Staff Spotlight: Eva Verardo

Program Director, Mexico
Originally from Venice, Italy, Eva has studied and traveled all over the world. She spent her senior year of high school in Pennsylvania as an exchange student and lived with an American host family, and another year abroad as an Erasmus student at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain. After earning her Master's degree, she left Europe to get more field experience and landed in Oaxaca City, Mexico, where she resides today as Sol Education Abroad's onsite director. Eva loves working with young people and sharing with them all that Oaxaca has to offer.

eva verardo from sol education abroad

What is your favorite travel memory?

I have a lot of travel memories, and one of my favorites was with the SOLmates during our excursions to the Pacific Beach. We were able to connect with the local communities and to support their economy, from the eco-lodge we stayed in, to the boat ride to see wildlife. We swam with dolphins in the open ocean, saw sea turtles, visited the lagoon conservation project, saw plenty of wonderful fauna, birds, iguanas, and drank coconut water.

An unforgettable experience was being able to swim at night in the lagoon, where a unique alchemy of ocean current and water temperature attract a kind of microorganism that glows in the dark, creating a bio-luminescent shimmer in the water.

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

I am constantly learning while leading groups of young people. It requires a great level of organization and ability to understand each personality and various needs. This is one of the main reason why I enjoy working with Sol! I have changed my perspective of studying abroad. I wish there were programs like Sol when I was a teenager!

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

Many students, while studying abroad with us, discover their true passions. For example, a student had the opportunity to assist an English Language Teacher at the local university here in Mexico and that inspired her so much that when she returned home, she changed her major and started teaching English at a local community college for Spanish speakers.

The same student also continued traveling and teaching English with grassroots organizations in several countries. She certainly left with a better understanding of the world and was more confident about the positive difference she could make!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Affordability, fun and very interesting programs. We offer a smaller amount of locations, because we focus tremendously on the quality of our programs. In the case of Oaxaca, it is known to be a relatively affordable destination that allows us to organize at least 5 days a week of afternoon activities.

Oaxaca is such a vibrant city, with a lot of cultural events going on all year round, so we can always suggest extra activities to attend during free time! For example film festivals, food festivals, parades, etc. - SOLmates are engaged in many activities that are fully in Spanish, so they can improve their language skills in a fun way. Sometimes students ask for more time to rest from all the activities, they can't believe how many cultural activities and excursions we organize!

I feel proud every week during our weekly meetings with SOLmates, listening to their stories, first impressions and the issues that may rise from living in a foreign country. It’s great to see how the SOL study abroad experience can really open minds, be a factor in growth, and a life changing experience.

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

Sol programs seek to accommodate different needs and interests, we can give many options to our students. SOLmates can experience the same journey but through different paths, paths that they can choose. And the fact that we are available to assist 24hrs. The staff in Austin is also always available and ready to support the directors in the field. They help us find solutions and give guidance in every situation that may rise. SOLmates always tell us how great is to know that we are always available for them.

I think that Sol Education Abroad is successful because our founders personally traveled and lived in the locations, so they know how each one works. They are constantly improving the programs, modifying activities, updating information, researching, hiring more collaborators. This process is totally open and collaborative, where both local directors and the team in Austin is constantly in communication and working together to make these improvements.