As a LanguageCorps Ecuador participant, in 2009 I moved to Ecuador for a year to receive my TESOL certification, teach English, learn Spanish, and travel. As soon as I arrived, I fell in love with Ecuador and all it had to offer, and before I knew it, that year had turned into 2.5 years!
Throughout my time in South America, I met many wonderful people, including the artisans whom I am partnering with to create La Pucara Jewelry Collections (www.etsy.com/shop/LaPucaraCollections). While shopping for gifts to bring home to friends and family one weekend, I happened to meet Olga Lucia Moran and Cesar Yamberla at an indigenous market in Otavalo, Ecuador. Olga and Cesar introduced me to their family, and over the next year I spent a lot of time with them at various cultural celebrations, even eating Cuy (an Ecuadorian specialty of grilled guinea pig)!
After learning about some of Olga & Cesar’s life struggles, I sent some of their jewelery home to friends and family as gifts. After hearing some wonderful feedback, I decided to work with Olga & Cesar to try and expand the market for their one of a kind jewelry, handcrafted with seeds sustainably harvested from the Ecuadorian tropical rainforests.
Our shop, La Pucara Collections, was then established to connect the fashionable women who wear our jewelry to our workshop and artisans, to share the beauty of the rainforest and Andes mountains, and to provide inspiration for a better, more just world! We launched our first line this past fall in Chicago, where I am now living, and are very excited about the future! My business with Olga & Cesar offers me an amazing opportunity to stay connected to Ecuador, giving me more than one reason to go back and visit a place that has certainly become a second home.
Without LanguageCorps, I would never have actually made the decision to teach English in Ecuador, and I would have missed out on all the wonderful experiences I had there! I couldn’t be more grateful for those experiences and to LanguageCorps for making the move and cultural adjustment to Ecuador so great and the experience so fulfilling!