Bolivia Bound

Market in Bolivia


This month, for the sixth year in a row, 16 master’s students from Teachers College Columbia University and four ASHA-certified SLPs travel to La Paz, Bolivia to provide free services to children with disabilities. The non-native Spanish speakers arrive a week early (May 22) for intensive Spanish classes at Instituto Exclusivo in La Paz. The next weekend (May 28) the six native Spanish speaking students and four ASHA-certified SLPs arrive. Beginning on May 31 and for the next three weeks, the students provide assessment and intervention services and offer workshops for parents, teachers, PTs, and doctors. The SLP students and the supervisors participate in an academic seminar to integrate their experiences with readings on anthropology, religion, politics, and educational policy.

Please follow our trip blog for what we hope will be an extraordinary journey. We would especially like to hear your comments.

Catherine (Cate) Crowley, J.D., Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a lecturer in the program of SLP at Teachers College Columbia University where she coordinates the bilingual/multicultural program focus and directs the Bilingual Extension Institute. Cate has led TC students to Bolivia each year for five years and to Ghana for the past three years. She is on the steering committee of ASHA’s SIG 17 Global Issues in Communication Disorders.


  1. Linden Rigler says

    I am so happy that this amazing experience is still available to Teachers College students. It is life changing!

  2. Jane Lapham says

    That sounds like an amazing experience for all involved. ¡Que les vaya bien!

  3. Nate says

    What an amazing experience these students are getting. I wish a program like this existed when I was in graduate school!

  4. sonia hernandez-flax says

    It’s absolutely heart warming that Cate Crowley, who is such a talented educator, is leading this group and continuing this labor of love. Congratulations on this wonderful venture

  5. Georgia Malandraki says

    Congratulations to Cate and the group of students! We are proud of all the International Programs ran in our Department. Good luck with your trip!
    All the best,
    Dr. Malandraki

  6. Carolyn Wiles Higdon says

    Cate! This is a great experience for these students, and this blog is wonderful for us to live through the trip with you! Just know that your ASHA SIG 17 friends are with you all the way! Bring back great pictures for ASHA 2012! And thanks for all the work it takes to make these experiences happen!

  7. Miguelina Zapata says

    Cate, I miss Bolivia!!!! This is an awesome experience for students and professionals. IT is so important for the students to have such a great cultural experience that will enable them to be great clinicians in the near future. This experience taught me how to be giving, humble, and appreciative. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful experience. I will never forget it. Congratulations again!!!
    With admiration and love,

  8. Barbara Conboy says

    I have such fond memories of joining Cate’s group one year ago. I wish everyone in this year’s group all the best for a successful next few weeks. Thanks for all you do!

  9. Kate Gottfred says

    Cate, As always you and your work are amazing. Do you ever take very old students? katie

  10. Maryellen Novak says

    Cate Fantástico! Espero con interés la lectura de todo sobre el asombroso viaje y la asistencia de gran valor cada uno de ustedes va a dar.

  11. Christine Mullaney says

    Participating in the Bolivia program 2 years ago was one of the most influential experiences for me in graduate school. The clinical program and seminar challenged students to determine the most functional communication goals for each child, to provide realistic strategies for teachers and parents, and to embrace and learn from the culture of the people we worked with. All the best to the current students and supervisors on the trip!

  12. Stephanie Downey Toledo says

    I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go to Bolivia with Dr. Crowley’s program in 2006. The experience of doing therapy in Spanish and immersing myself in another culture had a very positive impact on my work as an SLP. I know that the opportunity to do therapy abroad has enhanced my skills as a bilingual therapist and given me a perspective on wanting to have a global impact within our field that continues to guide my work currently, 5 years later.

  13. Jaime Bauer says

    Well done, Cate for organizing such a wonderful and successful program! What an amazing opportunity for students to give back and help those most in need. Best of luck and safe travels to all!

  14. Donna M. valenti says

    This is the kind of program that can develop a deep understanding of diversity. In addition, while your students are in the process of learning, they are helping children who are the “neediest-of-the-needy.” God bless you for initiating this innovative project.

