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Two National Geographic Students dress traditionally and pose in front of our mural! (Photo Credit: S.Smallshaw)

In Cusco, the wind’s a-blowin’, and change is a-comin’. August, the windiest of all months, signals to Cusco’s inhabitants that the seasons are shifting. And with these winds, 5 new students are being swept into Casa Mosqoy. This month, we were pleased to welcome Fernando and Denisse to our little family. Fernando has been such a joy to get to know, his witty character brings a refreshing energy to the house, and he is always quick to extend friendship to all of the students in the house. Denisse has also proven to be quite a doll. With her sweet and outgoing energy, she is adapting well and making friends very quickly. With my newly designed Student Mentor program, I hope to make the adaptation process a bit easier for the new students when they arrive. New students will be paired with an older student who is responsible for teaching them about the Casa Mosqoy rules and expectations, as well as the city of Cusco itself. As we wait for the other 3 students to arrive, the happenings of Casa Mosqoy continue to be just as noteworthy as ever!

One of the most exciting things to happen this past month was our intercultural exchange with National Geographic Student Expeditions ( We were pleased to welcome their 11 international students for a ceviche lunch, volunteer activity and soccer game. Carmen, the culinary genius of Casa Mosqoy, taught the National Geographic students how to prepare the traditional Peruvian ceviche dish (raw fish cooked in citric marinade) with dried corn bits, camote (a type of sweet potato), and arroz chaufa (Chinese fried rice). Although the lunch was fantastic, the most incredible part of the day was the volunteer project. To prepare for this, Erick and I spent several hours the previous week designing a green house for our Casa’s garden. The National Geographic students brought the design to life by building two beautiful green house structures that will help us grow plants in Cusco’s frigidly cold weather. The students also planted a variety of seeds in the garden, such as oregano, bell peppers, cucumbers, and beets. Small plants have begun to spring up, so we hope to have fresh vegetables very soon. Also, thanks to our Mosqoy student Raul who brought traditional Peruvian clothes from his community in Ollantaytambo, the National Geographic students were able to try on traditional garb after constructing the green houses. To further develop the cultural experience, some of our Mosqoy students and volunteers played an informal soccer game in the park near Casa Mosqoy. If you missed it, check out the video that our communications coordinator, Clara, made about the experience! And thank you National Geographic Expeditions for all of your hard work.

Erick assists the National Geographic group put the finishing touches on our new greenhouses! (Photo Credit: S.Smallshaw)

A couple of months ago, the Casa Mosqoy students approached me with requests to have a CV and professional interview workshop. It was shocking to me that no one in the Peruvian education system had taught our students how to write a CV. As we have some students preparing to graduate in the next few months, this workshop served as an incredible resource to them. And thanks to LAFF (, we now have a CV template on our household computer that is accessible to all students in the house! Once this workshop was complete, I decided that I really wanted to have a “family bonding” night with all of the students in order to bring them together in a more informal way. So, in the traditional United States fashion, I shipped s’mores ingredients to Casa Mosqoy so that the students could enjoy time together while learning a bit more about my own culture. We had so much fun that night, standing around the fire, talking, joking, and eating the delicious desserts we prepared. It was a moment where I was able to reflect on the work that I am doing with Mosqoy and why I am grateful to be here. Each one of these students inspires me in a different way, and I couldn’t be more blessed to live and work with them as a family.

So as the winds blow and the seasons change, so do the volunteers at Casa Mosqoy. This month, I am so sad to say goodbye to Clara, our communications coordinator, and Erick, the assistant to the Andean Youth Program manager. They have become such wonderful friends of mine and will be dearly missed. However, I look forward to welcoming another volunteer, Norah, to the house on September 1st. It will be so fun to see what skills and experiences she will bring with her to Casa Mosqoy. We can’t wait to meet you, Nora!

National Geographic and Mosqoy students enjoy a friendly game of futbol (Photo credit: S.Smallshaw)

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