Kusi Kawsay Andean School is a non- profit school, rooted in Andean tradition, empowering economically challenged children from Pisac town and remote communities above Pisac, Peru; to become confident, free, self assured young adults, leaders of the future; helping the World to become a better place.
Kusi Kawsay uses Fusion Education, thus offering an alternative, integral education. These unique and highly effective teaching methods, incorporate aspects of Waldorf pedagogy, embracing traditional Andean legacy and culture.
Our ecological ethic is a social ethic, in that we are all related, inter-related and interdependent on this existence. Taking ecological mindfulness a step further – into the realms of the heart, of truly respecting and loving the land. This is returning to the true essence of ecology.
Kusi Kawsay is an indigenous school rooted in Andean tradition that applies Waldorf pedagogy, created for economically challenged children of the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Pisac, Peru. It offers an alternative, integral education giving priority to the formation of free human beings.
Established in 2010, we are a coeducational, independent school serving 100 children from early childhood through 11th grade. The school is located on a beautiful piece of land overlooking Pisac, at the base of the Pisac archaeological site.
Kusi Kawsay values, respects, and promotes Andean traditional culture, and educates within a culture of peace, solidarity, and reciprocity—the heritage of the student’s ancestors. Kusi Kawsay teaches all of the academic subjects, while following the Andean agrarian calendar, which honors and celebrates the local natural cosmic cycles. The school is striving to develop a global awareness which respects ecological integrity and the wisdom and dignity of indigenous culture, while working within a framework of reciprocity, respect and social justice. By providing a solid education, a dignified sense of self-esteem, and tools to increase economic and emotional levels of well-being, this education will help children, and by extension their families and nation, to leave the marginalized state in which they live, acting as advocates in the context of the greater world.
Kusi Kawsay incorporates all academic subjects such as math, literature, reading, the sciences, geography, and regional and world history with Andean customs, language, history, worldview, traditions, and the arts. It offers children an education that develops their self-esteem, and gives them the skills to become guardians of their communities and their culture.
Kusi Kawsay aims to serve as an educational model that will guide our children to respect their Indigenous Andean identity, surrounding ecological landscapes, and empower them to protect their right to participate in modern society with all the richness of their culture.
Kusi Kawsay hopes to serve as a model for other communities to adopt and adapt the approach so that indigenous children in remote communities can also receive the benefits. Kusi Kawsay produces educational materials for use by other schools in Peru or any other schools who wish to teach a section on Andean life.
Lourdes Jibaja is an important part of Kusi Kawsay’s story. She is the founding Waldorf teacher and dedicated an incredible amount of her time, expertise, energy and love to the creation of this school. We recognize and thank her for such dedication and perseverance. Lourdes and her husband Martin now live in Tarapoto, working in their educational projects there. They will always be connected to and a part of Kusi Kawsay.
Providing access to education that is rooted in Andean culture and tradition, Kusi Kawsay serves as an educational model that inspires other indigenous schools to approach learning through a sensitive and stimulating environment while honoring and celebrating traditional ways of life.
By supporting traditional cultural practices, children will embrace the ecological mindfulness of their ancestors, and help foster a balanced ecosystem.
Kusi Kawsay envisions accompanying children in their development, respecting their integral being, customs, history, mythology, worldview and tongue. We provide equal opportunity for girls and boys alike to participate in society with developed problem solving, creative decision making and acute leadership skills, woven with a common thread of an intact self-esteem and a richly dignified sense of cultural identity.
Kusi Kawsay’s guiding intentions and principles:
May indigenous and mixed race children attending Kusi Kawsay advance academically, emotionally and socio-culturally with increased self-esteem, cultural identity and pride and a sense of empowerment.
May indigenous parents may feel more empowered and able to assume an active role and voice in their child’s education.
May the unique curriculum used at Kusi Kawsay be developed and “transportable” to other communities throughout Peru and, possibly, globally.
May community members of all ages feel more connected and engage actively in support of the school (e.g., through program involvement, construction projects, etc.)
May Kusi Kawsay be not only an educational program but also a strategy for broad cultural revival and social change to ensure the rights of indigenous people.
May it inspire students at the school as well as members of other Indigenous communities to preserve and practice traditional Andean ways.
May Kusi Kawsay’s research and documentation of Quechua knowledge and customs ensure long lasting preservation of Indigenous wisdom and culture.
May all these efforts add up to ensuring long-term benefits locally and globally.