  15. Jacqueline Torres says

    I was lucky enough to participate in the Bolivia program last year. It will forever change the way I view the profession of Speech Language Pathology. I entered the field wanting only to find my own way to help people. It is not until you are exposed to an opportunity like the Bolivia program that one can truly understand what an amazing impact we can make on the lives of individuals in need. This is a country, a people, so hungry for knowledge and growth that every moment is rewarding.

    Dr. Catherine Crowley has created an amazing and sustainable program. If only more universities offered similar programs…

    *Separately, I would like to warn the students participating this year (and future participants) to be cautious of the llama meat- I have never been so sick!

  16. Tempii Champion says


    It sounds like this program is life changing for students as well as the children that are assessed and treated.

  17. Wilma Benitez says

    Such a wonderful opportunity for both native Spanish speakers and non-native Spanish speakers! This experience will enrich their personal and professional lives immeasurably. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences through your blog! :-) It would be extraordinary if more students could have access to participate in programs like this one. Looking forward to continue reading about your unique experiences!

  18. Deedee Moxley says

    I’m so excited to read how to the trip goes on your blog. Thanks for sharing it!

  19. Nayda Torres says

    Cate, congratulations on such a wonderful job! I will continue checking your blog. Your students must appreciate this opportunity that is given to them; very few graduate students have a chance to travel to another country as a part of their program, and better yet, have great mentors like they do. They have a great responsibility to use all the knowledge that has been given to them once they begin to practice as SLPs. I wish you, your program and your students great success.

  20. Paola Pastor says

    Estoy sorprendida con el maravilloso trabajo que Cate y las estudiantes estan realizando en la escuela CAMINO con las terapias del habla, es una gran enseñanza para todas las maestras de CAMINO, una gran esperanza para los padres de los niños sordos y el inicio de algo nuevo y motivador para nuestros niños y jóvenes: “aprender a hablar utilizando la voz” y “aprender a escuchar con sus nuevos audífonos”.
    Para nuestros estudiantes es muy dificil acceder a las teapias de fonoaudiología por el costo, y definitivamete es casi imposible para familia conseguirles un audífono que en Bolivia representaría como un año de sueldo para un papá o una mamá, por eso el trabajo que están haciendo es tan valioso, porque les están dando a estos niños una oportunidad de tener lo que todo niño dificultad auditiva necesita venciendo sus limitaciones económicas y regalandoles a las familias una nueva perspectiva sobre el futuro de sus hijos.
    Solo quiero decirles: Gracias por todo.

  21. Suzanne Peretz says

    If only every clinician in America, and certainly from New Yawk, could have an immersive experience like this to open their eyes to the diversity of humans on our planet. I wish you a healthy, happy, and mind-expanding experience!

  22. Erika Levy says

    I’m following your Bolivia blog daily. Miriam told me about the child who was fitted with hearing aids for the first time and said “Mama” and his name. Talk about impact! This is such a wonderful thing you do–for the folks you’re treating and for our students–and so perfect that you’re focusing on sustainability.

  23. Clement Ntim says

    It is amazing how Prof. Cate Crowley and her team leave their campus in New York to give others elsewhere involved in Special Needs Education the chance to catch up with the rest of the world.
    I am so happy that Africa, specifically Ghana, has been included in their program. In fact ever since they started visiting Ghana there has been a tremendous improvement in policies concerning special education since they have been presenting proposals to the education ministry towards the needed structures to be implemented to give a face lift to special education.
    The practical skills they give teachers and parents of special needs children in Augumentative and Alternative Communication has really improved the communication of students having communication deficits.
    The support they provided in ensuring that special teachers meet in a workshop in Ghana is worth mentioning. Honestly there are a lot to share in terms of what has been done in Ghana by Cate Crowley and her team and we are very much graterful.
    I am therefore not surprise about the good work they are doing in Bolivia. God bless them abundantly. Amen.

