Portraits of A Bolivian Book Fair & The Feelings Involved

I’m writing this post from 35,000 feet in the air on my way from Santa Cruz, Bolivia to Cancun, Mexico. As I squeeze into the middle-row seat on a 6-hour flight between 2 layovers and an overnight bus ride, nothing can push me off the feeling I have at this moment.

The feeling is of complete warmth. One that rushes through your body when something you’ve been working so hard for finally comes to fruition. It’s like that sensation you get on a Friday afternoon when the sun hits your face as you leave the office. This is the feeling I crave and one that constantly drives me.

Last Saturday, the BiblioWorks staff, myself and nine other volunteers put on the first ever book fair in Sucre, Bolivia and it went off without a hitch. We had 15 educational institutions participating, 11 corporate sponsors and hundreds of children and adults who came to enjoy a beautiful day of literature and learning.

It was the culmination of three months worth of planning and organizing that saw both setbacks and breakthroughs. We jumped through hoops to get the City’s approval, worked relentlessly to convince local colleges and universities to get involved and were able spread the word through every major TV and Radio station across Sucre.

We had 4 major goals coming into the event…

  1. To build and fortify relationships with city officials, libraries, schools and other institutions for future project collaboration.
  2. Spread the word about what BiblioWorks does for the community and region to increase financial and resource support.
  3. Most importantly, to organize an event that would show both children and adults the importance of literature, learning and to spark their curiosity in new subjects.
  4. Also, to build a foundation for future literacy projects and events in Sucre and across Bolivia.

In the end, I sit here with a smile from ear to ear because I can say without reservation, that the first ever Sucre book fair (or Literacy festival as it was properly called), was a complete success.

Local high schools started arrived at 8:30am, even as some booths were still setting up, and the last group of kids didn’t leave until 4:15pm.

Parents brought their children and they were both just as occupied with all the activities. The city band energized the crowd while traditional dancers wooed the audience and a puppeteer made the kids laugh. We gave away tons of prizes from books to balloons and each participating booth had their own special message about literacy to offer.

It was awesome!

Thank you again for everyone who got involved in helping to make this a very special day for the city of Sucre, the BiblioWorks organization and everyone involved.

I think the best way to share this incredible feeling I have at this moment is through the faces and images of the event that I’ve been admiring since we reached cruising altitude…

La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
The view from above the Feria bright and early on Saturday morning.
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
Playing a counting parachute game with one of the first schools to arrive.
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
High school boys getting into their books.
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
Kids answering the big question, what literature means to me
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
A young girl reads along as her father gives her a hand.
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
High school kids work to figure out a literacy puzzle
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
We worked together to sound out all the words in the book. High five for that!
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
A world of knowledge.
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
One of the participating organizations conducting a BIG story time with a class.
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
There were even puppets promoting literacy!
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
Cant talk now, we are deep in this book.
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
Smile, you are the future of Bolivia!
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
Maritza teaching two shoeshine kids how to read.
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
Girls smiling at La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
Finishing the day with a group photo with some of the remaining students and participants!
La Feria de La Lectura in Sucre Bolivia
A mom and daughter find a quiet place to read off in the corner at the Feria. Amazing!

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My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

11 Comments

  1. Awww this is amazing. I am so happy that everything went through and it turned out to be an amazing event. I am also happy that I was able to make a donation to help make this a success. I hope that this is just the 1st of many more book fairs in Sucre.

    1. Me too Jaime, I think it was the start of something great for the city. And thank you so much for your donation, it really means a lot to myself and everyone involved. I owe you one.

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  3. Amazing! I loved reading this. Seeing childen so involved in learning is awesome and you are right, they are the future of Bolivia. When you put it like that, the importance just rockets sky high. Thank you 🙂

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