Staff Spotlight: Taylor (TK) Klinefelter

International Program Manager & Trip Director


TK lives and breathes education and international travel. An Arizona native, she has been living abroad for over a decade, from Scotland and Hungary to South Africa and Cameroon. TK received her BA from the University of Arizona and her MSc from the University of Edinburgh. She served in the Education sector of the Peace Corps and now lives in Medellín, Colombia, where she wears many hats on the TFT Team!

What is your favorite travel memory?

Two memories come to mind as equal favorites. The first is when I visited Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana and accidentally wound up at a royal funeral (as you do!). The second memory is being woken up in the pitch black of the night in the middle of the Namib Desert with nothing but starlight to see with as we got ready. We drove through the silent darkness to reach the epic Dune 45, a massive sand dune in Sossusvlei (taller than a 100-floor building!), and climbed both calmly and quickly in order to reach the top in time to watch the sun rise over the desert.

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

Working for TFT has definitely changed how I travel when I find the time to do my own travels. I've always been a good planner, but my choices in activities have changed. After multiple summers leading TFT programs, my two favorite things to do when visiting a new place are learning how to cook the local cuisine in a cooking lesson and going on a bike tour of the city (sometimes with a guide and sometimes just renting a bike on my own). TFT really gets you thinking about different ways to learn about and enjoy new cultures!

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

A couple of years ago, I led an Older Teens program that included hiking the trail between the five villages of the Cinque Terre in Italy. I pumped up my entire group so that everyone was on board to complete the majority of the hike in the one day that we had to do it. One of my students was not very into hiking, but said that he would do his best because he saw how excited I was about it. He was in the back for most of the time, but still finished the hike. The following summer, he and a friend from college did a backpacking trip around Europe and they went back to the Cinque Terre. My former student sent me a photo of his view from the beach where we went and told me that he even did the hike again! Stories like that always make me the happiest.

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

Tanzania - I've led this program multiple times and can say, without a doubt, that it is a different experience to any of our other programs. It gives high school students insights into a region that is still so unknown and misunderstood by the rest of the world and going as a student group provides more insights and support than going on their own when they're older.

Students get to learn about city life in Dar es Salaam, participate in a cultural exchange program with Tanzanian high school students in Morogoro, interact with local tribes and go on safari in the Northern Circuit, and learn about one of the richest and most complex histories on Earth on the island of Zanzibar.

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

Our company is unique because of every single individual who is a part of the TFT family. Whether they are a current student or alum, or a current staff member or have moved on to other work, everyone who has been a part of the TFT experience is a part of our extended travel family! It is amazing seeing students grow into leaders and have many of them go on to become Counsellors in Training (CITs) and even staff members. I am especially proud of my team every time that I participate in summer staff training and CIT training - it is always amazing seeing such a variety of people come together because of a shared passion for exploring the world and sharing that passion with others.

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

Our staff is made up of people who genuinely care and that kind of support is what truly helps both participants and other staff members grow into the best possible people they can be, both on the road and at home. The desire to continue learning as much as possible about this big wide world that we live in is also a big part of our success.