  24. Kathleen Youse says

    Hi All,
    I have been following the blog and your travel activities. It sounds like you are having a great trip and have had some nice experiences so far! I can’t wait until you return so I can hear about some of them in person. I am so proud of you all and wish you continued success and safe travels. I’ll be keeping an eye on the blog… be good!
    Dr. Youse

  25. Penny Linden says

    I’ve been following the blog almost daily and find the writing beautifully done and very descriptive. Photos are fabulous. Love the real life photos of people and culture.

  26. Danielle Lake says

    Wow! It sounds like you all had a great time! Keep up the amazing work, ladies!

  27. Elisa Radice says

    My experience at the Hospital, in the second year of Bolivia trips, increased my empathy for patients and provided me with my first experience with feeding therapy, which is now my area of interest as a practicing SLP. TC SLPs make a huge impact on the lives on children in Bolivia, even if the encounter is just an hour long — keep up the good work!

  28. Berenice says

    excelente trabajo y gran sentido de humanidad felicitaciones y sigan adelante hay mucho que hacer por Bolivia y en si por America Latina

    • says

      Works well! It is not obvious, touhgh. Will new users know to click on the yellow bubble or time stamp?Within the thread itself, perhaps you can put the same yellow bubble next to the title of the thread to keep things consistent? Maybe a yellow bubble with a down arrow?

  29. says

    I just read the update on Alan and I am actually crying into my keyboard. I remember being present last year as his hearing was being tested. Such extraordinary work and dedication by Dr. Melissa Inniss and Dr. Catherine Crowley to get him fitted with a hearing aid and enrolled in school.

    These are the experiences that we as Teacher College students are so fortunate to have. These are the lessons that we will all carry with us no matter where our careers take us.

  30. Esmeralda Rodas says

    Fabuloso trabajo!!! Creo de verdad que ningún conocimiento es útil si no es puesto al servicio de la humanidad. Adelante jovenes y gracias por regresar a mirar a otro lado del mundo en donde siempre los van a estar esperando por su apoyo y solidaridad. Gracias a la maestra impulsadora de esta gran obra CATHERINE CROWLEY.

  31. Matthew Cardamone says

    What an amazing experience to be able to use your clinical skills where its really needed. The supervisors and students are so inspirational and should be very proud of themselves.

  32. says

    Cate Crowley’s SLP Bolivian experience helps her students be much better prepared for the diversity they will encounter with their students in New York State. Thank you so much for your dedication to the LEP/ELL population in New York!

  33. Lily Ivette Nunez says

    It’s such a wonderful feeling to know that the work continues once you return to your home. I participated in the 2010 Bolivia program and it truly changed my life! Having the opportunity to share my skills and learn from another culture transformed me as a clinician. It wasn’t only about applying the skills I had acquired throughout my studies but truly adapting them and implementing new strategies I learned from the families I worked with. It truly was a collaborative approach I will forever be grateful for. Thank you Cate!

  34. Amy Erickson says

    This is so amazing! I have loved following the blog! I am so proud of this program and so lucky to be a part of it! Congratulations to Cate (and everybody) in accomplishing such meaningful work! It reminds me why I love what I am doing and inspires me to get out there and make a difference! I can’t wait to go to Bolivia next year!!!

  35. Llee Hardy says

    I will never forget the steps at Camino. Everyday I walked up those stairs I thought of the steps my colleagues and myself took everyday to make an impact on the children and their families. Its so good to read that Professor Crowely and the students at TC are continuing to travel up the stairs of change!

  36. Melissa Oziel says

    I am so happy that this program continues to exist and that more like it have been developed. I can tell you honestly, that my time providing speech-language services in Bolivia has shaped who I am as an SLP. That experience taught me a great deal about being flexible, creative and listening to my clients needs.

  37. Dawn Gold says

    It was such a beautiful and enlightening experience meeting Alan in 2010 and then reading about all the wonderful accomplishments he has made in one year’s time. My month in Bolivia with Cate, the TC graduate students, and the other supervisors will forever shape my career as it progresses. It will also continue to impact my perspective on life here in the United States, especially as I bring a new one into our world.