Kusi Kawsay is a critical part of building the movement to create longer-term change identified by the articles in the UN’s Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. By the power of a different kind of education, a new generation of indigenous youth can develop as leaders and activists, capable of advocating for their rights locally and globally. Like the Andean agrarian cycle, the “seeds” of cultural pride planted now and strengthened with each planting cycle is an investment in making a better future.
The school Kusi Kawsay was founded by a group of people with a curriculum that promotes the diffusion and recuperation of Andean Culture. These families have organized a number of integral educational activities for over 15 years aimed at reinvigorating, promoting, protecting and celebrating the Andean Culture—and in this way empowering the endangered traditional way of life.
The families, consisting of five couples and their children, celebrate the Andean agrarian calendar and the values of this tradition while inspiring others to do the same. This work began as small grassroots initiatives within local communities to start local cultural centers, promote intertribal gatherings, practice Andean celebrations, organize educational workshops and outings, document traditional knowledge and make documentaries. As the initiative grew, Pachamama’s Path, a 501(c)(3) public charity registered in the States, was formed to help sustain this work. When they realized that education was the most effective way to create change, they began to work within the public school system with a Waldorf teacher and specialist, Lourdes Jibaja. The vision was to reach as many children as possible within the state program.
They soon realized how naïve they were to try to change an established system, saw how ineffective their efforts were, and began to contemplate starting an independent school for local children with no economic means. They had no idea what that entailed. With the full dedication and determination of the founding parents, together with Lourdes who made a six year commitment, they gave their priority to starting a school, and so Kusi Kawsay was born.
The Andean ancestral culture as universal human heritage needs to be rescued, practiced and preserved. This ancestral culture is being destabilized by the impacts of commercialized mass media and by the official educational system, which diffuses values contrary to indigenous culture, thus contributing to the loss of identity so fundamental to socio-cultural development.
This panorama is exacerbated by the current, rampant process of economic globalization whose standardizations and ethnocentric conceptions of development threaten the cultural diversity of the planet, their natural resources and environment.
It is easy to see that in a few years traditions, customs, celebrations, rituals, agrarian techniques, weaving techniques and normal daily life have suffered changes through the new social components, religious sect intromission, experimental government politics, new language, economical crisis, as well as the use of new materials such as synthetic products.
To this day the official educational system has a fundamental impact on traditional life. The tremendous exodus to towns and cities in search of a better education has a huge effect on traditional communities. They leave their community and receive an education that denigrates their heritage, and relays the message that to be successful one must be a “professional,” which implies never returning to their homeland. Knowledge through higher education is rarely put to practice in the traditional communities.
Kusi Kawsay offers an alternative education in the formation of free human beings with high self-esteem to children who would not economically have this opportunity. This school values, respects and promotes Andean traditional culture. Waldorf philosophy shares a similar approach to life as indigenous Cosmo vision and encompasses our goal to educate individuals within the ideals of a culture of peace and solidarity while practicing the heritage of our ancestors: reciprocity.indexThis ancestral approach promotes reciprocity between man and nature. Traditional communities practice a chronological annual order of celebrations and rituals, which honor and reciprocate through this calendar with the cosmic cycles (Solstices, Equinoxes, dry season, rainy season). These celebrations will assure the continuum of the culture itself, maintaining harmonious coexistence with their environment. This is endangered by tremendous and devastating colonial imposition on all levels: socially, educationally, economically, religiously and extended with mass information technology. The school calendar follows this Andean Agrarian calendar.
For centuries, formal education was denied to the indigenous people of the Peruvian Andes. Not until the 1950s was education officially legalized as a public (and thus publicly accessible) school system. However, for the majority of the indigenous population, instead of being an advantage, nationalized education became yet another tool used to de-value indigenous heritage and to subject its youth to state subservience: in short to perpetuate a colonialist system of domination.
This educational system does not respect the local cultural values. For generations, it has maintained the principle objective of forming individuals (not communities) with an extremely low self-esteem, trained to receive orders and follow instructions and in this way, perpetuating a classist society in which indigenous people are condemned to be the eternal servants and, at most, specialized servants of the dominant economy and society.
The necessity of reevaluating our ancestral culture is part of our commitment. With full understanding that the generations to come will define how this process is managed, we have given our full priority to creating a school that will offer a high level education that will form future leaders while honoring and practicing their traditional way of life that is endangered.
