Staff Member Spotlight: Joe Meringolo

Title
Director of Program Development

Photos

After playing college lacrosse and graduating undergrad with a degree in English from St. Mary's College of Maryland, Joe moved to Spain and taught English there for four years. During his time in Spain, Joe earned a Masters in Teaching and Learning Spanish from the University of Acalá - Instituto Franklin, outside of Madrid, and he moved to Lima, Peru for five months to teach English and Spanish before returning to the Washington DC/Baltimore area.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I visited my long-time friend Nora in southern Spain while I was studying abroad in Italy. She was teaching English as a language assistant through the Spanish Ministry of Education while I was studying abroad, and she showed me the town where she was teaching and she introduced me to her friends. That weekend changed my life because I realized that I remembered some Spanish and that if I put more effort toward speaking it that I could learn another language, which inspired me to move to Spain after college.

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

I've grown both personally and professionally because I've had the opportunity to reconnect with Spain and Peru, two countries where I used to call home and share those places with students and teachers. I've enjoyed the feeling of being empowered and trusted to grow our marketing, make new connections with schools and universities, and to create more opportunities for students to go abroad. When I've taken students to these countries, I feel like I'm showing them the beauty of these countries and sharing what my Spanish and Peruvian friends have taught me in these special places.

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

Jake Leary, two-time EdOdyssey alumni, became a marketing intern for us at EdOdyssey and I've heard so many of his stories and experiences from his time with EdOdyssey in both China and Peru. As he's currently a rising sophomore studying at Harvard, I've seen him grow as a writer and a person as he explores opportunities on campus to become more involved with international students on campus. I've enjoyed guiding him as he's infused his feelings and thoughts about study abroad into our blogs. This summer, he's gone back to Asia to help volunteer and work with students so it's been incredible to see him continue to explore and seek new opportunities.

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

Our Peru program! We do a really good job getting students set up from the start with a month-long orientation with intensive Spanish classes and matching them with a homestay. We want the students to feel comfortable in Lima and we have great on-site staff who are bilingual and bicultural who help advise students on the academic side and they're there if students have any other needs.

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

Our background in education and focus on education makes us special because our customizable programs allow us to focus on different content areas. We also like to include as much into our program prices, such as airfare and all meals, so that there are no surprises.

Our study abroad is unique because we focus on student orientation. In Peru, our orientation helps students improve their language skills with an intensive 80-hour Spanish course, to help them get acclimated to life in another country, and for them to learn how to get around the city before starting their university classes. We understand that it's impossible for students to be successful academically if they struggle to speak the language and if they don't have time to learn how to get around the city.

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

The biggest factor is understanding and communicating purpose between universities and companies. When schools and universities their mission and objectives for their students, the academic institutions give companies the opportunity and responsibility to create and deliver a program that meets all expectations.