Staff Member Spotlight: Allison Ferris

Title
Resident Director

Photos

Allison has lived in New Zealand for five years and has worked for ISA for over two years. She has lived in three of seven continents and dreams of visiting Antarctica in her lifetime.

What is your favorite travel memory?

If I had to choose from volumes of memories, I would say that my favourite (so far) would be the cherry blossom season in Korea. Coming from East Coast Canada, our summers are relatively short and we are known for excessive amounts of snow. So in Korea, when I saw all these cherry blossom trees that were chock full of blooms and drifted down with the wind like snow falling softly to the ground, I felt at peace with the choices I'd made, nostalgic for home and mesmerized by a beauty I'd never seen before.

I remember roaming the streets or the park near my apartment just absorbing the fragrance from the blooms or taking photos.

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

Running ISA's Bridging Cultures Programme opened my eyes to the rich heritage of Māori, the first people in New Zealand. Over many BCPs, I have had the privilege to better understand te Reo-Māori language, waiata-songs and the importance of whānau-family which is not necessarily limited to your relatives.

I also understand that my country has a lot of room for growth in incorporating our First Nations people's heritage and culture, beyond a day of recognition or a few keywords and/or phrases. No country is perfect; however, New Zealand has arguably done a remarkable job in acknowledging failures of the past, while fulfilling promises made to the people.

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

I'll never forget the bundle of energy that is Josh; an enigmatic combination of intelligence and excitement that made for a very exciting semester. Josh came to NZ and brought his love of airplanes with him, so what was the very first thing he did when arriving in the country? He managed to get himself the best seat on the plane...the pilot's seat..on the AirNZ long-haul flight to Auckland. Although it was largely for a photo-op, as soon as I heard the story, I knew then I had someone special in my cohort. Josh would later go on to correctly identify the aircraft model based on the sound of the engine while in air.

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

Hands down, I'd jump at the chance for the ISA Galway summer programme - Irish studies at the National U of Ireland. Not only would this satisfy my dream to get to Europe, but it would also be an opportunity to learn about my family's history in Ireland. Way back when, longer than I'd care to admit, I researched our family genealogy, and I would love to find our family crest that I discovered so many years ago.

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

I came to New Zealand as an international student; although older than the students that sign up with our company, I still wish that I had ISA to help navigate some tricky things that came up and just to answer questions as I had them. I always communicate with our students that we are available when they need us and sometimes that is days or even weeks into their semester. I am very proud of how my team and I are available to students and we always ensure students' questions are put up the chain until we get them an answer.

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

A successful company delivers on the promises they make; ISA offers students a quality experience in countries across the globe and employs on-site staff to maximize that experience. In order to deliver on those promises, a successful company must be comprised of people who are actively committed to the job they signed up for. Here in the Pacific, the on-site staff have extensive experience in education and/or studied abroad themselves. Knowledge combined with passion equals a standard of care for our students from pre-departure to arrival and success at their site.