During Summer 2018, I studied abroad for six weeks in Cochabamba, Bolivia with the Pitt in Bolivia program. While in Cochabamba, I took three classes: an introductory Spanish course, an intermediate Quechua course at language school Runawasi, and Language, Culture, and Society, a sociolinguistics course focused on the Andes region. The Quechua class focused on advanced grammar and was entirely taught in Quechua, and we took field trips and gave presentations to connect our classroom language skills with real world language skills. In Language, Culture, and Society, we learned how language connects to indigenous identity through issues such as multilingualism, language contact and change, language ideologies, bilingual education, language revitalization, and the role of language in the state.
Cochabamba is a large city, and around half of the city’s residents speak Quechua. For the first time, I was able to use Quechua outside of the classroom and connect with and learn from native speakers. I spoke Quechua with people in marketplaces and in the streets, and with friends of my professor and other instructors at Runawasi. My speaking and listening skills grew so much.