Kusi Kawsay School is a self-governed organization. All decisions are reached by general consensus, in an assembly fashion of Andean tradition. The full-time faculty members comprise the College of Teachers, responsible for the philosophical, educational and future vision of the school through study and discussion. Each faculty member has the opportunity to be responsible for an aspect of pedagogical or business administration, depending on his/her qualifications and time. In addition, each department—High School, Lower School and Early Childhood—works to strengthen its particular focus through child study and curriculum development.
Day to day operation and decision making is entrusted to the Leadership Team, made up of the General Coordinator (Carlos Franco), Association Director (Rene Franco), Primaria Chair/Pedagogic Director (Rosaura Farfan) , Secundaria Chair/ (Indira Minaja Marmanillo), andKindergarten Chair (Sara Franco). Additional members may be asked to join the Leadership Team according to the needs of the group and school.
Small groups are mandated to implement major areas of responsibility, including, but not limited to, curriculum development, hiring, mentoring, evaluation, and, when necessary, dismissal of teachers and administrative staff members.
** In Peru school is divided in Primaria and Secundaria; Primaria is 1st – 6th grades, and Secundaria is 7th – 11th grades, then University is five years*
College of Teachers
The College of Teachers consists of faculty and staff members who have a deep inner commitment to the principles of Kusi Kawsay, Andean heritage, and Waldorf Education and typically have served at our school for a minimum of one year. The College of Teachers is responsible for the integrity of the educational foundation of the school, and provides leadership for all pedagogical aspects.
Kusi Kawsay Educational Association – Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is the legal entity of the school and is responsible for financial and legal matters, strategic planning, and fund development; it oversees the corporate functioning of the school. The board consists of parents, faculty, and community members who are committed to the school’s mission and vision. The Board works closely with Administration and the College of Teachers to set long range goals for the school. Current board members are President: Rene Franco Salas ; Vice president: Tita Monteagudo Zevallos, ; Secretary:Indira Minaja Marmanillo; Treasurer: Edelmira Peña; Board members also include: Sara Franco, Hector Bolivar, Hugo Franco, Carlos Franco, Roman Vizcarra, Fielding Wood.
Administrative Staff functions in vital roles of support for the College of Teachers, Teachers, Parents, and the Association. Administration sees to the details of the daily running of the school so that students can learn, teachers can teach, and parents and Board members can be assured that the school is functioning well. The Administrative Staff supports the work of the teachers through its work on admissions, communication, financial management, financial development, facilities management, technology, and management. The Administrative Staff members are present and accessible. The current administrative staff members are Shyntia Veronica Castaneda Yapura, Urpi Gabriela Franco and Edelmira Peña Soria.
The College of Teachers, Administration and Board are jointly in charge of the day-to-day leadership and management of school operations, to ensure healthy communication between departments, faculty members and the parent community. The Leadership Team affirms the decisions of the mandate groups and makes other decisions as needed. Its leadership policies are informed by the work of the Collegium and mandate groups and implements business policies set by the Board of Directors.
Class Board of Directors are elected every trimester to assure the participation of all parents.
Three class meetings directed by the teacher and the board.
Extra meetings determined by class needs.
Two all school meetings.
The Kusi Kawsay Educational Association (La Asociación Educativa Kusi Kawsay) is a nonprofit civil association, incorporated by public deed on March 6, 2008, inscribed in the Book of Associations of Legal Entities in the Cusco Registry Office with the certificate number of 11072048.
The Kusi Kawsay Educational Institution was duly authorized by the Board with Resolution No. 1576, dated July 9, 2009, issued by the Ministry of Education, DREC Cusco, and has been legally functioning since March 2009.
Awards and recognition
Regional Alternative Educational Model – Regional Educational District
Independent School – Peruvian Ministry of Education
November 2012 Kusi Kawsay received special recognition for participation in an international congress organized by the Peruvian Ministry of Education and by UNESCO, where Kusi Kawsay was invited to present innovative curriculum development and educational materials that advocate intercultural components, and was applauded as a valuable educational model.
The network of UNESCO Associated Schools – Peru, is a cooperative of educational institutions of different levels that are associated with the purpose of promoting quality education in favor of Peace, Freedom, Justice and Human Development. The affiliated schools are constituted in a medium with the means to achieve Education for All and to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. As an affiliated school, Kusi Kawsay assumes the challenge to explore innovative approaches for quality education, so that the four pillars of education (learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together) may materialize into good practices.
