Why South America? (1)

I am going to use our waiting time in Madrid to give some background information about our visit to South America.

In 2001 – I was working as a lecturer in computer science at Utrecht University – there was a project of the Dutch government to improve the teaching of mathematics and computer science in Bolivian universities. The project was called ‘Mejoramiento de la Enseñanza en las Matematicas y la Informatica’ in Spanish, abbreviated MEMI (improvement of teaching in mathematics and computer science).

Our institute had the computer science part and students from Bolivia came to us to study and to have their PhD. Also lectures from the institute went to Bolivia to give classes for a couple of weeks. And so I was also asked to go there to lecture for some time.

[The writing of this post was interrupted by a lot of activities, so I am now continuing on July 14, 2018.]

Cary and I were then in Bolivia for 5 weeks: two weeks classes in Cochabamba, one week vacation, amongst others in Potosi and Sucre, and two weeks classes in Santa Cruz. The consequence of this was that we lost our heart to Bolivia.

Because I did not know Spanish and many students in Bolivia did not know English, the teaching had to be done with a translator. In Cochabamba we had a great translater; he was a computer science person himself, and he was also an English teacher. But in Santa Cruz we had a translater who was good in English, but she did not know computer science. Therefore at times she did not know how to translate the computer science terms. Fortunately some students knew English and could help her out.

A problem in Santa Cruz was that nobody from the staff could speak English. So at all the conversations with the staff we needed the translator.

Still everything went well and this was an unforgettable time for us. It became the foundation for our contacts with South America.

(To be continued.)