Outbound Rotary Youth Exchange Update from Brock Bastian 


Hey, everybody.  My Bolivian adventure (senior year in high school as a Rotary Youth Exchange student) continues!  I am really enjoying myself, and it is hard to believe that I have already been here for a month.  Only 8 months left!


I'm not exactly sure where to start with my newest undertaking.  You all know that I am part of the school marching band playing bass drum.  Well, I am now also a part of the school choir.  I have this music class, and the teacher was like "You need to learn an instrument, or at least start, in order to get a grade, or you could join the choir."  When he added that "if we audition well enough, the choir gets to go to Sucre, the capital of Bolivia," well, I was sold on the idea of joining the choir.  So I joined!!  The next day we went to a theater and performed in front of some 200 people.  The songs are all in Spanish, so I mostly lip-synced since you have to memorize the songs, but I could remember some parts/words of the songs, so I am learning.  This performance evidently wasn't the actual audition for Sucre, but it was still a big deal.  I believe that the audition is next week, so it gives me time to learn and memorize songs.  By the way, I am part of the bass section of the choir.


On my first day of Chemistry class here, I took a test on halogens, which consisted of having to read a passage about halogens in Spanish, and then answer the questions.  We got our test back this week, and I got the highest score in the class!  I got a 54/60, making me the only one in the class to get an "A".  I guess I can thank my great Chemistry teacher from Oak Ridge, Mrs. Kauffman, for teaching me well!


I'm pretty sure I've addressed the altitude of where I live here in Bolivia in previous e-mails, but I'll do it here again anyway.  So the elevation in Oruro is about 12,200 feet.  Where I live in the great and best state of California (sorry to those not living in California), I reside at about 750 feet elevation, so there is quite a difference in the two locations.  When I am running around in Bolivia and playing soccer, I do feel a difference, but not that much.  I guess I can thank my great dad for that, as he has given me the opportunity to climb about 10 of the tallest mountains in the United States (some multiple times), all over 12,000 feet, so I am used to high altitude.  One thing that I have noticed is that I think the altitude affects me in my sleep. This is just a theory, but it seems pretty logical that when I am sleeping, my body has to try extra hard to get the necessary air to breathe.  Since sleep breathing is slower and more calm that awake breathing, I think my body has to work harder at night to get more air.  As a result, I am always tired in the morning.  It has gotten better over the weeks, but I'm not always at the energy level I would like to be.


The last thing to write about is that I am officially the only child in the house here.  That sounds really weird as I am the 4th of 8 children in my real family, and I have and never will be an "only child" again.  Fabiana and Javier have both gone back to Cochabamba to the university, and David, who is my age, is now in Canada for his Rotary Youth Exchange.  Unless I come back and visit Oruro (which I think I will), I will never see David again.  He will be in Canada for 11 months, and I'll be gone by the time he gets back.  I do look forward to talking to him on Skype in fluent Spanish, and he to me in fluent English.  His flight was supposed to leave at 10 PM on Friday, but his flight got delayed for like 5 hours, so everything got pushed back.  Instead of arriving in Canada at 7:00 PM local time on Saturday, he arrived at 1:00 AM to Canada.  Since his host family (or for that matter anybody in his little town) doesn't speak Spanish, I had to write e-mails for David's parents in English to David's Canadian family. 


I had been telling David about how he was going to live and what it would be like, but it was only from my "Californian life" perspective . . . and I'd bet my life there are some cultural differences between California and Canada!!!  I just hope that I didn't give him too much inaccurate information!  However, I did make sure to tell him how to pronounce "Nike" correctly.  Spanish-speaking people, both in Bolivia and in Spain, pronounce "Nike" like we pronounce "Mike."  The first time in Spain that someone started talking to me about "Nike" shoes, I had no idea what they were talking about.  So I made sure that David knows how to say "Nike" in English, so that the Canadians will know what he is talking about!!


That's it for this week.  I am writing this e-mail in a computer class that I have, in which we do absolutely nothing, so at the moment I don't have access to download photos.  I'll send out another e-mail in a bit with photos if I can.


Besos to everyone,