Tuesday 21st of November 2017 | Spanish | English

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JOSE RICARDO “CACAYO” BALLESTEROS: AN ECUADORIAN POET LOOKING TO INSPIRE

Born in Quito, Ecuador, Jose Ricardo Ballesteros came to the U.S when he was 17 years old. His parents are Ecuadorian, but on his paternal side of the family a Canadian Grandmother, influenced his bicultural upbringing. When he first came to the U.S, Jose moved to Kansas, where he finished high school.

Ballesteros says that one of his main inspirations for his career choices was his dad. “I come from a military family, so my two choices were joining the Navy or going to College. My Dad, who knows me very well, suggested –without imposing- that I give College a chance.” Jose graduated in 1993, from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. During his last few years there, he began taking writing courses in Spanish as his professors suggested that he pursue a masters Degree in Spanish Literature with a scholarship that entailed teaching at the University.

“I loved reading and writing, so getting paid to do that for two more years did not sound so bad.” Little did he know that he would find his passion through this scholarship: teaching. When talking about his job, Ballesteros gets excited and enthusiastic. What he loves most about teaching is being able to witness the moment when a young person grows intellectually and makes discoveries that lead to a better understanding of the text.

When asked about professional challenges he responds “I am very lucky. I get to do what I like. I love everything I do.” “However, he says, the biggest challenge is being able to balance my responsibilities as a father, a husband, a professor, an editor, and a poet. “He wants to be as involved in taking care of his kids as much as possible and he shares a lot of time with them and his wife Tara, an American who is a bilingual speaker.

The advice that he would give to Latinos trying to succeed in the U.S applies to all sectors of the community.. “My advice would be for them to preserve their Spanish language, by practicing their speaking, reading and writing” He says that this is especially important when it comes to second-generation immigrants. “We need to prevent what happened to other migratory waves, we need to continue to develop intellectual activities in our own language.” This is the objective of Zozobra, a bilingual publishing company he founded.

His favorite Ecuadorian tradition is New Year’s Eve, where men dress up as widows. in small towns. Aside from his family he misses the great ceviche de concha with a cold Pilsener beer.