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When I first arrived in Larapa (Casa Mosqoy’s Cusco neighborhood), all I could think was how far it was from the center and how hard it would be to put names to faces when all the students were coming and going with different schedules. The first week was a blur of visiting donors, introductions, new house rules, and new expectations. I wanted to be close to the students and I wanted their trust immediately. I wanted to feel comfortable in the house, evoke a family atmosphere, be great at my job, and I wanted it all now, rather than later. All of the things I thought would come easily were the biggest pills to swallow in reality. Nobody likes disciplining, and that includes me. I thought new house orders and rules and mensualidades would bog me down and interfere with making connections in the house. But building respect for the house we all stay in is a shared goal of all the students at Casa Mosqoy. After the obligatory, boring house stuff was out of the way we could get down to business – and by business I of course mean playing ridiculous team building games like human knot and the box game!

I am a true believer that building trust and team unity is about creating a space to be silly and to not take yourself too seriously.

As scary as it was to mandate team building games, not knowing how the students would react, the night ended with Valentina teaching students and volunteers how to salsa dance (Colombian-style), Bercelia showing us the basics of Cumbia, and all of us huddled around the computer to watch a Saya dance in awe. At the end of this month, although I may not have all the moves down right, each day I learn one new move and feel a little bit more comfortable in the execution. Between the games, jokes, dancing, and dinners, I have a whole year full of exciting new adventures ahead of me with my new family at Casa Mosqoy! -Alicia

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