Bolivian bloggers

The World

This is a poor suburb of La Paz, it’s an indigenous Aymada community known for its political activism and recurring protests. The suburb is also full of young people, which explains why it has so many internet cafes. This one located on a busy strip near the airport is appropriately called Airport Stations. Internet cafes like this one are where people go to do the usual things: check email, instant message with friends, or play videogames. But today there’s a special workshop going on at Airport Station and it’s only open to prospective bloggers. A dozen young people face their computers. This man, a blogger himself, gives them some instruction on how to get started. The man is part of a team called Bolivian Voices. They’re a group of experienced bloggers who are introducing blogging to some of Bolivia’s underrepresented groups, mainly young people, women and the Aymada. The project started in this suburb last fall. The man says he knew very little about blogs when he started writing a couple of years ago. Then he read a newspaper article called �The Blogging Revolution,� and he realized he could use the web to self-publish his opinions and observations. At the time he was one of only a couple of bloggers in the suburb. It’s a place, he says, that’s widely misunderstood, �From the outside, this suburb seems to be a place where only revolutions, social movements and protests take place. I wanted to change that image. There are definitely more things going on in this suburb, it’s an important city. And yet it’s got very little representation in the media.� One of the bloggers he is training at this workshop is this woman, she’s a linguistics student at the suburb’s public university. she tells me that a couple of months ago, she knew nothing about blogs and she says she was skeptical when she saw an advertisement for the Bolivian Voices workshop, �When I first heard about this workshop, I thought it was a lie: they didn’t give a place or a time. Then I had an interview with the group’s leader in a coffeeshop like this one. You know there are many scams to get young girls like me into the wrong things, so I was a little afraid. Then I realized it was only about blogs.� Now she hangs out at internet cafes for hours at a time and she updates her blog almost every day. The group’s leader calls her blog, �Ideas Come First.� She writes about everyday things like what she’s learning at school. She also discusses old Aymada traditions practiced by her family. That’s the woman speaking her native Aymada. Actually the woman blogs in both Aymada and Spanish. She says she often hears from readers; they tell her they’re happy to find a young Aymada girl like her writing on the web. And that’s exactly the kind of reaction Bolivian Voices is trying to foster. They plan to expand their blogging training program to other parts of the country next month.

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