolivia raids 'huge cocaine lab' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas Monday, 6 July 2009 00:31 UK.) “Cocaine production rise spells trouble for Bolivia” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news 16 June 2010) Former head of Bolivia's drugs police is sent to U.S. to face cocaine trafficking charge http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ . At the airports we have to stay in a long line and police officers watch us carefully. Some Bolivian people think that coca leaf is important to their tradition, that’s why they fight to the right to grow coca plants. Evo Morales, the president said the famous sentence; "yes to coca, no to cocaine" because coca leaf is used for traditional rituals and as really good medicine for high altitude illnesses, stomach aches and headaches, too. In addition coca leaves have been found with ancient mummies in Peru and for many centuries indigenous people have been used chewing leaves because they give them strength and energy. What can I tell you about? I never saw cocaine and I don’t like coca tea.

In Bolivia there are many different cultures, some are in the Andean Plateau area, others are in the rain forest, and many others are in valleys areas. People from all these regions wear different kinds of clothing, eat different food, and they even have different beliefs, but in general, people who live in big cities like La Paz or Santa Cruz look like the people who live in other big cities. They are knowledgeable about technology. They have I- pods, Internet, wear T shirts and jeans, listen to the music that is on around the world, etc. As elsewhere, there are decent people, and other ones who are not. If you are really interested in a country I invite you to get to know it better because you will enjoy it much more.