Working toward sustainability : a people-centered approach

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Charles Curry-Smithson


An indigenous women's association of weavers in a small economically depressed community in the remote Bolivia highlands requested a Peace Corps Volunteer to work with them as a project advisor. The group is called APSU and the members come from the village of Livichuco. The basis of APSU's formation is the preservation of their Aymara heritage through the recuperation and validation of ancient weaving designs and techniques, and music and dance, which are in danger of being lost with the youngest generation. It is APSU's objective to create and support a small income-generating business and cultural preservation association with sales of weavings and products made from weavings, while creating employment opportunities locally. The population of Livichuco is declining due to young adults and families leaving the region in search of employment in urbanized areas. Through participant observation following an ethnographic case study methodology, this Peace Corps Volunteer explores the steps and events which led to positively influencing the success and movement toward sustainability of this project during two years of work in the field with APSU. A presentation of this community's keen ability to analyze their situation, define their needs and establish a plan to meet those needs based on local resources, skills and knowledge is uncovered in the research process. Observations by the Peace Corps Volunteer allow her to formulate a strategic plan aimed at "positively influencing the success and sustainability" of the project through facilitation and education.

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