This posting is about fair trade and doesn’t discuss the internship.

If you’ve been following all year, you are aware that I am writing a senior thesis on the combined power of fair trade and microcredit loans.  I submitted a draft a few weeks ago, got some feedback, and handed in a second draft.  My professor had a fantastic idea for my paper…instead of just telling the reader what I believe through the research, I’m going to show them.  And now, I will show you…

Uru woman

The Uru women make much of the food they eat out of the same reed used for building their islands, houses and boats.


The Uru People (Los Uros in Spanish) live in Lake Titicaca, which is bordered by Peru and Bolivia.  They are a pre-Incan people who speak three languages, including Spanish.  I was reading the life history of Cristina, an Uru woman who does fair trade.  It was all in Spanish.  Understanding nearly all of what I was reading, I became confused when Cristina narrated how she would go to school as a child.  I thought it said that she would float on a plant from her island to the school every day.  Confused but intrigued, I asked my Chilean roommate to translate.  Turns out the Uru make their own boats out of reeds…but it gets better.  They also make their own islands out of the same reeds.  They make the islands they live on!!!  It’s fascinating, and I suggest you skim the wikipedia article for a basic introduction:  Uru people

Uru Island

In all, there are 40 islands like this. There are about 1200 Uru left.

Cristina tells us how she got started in producing handicrafts as a child.  At 15, she encouraged the other Uru women to make their own group to help sell the products.  Eventually, it evolved into CIAP: The Inter-regional Center for Peruvian Artisans which is a fair trade organization.  Cristina’s story should help the readers of my paper understand why fair trade is so important.  In fact, her story will count as ethnographic data, which is just as important as the inclusion of numerical data in a paper like this.

If you speak Spanish, read Cristina’s narrative here:  it is fascinating. Autobiografía de Cristina Suaña.