From Friday 26 of June to Saturday 4 of July, 2009
FGC was a great lesson to learn. I learnt that I must make sure about my registration. My expense was around $700.00. This was not paid for me yet, when I arrived there, because I had misinformation. So, Hellen from Poplar Ridge-NY had to think for me, how to solve my problem. It was amazing how she got quickly my registration. I got a week work with the Juniors Gathering. They paid for me $350.00 as scholarship. And the rest amount Geoff Garver paid with his credit card. That`s why I applied to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, IOGG committee. And thank you very much for this big support for my attendance to FGC. I came from Bolivia with an exchange program for Quaker teachers between USA and Bolivia through QBEF (Bolivian Quaker Education Fund). I spent whole school year 2008-2009 at Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, NY. Before the FGC Gathering I attended to an AVP (Alternative Violence Project) workshop in a prison of Auburn- New York. It was my first time there in a place like that. I met really good persons (inmates) who are encouraged themselves in order to continue in the life. A guy from Jamaica wrote and sang a rap song for me, that was my favorite time. Personally, I think my FGC experience became very interesting and very nice experience at all. In the mornings I worked with the kids as assistant. They were amazing kids ever. Bob and his wife leaded the goup. Don and me were supporters. I played Andean music for them. I taught them “Jesus me Pastorea- Jesus is my shepherd” a Spanish song which every kids know in Bolivia. I met many nice Friends from Junior Gathering, like Patzy. In the afternoons I attended different workshops, mostly related to Education. Alicia (another Bolivian teacher who came to North Carolina) and I met FCE (Friends Council on Education) coordinator, the head of Meeting School, Jackeline, and many other Friends. Many Friends wanted to speak in Spanish with us, so we did. Most of them are fluent in Spanish, which is amazing. The sad thing was that one of the leaders of FGC was crushed by a car when she was biking. And another teenager fell down from skateboard. It was very interesting to see the FGC library, because there were plenty books written by Quakers, which is amazing. I would like to have see books in Bolivia like in U.S.A written by Quakers. Also I played in the Cabaret of the Gathering of course Andean music, different kind of Andean flutes and panpipes. Alicia and I made a presentation about Bolivian Quakers and their Education (Schools specially) and about our internship experience in USA, called “A BRIDGE BETWEEN BOLIVIAN AND NORHT AMERICAN FRIENDS” during the interest groups. Among the Friends who attended there were many good questions. We discussed and talked more than we expected. During the week of gathering Geoff Garver interviewed us, about our experience in Bolivia and our internship for this school year 2008-2009. And I met Jorge Arauz who is involved in AVP workshops in Bolivia and in Philadelphia, I guess so. We talked a lot and shared many ideas about AVP and Quaker Education. And I realized in this gathering about how the Quakers promote the Social Programs in the Yearly Meetings in USA. I was surprised about all kind of supportive programs displayed on the first floor. At the end of the Gathering a got a couple of Quaker books, like “The Courage to Teach” by Palmer, and other books. And I helped to package the things which they used for the Junior Gathering. FGC-2009 was really helpful gathering for my whole life and in order to share with my community. Now after my return to Bolivia, I can share with Friends about that unique experience at FCG as well as at Oakwood Friends School in USA. Right now, with the QBE-Bo members of Education, we are working with those experiences on a project to stablish a Quaker School in Bolivia based on Quaker Values, because until today many of the Quaker Schools in Bolivia were stablished with some dogmatic Crhistian Values. The Quaker meetings including Schools here in Bolivia are not open and tolerant like in USA. So the goal is to have a good education true education based on Community life.
Sincerely, Ruben Hilare From La Paz- BoliviaEspero que lo disfrutes. I hope that you will enjoy. Jawillakipanaya