What is your favorite travel memory?
Winter break 2001, I travelled to Bulgaria to see my college roommate. Having spent moments watching her acclimate to the English language, culture and my crazy family life, it was an incredible experience to see her home country through her eyes and be welcomed into her family like one of their own. Partaking in family meals, traditions, learning bits of their language and celebrating the holidays with them was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Immersion is truly the best way to experience a new environment as it allows us to communicate with or without language skills by opening up to others.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
Passion and Conviction. Being a small, niche provider means that each person has multiple roles and tasks to ensure the success and the well-being of both the students and the organization. It is inspiring to work with people who care about what they do and are always willing to go the extra mile to provide the most authentic, enriching experience possible.
Passion for the students means that APA seeks to assist in the achievements of each student during the semester and even 10 years down the road. Believing the benefits of an immersion program do not end on the plane ride home, APA hopes to create more global citizens one semester at a time.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Prior to working for APA, I wanted nothing more than to help students get abroad, have amazing adventures, perfect their French, explore the continent and lose themselves in Paris.
Since, I had a child, and now I find myself more and more in the mind of a parent thinking of perfect housing, adequate meals, safety, checking-in, packing and more “controlled adventures.” I strive to appease parents worried about their daughters and sons going abroad while offering tips for enjoying their time once they are there.
I certainly appreciate so much more all that APA does to communicate and assist students while abroad and feel that I can, as a parent and former backpacker understand both parties better. Does this mean I am a grown-up?
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.
After the November 13th tragedy in Paris, I was in awe of the speed in which the staff reacted as a whole and the support they were able to provide to students, parents and institutions. It was important to all of us to ensure the safety of our students, calm the parents and host families and communicate with institutions in the US as quickly as possible.
Staff in France and on both coasts of the US worked through the night to operate the phone tree, reach out via social media and monitor activity to make sure each student was accounted for. I felt proud to be part of such a strong, solid team.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Often it is the “after” APA stories that we find the most interesting as we learn where our students take their skills earned abroad. A student came to us to complete an independent study, in the place of one of her university courses, supervised by a well-known sociology professor on the subject of immigration. Her project working with immigrant youth in France, “Language of Youth and the way we see the Other”, had been an exceptional eye-opening experience for her and the staff.
After her BA, she worked and studied film and video communication before applying for a Fulbright to France. Inspired to continue her work with this population she completed her prestigious grant producing a documentary about linguistic norms of youths of immigrant descent in Paris. Julia ‘s experience abroad solidified a passion and launched a career.