Jose Landaverde Mrochek was born in Bolivia, and moved to Guatemala, Peru and finally, Washington, all by the time he was 4 years old. Now, 24, Mrochek is in IT consulting at Grant Thornton accounting firm after receiving a degree in management information systems at Penn State University. There, he was a member of the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi.
What do you like about your job?
I think my favorite parts are working with clients. We go to a different company every two weeks, so we get to learn a lot, meet a lot of cool people, go to a lot of places. The traveling is fun. It totally changes from client to client.
What is your background with Judaism?
My grandparents were immigrants from Poland and Austria-Hungary. They were both Jewish, that’s the Mrochek side. Bolivia was one of the few countries that took refugees during World War II, so there’s a pretty tight Jewish community in Bolivia. I was raised Jewish, I was bar mitzvahed. I never was truly religious, but I always appreciated the values that came out of it.
My dad converted when he married my mom. He was raised Catholic, but was also never very religious. Growing up in Bethesda, most of my friends were Jewish, so joining AEPi was an easy transition.
How many times have you been to Bolivia?
We go back every year. My grandparents live there, my two uncles live there, so it’s kind of like a little family reunion every time we go.
What do you love the most about Bolivia?
The food is fantastic. What I love most is probably just the family time we spend. My grandparents run a chicken business, so we kind of check out the business. We usually take the chance to travel while we’re down there.
Are there any Bolivian Jewish foods we should know about?
So, schnitzel kind of comes into it a lot. They call it milanesas. It uses the same breading as schnitzel and it’s served over rice and egg and a kind of salsa, a kind of tomato base. Whenever we go to my grandparents’ house, we eat a lot of [standard] Jewish food like matzah ball soup and latkes.
What about regular Bolivian foods?
They’re known for their steak. There’s humitas which is kind of like a tamale, but a lot sweeter. It’s corn-based, there’s a lot of corn-based food. You can get a very nice steakhouse quality steak for like $10.
What are some of your interests?
I travel a lot. I like traveling alone and I also like traveling with groups of people. I’m going to Greece with my girlfriend this week. I’ve been to Morocco, Costa Rica last march, Spain. We’re going to Brazil and Bolivia in December. When I’m not working I like to figure out what I’m going to do in terms of travel. That’s what I prefer to spend my money on.
What do you like most about traveling?
I love learning about new cultures, meeting the people there, see how they operate. The culture and the people is what drives me the most. And the history, too.
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