In this context, Kusi Kawsay participates in events, congresses and workshops organised by UNESCO, and in this way, as a member of the network of UNESCO Associated Schools-Peru, contributes to the strengthening of the network, emphasising the development of management skills and / or active participation in a virtual community and the development of teaching skills for the promotion of education. Kusi Kawsay’s affiliation with the UNESCO network is of upmost importance, and endorses Kusi Kawsay’s curriculum, educational materials and vision as valuable model. However, it is important to clarify that as a participant in the network of affiliated UNESCO schools, Kusi Kawsay does not receive any financial support, and is not a school funded by UNESCO.
Kusi Kawsay has integrated various forms of teaching to achieve a unique and high successful Curriculum, creating leaders of the future, giving priority to the formation of balanced, free human beings; a new generation of indigenous youth developed as leaders and activists, capable of advocating for their rights locally and globally.
Inspired by the Andean culture and using elements of Waldorf pedagogy as a foundation, we have expanded our focus to include not only modern methods of education (complying to Ministry of Education) and promoting learning and knowledge, but also illuminating/ enlightening the children about our rich Andean culture and organic agriculture.
Ecological education is an important part of this educative mix, following the Andean Agrarian calendar, as is traditional Andean Music and Arts.
Kusi Kawsay is a Waldorf inspired school that successfully weaves Andean ancestral content, values and worldview into the curricula. Kusi Kawsay considers Waldorf pedagogy as very compatible with Andean worldview and the traditional way of transmitting knowledge, sharing a similar holistic approach to education and life. Dedicated to the whole being, with rich oral storytelling, hands on participation following natural rhythms with natural materials, both hold hand crafts and agriculture at the heart. As this intricate and complex weaving of the two expands and contracts in constant pulsating movement as the reciprocal breath of life, we continue to discover and confirm.
Waldorf is defined as such: “Waldorf education (also known as Steiner education) is a humanistic approach to pedagogy based on the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Learning is interdisciplinary, integrating practical, artistic, and conceptual elements.The approach emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning, developing thinking that includes a creative as well as an analytic component.The educational philosophy’s overarching goals are to provide young people the basis on which to develop into free morally responsible and integrated individuals, and to help every child fulfill his or her unique destiny. Schools are given considerable freedom to define within collegial structures.
Waldorf pedagogy is a respected international network of which teach in “lesson blocks” of three to five weeks, following which students write and illustrate self-created textbooks on the covered material. Classes like music and foreign languages continue throughout the year. Lesson blocks include language and literature (starting with story telling, phonetics, and grammar), arithmetic and introductory mathematics, life sciences and the environment (including farming, animals, plants, geology, and man’s dependence on nature), history and geography (emphasizing biography), one or two foreign languages, arts and crafts (including “form drawing”, sewing and embroidery, woodworking and basketry), and music (choral and instrumental).”
Kusi Kawsay applies the Waldorf block system with a main class and complimentary classes, integrating arts and language. The difference is that our curriculum is interconnected and interrelated to the rhythms and cycles of the andean agrarian calendar. The verses, songs, music and stories are in quechua celebrating andean tradition. Above all, Kusi Kawsay honors and celebrates Andean spirituality and values as the very core of our curriculum.
The traditional Andean way of life understands all beings, humans, animals, plants, and minerals to be equal and alive. The ecological ethic is a social ethic, in that we are all related: interrelated and interdependent on this existence. Kusi Kawsay seeks to develop an ecologically and environmentally friendly consciousness through practicing traditions.
By supporting this way of life and encouraging the revival of the practices that promote this dynamic of respect, Kusi Kawsay takes ecological mindfulness a step further… into the realm of the heart, of truly respecting and loving the land. This is returning to the true essence of ecology. Our educational school material is focused on practicing traditions as well as presenting non-traditional practices (plays) for empowering ecologically and environmentally friendly consciousness. The school calendar follows the Andean Agrarian calendar that honors and celebrates the natural cosmic cycles.
At Kusi Kawsay ecological awareness is present everyday, but on special days, classroom events highlight the importance of conserving our environment, and this message is spread within our greater community to raise the collective conscience. More text on these school activities to come soon!
The socio-economic conditions of this region are strictly based on daily survival for the majority of the school’s families. On the other hand, we have more than enough enthusiasm and dedication to contribute to the formation of a global conscience that respects cultural and ecological diversity, that honors the wisdom and dignity of indigenous traditions, and that searches for the unity of human beings within a framework of reciprocity, respect, and social justice.
