Welcome to March (and hopefully spring)! Things with the Andean Youth Program are going extremely well, and over the next few months the program will be seeing some exciting changes. Throughout February we were focused on selection, travelling out to the Rio Mapacho (see Juan's blog about his Rio Mapacho experience) for our first family meetings with our three pre-selected students from the region. We also finished our semi-annual family progress reports, having finally visited every home for every student to give updates on their studies, their participation in the house and program, and any health concerns we have for each student. Finally, our graduating girls were able to participate in a leadership in sustainable development program, hosted by our partner organisation The Visionaria Network, and all of our students in the house were engaged in a workshop on climate change.
February has indeed been a great month at Casa Mosqoy, as the students are preparing for the big move to the new house this month, and taking ever more ownership over their experience with the Andean Youth Program. We have successfully begun our weekly yoga lessons with the Healing House, with the ultimate objective of using sports as a method of stress release, and combat body image issues that become prevalent with a move to an urban centre. Additionally, Juan has been working hard to develop a series of workshops with the ultimate goal of educating and developing truly great leaders who are ready to support their communities as they exit our programs. We are transitioning into a new system of managing the house: our students will be given more and more responsibility with the guidance of Juan who will train them to make decisions and develop activities for the house. The new management system will ultimately leave the responsibility of the house in the hands of the students entirely, with support and guidance from Mosqoy.
To achieve this goal, students are completing a workshop series (which will be held annually) on interpersonal communication, individual value, teamwork, respect and leadership. We will then hold elections for positions in the house cabinet (president, vice president, treasurer, and activity coordinator) and train each cabinet member in their respective roles. It is our hope that the students, in filling these six month positions in the home, will gain experience in coordination, organisation, and leadership so they can be community leaders once they exit the program. The entire house is incredibly excited about this new program, and we look forward to integrating our new students into this system.
We successfully hosted our second intercultural exchange with Maximo Nivel in February, and everyone enjoyed a lovely dinner of Locro de Zapallo (a Mosqoy volunteer favourite) and an interactive presentation by Karina about the Carnival festivities that only just ended on March 2nd. This past weekend saw Mosqoy volunteers and students alike participating in traditional dances (one which includes cutting down of a tree), and throwing water and foam on people in the streets. Things are more or less settling down in Cusco, as everyone prepares for the next round of festivals and tourist season to begin once again. Mosqoy hopes everyone up north is staying safe and warm in this particularly long and cold winter - and we hope we don’t have a similar winter down here.