Feb 21, 2023

Lian and Romi Benasuly Comment on the Gaucho Groceries Project

Both are 4th year Communication Majors

“Growing up as twins, our friends and family would always tell us, “In college you’ll finally have space from each other as you go your separate ways.” Next thing you know, we’re both posting our UC Santa Barbara commitment photo on Instagram. We, Romi and Lian, live together, take some of the same courses, have similar interests, friends and most recently, we have created UCSB’s first and only student-run grocery shuttle: Gaucho Groceries.

In our second year of college, we moved into an apartment in Isla Vista with friends. Without a car, we quickly learned we couldn’t always rely on our friends to take us to the grocery stores in Goleta. In a course with professor Walid Afifi, we proposed a project to create structural change in a local community. With three other students, we researched and wrote a 20 page proposal for a grocery shuttle to take students from IV to Trader Joe’s and our class chose the project as the most sustainable and impactful. In the winter and spring quarters, we worked directly with Prof. Afifi to implement the project and, despite obstacles, we received funding for a year-long pilot and were awarded UCSB’s Pahl “Making a Difference” prize in Social Science. Gaucho Groceries launches in November and we couldn’t be more excited. All of the stress, micro-logistics, meetings, and setbacks we encountered are worth it now that we can see that our hard work will help UCSB students like us.

Working on this project together—as sisters and not just as peers—has added to our relationship. We have an open line of communication and are brutally honest with each other. We ask each other questions at every hour of the day. We learned how to complement each other’s skills — while Romi is stronger at planning operations and logistics, Lian is stronger at marketing and the creative side of the project. Although we didn’t plan on moving to college together, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We may not live together after graduation, but the experiences we’ve had together at UCSB are truly special and we will cherish them for the rest of our lives.”