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Happy graduation to Mosqoy 3 and 4 students! On June 1st, everyone in the Mosqoy house travelled to Ollantaytambo to spend the day together celebrating the great achievements of ten of our students. We couldn’t be more proud of our graduates this year:

Edison Canal Apaza of Mosqoy 4: Heavy Machinery

Elizabeth Jaimes Canal of Mosqoy 3: International Business Administration

Elmer Valdez Solis of Mosqoy 3: Computer Science

Emy Luz Lonconi Ttica of Mosqoy 3: Computer Science

Johnny Rojas Huaman of Mosqoy 3: Tourism

Lisbeth Chavez Monge of Mosqoy 3:Accounting

Mariela Mendoze Paravecino of Mosqoy 3: International Cuisine

Rolando Huillca Alvarez of Mosqoy 3: Sheet Metal and Construction Mechanics

Sandra Alvarez Cusipaucar of Mosqoy 3: Accounting

Yolanda Alvarez Huaman of Mosqoy 3: International Cuisine

The day started out with Rosmery, Karina, Eurelesis, Carmen and Luzmila joining Kristina in cleaning the Salon Comunal de Ollantaytambo - the same location we have held the graduation in the past. Karina and Rosmery were in charge of decorations, and they did a great job! We spent the morning blowing up balloons and making ribbon decorations. We welcomed all the students’ families, ex-alumni, the municipality of Ollantaytambo, Gayle - a sponsor from Canada who is here to work with Qente and visit her sponsored student - and her group, and the occasional tourist who seemed interested in what was going on.

The event could not go entirely without hitch - we are in Peru, after all. For example, we were granted permission from the township of Ollantaytambo to borrow their sound system for the event - but when we went to go pick it all up, there was nothing there for us!! There were two other events happening in the district that day and they had already come by to collect their sound systems. Thanks to Mosqoy alumnus Rolando Accapuri, we were able to get a sound system. He chatted with the aldermen and mayor who then arranged for a rental for us. Additionally, the laptop we had brought in to skype with Canada during the ceremony was not compatible with the projector - one of the aldermen was kind enough to go home and get his laptop so we could actually see Ashli give her inspiring speech.

Although the ceremony was set to begin at noon, we are still working on Peruvian time - we finally we able to begin our program at three in the afternoon once all the graduates and guests arrived. Despite the initial terror experienced by Kristina (she is still adjusting to Peruvian time), things turned out beautifully. The ceremony began with a quick introduction of the new field volunteers Maggie and Kristina; they hadn’t met all the families at this point. Without further ado, right into the speeches. Ashli was unable to attend the ceremony this year, but we were able to Skype her onto the wall after some technological finagling. This year we also asked the top ranking student to give a valedictorian address, and Elizabeth gave an incredible speech about the struggles and triumphs all Mosqoy students face. She thanked everyone for their support, from family members to the municipality to Mosqoy and its sponsors. There was not a dry eye in the house.

While we were experiencing some technical difficulties with the sound system, Kristina presented the mayor of Ollantaytambo with a small gift as a token of appreciation of their support and attendance at our ceremony. He then gave a lovely speech in Spanish and Quechua encouraging the students to continue in their path of developing their communities, districts, and ultimately their country. He offered the continued support of the municipality to Mosqoy and its students, and congratulated all of the students on their successes. After the speeches, we distributed the graduation packages created by volunteers in Canada and Peru. These included a graduation certificate, pen engraved with the student’s name and MOSQOY, frames to put a class photo in and an information package; Mosqoy Canada spent a lot of time to create the information package for Mosqoy students in the future, and we appreciate their efforts. Each graduate received a reference letter from the organisation to assist in their job search, the contact information of Mosqoy managers, an article explaining how to be an ambassador for Mosqoy in the future, and Ashli wrote a letter of congratulations.

It was during the ceremony that we were also able to hand out welcome certificates to all of our students in Mosqoy 5. We invited Carmen, Clayda, Itayoshara, Marilyn, and Raul with their families to receive an official welcome into the Andean Youth Program. At this point, anyone was able to come and say a few words: Clayda made a beautiful dedication to the graduating students, Lisbeth spoke to thank Mosqoy for the continued support - with a special dedication to Jose Luis and his dedication for the past year. We heard an emotional speech by Emy Luz’s mother who was so proud of her daughter for finishing her studies and so thankful for all the hardwork done in Peru and Canada to build up her family and community.

This concluded the formal ceremony and we were able to enjoy the delicious food prepared by the families of Mosqoy. The feast included six traditional dishes and chicha morada (a sweet drink made from purple corn). We all enjoyed cuy (guinea pig), escabeche (a vegetable salad dish), tortillas (in between the Mexican corn tortilla and the Spanish egg tortilla), quinoa tabule, soltero (another vegetable dish), lisas huchu (a type of potato prepared in a stew), and causa rellena (a mashed potato cake with a filling of avocado and onions). Everyone ate until they could eat no more and shared in the festivites, toasting the students and everyone present.

As the ceremony wound down, the students began to clear the hall for a dance party. We spent the rest of the afternoon dancing, laughing with the parents, and trying to teach the field volunteers how to dance to the tradition music called “wino”. We are not entirely sure it was a successful venture, but it was fun all the same. After the field volunteers started to head back to Cusco exhausted, the students stayed at the hall and danced all night. In the end, the graduation was an incredible demonstration of the work Mosqoy achieves for a community of people in the Andes of Peru. It puts daily struggles and triumphs into perspective, and reminds us that it is totally worth it! Everyone should be proud of the contribution they have made to the lives of these inspiring youth.

- There are many photos of this day, this blog only includes a few. If you are interested in seeing more, please visit our Facebook page at -

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