ICYE Bolivia/ Intercambio Cultural International de Jovenes (ICIJ Bolivia)
ICYE Bolivia was founded in 1964 and is a non profit, non-governmental organization, formed under the guidance of the Methodist church. The National Office was established first in Cochabamba and the exchange program began initially with the United States of America.
In 1975 the National Office was moved to La Paz and a team of young people took on the responsibility of the program and offered all Bolivians the opportunity to live and work abroad for one year. ICYE Bolivia is now run by a dedicated team of volunteers, staff and former exchanges who have benefited from their experiences throughout the world. ICYE BOLIVIA works in 4 regions; La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Sucre.
The main goals of ICYE Bolivia are to integrate different social classes and to raise the consciousness of young Bolivians – encouraging them to value cultural traditions which have been forgotten or ignored. It aims to give people from all backgrounds the opportunity to be involved in cultures which are different from their own and believes that this understanding and tolerance of different cultures contributes to world peace.
Bolivia has a population of over 10 million people. It is divided into nine Departments: Pando, Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Potosí, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, Tarija, and Beni. Their corresponding capital cities are: Cobija, Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Potosí, Santa Cruz, Sucre, Tarija, and Trinidad.
Bolivia remains the poorest country in South America, in part, due to high corruption levels; furthermore, critics often point out the imperialist role of foreign powers in the country since the “discovery of America”. The country is rich, however, in natural resources, and has been called a “donkey sitting on a gold mine” because of this. Apart from Potosi’s famous mines, which were known by the Incas and later exploited by the Spaniards, Bolivia owns the second largest natural gas field in South America after Venezuela. Furthermore, El Mutún in the Santa Cruz department represents 70% of the world’s iron and magnesium.
Bolivia offers you great variety; from the highlands to the tropics. Adventure tourism is widely promoted – including mountain biking, salt flat tours and jungle expeditions. Culture is rich in Bolivia and is present everywhere from food and customs, to handcrafts and music. People are friendly and eager to make a good impression on tourists and a great aspect of Bolivia is that prices might be cheaper than what you expected!
In Bolivia you can volunteer in the areas of Youth Work, Education, Community Development, Disability Support, Human Rights, Women’s Empowerment, Environmental Conservation.
Read our volunteer case studies to find out more.