Summer Centered: Joseph Spir '20 Helps Link Tourists with Peruvian Indigenous Communities
The prospective anthropology major, Spanish minor, and Latin American, Iberian, and Latino studies concentrator will learn about Andean cultures by volunteering for a sustainable tourism program.
This summer Joseph Spir ’20 is heading to rural Ollaytantambo, Peru, to serve as a sustainable tourism volunteer. Through funding from the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, Spir will work with Amawaki, an NGO that empowers Andean weaving communities by connecting them with global markets and maintaining respectful and sustainable relationships between them. Spir hopes that contributing to a cause that is “sustainable, empowering, and intercultural” will help him in his future studies in anthropology, his prospective major field.
Working in the small town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Spir will take travelers on tours of Quechuan communities nearby, teaching them about traditional weaving techniques and Amawaki fair-trade initiatives. He will also educate tourists about Amawaki while staffing its fair-trade store.
Spir applied for this position because he is interested in the importance of bringing people of different worlds together.
“[T]he most exciting thing about what I’m doing is the fact that, while I will be learning throughout the 10 weeks, I am also teaching about the Andean communities and that I will be the link between the indigenous and the exterior,” he says.
Spir was born in Medellin, Colombia, and growing up, his family moved often. In absorbing unfamiliar traditions, customs, and lifestyles, he discovered what it takes to acclimate to a different culture.
“You can’t really experience a different culture until you have actually connected with it, by living it and growing into it on a daily basis,” Spir says.
He hopes to bring what he learns from his time in Ollaytantambo back to the Alliance of Latin American Students at Haverford, of which he is a member. He says that exposure “will benefit my mindset in creating a club where every culture in Latin America is validated and equally empowered.”
Spir will spend the summer living in Amawaki’s volunteer house with 10 other interns volunteers. Although there are a few summer festivals to enjoy in Ollaytantambo, he hopes to bond with his peers while attending events in nearby cities like Urubamba and Cusco.
“I loved the idea of doing something unusual," he says of his work as a tour guide. “I have never been able to do anything like this before, so going to this rural town in the middle of the Sacred Valley is a big step for me.”
-Andrew Nguyen '19
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.