What is your favorite travel memory?
I think I would have to say one of my favorite travel memories is the first time I went out salsa dancing in Havana, Cuba. I don't remember ever feeling so alive, and surrounded by such vibrant energy: the live music, the joy and passion on the dance floor, the way the Cubans invite you into it all...it's incredible.
Another favorite is watching the sunrise in Morocco after a night of camping under the stars in the Sahara Desert. Some of the local children came and woke us up to take us to the tallest dune. Between communicating with those precious kids purely through laughter and miming motions, and the view of the sunrise itself, it was a magical morning.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Wow, what a question. I wouldn't say that I've changed so much as that I've grown. And that, I've done a lot of!
I have grown into a better communicator, working with people from so many different cultures, backgrounds, and communication styles. I am also more flexible (living in Latin America does that to you), more adventurous, more ready for anything.
Even though I already had a background in Cultural Anthropology, I have also grown immensely in my knowledge of countries and cultures all around the world; I meet amazing people who come to participate in our programs, and we get to learn from each other every day.
I believe living in a different culture in general makes one more confident; you must be sure of yourself in order to leave your comfort zone in such a giant leap. I suppose, to sum it up - I feel as though I've grown more into the me that I was always meant to be.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
The words "life changing" just keep coming to my mind. I have seen hundreds of clients come through our programs and they always seem to leave saying "there's just something about this place."
Our programs are designed to provide brand new experiences, broaden cultural understandings, and promote growth in many different ways.
People tend to leave with renewed perspectives on life, and those can play out in so many ways from their personal life to career choices, developing new passions, and more.
But no matter the result, I am always so honored to hear that our company can provide the space for that renewed perspective to cultivate.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Definitely our Cuba Rica program! It combines the best of both worlds: a month in the idyllic city of Havana, Cuba with a second month at our Costa Rica Jakera jungle camp.
Having worked with both programs, I've seen first hand how amazing each is in its own distinct ways. I really couldn't choose between the two, so I'd highly recommend the combo program - win win!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
The people. The value we place on our clients - not as numbers or promotional potential, but as people - is what first drew me to this company when I was a client myself.
The "extra mile" is simply a given for us: throwing birthday parties, taking care of sick clients like they were our own family, planning extra classes/events/excursions for clients outside of the program, inviting them into our family here, getting to know their hearts, their goals, what they're searching for.
I have been especially proud of my team on so many occasions. But two jump immediately to mind: one was when we had a client with such severe allergies to so many things she was unsure she'd be able to safely travel, and we accommodated to her every need. She stayed for 6 weeks, and her gratitude towards us for making it possible made us all humbled, and proud to do what we do.
The other is when a tragedy struck, and one of our client's lost a family member back home while on the program. The way our staff pulled together to grieve for, and with, him assured me yet again this is the company I want to work for.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
Honestly, I would have to echo my previous response: valuing people is, in my opinion, the number one factor in a successful company. It starts with valuing your staff and it trickles down to clients your staff serves.
There is nothing more valuable in this world than our fellow human beings, and every individual who comes through our programs is treated with this authentic truth in mind.