Maria Panozo: Alaska-born Bolivian who Knows Nothing about La Paz

Hey everyone,

My (full) name is Maria Jacobson Panozo (I usually just use my second last name, Panozo). I’m an undergrad student studying rural development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I was born in Kodiak, Alaska and now live in Fairbanks which, if you’re into fun facts, reaches -40 F in the winter. My family is Bolivian, and so I will be leaving Alaska in a few days to spend time with them before the program begins and after. I enrolled in the program because I got an email from a professor with about a sentence worth of information about this program and the suggestion that it sounded like a good opportunity and definitely within my interests, personal and academic. And now, several months later, I’m close to starting my first research project!

My hopes for the program include experiencing different rural development programs, ideas, methods, etc. since that is sort of my bread and butter topic of interest with my degree program. I would also like to see sustainable land development and sustainable energy. I would love to see/hear Indigenous languages, cultures, politics, land rights, etc. since my degree revolves around the development of Indigenous Nations because Rural Development is a companion program to Alaska Native Studies at UAF. Indigenous issues as it pertains to development is my broad research and personal interest. And I would love to see beautiful places and street art. I’m not expecting things to go perfectly as planned, and I’m not familiar with La Paz- at all.

My number one concern is altitude sickness. Last year I got it severe and it was the rudest experience, it was worse than typhoid fever, which I had recovered from only days before getting destroyed by altitude sickness. But I have been eating steaks and popping iron supplements because I’m anemic and that was the source of the Copacabana/La Paz ordeal of summer 2016. I am totally ready for this.

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2 thoughts on “Maria Panozo: Alaska-born Bolivian who Knows Nothing about La Paz

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  1. We hope to have at least a few trips out to the rural campo, so that should be helpful. And be sure to keep your ears open in La Paz. You can hear a lot of Aymara (and some Quechua) spoken, but you’ll also notice that a lot of La Paz slang/dialect is heavily shaped by Aymara vocabulary. And we will do our best to help everyone with altitude!

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  2. Take it easy with altitude – we insist on that! Our tips include taking ibuprofen pretty regularly the first few days, resting, and hydrating! And yes, Dr. Miguel is correct – much highland Spanish has been heavily indigenized in terms of grammar and vocabulary. It is quite distinctive. We also have arranged several trips to the campo with NGO/sustainable development partners (listed on the syllabus), so we’ve got you covered. We’re looking forward to seeing you in La Paz!

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