Luke grew up amid the woods and lakes of Maine, and expanded his horizons by studying Arabic at university and teaching English in Jordan for two years. He has worked at CIEE since 2013.
Staff Spotlight: Luke Beland
What is your favorite travel memory?
I feel very lucky to have had so many opportunities to travel and make memories. Some of my favorites: riding bullet trains through western China, backpacking along the southern coast of Turkey, driving under the stars through the mountains of Morocco, and enjoying tea, falafel and mezze with friends in Israel and Palestine.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I started learning about this when I was teaching in Jordan, but working at CIEE, I think I've become more sensitive and helpful with people who learn and process information in different ways than I do. Patience and flexibility, two characteristics that I definitely got to exercise when I was living abroad, continue to be really important as well!
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
A teacher in China told me about the relationships that she made with her students at the university. They helped her pick the best phone plan, taught her how to order food at restaurants, and she even got invited by several different students to spend the weekend at their ancestral family homes in small towns outside the city! She was there to teach them, but it turned out that her students were great guides to Chinese culture and life.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Spain has such great food and quality of life, but personally, I think I would want to work with older students next time, either at the university level or with adults. That might be our Business English program in Spain (Spain Professional), or Teach in Chile with the community college jobs, or teaching at a university in China.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
I think that our loyalty and dedication to our participants is something special. We charge a fee, but that means we're behind our people 110%, even when the going gets tough. I've seen each of my colleagues in Portland go above and beyond to fix a problem for someone, or calmly guide them through a nail-biter of a visa situation, or just take the time to talk to someone who needs to unload their feelings or make a big decision. The little things make a big difference!
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I think a lot of it boils down to excellent communication. We have a ton of experience and wisdom from our staff and alumni, and we're always finding new and better ways to share it, to help the next group of candidates know what to expect.
Beyond the content itself and how it's communicated, it's also the timing of when it gets shared. We try to anticipate people's needs and questions, and deliver information and instructions that are focused and relevant, at the moment they will be most helpful. Otherwise, it's just information overload and it doesn't work.