What is your favorite travel memory?
One of my favorite travel memories was while I was in the Philippines and the rainy weather made it impossible to do any of the beach hopping and snorkeling activities we had planned.
After days of boredom we finally hired a tuk tuk and head on an adventure through muddy roads to a larger beach on New Year's Day. Many families were having a picnic and invited us to join them. We ate purple potatoes and other things we would have never been able to try at a restaurant targeting tourists. Children came and hugged us and played with us and it was a just a simple moment, that was very warm, authentic and special.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Working with people when they are experiencing a new culture for the first time has helped me grow in many ways. I have especially learned about myself and my strengths and weaknesses.
I have grown in how I understand people and how to listen and empathize with different perspectives, emotions and conflicts. I have learned how to coach someone through a difficult hurdle while they are growing outside their comfort zone, which is a very rewarding part of the job.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Brie Longo is our Program Coordinator in the Rome office and I studied abroad with SAI in Rome and then in Sicily. Her experiences with us led to her work with the Peace Corps and a Fullbright Scholarship and finally back to working with us.
I can't think of a better story than a former student that falls in love with other cultures and experiences so much that she wants to dedicate her career to working in that field.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Even though I consider myself an Italophile, I absolutely adore Barcelona and have always dreamed of spending more time in Spain so I would have to say one of our Barcelona programs.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
SAI is unique in that we are a small enough company where I feel like I have a personal relationship with every employee. We all know each other and help each other out and we are kind of just one big family.
I am especially proud of team every day! Everyone dedicates so much time and energy to making experiences personal and authentic and it takes special people to do that every day!
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
The biggest factor being a successful factor is listening. It is about listening to your customers and your employees. If you feel you have been heard - that someone was listening to you - then you feel validated and understood. This is crucial to have a motivated team and a satisfied customer.