Justine Epstein, a supporter of Kusi Kawsay and Kusi Ñan, visited in March 2014 bringing a fresh impetus with insights for positive improvements for the business. Her participation in Kusi Ñan has been very important, providing inspiration, guidance and support on all levels. She helped organize workshops with Iñakapalla Chavez, a social administrator, where the vision, values, objectives and goals were fortified, with priorities and time frames.
Zack, a young man from the Peruvian rainforest representing his Shipibo Nationin Ceilan, Pucallpa, came to Kusi Ñan in a youth work and cultural exchange for several months this year. His presence brought great inspiration, and he was a huge asset to the enterprise. Over the years Zack has participated in the annual inter-tribal gathering held each June for the solstice, Inti Raymi, one of the many cultural events organized by the founding group of Kusi Kawsay. He participates in a cocoa project in his own community, and took valuable experiences home with him from his time here. Julio, a member of Kusi Ñan, then went to Ceilan participating in a cultural work exchange. The common vision to empower the youth through these cultural exchanges is shared by both nations, with the goal of exposing the youth to neighboring cultures, learning from each other, and cultivating important networks and relations.
Matt Dayka, a professional photographer from Santa Barbara, California, visited in April 2014. He took some amazing photos at the farm featuring a freshly harvested salad prepared in the moment and shared by all!
Transformations that come with Collaboration
In November 2013 the young farmers welcomed student volunteers from the Marin Independent High School from California, and together they cultivated both the land and significant friendships. Through this experience, the Kusi Ñan farmers realized that they have something else of great value to offer; namely, Cultural Exchanges with components of volunteer service and Work Programs that focus on empowering youth as well as the cultivation of global relations. So, beyond the products of their labour they can see their own potential as cultural ambassadors of their Quechua Nation. Inspired to see themselves as leaders, they then organized several workdays inviting friends and family to participate in the fields to help get much needed work accomplished in the spirit of faena, communal work days.
So, it seems not surprising that in March of 2014, a select travel company looking for an authentic, participative, agro tourism experience showed interest in collaborating with the youth of Kusi Ñan. These well-educated youth, apart from farming, possess a profound knowledge of their ancestral cultural identity, and can share it effectively through traditional music and dance as well as their knowledge of the Andean Agrarian Calendar.
Kusi Ñan is grateful for support that has arisen to aid in organization and planning so that these possibilities may be realized. Our continual connection with Regis University provides important advice for the farm, with the plan to further develop these relations in the future. Special thanks to Kara Keesling for her support.
Jules Feeney and Noah volunteered at Kusi Kawsay for several months, and were a huge asset to helping Kusi Ñan continue to grow. They helped identify the points that needed fortification, such as developing a viable Volunteer and Cultural Exchange Program with clear guidelines.