COVID Concerns

The Coronavirus has impacted Bolivia and our clients dramatically, just like everyone here in the United States. Before the pandemic began, Bolivia was already in the midst of an economic crisis from the presidential elections in 2019, so their government had already been unstable. So, when the virus came around in 2020, those economic issues had not been fully resolved. Bolivia did act in a timely fashion against the virus, but unfortunately like most of the world, were unable to control it. The growth in cases became impossible to stop, and ultimately the healthcare system could not handle all the cases. This led to a lockdown, similar to what was happening here in the United States. Many people in Bolivia lost their jobs, which resulted in a loss of income. 

The Coronavirus has affected our clients in many different ways. To start, Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. With this being said they do not have the same level of stability that we do here in the United States. Their healthcare is not as strong, so they did not have as many resources as we have here in the United States (even though the US handled the virus poorly). We are coming to a turning point in the pandemic, as a few million Americans are receiving their vaccine doses each day, showing that there is an end in sight. Unfortunately in Bolivia, they are behind on the vaccine rollout, due to the lack of resources.  But, as of March 21 they had received 228,000 doses, giving Bolivians hope that the end is near and things will start to get back to normal in the near future. 

The effects of the pandemic have been horrible to everyone, especially our client, CEOLI. Unfortunately, the pandemic really affected our client. They were so close to becoming financially independent around the time COVID hit. Now, with the pandemic they were forced to pause what services they could offer to their students, because groups of people could not gather in large groups. CEOLI has a lot of services that require hands on learning, and offer different forms of therapy to benefit their students. Because of COVID, CEOLI was unable to offer their in person services to their students. They had to move to an online platform which was less effective for the students, because they relied on these therapies to help them in their everyday lives. This was obviously a huge burden for this non profit organization. Also, if students needed in person therapies, there would be no more group therapy sessions, so less students were receiving the services they needed. Because of this, all of the volunteers who worked for CEOLI were unable to come back to help out because the organization needed to keep a small closed list of people who were going to be in and out of the facility for contact tracing reasons. This obviously put a strain on the organization because the volunteers did so much to benefit the students. 

I think both countries Bolivia and the United States were impacted to similar degrees, but since the United States is so much bigger, we were affected much worse, as we are considered the ‘Hot Spot” for this extremely contagious virus. But, with the United States having so many more resources, and with technology advancing, they will most likely get out of the pandemic sooner. 

COVID has definitely impacted our project. Since art show’s are usually in person events, we have had to pivot to plan an art show virtually. With this comes many challenges such as what platform to hold the event on, along with having events that will keep the audience engaged in a virtual setting. Because of COVID, we have to market the art show through social media, which we would have done anyway, but we need to do more of it so that we can raise awareness and engagement. We are planning giveaways to build an online presence to market the art show, so that more people are aware of the event and aware of the services CEOLI offers. By raising more awareness we hope to increase revenues through the sales of CEOLI Cards. Also, because of COVID we are unable to visit CEOLI, so we as a team are missing out on the opportunity of having in person interaction where we really would have learned about the organization while interacting with the students. Therefore, our project definitely has impacted ourselves and our clients since COVID has started.

Working virtually has impacted our work so far in a few instances. To start I definitely needed to hold myself accountable when doing my work and meeting deadlines. When you are in a virtual setting it is very easy to get distracted, so just staying on top of my work has been a priority. Also, since many members on my team did not know each other, we really had to take time to get to know one another, which is extremely challenging over zoom. We would take a few minutes before each meeting to just catch up and have a conversation with one another so that we could build a relationship between ourselves, and ultimately build a relationship between our clients. Building relationships over zoom was a challenge, but I think talking in the beginning to break the ice definitely made the challenge easier.  

  Cross-culturally, we truly did our best to understand their culture, and they did help us further our knowledge about Bolivian culture. I really loved when we had classes where we were learning about Bolivia and learning Bolivian dances as well. When we had a class just for learning to dance, it was a surprise, but was very beneficial and fun, This was a perk that was very unexpected. It definitely gave my group a better understanding of the Bolivian values without having to research, because we were learning this information first hand. While there definitely was a gap cross-culturally, everyone truly did their best and gave us many opportunities where we could strengthen our knowledge and just learn more about CEOLI and Bolivia, 

Also, the art show group was fortunate enough to meet Ariel on a zoom call. Ariel gave us more insight on CEOLI, and explained to us how he has been involved throughout the years. We also just talked to him to get to know him better which was very beneficial. Having the opportunity to just hop on a zoom call and talk to someone who lives in another country is so beneficial, and with technology becoming more and more prevalent since COVID 19, it is making communication much easier. For instance, this call with Ariel would not have taken place if COVID 19 had not existed, because before COVID I didn’t even know what zoom was. Obviously we have to adapt, and I feel like both my group and those at CEOLI are adapting well to these circumstances. 

There were also many positives to take away from this project. Being in a virtual world has definitely led to some challenges, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. Being able to get a better understanding of the cultural differences has been something I was looking forward to during this project. This project gave me a whole new perspective when dealing with clients in other countries. My cultural awareness was strengthened as well as my ability to communicate on a team. Also, from this pandemic I have learned to be flexible. Being flexible and able to adapt is a trait that will stay with me for the rest of this project, and throughout the rest of my life. I hope to work on more international projects in the future, and by having this experience, I was given an opportunity to really understand and embrace the opportunity and challenges that were presented to me.