Tara lives and works locally in Isla Mujeres as a member of the VolunQuest team. She is in charge of Marketing and handles program inquiries and applications. Having been a VolunQuest intern herself, she adds a special dynamic to the application process, helping applicants pursue the same adventure of Teaching English abroad in the Caribbean!
Staff Spotlight: Tara Woessner
What is your favorite travel memory?
In Isla Mujeres, my favorite memory was when I swam with manta rays and whale sharks. I felt like a mermaid, and was in awe swimming next to these gentle giants in their large, ocean home. It was a memorable day as I was reminded of the amount of beauty and adventure Isla Mujeres has to offer beyond its sandy beaches.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Since working for VolunQuest, first as an intern and now as a Director, I have grown in so many ways. As a teacher, I became more creative – whether that was for lesson planning, or impromptu moments in the classroom when a lesson didn’t go as expected.
As a Director, I have gained confidence and adaptability. I have been given leadership opportunities and taken on tasks I never thought I’d be able to handle. I enjoy my role in the recruitment process because I get to help an adventurous spirit take on the same journey abroad that I was lucky enough to experience.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Being in charge of hiring, I get to learn how people heard about VolunQuest. I often hear of applicants being recommended by a friend who has previously volunteered with us. It is extremely rewarding to know that our past participants are just as passionate about our programs as we are, and that they wish the same special experience for someone close to them.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
As a previous scholarship recipient to the VolunQuest internship, I feel a little bias toward this program. Not only did I learn and grow as a teacher in the classroom, but I gained so many unforgettable memories.
The island is a special place, and you truly immerse into the local community. I was working in the public schools, but would see my students every time I left my house. I enjoyed the length of the program because after being abroad for five months, I felt confident as a teacher, learned about the culture, and improved my Spanish immensely. Above all, this internship has purpose – you feel and see that you are making a difference every single day.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
VolunQuest is unique because we are the only volunteer program in Mexico whose teachers are allowed into the public elementary schools of Isla Mujeres. We work side by side with the local teachers and government, and teach Mexico’s National English Curriculum. Our program works with around 1,500 students on the island, and all of their families.
This is why I feel I am a part of the community. I am especially proud of our team every time I step foot in the classroom; this is where I see the progress of our students as a result of the hard work and dedication of our volunteers and interns.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I believe a company is successful when there is passion and purpose. We are successful because we are passionate about the work we do for our students. Our company believes in the programs we offer and our purpose here as educators in Isla Mujeres. We seek this same passion when hiring interns and those eager to volunteer with us.