Staff Spotlight: Melina Horst

Operations Manager


Where the comfort zone ends, the adventure begins, so Meli dared to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Soon, her Swiss habits were complemented by a lot of flexibility and spontaneity found in Latin American culture. It turned out that she likes this lifestyle better for the moment. Fortunately, she came to JAKERA on her journey and got stuck there where she is today helping that everything rolls as it should.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I think I’m experiencing it right now. Every day here is a new adventure. Some of the highlights were definitely the diving in Mexico with the Bullshark, the surfing here in Costa Rica where you can regularly see whales or turtles while catching the last rays of sunshine of the day, or the safari with the TucTuc in Sri Lanka where we could watch elephants, buffalos, crocodiles and an almost frightening amount of birds at close range when they dared to get out of the shade after sunset.

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

From the very beginning, I could grow into a family and its businesses, which welcomed me with open arms. Every day I learned something new and quickly my strengths and weaknesses were put to the test and challenged. One never knows in the morning what the day will bring. This can be exhausting, challenging but also incredibly enriching, but in the end, everyone is pulling in the same direction, and that is worth every effort.

The contact with all the different characters of the Jakera Family, the trust which is given to me here, the naturalness to belong and the chance to move something let me grow every day.

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

So many... I think the best stories are lived and not told =)

A really good one was when two students could not find their casa particular in Trinidad, Cuba and they were lost. Luckily a couple of friendly Cubanos helped them to find the apartment again, but only after taking them to several other locations first, including their own house for a coffee. For the next 4 days, everywhere the girls went, these two guys popped up to make sure they were ok, they said, and so they wouldn't get lost again!!

The moral of this story; getting lost in Cuba is a great way to meet friendly locals.

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

I would do the 8-week Traveling Classroom Program Cuba and Costa Rica. The combination of these two destinations and the mix of adventure, beach, culture, surfing, dancing, and Jakera is absolutely unique. Four weeks in both destinations is a good time to get to know peoples and its surroundings and let it have its effect on you.

In Costa Rica, you are quickly inoculated with the Pura Vida lifestyle and experience 4 weeks of adventure and action and still, you have enough time to relax.

In Cuba, one is in the middle of the old town of Havana in absolutely typical Cuban culture, which immediately gets you into the vibe and wanna dance the night away.

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

The family and the courage to make a difference. No matter in which country Jakera settles, something is always done for the community. Especially the children who don't have the possibilities are given attention. Not only through the Jakera Club Foundation, but also through weekly support arranged by our students and family.

Whether teaching English, handicrafts, playing, learning about sustainability and recycling or simply interacting with tourists, these children are fulfilled and inspired for more every day. Many of these children have grown up without any culture for waste or recycling and we can share our knowledge with them and give them something on their way into the future.

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

Not to commit oneself to things which others do wrong in one's own eyes, but to promote all members individually and to encourage them to want more. Giving everyone the opportunity to integrate themselves into the company in their own way allows it to grow in different directions. Everyone has different talents that are encouraged and supported. This unique and different competence is irreplaceable.

Success is to do what you love - but everyone has to love what they do.