Staff Spotlight: Steven Gottsacker

Osaka Program Director

Steven graduated from Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota with two Bachelor's Degrees in Spanish and Global Studies (Asian Studies Option), and a minor in Japanese. He is currently working on his Master's Degree in International Development through Saint Mary's University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has toured Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Akita, and Sapporo in Japan.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is visiting Osaka, Japan. The culture there is so unique compared to Tokyo, where everything is busy. Osaka has a very rich history which includes castles, gardens, and native food. It also hosts citizens who are very affable and willing to converse with you. There was so much to see!

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

Since joining this company, I have learned more about how countries like Japan have developed economically, socially, and politically, putting them at the center of the world's stage. Using it as a model, I have a far better understanding of where other countries fit in the development process. With that, I can inform others of cultural differences and progress.

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

Some of the students who traveled to Japan loved the culture so much that they wanted to be integrated as much as possible. Even though they were Western and found it hard to assimilate, they did not let that stop them from speaking the language or practicing the lifestyle. I love the enthusiasm! It is very infectious and admirable.

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

I would have to say travelling to Spain. Although I have practiced Spanish for over ten years, I still have not visited a country that speaks Spanish. Spain has a rich and fascinating history that I would love to know on a deeper level. I know a lot about it from studying in my classes, but would love to experience it in person.

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

One of the things that makes this company unique is its ambition. Our CEO, Derek Tano, has such a strong vision and entrepreneurial spirit that reflects his bold determination. He seized upon an idea that others have tried, but have done poorly in execution. Although very young, we have experience! I do not think that our desire is to be underestimated!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe the biggest factor is perseverance and support for one another. We are just starting out as an organization and we are all very passionate about our respective roles. It helps that we are, for the most part, familiar with each other, but we could easily get swept up without staying focused. It can be difficult when there are so many things to do in so short a time!