Staff Spotlight: Desiree Williamson

International Exchange Programs Manager
In October 2015, Desiree Williamson began at Ameson as the International Exchange Officer. In this role Desiree is responsible for creating new exchange programs and managing all aspects of existing programs. Desiree’s past program experience includes nearly seven years of international exchange program management on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. Prior to working on exchange programs, Desiree was a high school history teacher and head tennis coach. Desiree completed a post-graduate certificate at Stanford University, a Masters of Arts at the George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado.

female headshot

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is anytime I have had the opportunity to be a part of history. For example when I visited the temples of Angor Wat in Cambodia or the Taj Mahal in India, or touring Monticello in Virginia. To know that I am in the presence of humanities greatness that preceded me is inspiring.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I do not know if I have ever traveled somewhere that I thought was overrated or not worth the journey and learning. Just the experience and the trip was usually worth going. The most underrated city I have been to is Edinburgh, Scotland. I adore Edinburgh!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe there are a number of factors that contribute to a companies success; however, it all comes down to how you treat people in the end. Not just how you treat your clients or customers, but your employees and the public at large. I think a company's mission may tell the world one thing (it's their talk) but their actions toward their employees and clients are truly them walking their principles and mission.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Ameson and AYC are very fluid and dynamic which offers a great opportunity to explore different avenues for growing exchange programs and ideas. This has not always been the case at other organizations I have worked at. This means I have to think outside the box more and be very creative in how I approach my work. I enjoy that.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Again, as AYC and Ameson are dynamic we tend to have the ability, as an organization, to be more flexible as the international education field requires us to be. Additionally, we are an international organization with offices in Washington, DC and China.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.

Specifically for AYC, in under four years we have reached tens of thousands of Chinese public school students with English language education and introduced them to Western cultures. This makes me proud every day. As a team we are constantly working with the Educational Ambassadors that are currently serving and the alumni to improve the program for future years as well.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

There are so many stories that come to mind. I will take one from this holiday season of an Educational Ambassador who introduced different American holidays to his Chinese students besides Christmas. They studied Hanukkah and other holidays that are sometimes associated around the holiday season in the U.S. It turned out that none of his students had studied any of the other holidays and it was a great learning experience and chance for the EA to celebrate the diversity of the U.S.