How This Teaching Specialist Used Her Skills To Support Quality Education in Bolivia

Petra Barbu

Petra is a content marketer passionate about social enterprise, impact investing, and microfinance.

Laurie Greig has an astoundingly impressive resume: a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and over 45 years of experience in education, mental health care, and professional training & coaching. What sets her apart in her field is her undying passion for working with children and working to solve big problems. When Laurie wanted to take her experience and passion to an international level, she found a perfect match through MovingWorlds in UpClose Bolivia, a family-run, social impact organization working to protect local culture and customs. Laurie supported key initiatives, first developing teacher training in the Children’s Center in a nearby town, and consulting on program improvements for initiatives supporting children with special needs. Read on to learn more about a day in her life Experteering in Bolivia!

A rainbow seen from Laurie's back door.
A rainbow seen from Laurie’s back door.

What are you doing on your Experteering trip?

I have been working on a three-day teacher training on Montessori teaching methods for the Children’s Center in the next town, Mallasa. Bolivians believe in the Montessori teaching methods which I studied and taught many years ago. It’s been fun putting together a presentation on theory and philosophy as well as making a few materials for demonstrations. I will also give two 90 minute lectures on Montessori theory and methodology at the University of La Paz to the Education and Psychology departments in a few weeks.

The other lecture topic I have been assigned is on professor evaluation on the University level. It seems that there has been a trend of professors taking their student evaluations as criticism, so I am working to change this perception and help them grow from their evaluations. I hope to do more at the equine therapy center too, working to help kids with special needs.

What is a day-in-the-life?

It is pouring outside and I just ran out to pull my wash in from the line. Welcome to Bolivia: one minute sunny and hot, the next a huge rainstorm. The altitude here is about 13,500 and so far I have been doing quite well. Yesterday I walked to another town and it was probably 5 miles or so—the odd thing is going up a little hill and feeling my heart pound or being out of breath, but really mostly it’s a non-issue.

We do most of our own cooking, except on semi-frequent trips to La Paz, just a short half-hour bus ride away.

The home Laurie is currently staying in Bolivia.
The home Laurie is currently staying in Bolivia.

What do you have planned for Experteering trip?

I love the balance of work and play. The other volunteers here are from England, Switzerland, China, Finland, Italy. They are all lovely, independent travelers and in one week, two of the young women and I will venture to Copacabana and Lake Titicaca for a long weekend. This weekend I will go by myself to a town about 3-4 hour bus-ride away. It’s called Coroico and is the end of the Death Road bicycle trail, which I truthfully have no interest in riding. It is a 60 km. downhill ride, and the best part according to a friend who rode is that you get a t-shirt at the end! So be it, I don’t wear them much anyway. I think I will be able to do some hiking there and have time to explore the city. Later on my trip, I plan to explore the Amazon and the Salt Flats, which are, from what I understand, must-sees in Bolivia.

How would you describe Bolivia?

The Bolivians I have met are lovely, fairly shy in many ways, but also very open and kind. I have befriended two of the women in the little tiendas in the small town of Jupapina and I imagine they are about 20 years younger than me. I have spent two full days in the markets of La Paz which are a trip in and of themselves (one at El Alto at about 14,000 feet) and two different teleferico rides up from the base of the city to the edges.

Teacher training sessions at the pre-school.
Teacher training sessions at the pre-school.

What has been the highlight of this experience?

I am very grateful for this experience on so many levels. One of the most pronounced is the opportunity to slow down my lifestyle and be away from American news (although I do get snippets daily and it is clear how deeply the corruption and chaos continues there.) Bolivia is hard to explain, but if I had to try, it would be amazing and beautiful.

Join Laurie in making a difference by volunteering your teaching skills to support quality education internationally, and signing up for a membership with MovingWorlds.