This is such a tough question - each experience is unique and speaks to different parts of me. One amazing memory that easily comes to mind though takes place on the coast of South Africa, in Tsitsikamma National Park. I was with a small group of students on a weekend of independent student travel (that I was lucky enough to be a part of). We had rented a small cabin on the wild shores of the park, overlooking a large rocky reef and even bigger waves crashing against it. From where we were, we were able to watch the sun set over the ocean in the west, watch the moon rise over the ocean in the east, gaze at the beautiful stars all night, and then watch the sun rise over the ocean in the east. It was the first time I was able to see the sun both rise and set over the ocean, and truly a magical experience to share with my students.
What is your favorite travel memory?
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
There are so many people involved when it comes to a gap year - students, parents, employees, and people all over the world with whom the travelers interact - and success probably looks a bit different to each of those groups. I think, however, that no matter the company, evaluation and assessment are HUGE factors that often get overlooked but are crucial to longterm company success. Getting feedback from all involved and having the openness to adjust programming while still maintaining the mission and vision or the organization is key.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Absolutely. Throughout my time with TBB, my view of how to create change in this world shifted. I knew that education was a key mechanism in creating change, but as we learned and discussed education as part of the TBB curriculum, I realized that education can still be quite oppressive, and true liberation, an essential part of peace and justice, can only come from a liberating pedagogy where truth is something co-created by teachers and students and is forever and always changing to the current context of the world and our lives.
What unique qualities does your company possess?
I think TBB deeply understands the potential for negative impact involved with international travel and has structured its programs accordingly to maximize learning and minimize negative impact.
It is a humble organization that values learning over service and brings this attitude to itself as an ever-evolving organization, and the communities it visits.
This filters into the curriculum in deep and beautiful ways, and thus into the students, and because of this, I believe it brings the potential for humanizing relationships - what should be a key part of all international travel.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
It's beautiful to see the transformation that occurs in the students from the time they enter the program to the time they leave. Even more beautiful is when I get to witness the continued transformation as they bring back their learnings to their home country and communities. As a long traveler and global learner, I know that this return and reintegration is often where the hard work exists. Some of the best stories I've heard from return students are often some of the most painful conversations I have. The deep questioning that the students have learned on the trip often makes it difficult to reintegrate into their former social circles. Stepping into college, I find some students with one foot in one foot out of this society, not really sure about how to make sense of the world anymore. Although it is difficult for them, it is inspiring to see, and I know that the hardship is all part of a longer journey that will eventually lead to immense internal growth and societal transformation.