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"Halfway Through"

Newsletter - 2016

Welcome to our mid-year newsletter 2016.  We hope our greetings and stories find you well!  It has been a year of meeting many new faces, young and old. Beginning and returning students are having experiences that keep us motivated, inspired and moving forward.
Because of our global interconnectedness we share the heavy feelings of so many  about all that is happening around the world, to people and the planet.  Through the work that we do, our Buen Vivir or Sumak Kawsay (Good Living) projects, we strive to contribute to a better world, one of balance, understanding and love. 

This newsletter, "Halfway Through", shares the stories that have unfolded and been woven together throughout these past months.  Once again, our doors opened to nearly 100 students who call Kusi Kawsay home.  Our Director of Pedagogy reflects here on accompanying her students for the past three years and shares the wonderful development she’s observed.  We’ve also had the pleasure of welcoming new teachers and a new director to join us in this important mission and vision.  Our English teacher writes about her volunteer experience and how welcomed she feels. 
Thanks to the support of the Forix Foundation we were able to reroof the primary classrooms – we’ll inform you about why this was so important!  Our friends from Enactus Ryerson University came for their second trip to Peru to teach students at the Kusi Ñan farm and support our Ñawpa Ñan project through the construction of a caretaker home.  Like so many others, their contributions have had an immense impact on guiding us towards a path of strengthening all of Kusi Kawsay’s projects.  Our hearts are full of gratitude for all the visitors and volunteers that have joined us and selflessly given their time and energy to our community. 
We hope you enjoy this edition of our Newsletter.  Thank you for your ongoing support and love – we appreciate each and every one of you!

On behalf of Kusi Kawsay,

Urpillay Sonqollay - Thank You!

Our Students and Teachers

To educate is not only to open doors of opportunities but also to inspire and facilitate a path that changes the life of a child and influences their purpose and meaning in this world.  A great educator knows that their student is also their teacher.  Teaching to learning is like strings to a guitar – what sweet melody emerges to fill the heart and please the soul!  We are so thankful to provide a beautiful space to so many young learners who each day teach us as well.
Our Director of Pedagogy, Profesora Rosaura has been accompanying her student group for three years.  Her favorite part is the challenge and pleasure of seeing the child’s emotional, cognitive and physical development.  This is how it happens:
“You enter into a connection with the child and see the process of their personal development which for some is quick and for others takes a bit more time.  For example, two of my students who entered fourth grade did not know how to read or write.  They were very shy and did not look at me when I was teaching.  They were very intimidated and had low self-esteem.  But today, in sixth grade, they are children who express themselves without fear.  They participate with a lot of energy and they read, write, and say and show what they think and feel.” 
Profesora Rosaura said that she feels her students achieved this accomplishment because of the patience and individual attention that Kusi Kawsay gives to each student – empowering their Andean culture, tradition and identity while also using elements of the Waldorf pedagogy.  They are supported in their knowledge that they too have something of importance to contribute.
“If a teacher receives illiterate students, she may become frustrated with the child.  Because of the confidence and patience that I have with each one of my students, I am able to teach and guide them to reach the point of joining their classmates in reading, writing and feeling respected and dignified.”
With great joy, this year, Kusi Kawsay has welcomed Profesora Karin (1st grade teacher), Profesor Diego (Math teacher), Profesora Milagros (Chemistry, Physics teacher and School Director) and Profesor Martin (basket weaving teacher) to our Educational Family.  This is the first year that Kusi Kawsay is offering basket weaving as part of its Andean Legacy Program – classes that celebrate the Andean culture and tradition.  Profesor Martin is an expert in this ancestral trade and his teaching methods encourage students to create beautiful baskets! 

Profesora Katarina teaching English

It has been our pleasure to also welcome Profesora Katarina Sramova, from Slovakia, as our 2016 volunteer English Teacher.  Here she shares some of her thoughts of her first half of the year…
My decision to come and volunteer as an English teacher has been the best decision I’ve made.  The school is an amazing place.  The teachers are the kindest people and it is evident that they love teaching at the school and really enjoy the kids.  They make you feel right at home and welcomed.  Without a doubt, the children are amazing.  When I run into them in town, they do not pretend they do not see me.  Instead, they come running to give me a hug.  They are not disappointed when the school break is over.  Instead, they are excited to come into the classroom and learn something new.  It is during these moments that I know I made the right decision.

Replacing roofs on the Primary Classrooms

When Kusi Kawsay was first built, we used eco-friendly material and made sure that our school blended in with the Archeological surroundings where we are located.  When roofing the classrooms, we used thin tin plates, nails and straw which did not take well to the harsh weather conditions of the Andes – especially during the rainy season.  We were challenged by leaks or heat from the strong sun on the tin.  Thanks to the support of the Forix Foundation, we were able to reroof the five primary classrooms.  Thank you to Carlos Franco Salas for realizing the implementation of the roofs. Using Onduline grooved panels made with organic fibers, we now have a lightweight, environmentally friendly product that reflects the heat of the sun and is durable.  It is important to provide a comfortable learning environment for our children – from the classrooms space all the way to the roofing!  We hope that in the near future, we will be able to gather the funds needed to reroof the remaining classrooms, kitchen and office as well!

