Dreams coming true for Peru native Marcy CostelloARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — It was love that kept Marcy Costello in Lakefield. But it was her dream that landed her in Iowa. A native of Peru, Costello came to the States to study through an exchange program.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — It was love that kept Marcy Costello in Lakefield.
But it was her dream that landed her in Iowa.
A native of Peru, Costello came to the States to study through an exchange program.
“I went to a British bilingual school,” Costello said. “When I finished high school, there was a chance to come to the United States as an exchange student. I signed up for that. It was a program of fourth months. So I landed in Lakefield, Minnesota.”
The small town in southwest Minnesota wasn’t her first choice.
“I signed for New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Boston, but they give you the options,” she explained. “The families that are interested will write you a letter and then you go there.
“I received my first letter from a 63-year old widower in Lakefield. I said, ‘What a bummer, I want to go and have fun in the States as a teenager.’ My dad said, ‘I’m paying, so you go to that lady because I think she’s trustworthy.’ I flew on Jan. 7 in 1987 as an exchange student. I got a big culture crash first. We were 100 degrees in Lima, and here we were minus 25. I lost my color really fast.”
When her host mother became ill, Costello returned to care for her.
“She was sick and didn’t want to go to the nursing home,” Costello said. “So I took a sabbatical year and took care of her. I was divorced with a son. I was an American citizen, so I could do that legally. I was going back after a year, but her son asked me to marry him.
“I married my friend of 20 years, Patrick Costello, who was a lawyer when I met him when I was in high school. He never thought I was going to put my eyes on him because of the age difference.”
The couple was married two weeks later.
Costello has two children, son Christian and daughter Isabella.
And just like her growing up, Costello is teacher her children to be bilingual.
“In my house, it’s Spanish,” she said. “My husband doesn’t understand a word, but I wanted my kids to learn my language. My parents do not speak English, so when we go to Peru, they have to speak Spanish.”
Costello grew up in Lima, Peru’s capital city. She is the third generation of silversmiths.
“It was a big change coming from an 11-million city in Lima, Peru to 1,700 people in Lakefield,” Costello said. “I miss my parents, but you can raise a family safely and people are welcoming. You feel that you can make your dreams come true here in the United States.
“Every immigrant that comes to this country has that in their heart, to give their best. In my case, my dream was to have a store with the Dellapina name — my family’s name. I worked hard for six years selling everywhere. Until this summer, my dream is coming true.”
Costello’s dream was to open a store where she could sell jewelry items she designed herself. Some of those items can be found in Worthington, where they are sold at The Cows Outside.
Growing up around silversmiths all her life, the transition to her career was a natural one.
“Crawling in silver rings and earrings, I had to work every weekend in my dad’s workshop,” Costello said. “Sometimes when you’re on your own, you make drawings on a paper and my dad would say, ‘Oh, that’s a nice flower,’ so he made it for me in earrings. He encouraged me just by anything I draw, he made me feel confident. I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic, but he told me, ‘You are in South America, I don’t think you’ll make it to Washington, I’ll pay your education and get something related with the business.’”
She went to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in international business administration. But she never stopped designing.
After the birth of her daughter, she was offering adult cooking classes in Windom. After each class, she would invite the students to visit her in Peru. Eventually, a group of six took her up on the offer.
During the trip, Costello received another boost of confidence.
“One of the couples was the owners of Hallmark in Windom,” she said. “They said, ‘Marcy, you should wholesale the line.’ I said, ‘I just have a baby, I cannot think.’ They said, ‘Marcy, this is beautiful. We want to make the first order.’”
Costello travelled throughout the state to sell her jewelry. Now, she doesn’t have to travel much anymore.
“I was looking for stores and looking to even lease a house,” she said. “When my husband, with all his experience in the area said, ‘No Marcy, if you want a store, you have to go to the Emporium.’ If it’s hot, if it’s cold, if it’s raining, everyone goes to the Emporium.
“My dad gave me a very generous Christmas gift that was unexpected. So I thought I have to put that into a good thing. What about my dream to always have a store? That’s what I did. I found the right place in the right time.”
She happened to be walking through the Emporium in Arnolds Park at the right time.
“The ad wasn’t placed yet in the newspaper,” Costello said. “We were walking by when we saw the lady walking and we asked and she said on Friday they were going to have an ad for the store. I said, ‘No, I want it now. Here’s the check.’ I wrote the check right away and I took possession. The rest is history.”
It is through her store she holds on to her Peruvian culture. With the jewelry she designs, the store is lined with other native gifts, including a large selection of clothes — and stuffed bears — made from alpaca.
“For me it’s like getting the lotto numbers and I win the lottery,” she said. “Everything you believe comes true.”
Costello still keeps in close contact with her sister in Germany and her brothers who still run the factory with her father. She also returns to Peru for two months every year.
“As a family, we travel to Peru every 10 months for Christmastime,” she said. “They come back for school and work. I stay for two months. Having my parents still young, I want to enjoy them, too. It’s hard to be far away. You miss your family, your culture, your food, your music. But a nice environment like here with welcoming people and understanding makes a big difference. I’m lucky to enjoy that.”
Peru is a country located close to the equator in South America.
“We are 34 million people and we have 80 micro weathers. Basically, we have them all,” she said. “Lima is in the Pacific Ocean. It is the only capital in South America with ocean.
“Our diet is lots of fruits and vegetables. People are very outgoing. Our language is Spanish, and we have two dialects called Quechua and Aymara. Those are spoken by the Peruvian Indians.”
The country has three very distinct regions.
“Lima is the capital — where I come from — and the country is divided into three large regions. We have the coast, highlands and Amazon jungle,” she said. “The Amazon River starts in Peru, with the melting of all the ice from the mountains flowing all the way to the Atlantic through Brazil.”
Along with being a mining country, Peru might be best known for potatoes.
“We have more than 3,200 different types of potatoes,” Costello said. “The International Potato Center is based in Lima. People come from all over the world to study the crop. We have yellow, orange, black, brown and different textures and flavors. It’s amazing.”
And because the price of metals is high, Peru’s economy is growing.
“The economy the last five years is good because we are a mining country,” Costello said. “When the prices of the metals are up, the economy is going up. We are the only country growing economically.”
Through her store, Costello hopes to tell more people about her home country.
“I invite people and I give my cooking classes; I talk about my country,” she said. “I have books. When people go to my house and even in the store, I will bring my big books of Peru.”
Her store, dellapina, is having its grand opening this week.
“I was a little scared. But last Saturday, when I opened just to put things up and I sold my best piece, I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be good,’” she said. “You put all your efforts, rather than money, all your hopes, and you don’t know how it’s going to be.”
But so far, her store, much like her native country, seem to be thriving.
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Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.