My name

Isel Otero-Vera

Where I consider home

I am originally from Puerto Rico but have been living and studying in the U.S. mainland for eight years.

My current occupation

I recently graduated from Bryn Mawr College where I studied political science and I am currently working with Profugo on a one-year fellowship as a program manager for the Tailoring Workshop & Co-op and the Community Supported Agriculture Project in Wayanad.

My interests

Traveling, discovering new music and reading historical-fiction.

What I would do if I had the day off

I would turn off my computer and take my iPod and favorite book of Spanish poetry; then, take the bus to another side of the city, where I have never been before, and have some coffee at a small bakery. I would sit at a public park to people watch, read and listen to music. Before mid-day, I would take the bus without a set destination to see where it takes me. At night, I will call all my good friends and go salsa dancing.

My favorite ‘bad’ food

“Tostones” fried plantains with mayo, ketchup and garlic sauce.

Why I am in Wayanad, India

I first heard about Kerala my junior year of college while taking my Ethics of Development class. In this course we read works by the renowned economist from India, Amartya Sen, who spoke passionately about issues of social justice and economic development. Amarya Sen mentioned Kerala as an exemplary case study for development given the residentsí high literacy rate and longer living expectancy. I have wanted to visit Kerala and learn more about it since then.

How I hope to grow during my time in India

I hope to learn how to cook some exceptional biryani and speak conversational Malyalam. Most importantly, I look forward to building wonderful friendships and establishing great relationships with my coworkers in the tailoring workshop and community members.

What were my fears surrounding my upcoming trip to India

My biggest fear is getting lost because of the language barrier.

The three things that I must bring to India are

My journal/sketch book, my music and a Malyalam notebook.

If I could have an Indian name, it would be


My message to potential donors

Thank you so much for supporting this opportunity. I look forward to working with the community and creating strong, long lasting community-led programs.