‘When I was 15, a lady came to our school and spoke about exchange programs so I went and spent a year in Costa Rica. I did my year 10 in Costa Rica and learnt to speak Spanish and lived with a local family there. We lived in the mountains surrounded by coffee fields. Before I went, I didn’t speak Spanish or anything so I didn’t really know what was going on. It was a poor school – 3,000 students with just a couple of teachers and none of them would turn up. No one really cared.
‘There was one teacher; she was a biology teacher, and she really cared that I understood what was going on and that I actually learnt. She told me to go and buy some rope and some paint and she taught me to make a really thick rope – like macramé. She was teaching us about DNA so it looked like a DNA thing. So I made a really big one – she taught me how to make it – and she told me to paint this knot blue and this knot green and I did everything she said and at the end she was able to explain all the parts of the DNA. To this day, I still only know them in Spanish.
‘Then she told me to go buy some smaller string so I could make bracelets for my friends and family. This is the jewellery I make and sell now.’