Travel has taught me some of life’s most important lessons. Travel has taught me independence, humility, spontaneity and adaptability. I have learned to seize the good, absorb the unexpected and stand resilient to the challenges. In many ways, travel has shaped my character and will indefinitely drive the person I want to become.
Knowing this, it is no surprise that I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Education Generation Fellowship in the Scared Valley region of Peru. The annual Fellowship program sends volunteer fellows overseas to enhance relationships with, and support education partners on the ground.
This summer, I will be partnering with Education Generation’s partner Mosqoy: Sacred Valley Youth Fund in Peru. Mosqoy is dedicated to providing education opportunities for youth and helping communities in the Sacred Valley region of Peru to achieve sustainable development. The objectives are realized by providing young leaders with scholarships enabling them to continue their studies and help their families break the cycle of poverty.
Mosqoy is further committed to the preservation of traditional Quechua values, and works in collaboration with the Q’ente Textile Revitalization Society to maintain and foster cultural and historical integrity through the Quechua weaving tradition. Q’ente works directly with weavers from the Sacred Valley region to provide them a fair trade outlet to sell textiles in North America.
During the Fellowship experience, I will work on the Base Program as well as a Focus Project (Kallpa K’oj Program).
As part of the Base Program, I will be working directly with students to provide a communication liaison and document the work of the Peruvian students by completing progress updates for donors. In addition, I will assist with the transition of students, including organizing the graduation ceremony for existing Mosqoy students, and integrating new students into the program. Other activities will include, student mentorship, program evaluation, visits with the families of the students, English language training; and participation in student selection and other initiatives, such as income generation projects.
Focus Project – Kallpa K’oj Program
Kallpa K’oj is Quechua for “giving back energy” and is a Mosqoy student volunteer service program designed to support traditional weaving communities in the Sacred Valley region. As a condition of their scholarships, Mosqoy students are required to give back 30 hours of community service for every academic year.
The Program are goals are to: 1) maintain cultural ties with weaving communities; 2) support Q’ente weaving communities; 3) give back to the Q’ente Textile Revitalization Society; 4) instill leadership qualities in Mosqoy students; and 5) teach students the value of giving and reciprocity. The Program entails four phases:
Phase 1: Foster community awareness and buy-in of the Program
Phase 2: Initiate community needs assessment and co-development of volunteer service projects with each weaving community
Phase 3: Finalize the Program, including volunteer service projects, timeline and implementation strategy
Phase 4: Implement volunteer projects, including student selection and training
Phase 1 of the Kallpa K’oj Program is complete. I will focus on Phases 2 and 3 which will involve traveling on foot or by cattle truck/bus to a number of traditional weaving communities in the Sacred Valley region of Peru (Q’enqo, Pisac, Huaran, Calca, Cancha Cancha, Bombon, Parobamba, Pitukiska, Amparaes, Amaru, Pachar). I will meet with weavers and leaders in the communities and co-develop volunteer service projects which may include, literacy training, cooking classes, and Spanish language training. The Kallpa K’oj Program is based on reciprocity and knowledge exchange, and with that in mind, I will also work with each weaving community to establish reciprocity initiatives, such that the community craftspeople will teach Mosqoy students traditional weaving and dying methods.
Between Fellowship activities, I will backpack through Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and, time permitting, Venezuela.
Regular blog updates will begin the week of June 27th.