What is your favorite travel memory?
Perched around a small fire in the surrounding forest of Huay Pakoot, a unique village nestled in Northern Thailand. Broth-based 2 minute noodles bubbling in a makeshift hollowed Bamboo pot, herbal tea brewing in the more-impressive bamboo kettle - calving Bamboo cups & basket weaving whilst observing the inquisitive Ellie's splashing & enjoying a mud bath within meters.
Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
Ulleungdo 'The Mysterious Island' - an extinct volcano, a spec in the Sea off South Korea's Eastern Coast. Prehistoric hike, 984 m. (3,228 ft) to Seonginbong Peak.
Southern Koh Phangan: yes, home of the mighty full moon party & a buzzing tourist hot-spot.. many are blinded by the brigade & miss out on hidden gems in the north or on much more characteristic islands nearby.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
Having a dynamic but connected team of passionate individuals who strive for the same core company values & work together to progress. Transparency, commitment & a unified vision.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Gosh, where to start. GVI have been incredible for my personal & professional growth. I started as a 6-month intern looking to gain work experience & fill a gap before my next adventure. That quickly changed, as GVI became my adventure, igniting my passion for global education & environmental awareness. Today I find myself living in Mexico managing a small office & passionate team within the wider GVI family. I've come a long way with their support, learning something new every day, rising to challenges & continuing to expand my horizons.
What unique qualities does your company possess?
People who really care about the impact on the ground & the close relationships across all departments (despite the miles between many of us). I also love that our CEO refuses to have his own separate office, instead he's in the thick of it with everyone else, rocking his board shorts & slops. We have such a supportive, fun & international group of people around the world, all doing their part to make a difference. For volunteers: 360 degree support (from their first call, through their field-experience), professional in-field training & well-established projects to support.
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.
The way in which everyone rallied together to support communities in Fiji after the latest cyclone. Staff & volunteers on our projects around the world organized fundraising events. Previous volunteers reach out & most impressively, staff & volunteers in Fiji have done an incredible job focusing on relief work & continue to do so. Really inspiring.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Today, one of our awesome volunteers who joined us for 3 months in Laos copied me in communications with a prospective volunteer - it was great to read about the impact he'd made & also how the project had influenced him, particularly his statement: "I can honestly tell you that it was the single greatest experience of my life so far." The 'so far' is very important there too! It's not about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but a continued life path, weather that be making a difference with GVI or in one's local community - ideally both!