Kusi Kawsay is developing a unique curriculum that integrates a rich body of ancestral Andean knowledge, philosophy and traditions with respected Waldorf pedagogy and principles. Kusi Kawsay is fostering personal and cultural self-esteem and providing its students with the skills to navigate both modern and traditional worlds. This intercultural education is based on respect and reciprocity, the guiding values of Andean worldview, while promoting a culture of peace, solidarity, ecological awareness and gender equality.
Reciprocity plays a significant role in Kusi Kawsay’s educational approach. Reciprocity between man and nature is celebrated with Andean Agrarian calendar events focused on cosmic cycles of the solstice and equinox, as well as the dry and rainy seasons. This traditional calendar provides Kusi Kawsay teachers with a framework for their curriculum development and students take part firsthand in the “living legacy” of their community performing ancestral cultural practices. By integrating these events into the school curriculum, Kusi Kawsay not only broadens the education of its students, but also deepens the community’s ties to its rich Andean roots.
Students are developing skills in problem solving, creative thinking and ethical leadership. Classes in math, science, technology and ancestral songs, music and dance, and art integrate the Andean calendar, agrarian customs and ecological rhythms into the curriculum, showing students how to co-exist in the modern world without separating from traditional identity.
Kindergarten at Kusi Kawsay is magical. Sara, and her assistant Marybel, accompany and nurture the children in a safe and loving environment as they transition from home to school. The activities prepare the children and provide a rich and solid foundation for a flourishing education. Sara’s gentle voice emanates a power that moves beyond words. The balance of yanatin, the important andean concept of complimentary opposites, is alive as Sara guides the children through their daily class rhythm and schedule. From free play, to bread baking, from story time to painting, the children learn how to learn and cultivate a love for learning that will last for their lifetime.
1st through 11th Grade
In Peru school is divided into primary (primaria) and secondary (secundaria) schooling. Primary includes 1st – 6th grades, and secondary includes 7th – 11th grades. At Kusi Kawsay we currently have have 1st – 11th grades, and four of our classes are multi grades.
1st grade teacher: Leonard
2nd grade teacher: Catalina
3rd / 4th grade teacher: Sam
5th / 6th grade teacher: Rosaura
7th grade teacher: Lucio Ali
8th / 9th grade teacher: Indira
10th / 11th grade teacher: Robert
In addition to K – 11th grade, we have wonderful specialized teachers for additional classes which include:
Music and Dance, Art, Weaving and Textiles, Physical Education, Chemistry, Quechua, English, Andean Cosmovision and Agriculture
In a phenomenally short period of time, what once was a boulder strewn piece of unused land on a hillside overlooking the town of Pisac has been transformed into an education center of activity for over 90 children, their parents and the broader community. Kusi Kawsay was built in the traditional Andean way of undertaking monumental challenges through communal effort. It is the underpinning of traditional Andean life and is now the bedrock of the Kusi Kawsay School.
Throughout the school’s inception and construction, parents have been the driving force—defining the mission, donating the land, providing the labor to manually clear away tons of rock (recycled to create a 10 foot by 18 foot retaining wall), using a traditional technique of quincha or bamboo framed mud plastered classrooms from the dirt on site, installing a water system and an environmentally friendly bio digester compost system for the restrooms.
Thanks to parent involvement and to great support from organizations and individuals we have made tremendous progress.
Construction completed to date
Clearing of land, extensive terrace work and retaining wall to prepare the site for classrooms
A Kindergarten classroom
One set of Kindergarten restrooms and one set of restrooms for the grades using a bio digester compost septic system (natural ecosystem design with minimal carbon footprint)
Stone walkways and stone staircases
Traditional horno (wood-burning oven)
The eighth grade classroom shown in the photo below is now complete thanks to tremendous support from APIA, who has helped us with our infrastructure in an ongoing partnership over years. We are full of heartfelt gratitude for this support.
Our future plans include more bathrooms, an implemented kitchen area, an administrative office, library, implemented workshops, an audiovisual auditorium and a museum/store. This will proceed once we have stabilized our economic situation and have a sustainable fundraising strategy that assures the annual operating cost.
The school site is beautiful—the land is spectacular. It is a perfect space for our Andean Waldorf education project. We are so grateful to be here.
Click here to view a slideshow on the construction of our classrooms.
