From Canada to Costa Rica: Reflecting on my Internship in Turrialba

From Canada to Costa Rica: Reflecting on my Internship in Turrialba


Ah, where to begin? I've been tasked with writing a blog post about my 10 month experience working at Wearsos. As an avid writer who finds genuine joy in crafting sentences and conveying emotions through words, this should be an easy task. Yet, as I sit here in our little workshop in the little town of Turrialba, I can't seem to find the right words. How can I ever portray my experience here in just one blog post? I don't know if I can truly do it justice, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

Life in Turrialba

With a bus that rarely stops, a language besides my own, impossibly frizzy hair, way too many cockroaches, and friends and family 5000 km away, life in Turrialba hasn’t been without challenges. Yet, following every moment of fear, sadness, and homesickness, were even stronger feelings of laughter and love. And with each passing moment of joy, I fell more and more in love with this little town. 

While I was lucky enough to visit some of the tourist hotspots here in Costa Rica, my core memories were all made here in Turrialba. It is in this town that I buy a morning coffee, that I visit my favourite fruit stand, that I pass familiar faces on the street. It is because of these special moments that a piece of my heart will forever be good ol' Turrialba. 

Wearsos Community 

One of my most cherished values is community, so moving to Costa Rica and leaving behind my community in Canada was certainly nerve-wracking. Yet, I never could have imagined that I would be welcomed into the Turrialba community with such open arms. Over the past 10 months, Wearsos has been more than just a job, it has been my support system and a constant source of love. 

Lynne and Chris, the co-founders of Wearsos, have been selfless, patient, and understanding mentors, who have challenged me both professionally and personally. They have filled the role of my only my supervisors, but also friends whom I can rely on. 

Karo and Carolina, Wearsos artisans and managers, are far more than just my co-workers. They both, quite literally, welcomed me into their families to the point that I now call them my Costa Rican moms. They are truly two of the hardest-working and kindest people I have ever met. They should also both seriously consider careers in stand-up comedy because almost daily they would make me laugh until my stomach hurt. 

Each member of the Wearsos team has left a handprint on my heart. Whether it’s Jenni giving me highlights in my hair; Tere giving me (a few too many) daily desserts; Ines providing a constant bright light of energy to everyone in her orbit; Jonatan, who was a very committed English student; or Johanna, whom I shared my first ever Spanish conversation. I am so grateful for each an every member of this team. 

My Job

My Job at Wearsos

Over the past 10 months, Wearsos has grown from a team of 3 people working on prototypes, to a team of nearly 10 people, producing at a much larger scale. Over this time, I have learned many new professional skills. I learned how to develop and manage a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), I learned a lot of new Excel Functions, I adapted my usual academic writing to a more professional tone, and I learned a lot about marketing and communication. I also (with a questionable level of success) learned to communicate in Spanish. These are skills that I couldn’t have learned in a classroom, and they will undoubtedly shape my future career, whatever that may be. 

Throughout my internship, I had the privilege of visiting the remote community of Mollejones twice. On one of these visits, our bus couldn't make it there due to the conditions of the dirt road, so we had to go by foot. Mollejones is where the leather airline seats are delivered, and community members are offered flexible employed disarming them. In this community of fewer than 200 people, employment opportunities are extremely limited, so bringing this economic opportunity directly to their community center has been truly transformative. It was very inspiring to see this aspect of our project! 

Additionally, one of my favorite aspects of my job is coordinating student tours, and working on educational initiatives. Throughout my internship, Wearsos collaborated with schools such as Abilene Christian UniversityCross Cultural Connect, Verto Education, and Stelly’s Secondary School. Teaching students about sustainability and women’s empowerment through experiential education opportunities was so inspiring for me, and it is an interest that I hope to pursue further in the future. 


Throughout the month of March, Tess Morgan, a photographer (and fashion geniuscame to Turrialba to help with our marketing, communication, fashion designs, photos, and more. On just her 4th day of work, she organized a full-scale photoshoot with 8 models, professional make-up, professional lighting, and a pizza lunch. I have never in my life modeled - and this was last thing I expected to do during my internship - but I figured, why not.

For over 10 hours, we travelled to countless places around Turrialba: the local market, the fruit stand, the fabric store, the Wearsos workshop, the leather drying room, the CATIE botanical garden, and. This was a memorable and fun day for everyone involved, and all of the photos turned out incredible! When I think back to my time at Wearsos, this is certainly a day that will stand out. 


Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a more meaningful way to conclude my time with Wearsos than going to… Texas!

In early January, Wearsos received an email that we were being invited to create an exhibition at Luck Reunion, which is an annual music festival that takes place at Willie Nelsen's Ranch in Spicewood, Texas. Needless to say, I was very excited when I learned that I would also be going. 

The best part of this experience was that two of our artisans, Karo and Carolina, were also able to join us. I remember nervously helping them with their visa applications for the United States; we all wanted them to come, but knowing that it can take years for a Costa Rican to get a Visa for the US, we did not want to get our hopes up. When we learned that they had received their visas, we all quite literally danced with joy.

Seeing them in Texas was very memorable. For Carolina, this trip marked her first time owning a passport, her first time leaving Costa Rica, her first ever flight, and much more. Our 4 days in Texas were jam-packed with activity, and the entire event was a huge success. We received nothing but positive feedback about our products, with many people remarking that they couldn’t believe that our products used to be airplane seats.

To learn more about our time in Texas, you can check out the blog that I wrote for the Southwest Community BlogFrom Turrialba to Texas: Wearsos Exhibit at Luck Reunion. 

Personal Development

When I stepped off the plane 10 months ago, I had no idea what to expect. The only Spanish words I knew were “hola,” "Mi nombre es Amber" and the numbers 1-10. I had also never gone longer than 6 weeks without seeing my family, and I knew nothing about Costa Rica besides what I had read online. Today, I feel that I am a different person than when I stepped foot in San Jose back in July. 

If in 50 years, I forget every word of Spanish now know, or I forget the little details of my experience, I will always remember the feeling of acceptance I found here in Turrialba. A feeling that can’t be made by anything besides genuine people and genuine love. 

De Turrialba Para el Mundo

Amber McNeil

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