What is your favorite travel memory?
My favorite travel memory was my semester abroad when I was in college. I spent a semester at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. I loved that it was not your average destination, and I could not have imagined a better time.
While there are so many amazing memories from that semester, one of my top favorite moments was going shark cage diving off the coast of Gaansbai (the great white shark capital of the world). Seeing a great white shark swimming freely in its natural habitat, within view of shore, is a mind blowing experience and one that I am still in disbelief that I had the chance to experience.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Working with United Planet has given me the chance to meet so many people and learn about so many new things. I came into this role fresh out of college and definitely had to adapt to the full time job scene, but it has been a great experience so far, given the amount of opportunities that I have had and the people and places I have encountered since starting.
Working for a small organization like UP gives you the chance to interact with all components of a non-profit, such as marketing, outreach, fundraising, and program development. This has been a great chance to learn and grow so early in my career.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
The best story I have heard so far is from a student who traveled with us to Nepal to teach in a local classroom. She was taking a break from college to experience the world, and her time at the school made her realize that education was something she was passionate about and good at. She came home, changed her major and went back to college with a newfound direction in life based on her time in Nepal.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I want to travel on our program to Nepal! I have yet to visit Asia, so this is one of the main reasons it is my top destination, but I also really love the project options we have! I think our English Teaching program would be awesome, and I love that we have multiple locations to choose from. I would want to spend a few weeks in Kathmandu and a few weeks in Pokhara to have the chance to experience both locations. I also think Nepali culture is fascinating and I am eager to have the chance to immerse myself!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
I think we are unique because we are built on relationships, which makes a really fun and collaborative work environment. We are able to put together our programs through direct relationships, so there is a lot of flexibility and customization that can occur. We strive to meet the needs of the community, but also work to meet the needs of our volunteers as well.
I was especially proud when we had a volunteer travel to Ecuador on our Long-term and, once he arrived, didn't find the project to be a great fit. Through collaboration and communication with all of our in-country staff, we were able to switch so much around and he ended up loving his new project!
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I think having a strong commitment to the communities we serve and our volunteers is what makes us successful. We are constantly working to provide quality, accessible programs that create positive community impact, and do the best we can to make sure it is a great experience all-around. I think that adds value to our programs, and people really appreciate the level of care and support we provide.