Kusi Kawsay’s beautiful grounds are composed of stunning terraces, stone stairs, and pathways with spectacular views of the Sacred Valley. Thanks to amazing support we have completed construction of classrooms from K- 8th, and a beautiful natural play area.
Special thanks to APIA, who has supported Kusi Kawsay’s infrastructure growth over many years. We are so grateful for Apia’s commitment, as well as the support of other individuals who have made the dream of Kusi Kawsay’s beautiful and functional infrastructure a reality.
Our current needs include small improvements such as implementing our current kitchen area and shade structures. Urgent larger projections include additional bathrooms, and an administrative office. Other important improvements include the reparation of our water holding reservoir to assure clean water and to provide irrigation for our agricultural program. A library, implemented kitchen, workshops, audiovisual auditorium, and a museum/store are planned as soon as the school’s economic situation has been stabilized and funds for operating cost are assured.
The tuition costs per student is $1,620 per year. However, Kusi Kawsay was created for local children who cannot pay this tuition, making Kusi Kawsay a social educational project. We subsidize the majority of the student body, and this is why the Ayni Scholarship Fund is so crucial. Over 80% of the annual fund is covered by donations. We operate on a sliding scale tuition.
Parents are responsible for a percentage of the monthly tuition, according to a sliding scale system in which we considering the background of parents economic situation or social status.
Personal interview: The first step for enrollment is a personal interview. In this personal interview the schools mission, vision and philosophy will be explained. The parents will gain a clear understanding of what the school does and does not offer. The parents will then learn what the school expects of them. If an agreement on both parts is reached, there will be an assessment of the sliding scale bracket.
Commitment act: Following the personal interview, each parent must read and sign the Commitment act, (Acta de Compromiso). This is a contract that states a mutual agreement between the school and the parents pledging parent participation in all school meetings, parent education programs, school celebrations and events etc., and an agreement to the amount of tuition to be paid based on a formalized sliding scale.
Committee pledge: Parents then must choose which committee they will participate in throughout the year to further support the school, and sign this committee pledge.
Inscription: Pay inscription fee and provide all necessary paperwork.
Over 80% of our student body receives tuition assistance, and 90% of our families can barely afford an $8 monthly tuition. Tuition assistance is based on a formalized sliding scale with five brackets. The sliding scale bracket is determined by the enrollment committee, which is composed of administration staff and members of the board.
Click the link below to view this years School Calendar.
This is the school song, composed by Carlos and Tita, the music teachers for all grades at Kusi Kawsay, and also founding parents.
The dance is called Muyumuyu, with movement in concentric circles, to the left and to the right, representing the important Andean concept, Yanantin, the delicate balance of complimentary opposites, such as day and night, which in essence represents equilibrium.
This was filmed at Kusi Kawsay’s 4th Anniversary May 2013, and is very powerful because the whole school, including students of all grades, the teachers, the school board and the administrative staff, play and dance together with Kusi Kawsay’s intention pulsating and vibrating from this circle into the universe.
The following videos shows our students singing and dancing the school song:
The school song is “Kusi Kawsay Noqa Kani” (“I Am Happy”).
Thank you mother existence, I am happy! Thank you mother existence, I am happy! Giving and taking, loving I’m a free sacred hummingbird! Respecting, living in harmony, having fun I’m a free sacred hummingbird! Not afraid of anything I have a happy life! Not afraid of anyone I have a happy life!
The creation of Kusi Kawsay School Song:MUYUMUYU
Carlos and Tita, our music teachers, created our school song in the traditional Andean way. Together they tell the story of how this song came to be:
“On a beautiful May evening, as the four stars of the Southern Cross, Chakana, lit the path of the llama and her children constellation, we knew we needed a song that identified Kusi Kawsay, and we saw the place to find it.
To look for the music, we went to the phaqchas (waterfall) of K’itamayu (the small river that runs through Pisac), underneath the Antachaka that our ancestors cross to rest, and in this sacred place with Kokamama, (coca leaves), WamanSayri (tobacco) and with much respect and affection, we asked the Yakumama (water spirit) to offer us a tune, and tone by tone, drop by drop, little by little, a precious melody was formed by the water, and was gifted to us.
On another day, full of joy and gratitude, we sought inspiration for the words to the song and we found them at the school by observing the girls and boys as they played, talked and studied. Together with the Nawpa Machus y Mamalas (ancestors) of Aqchapata (the ancestral name of the land where the school is located) the Wayratayta (grandfather wind) brought the words, the poetry and the message for the song where the spirit of Kusi Kawsay lives.
