We have recently finished a unit with the grade 11 and 12’s on the topic of Politics. We spent time talking and learning about different forms of government and focused on viewing things in the context of scripture and a Christian Worldview. It was an interesting time.
As part of an assignment that was an attempt to have students bridge the gap between head knowledge and application by interaction with government, the grade 12’s had to write a letter to the government. It could be the Bolivian government or from their home country and had to be on the topic of a social issue and a suggested response based on a Christian Worldview.
I have not finished marking all the papers, but have noticed a pattern that surprised me a bit. First, I should tell you that at different times I have had random conversations with students during my time here about the current president and have usually been surprised at the negative thoughts that seem to exist about him. I know that there is no perfect leader. I had also studied a bit about this president back in 2010 when I came here for the month. So I have a bit of insight and feel he has done some very positive things for the poor in Bolivia. Of course, he has also done some things either in a questionable manner or that hasn’t seemed so helpful.
My surprise in the papers is that some are upset because he seems to be giving preferential treatment to the poor. Yup, you read that right. I know these are high school students, but my sense is that they are repeating some of what they have heard about how the government runs. I know there needs to be balance of some sort to grow the over all economy of a country, thus benefiting everyone. However, it seemed odd to me that the biggest social problem in the country that some of these teens felt needed to be addressed, was the inequality of treatment between the poor and rich in Bolivia.
I encourage people to read a great book about the history of Latin America. It is called Open Veins of Latin America and is a great history book that reads like a novel. It includes so much more than just Bolivia and gives a great inside view of the history of Latin America from the perspective of someone who has lived and grown up here.
I have learned so many things about this cournty and its people through that book and my experiences here. Del Tacket says in the Truth Project that we understand the present when we know the past (paraphrased). When we have a firm understanding of the past events and history of this beautiful country we gather a better understanding of why people like the government act or respond the way they do. While I do not agree with everything that this government has done, based on my understanding of the history of this country, I feel they have done a lot of great things.
As a teacher in this country, I am continually being surprised.
As a side note, I hope that one day when people look back over my life, I too would be accused of spending too much time with the poor around us.
Next chapter? Economics. This is going to be fun.