A volunteer's experience: Sasha Hull

Sasha Hull, a 17 year old senior from Washington D.C., volunteered at Kusi Kawsay during the months of June and July.  Here is her experience in her own words:
The kids, the love, the school, the atmosphere, the teachers, and the joy of education all work together to make Kusi Kawsay an extraordinarily special place. What stood out to me most during my 6 weeks volunteering at the school was the students’ intense love of learning and the immense admiration and respect for their teachers that they showed each day. After my first day at the school, the school’s values of loving one another and working together became apparent, whether it came in the form of a shy third grade girl speaking out in class and getting praised by her classmates, sixth and seventh grade boys including the first and second graders in a game of tag, “compartir” time (sharing time) once a week, or even the teachers who never raise their voice and lose their cool when students are acting up, but instead sing a song to re-focus the class. Although I was volunteering with the first, second, and third grades, I feel as though the students taught me so much about myself and really showed me the value in educating kids through love and inclusion, as opposed to fear and force. It has been an inspiration and a privilege to enter an environment each day that is so full of laughter, curiosity, warmth, and a hunger for knowledge.

A special visit from Evergreen

Each year, we have the great pleasure of meeting people from various parts of the world that come to visit or volunteer at Kusi Kawsay.  In May, we had an intercultural exchange with 40 students from Evergreen School, Seattle WA.  Kusi Kawsay students shared classroom space with them, taught them how to dance to honor the water for the season of Qoyllorit'i and were thrilled to play with the Frisbees that Evergreen brought!  Learning about different cultures and school methods is a great experience and one that brings about various insights!  Before arriving, the Evergreen students wrote letters and our students responded with excitement and anticipation of meeting their pen pal.  When they finally were able to meet they already had a glimpse of each other through their letters – knowing what they favorite sports, pets and music are!  The conversations continued in person and beautiful new friendships were created.

Enactus supports Sustainable Community Projects

For the second time, Enactus Ryerson University came to the Valley to contribute their knowledge, skills and resources.  They spent nearly a month working with our students at the Kusi Ñan farm where they offered business and marketing classes.  Furthermore, they inspired our first community fundraising event at the farm.  We made blue-corn tacos, salads, refreshments and more with all the delicious produce that grows at our organic farm.  Wiñay Taki Allyu musicians from Kusi Kawsay and Kusi Ñan accompanied this event with their beautiful traditional Andean music.  Sharing meals, songs and dance made for a wonderful afternoon with our entire community.  Enactus also supported Ñawpa Ñan in constructing a caretaker home that is the first in many new additions to the land our cultural project now calls home.  We are beyond thankful to our Enactus friends for all their guidance and support!  Once back in Canada, Enactus shared what they had impacted while in Peru by publishing this great article on their University website.

Thank You

Kusi Kawsay has always been a labor of love – a reflection of what it means to put our words into action.  Creating pillars of a great lighthouse, our projects have lit the way for so many students, youth and community members to practice their Andean culture, tradition and fortify their identity.  So much of what we do would not be possible without all the support that we receive. 
Our greatest need continues to be the Ayni Scholarship Fund, which ensures a child’s sense of dignity, self-esteem, cultural identity, quality education and opportunities for their future.  The families we serve support the school in many valuable ways but few can contribute significantly to tuition.  Please remember that this lively and evolving educational center relies on your generosity as well as all the volunteers we continue to attract.  If you feel moved to donate to this important Fund, click here.  Thank you so much!
We would like to thank Ann Beckham of Pachamama’s Path for her deep heart towards Kusi Kawsay, EMpower for their dedication to Kusi Ñan Farm, Freunder der Erziehungskunst Waldorf and their contribution to our school and teachers, Global Fund for Children for making the Kindergarden thrive and Sacred Fire Foundation for strengthening our Andean Legacy Program and becoming dear allies along the way. A big thank you to Monika Kronenberg for her incredible donation which allowed us to purchase land. "Vielen Dank" to Coco Vizcarra, Barbara Hemmer de Vizcarra, Klaus Doll and Nikola Doll and all those who are a part of Inti Punku - we are very thankful for your support to all of Kusi Kawsay's projects. Enactus contribution, mentioned above, was amazing. Our sincere thanks to Nancy Park of Wilder Green, New England Biolabs Foundation and the Forman School who visited us in May!  We also want to express our gratitude to the School in Nelson, BC, Canada, for selling our crafts while simultaneously learning about Andean Culture.  Much love to our brother Terence and his connection to all of us here.  A heartfelt thanks to Sophie Muir and friends for organizing Kusi Kawsay fundraisers in New York, Washington D.C and London.  Much appreciation to the Forix Foundation for our new roofs!  The lovely pictures here and on our website are thanks to Matt Dayka! A big hug to Monte, Margaret, Marilee, Barbara and Robert for editing the newsletter and to Frida Oswald for translating! To all the generous individuals and the many whom we have not mentioned here who have given so selflessly to help us realize our mission and continue our vision – we are so thankful to you and hold you in our hearts! 
Urpillay Sonqollay - Quechua phrase to express gratitude!
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