I’m spoiled with the plethora of Bolivian restaurants, activities and events in the Washington DC metro area, which is the heart of the Bolivian community in the U.S. However, everything is so spread out as families continue to move to the south due to the insane housing prices and high cost of living. Unless you count Cecilia’s restaurant on Columbia Pike, the Bolivian community lacks a true center.
As of last month, my term began on the Board of Directors of the Escuela Bolivia, an Arlington-based organization that has the potential to be that center. This organization provides Saturday morning classes in English as a Second Language for immigrants, Spanish and Bolivian cultural lessons for their children, and Spanish classes for the wider community. The organization was formed partly to preserve some of the cultural traditions often lost as immigrant children grow up in the United States.
I am still rather new to the area and I am still learning my way through the nuances of this community. Besides knowing most of the Bolivian restaurants by heart and news gathered from Los Tiempos USA, I do not hold a vast knowledge of this community’s history.
A loosely related group of cultural organizations, small businesses and media outlets that cater to Bolivians provides this community with a link to their homelands. Yet, this lack of unifying force really emphasizes what is missing. That is where I see the Escuela’s vast potential for being this all inclusive organization. I may be actively taking over responsibility for the website, which could serve as a sort of virtual meeting place providing resources, links and up to date information for this community.
Yet, I am still puzzled by the large gap between recently arrived immigrants and Bolivian-Americans who may operate primarily in English. There has to be a way to bring those two groups together, by possibly providing lectures, Bolivian movie screenings, and other activities that cater to others like me (Bolivian-Americans). Any ideas?
Update: We are still looking for others in the area who are interested in serving on the Board. If you would like to be considered or would like more information, please email me: eduardo [at] barrioflores [dot] net
Update 2: I have been getting some really good emails from Bolivians in the area who share that they too would like to get involved in general with the community. Please write me an email or leave a comment, on what you would like to see in the community or what information would help you feel part of it all.