The Democracy Center offers opportunities to people worldwide to be part of its efforts to build citizen democracy. We have an in-country program at our offices in Cochabamba which offers applicants the chance to experience life in Bolivia and contribute full-time to our work for a minimum of six months.
Volunteers in Bolivia
About Volunteering in Bolivia
The Democracy Center seeks committed people to join the staff for a minimum of six months to work on a variety of projects at our office in Cochabamba. We are interested in people with a demonstrated commitment to social justice. A minimum three years of university education is looked for, though this requirement could be waived in lieu of experience and skills in one or more areas of the Center’s work. Applicants need to be fluent in English and to speak Spanish. Those who arrive in Bolivia with only basic Spanish do have the option of engaging in intensive language classes before starting their position with us (at their own cost).
The capacities we often need at the Center include: research, project management, advocacy, writing, video production, graphic design, media relations, social media and web management skills. We are especially interested in volunteers who combine professional skills with a strong interest in at least one of the Democracy Center’s key focus areas: Climate and Democracy, Corporate Power, and Citizen Advocacy. Our volunteers are given a great deal of real responsibility as well as the possiblity of pursuing their particular project interests within the broader parameters of our work areas. Many volunteers have joined us afterwards as long-term staff.
Apply online to be a volunteer in Bolivia
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What do Democracy Center volunteers work on?
Our volunteers have done everything from help develop reports and book chapters, to producing videos, to helping support global citizen action campaigns. The Center’s work is quite diverse and also varies during the course of the year. So we need people with a mix of skills and a good deal of flexibility.
2) Is there a stipend?
We do offer a small stipend for volunteers in Bolivia who make a commitment of six months or more. We also encourage volunteers to seek funding from outside sources if needed.
3) How much will it cost?
A round-trip flight from Miami to Bolivia, for example, can range from $700-$950 round trip. A home-stay with a Bolivian family or a private room with shared facilities ranges from $80-$200 per month. Transportation and other basic living costs are relatively inexpensive. The Democracy Center covers the immigration costs of its volunteers.
4) I’m only going to be in Bolivia for two months. Can I volunteer?
Not usually no. We have learned from experience that short-term volunteers really aren’t a good match for the Center’s needs. But there are many other organizations in Bolivia that set up short-term volunteer opportunities. See our links page for a list (scroll to the bottom for volunteer programs). If you do decide to come to Cochabamba, please contact us to arrange a visit! We love meeting our readers.
5) Do I really need to understand Spanish to be a volunteer in Bolivia?
Yes. We conduct our meetings in Spanish, and you need to be able to communicate comfortably with Bolivian staff members to work effectively with us.
Profiles of Our Volunteers in Bolivia
Sian Cowman, now working as a staff member for the Democracy Center, made this video in association with her university department after completing her placement with us in 2013.
You can also see this video of Sian talking about her work on climate resilience at a presentation in Dublin, on a return visit to Ireland.
“What I love about the Democracy Center is its unique position as an organization located in the global South but with close connections to social movements in the North. This gives us the opportunity to work as a bridge of information and stories between the US, Canada and Europe on the one hand and Latin America and Bolivia particularly, on the other. The team is close-knit and very supportive, and each person is encouraged to do the work they are most passionate about within their skill set and the Center’s broader work areas.”
– Carey Averbook, 2014 volunteer
“Working at the Democracy Center has given me the unique opportunity to learn about advocacy in both a US and Bolivian context. I have also been able to learn about a wide range of issues facing Bolivians today. Because of the small staff, everyone is involved in all of the Center’s projects. As a result, I have gained experience in research and investigation, writing, and publication. As importantly, the work is done in a supportive environment, which allows everyone to pursue their own interests in accordance with the goals and mission of the Democracy Center.”
– Elliot Williams, former volunteer