Ron has been a high school social studies teacher in Vermont since 2001. Previously, he was a lawyer in Vermont (5 years) and teacher in Aizuwakamatsu, Japan (5 years). He graduated with a J.D. degree from UCLA School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.
What is your favorite travel memory?
As a leader, I was most proud when my students conducted a scavenger hunt in Tokyo on their second day in the country. The students had a list of sites to see and required interactions with native Japanese speakers. We agreed to meet up at one of the 10 exits in a crowded Tokyo station at a specific time.
I was so energized by the excitement that the students had sharing their experiences. They made incredible cultural observations and gained the confidence to navigate one of the largest cities in the world in a new language.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I have renewed my faith in the goodness and compassion of young people. My group was the most amazing collection of empathetic and talented young people.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
There are so many stories. At the end of our month-long program, almost every student expressed that the trip was life-changing. In one month, they made better friendships than they have with people they have been going to school with for 12 years. They said that the people in the group know them better than anybody else in the world.
One student will be spending half of his senior year of high school in Ecuador as a result of his experiences. Since one of the students was from Puerto Rico, all members of the group have been following the events there following the Hurricanes this fall, because they now have personal connections to the events there.
The students are in constant contact and the Puerto Rican student said that her memories of talking with members of the group this summer now keep her from getting too depressed about her current situation.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
There are so many. I feel like a kid in a candy store choosing which type of candy to eat. I really enjoyed the Japan: Japanese Language & Culture program since I have the language skills and background knowledge to help students get the most out of their experiences.
I would also like to take students to Korea, China, Thailand, or Vietnam because of the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating part of the world. I really love the cultures and the physical beauty of the land. I would be honored to assist students in learning about places like Korea and China, which are vital places in the 21st Century.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
There are so many great people involved in the program. I met many leaders at the leader orientation. I would personally want to be part of a group led by any of them. They were really talented people.
Also, The Experiment allows participants to really learn about a place in an authentic manner and structures many activities which allows them to interact with local people. The homestay is a critical component of this. Students are not primarily tourists.
The participants are extremely diverse, from different racial, geographic, and socio-economic backgrounds. They are united, however, by a common interest in the culture of the country they are visiting and the theme of the program.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
While being on program, I came to appreciate how important it was to have capable staff in the US to communicate with parents and medical staff. The Experiment had a robust, knowledgeable on-call staff that assisted with a variety of issues so that the program could run smoothly for the students.
The staff also ran a very effective orientation which created a common set of expectations, norms, processes, and culture for the programs. This was important for quality control and the creation of a company mission.