Growing up in Piura, Peru Hugo Sánchez always noticed his classmate, Marité. But despite his best efforts she didn’t return his feelings. Hugo left Peru for the U.S. with his family at the age of 13, but returned for a summer vacation three years later.

This time, there was a spark. The two kicked up a whirlwind romance, but they were ripped apart as he returned to the states.  

Marité Espinoza Sánchez and Hugo Sánchez in 2007 in Urbana, IL. Courtesy of Marité Sánchez for StoryCorps.

In 2022 the couple had been married for 15 years and through Marité’s work as an expert crafter they were selected to volunteer as White House holiday decorators. Every holiday season, people from across the country are invited by First Lady Jill Biden to decorate the White House.


Marité Espinoza Sánchez and Hugo Sánchez at the White House Decorating Event in Washington, D.C. in November 2022. Courtesy of Marité Sánchez for StoryCorps.

Hugo and Marité Sánchez took a break from wreath making and tinsel spreading to record a conversation with StoryCorps.


Top Photo: Marité Espinoza Sánchez and Hugo Sánchez at their StoryCorps interview in Washington, D.C. on November 27, 2022. By Bella Gonzalez for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired December 23, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

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