Esau Chauca, a Human resources Specialist and Executive Director of the Ayazama Ecuadorian Cultural Center in New York, arrived to the United States when he was only 5-years-old. Like many immigrants, Esau had to quickly adapt to the lifestyle and language of a new country, which created a disconnect from his native Ecuador.
After getting introduced to the founder of the Ayazamana Ballet, they partnered together to launch the Ayazamana Ecuadorian Cultural Center – a place where people from all backgrounds learn about Ecuadorian traditions through the art of dance and vocal lessons.
Ayazamana, or rest of soul in the Kichwa language, is what attracts people to learning more about the Ecuadorian culture says Esau. “Many of our ancestral traditions help people find themselves in the vast space called universe. These traditions also give people a greater meaning to our interaction with nature and the world in general.”
The Ayazamana Cultural Center’s mission is to promote Ecuadorian culture and educate the community about Ecuadorian customs and traditions through the arts.
At the cultural center, kids and adults get introduced to the basics of singing, before introducing them to traditional Ecuadorian and contemporary Spanish music. The Ayazamana Dance Group is perhaps the cultural center’s best-known performance, performing traditional dances from different regions of Ecuador. The fundamental goal of the Ayazamana Dance Group is to allow the community to have greater access to Ecuadorian culture through dance, so that the public can appreciate the richness and diversity that exists in Ecuador.
The dance group performs throughout the year in different types of venues such as theaters, libraries, government institutions, museums, universities, and parades.”
“Through the cultural center, I have met many people who have motivated me and inspired me to share the Ecuadorian culture with others through the services we provide.”
Esau says his experience at the cultural center is not limited to managing the organization. He finds the most motivation interacting with other people who share his passion for Ecuadorian culture and values.
“Being part of this project has given me the opportunity to understand and embrace what it means to be Ecuadorian and to feel proud about it.””