As a recently graduated student of Anthropology, Cusco called to Annie Marcinek as a mecca of sorts, a hub for seeing and learning before returning to the US for graduate school (a tentative plan). When the opportunity to jump aboard the Threads team as an Evaluation Research Intern presented itself to Annie through Dana Blair, a former peer at Penn State and current friend, Annie couldn’t imagine passing it up. As she finishes her third week here in the office in Cusco, it is clear how valuable this experience will prove in meshing her last few years of studying Sustainable Development and Anthropology at Penn State with her future scholarly and “real world” pursuits.
Annie and Harrison with the weavers from the community of Uppis. Photo by Annie Marcinek.
Throughout her last year at Penn State, Annie completed a thesis based off of fieldwork carried out in the community of Shiripuno, a small indigenous town in the Ecuadorian Amazon that had recently begun an ecotourism project run by a local women’s association. Throughout her fieldwork and subsequent literature review, Annie was able to connect the implementation of the women’s association (named Amukishmi) in Shiripuno with an increase in social capital throughout the community itself. Annie’s thesis research allowed her to delve further into the inner workings of sustainable development, especially regarding indigenous populations in South America. This, along with her enthusiasm for the Spanish language and curiosity about the country of Peru, brought her aboard this evaluation project for Threads of Peru.
Though it is quite some distance from Cusco, the spectacular view from Uppis is breathtaking. Photo by Annie Marcinek.
At the moment, Annie and her research partner Harrison Ackerman are finishing up the beginning stage of their project, which includes outlining the questions they will eventually ask to each weaver, along with traveling out to each of the five communities they will be working with (Uppis, Huaran, Tortora, Chaullacocha, and Rumira Sondormayo) in order to ask permission to conduct interviews in the coming weeks. So far, Annie and Harrison have received great feedback from the communities, and each weaver seems enthusiastic to participate in a project that will, most importantly, help Threads to understand the impact of their project on the lives of those who make it possible.