What is your favorite travel memory?
I spent two years teaching at a rural secondary school in Malaysia on a Fulbright grant after college.
In my first week at school, I went around to a lot of classes to introduce myself and had students ask me questions. Since many of them had a pretty limited knowledge of English, they would often ask “What is your favorite food?” as one of the few things they knew how to say, and I always said chocolate!
The next day I was surprised to walk into school and find a chocolate bar on my desk. Little did I know, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this, that chocolate and/or other Malaysian snacks and cookies would appear on my desk at least once a week for the next two years!
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I studied abroad twice as an undergrad but until I started working at CYA, I had no idea just how much goes into making a study abroad program happen from behind the scenes – before, during, and after!
I’ve especially learned a lot from working with our amazing Alumni Ambassador program. Your study abroad experience doesn’t end when your program does – I’ve grown to believe strongly in the value of living an internationally-focused life, even when you’re not traveling overseas!
I love seeing the energy and enthusiasm our Alum Ambassadors bring back to their campuses when they tell their CYA stories and take what they’ve learned in Greece and apply it to their studies, careers, and personal life. Thanks to this, I’m now interested in working in the growing returnee services area within the education abroad field.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I would go on our full-year program, which spans one academic year in Athens. What’s important to me when I travel overseas is the relationships I build with people. If a picture from my travels is worth a thousand words, the connections I make with people there are worth a thousand pictures!
I love putting down roots in a community by taking the time to learn the language beyond just survival phrases and really digging into the deeper culture of a place.
With all the unique opportunities of CYA’s full-year program – like being able to take two semesters of Modern Greek, doing a long-term internship with a local organization, and staying either with a homestay family or in a friendly neighborhood of people who love making friends with CYA students – I think I’d really feel like Athens was my home by the end.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
I think that CYA offers a very unique experience because our programs balance so many things: both ancient and contemporary Greece, learning both inside and outside the classroom, rigorous academic study with fun experiential learning.
I think it is this special blend of features that allows us to build such a strong alumni community, because students leave feeling like they have truly had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It makes me so proud and so happy whenever we receive notes/emails from alums who are now doing amazing things telling us how much their CYA experience meant to them, or how studying in Greece influenced their career path now.