Staff Member Spotlight: Luis Alberto Garcia

Title
Cultural Advisor

Photos

Audiovisual Communications Major at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) in Lima, Peru.

Healthcare translator and Interpreter for the past 7 odd years.

Foreign Language Assistant at the College of the Holy Cross in Fall 2015 for what I consider was the best year of my life so far.

And average road cyclist who wants a spot at the Tour de France but would still be happy beating the local triathletes in their training rides.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Definitely driving through New England, all the way from Massachusetts to Maine. My father is a mechanic and taught me how to drive. I was an exchange student back then and my friends and I decided to make a road trip. I've driven over all kinds of weather and roads, listening to music and hanging with friends. As a Peruvian, you would normally see that at the movies, but this time, I got to live it.

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

I have discovered my commitment to working with students who choose to visit Peru for their Study Abroad experience. I realized learning and understanding other realities often not as fortunate as ours is a humbling and spirit building experience. I learned that students benefit greatly by having support along the way, and by showing them life in a foreign country has a whole other dimension that goes past the tourism brochures.

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

Having a student thanking you for being the one who was there in a time of need. She had a rough start, a hard time at school, her grades were low and she was not motivated about staying. After a few hard-working tutoring sessions, her attitude towards challenges improved so much. Now she faces challenges with a smile and went from saying "I can't do this" to "I don't care what the grade is, I'll do it for myself".

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

I would still choose Peru, every time. There will always be something different, something new. Peru's territory and people have been shaped and re-shaped so many times throughout history, that every time you visit it, it is a new opportunity to discover a new layer to what it means to be Peruvian.

There will always be a little detail you missed from your last trip, you will always find an explanation for why everybody uses a particular word or way to express things and it is a constant filling of gaps you wouldn't have realized were there until the time you decided to come back for a second or third time.

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

We tailor to our students' needs, offering individual support to the students who need it during their stay. We know not every student has had the same experiences nor can tolerate changes the same way, so we are there for them. We also encourage full immersion by having them stay with Host Families instead of student residences or dorms. We feel especially proud of this approach as it enables our students to not only live in a foreign country but to actually look at its people, understand what makes them the way they are and appreciate the differences, sort out the challenges and embrace the richness of a different environment.

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

To listen and to be able to open up to criticism. To take that criticism and make the necessary changes that lead to a better experience for our students. No matter the tone in which it is said, nor the phrasing, how big or small the position criticism comes from, there is always something that can be improved. Granted, everybody wants a smooth experience as it is a sign of things running well, but challenges always expose the areas we can work on and make better.