Staff Spotlight: Elaine Disbro

Assistant Director of University Relations

What is your favorite travel memory?

blonde woman taking selfie on Great Wall of China
Elaine visiting the Great Wall of China.

I studied abroad at The Beijing Center (TBC) in the spring and fall of 2009. One of the unique and awesome things about TBC is the academic excursions. I love to travel and these are still some of the coolest, most intense trips I have ever taken.

About two weeks after first arriving in China, I found myself in the mountains of Shangri La in southern China's Yunnan Province. I remember sitting in the home of a local Tibetan family, drinking Yak butter tea and eating yak cheese, watching a traditional Tibetan dance, and then walking back to our buses under a perfectly clear night sky with thousands of stars shining down on us.

It was surreal and beautiful. And that was just the start of the trip. I knew then that China was something special and I've been studying and exploring China ever since.

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

I love being back at TBC as an employee. TBC gave me so much as a student and I want other students to also have that awesome, life changing experience. Knowing that I'm a part of their experience has motivated me to be a better employee.

I understand what these students go through and I'm always looking for ways to improve our processes and operations to help them have the best semester possible.

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

I'm still in touch with quite a few TBC alums from my semesters. While I don't have a specific China story, I think the fact that so many of them are still involved with China or used their TBC experience to move forward in their career speaks volumes.

China changes you and whether or not you use that experience directly, the strength and confidence you gain from your time in China has a far reaching impact.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would go on the Yunnan excursion again. I can't explain just how amazing that trip was. From the natural landscapes, to home stays in local villages and delicious meals, Yunnan feels like an entirely different country. I love Beijing, but Yunnan shows you a side of China that most people never to get see.

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

If you didn't know much about TBC, you might think it's a bunch of college students from the U.S. living and studying together in China. But this description doesn't explain the levels of immersion that students get to experience.

TBC students can live with a Chinese roommate, join organizations on campus or in the larger expat network of Beijing, and meet people from around the world. Students study Chinese in the classroom, but they also use it everyday to order food, get around the city, and practice tones with their language tutor.

TBC students can have an internship, gain international work experience, and experience a professional setting in foreign culture. That's why TBC is so much more than meets the eye. I'm proud of our team and the new ways we've been able to share and market TBC. We're able to paint a more complete picture of TBC through our work.