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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

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Overseas Phone Call from Bolivia

Peace Corps Volunteer Joe Stevens talks with Ada Elementary School in Michigan

Once a year, a few Peace Corps Volunteers get to talk by telephone with U.S. classrooms they've been communicating with through the Correspondence Match program. We've recorded some of these conversations. Today, Ada Elementary School in Ada, Michigan speaks to Joe, a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in Bolivia.

Ron Tsechetter
Hi. I'm Ron Tschetter, Director of the Peace Corps. For more than 45 years, the Peace Corps has helped communities around the world. Volunteer Voices is a collection of audio stories from just a few volunteers who have served since 1961. For more information on the Peace Corps, go to peacecorps.gov.

Narrator
Once a year, a few Peace Corps Volunteers get to talk by telephone with U.S. classrooms they've been communicating with through the Correspondence Match program. We've recorded some of these conversations. Today, Ada Elementary School in Ada, Michigan speaks to Joe, a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in Bolivia.

Joe
My name's Joe Stevens; I'm the son of your teacher Mrs. Stevens. I'm a volunteer here in Bolivia. I work in tourism and micro-enterprise development in businesses. How's everything in Michigan?

Students
(Cheer in unison) Good!

Student 1
Hi. I'm Abbey. What kind of games or sports do you have there?

Joe
Everyone plays soccer. Soccer is extremely popular. Every Sunday in my town there's a soccer league. There's four neighborhoods in my town, and the four neighborhoods play each other in the league. Girls and boys all play. Girls play basketball, but guys hardly play basketball at all. Volleyball is played a lot by both guys and girls, and that's about it. There's no baseball or football.

Student 2
What about lacrosse?

Joe
Lacrosse, either.

Student 3
I'm Andrew. And can you see the Andes Mountains from your house?

Joe
No. I'm about 1, 500 miles from the Andes Mountains. Very far away. I live kind of by the Brazilian border. Where I live it's very, very low, and it's all swamps and jungles.

Student 4
Can you pick your food off a tree?

Joe
(Laughs) Yes. In my backyard I have mangoes, a mango tree; I have a papaya tree; I have a fruit called chirimoyo, which you've probably never had before. It's called a custard apple in English. I also have bananas, avocados.

Teacher
So do you make guacamole?

Joe
I made guacamole the other night.

Teacher
Really?

Joe
We're in the middle of avocado season right now. During mango season, there's hundreds of mangos that are in the trees all around because everyone has mango trees. I eat six or seven mangoes a day in mango season.

Teacher
I'm just going to do a quick survey here. How many of you have eaten a mango? Raise your hand. Oh, you have? Cool. How about a papaya? Okay. Less people have tried papaya. (Laughs)

Okay. So you're eating pretty good, would you say? I mean, you're not dissatisfied with your food?

Joe
I eat really well. In my town I can get beef and chicken fairly regularly. If I catch fish, I can eat fish, and a lot of people go hunting and eat animals that they hunt. People go hunting for armadillo, deer...what else?

Mrs. Stevens
A silence fell over the crowd. (Laughs)
Teacher
A silence fell over the crowd. (Laughs)

Joe
Tapir? Lots of different things. They go fishing a lot, too.

Joe Stevens
Tapir? Lots of different things. They go fishing a lot, too.
Teacher
Have you ever eaten a guinea pig? (Students laugh and whisper)

Mrs. Stevens
Have you ever eaten a guinea pig? (Students laugh and whisper)
Joe Stevens
(Laughs) I have eaten a guinea pig. (Students laugh) In my area they don't eat guinea pig hardly at all. But in the mountains?in the Andes ?yeah. It's raised as a food to eat.
Joe
(Laughs) I have eaten a guinea pig. (Students laugh) In my area they don't eat guinea pig hardly at all. But in the mountains? In the Andes? Yeah. It's raised as a food to eat.

Teacher
Is it bigger than what we would think of as a typical guinea pig?

Mrs. Stevens
Is it bigger than what we would think of as a typical guinea pig?
Joe
Nope, it's exactly the same. It's a guinea pig.

Student 5
I'm Ethan and I was wondering, do you see any tree frogs?

Joe Stevens
Yeah, there are tons of tree frogs. They come into my room, and they eat all the bugs. There are also little lizards. They're all over the walls. They eat bugs, too. They're probably three or four inches long, and they run up and down the walls and on the ceilings. The ones I've seen have mostly been different shades of green and brown. No crazy neon colors or anything.
Teacher
What kind of lizards are they that come in your room?

Joe
Their name in Spanish is largatio. They don't change color. They're not chameleons or anything like that. They're just normal little house lizards.

Student 6
Hi. I'm Vanessa.

Joe
Hi, Vanessa.

Vanessa
What is your favorite kind of food?
Joe Stevens
My favorite kind of Bolivian food is yucca with rice with cheese in it. They make a cheesy rice that's delicious here, and they eat a lot of beef on the grill. So I think that's my favorite Bolivian food.
Student 7
Do you know about the ancient ruins?
Joe Stevens
Yeah! There's lots of ancient ruins all over Bolivia. In the Andes, there's lot of ruins from the Incan people. They left a lot of pottery all around, a lot of statues. Recently I was in a small town in Cochabamba, and we went and found painted pottery from thousands of years ago that had been broken and shattered on the ground and just laying around. We also found stone tools and stones that had been used for grinding corn and other grains.
Mrs. Stevens
Are you allowed to collect that stuff, or do they put it in museums, or what?
Joe Stevens
There's really no rules regarding that, but you shouldn't take things from archaeological sites. My friend who's working in that area was working to keep it from the people.
Mrs. Stevens
Okay. How about places like Machu Picchu with the steps? That's what we were looking at in the books?all those stone structures. Have you been places like that?
Joe Stevens
The place where I was at recently had steps like that and rock paintings, but Machu Picchu is kind of the only place in South America where something like that, to that level, has been discovered. Mostly because Machu Picchu wasn't discovered until the 1950s or 1940s, and most places had been discovered before that and kind of destroyed by the people who discovered them.
Student 8
Does it ever snow there?
Joe Stevens
Where I live, it has never snowed. But in the mountains, it snows a lot, right at the top of the mountains. There used to be a ski resort near La Paz, but it's melting.
Student 9
What's your favorite thing about Bolivia?
Joe Stevens
My favorite thing about Bolivia would either be the nature. It's all beautiful here. Everything's green and beautiful. And there's beautiful mountains and trees and everything like that, lakes and rivers, and everything. Another thing I really like are the people. The people are very nice, and they share, and they just are really fun to be around.
Mrs. Stevens
So they've treated you very well?
Joe Stevens
They've treated me great. I have a lot of people that treat me like I'm one of their family.
Mrs. Stevens
Say bye, everyone.
Class
Bye! (In unison)
Joe Stevens
Bye, Mrs. Stevens's class!
Close
Thanks for listening. Are you in a classroom? Do you want stories written just for your class? Enroll in the Correspondence Match Program in Coverdell World Wise Schools. We can connect your class with a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in any region of the world. For enrollment and program information, visit us online at www.peacecorps.gov/wws/correspond.

About the Author

Joe Stevens

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia, Joe Stevens worked in tourism and micro-enterprise development in businesses.