A Youth Program's Volunteer Experience
Part One: One Month Into Volunteering
Working with Mosqoy has been a enriching and flexible experience thus far. For my first month I was living at Casa Mosqoy, where I’ve gotten to know the students very well and helped with house chores, some tutoring, and general organization alongside Nadyne. Since moving out to live with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, I've focused on more on admin work and designing T’ikary program updates, and going into the office weekly for dinner and on-site tasks.
I’ve been able to attend a few of the weekend community visits made by the textiles team, and they are by far some of my favourite days I’ve spent here so far. Although attendance is not a part of my responsibilities as a volunteer, anyone is welcome to tag along. Thanks to opportunities like these, I’ve gotten to know far more of the Cusco region than I anticipated! The trips have allowed me to take in more of the beautiful landscapes of the Sacred Valley, meet the student’s families, learn about each community’s cultural practices and weaving techniques, and see first hand the intricacies of the trading process. As someone who is going in to Globalization studies, seeing first hand how the funds from textile work contribute to the scholarships for T’ikary youth has been very helpful to my understanding of sustainability— an infinitely important part of inciting ethical change.
Aside from work, Cusco is an incredible place to live. I often find myself in the centre visiting different churches, ruins, and museums; there is a seemingly endless amount of history to be explored. However, at times I’ve found myself called to the mountains and open air. Luckily, with busses and cars always entering and leaving the city limits, spontaneous trips are at one’s fingertips. I’ve already visited Ollantaytambo, Urubamba, Quillabamba, and a few other rural areas both with Mosqoy staff/students and with my friends/family for the day or for the weekend.
Because Cusco has high tourist and foreigner traffic, there are many opportunities and places where one can meet other people in similar situations to them. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really wonderful people with whom I’ve gotten to explore the city with. That being said, my experience in Cusco has been a little bit different to that most foreign volunteers. I have most of my extended family in this city, which has given me an immediate sense of home and belonging. Having my family here is something I am very grateful for, as it has provided me with grounding and support during this time of exploration. For me, this time in my life is proving to be both a formative introduction to the work that I may someday want to do professionally, and also an indispensable opportunity to be re-immersed in my culture and spend valuable time with my loved ones.
So far, Mosqoy has given me tools and opportunities for growth I couldn’t have fathomed. I feel immensely blessed to be able to work for such an accountable and value-driven organization, and to be in relationship with the outstanding students (who have become my friends and peers!). I’m really looking forward to the rest of my time here.
Part Two: After Six Months of Volunteering
After 9 months of being back in Peru, it’s going to be huge adjustment to move to Ottawa (a place that is totally foreign to me!) and start University. There is so much that I’m going to miss of Cusco— the feeling of the mountains surrounding me, the inspirational energy of the city, Casa Mosqoy, and most of all my family and friends. I feel so fortunate to have spent 6 of these months living and working in such a warm and familiar place.
These past few months have been full of transitions for Mosqoy and the T’ikary program. New office/Casa, students graduating, Steph coming in as program director, just to name a few. I have a feeling that the next year or so is going to be spent discerning where Mosqoy wants to go next, and every day there are more ideas, hopes, and dreams to add to that vision. The amount of growth that has happened just in my time here is astounding to me. I can tell that the coming transformations will bring so many new revelations and opportunities for students and staff alike.
Since moving into the new Casa, I’ve noticed that the energy and commitment of the students has increased. Maybe it has something to do with the team building of moving together, or Cristian’s graduation, or the location— who knows. But the positivity every time I step through the doors is heartwarming. I’m so proud of everyone for their hard work and desire to improve, one can really see the difference it makes.
Thank you so much to Ashli, Cara, Steph, Liam, Nadyne, Francis, and all of the students for being such a caring team to work with and making my time with Mosqoy unforgettable. I can’t believe that so many years ago my papa introduced me to Ashli and Mosqoy, and that that moment lead to me eventually knowing and working with all of you. I’m going to miss you all so much, and I’m wishing you the best in your work, health, and flourishing. Todo mi cariño y hasta la próxima!
[The students in the photo (left to right): Silvia, Nohemi, Paloma (with the cake on her face) and Thalia.]