Later with much love and always with guidance from our ancestors, we constructed the Sikus Ira-Arka (name of the reed pan pipe flutes), and created the way in which to play the song including all the students and teachers, forming concentric pulsating circles.
So we began to teach this Taki (song) to the students of Kusi Kawsay and for the first time we played it on August 1st in 2012 in the Haywakuy ceremony (coca leaf offering). Then on Nov 17, on the day of grandfather TanpuHuaqsu Pumayali in the town of P’isaq, and since then for every celebration that we have, we dance and sing our hymn of Kusi Kawsay.”
Carlos and Tita not only live in love, they make us all fall in love with life though their music.
Urpillay Sonqollay Carlos & Tita!
Carlos Franco and Tita Monteagudo: our music teachers
Carlos Franco and Tita Monteagudo are the music teachers at Kusi Kawsay. They are also dedicated founding parents of Kusi Kawsay, and have three children attending the school: Araq (10), Illapa (6) and Maywa (4)
Carlos and Tita both come from musical families. Their respective parents formed a music group together in P’isaq almost 50 years ago. The shared love of music brought Carlos and Tita together and united their life stories when she was 16 and he was 19. Carlos and his brothers, along with friends from the area, had formed the Music group Wiñay Taki Ayllu. Tita’s rebel spirit and love of dance caused her to fall in love with Carlos when she danced to his music.
Their first project together was an investigation of Andean music in the local highland communities around Pisac. They lived in the villages and visited the elders—the wise ones of the Andes—in order to compile ancestral songs and develop their skill playing traditional musical instruments.
According to Carlos, “ the ancestral Andean method of music is first in feeling and then in thinking, because if it is done in the opposite order, the most essential is lost: that your spirit communicates with the spirits of nature.”
To this day they both teach and learn in the traditional, direct and experiential way.
We are fortunate to have Carlos and Tita working as a team, to share their rich musical experience on a daily basis with the boys and girls of Kusi Kawsay. They teach the classes together, and together compose their songs— listening to the sound of the cycles of the wind, water and nature of the Andes. Not only do they impart ancestral vibrations and tones that resonate in the students, but they also impart important ancestral values and teachings that ensure healthy and happy students at Kusi Kawsay, and strong and sensitive citizens of the future.
Kusi Kawsay encourages students, teachers and parents to celebrate andean products, their important nutritional value, and the ancestral heritage value. This message is woven throughout the curricula. Our first Andean food festival was a huge success — see more photos on our Facebook! The parents decided what to prepare and shared the recipes, and the students gave presentations about the nutritional and ancestral value of the products. Each class had a beautifully displayed table, and after the children and parents presented them, everyone was invited to taste the creative, nutritional and beautifully presented dishes. The pumpkin ice cream from the second grade was a hit! The quinoa salad and native potato from kindergarten was delicious.
Nutrition Awareness and Improvement Program
Many Kusi Kawsay students suffer from impoverished living conditions and inadequate nutrition. We recognize that without sufficient and proper nutrition, students cannot fully engage in learning. Many students walk long distances to and from school every day and require extra calories. Further, traditional diets are being undermined and stigmatized by globalization and advertising that promote the consumption of cheap junk food. There is increasing consumption of foods that contain little nutritional value and contaminate the surroundings with plastic wrapping. There is a general and widespread absence of nutritional education or awareness regarding this trend. Kusi Kawsay believes nutrition education alongside the promotion and valorization of ancestral Andean products that are full of nutritional value is of utmost importance. In 2010 Kusi Kawsay served a daily nutritional breakfast based on native grains (quinoa, amaranth, and other native crops) purchased by local family farmers thereby offering a positive incentive to maintain the cultivation of these traditional crops and cultivating pride in local ancestral foods. This year we had to cut the program due to lack of funds.
Our Nutrition Awareness Program is able to:
Provide a daily snack for all students consisting of porridge prepared with native grains and a piece of fruit.
Include nutrition education, targeted to children of the school with the goal of reaching homes and the community at large, that encourages healthier food choices.
Promote awareness and pride in the valuable Andean ancestral agrarian heritage and native nutritional food crops that are gaining increasing world recognition.
*Our Nutrition and Wellbeing cause ensures the continuation of healthy minds living in healthy bodies.