Miranda has worked for CIEE since 2016 and has lived, studied, and worked abroad in England, Dominican Republic, Spain, and Fiji. Her experience in Spain provided her with fluency in Spanish and friends that have become family, and she is passionate about helping others achieve their dreams of living abroad.
What is your favorite travel memory?
After the unexpected death of a loved one in 2013, I traveled on a whim to a rural island in the South Pacific called Taveuni to do some soul searching. Taveuni is one of the 70 islands that make up the nation of Fiji.
While I was there, I lived with a family in a small village. The way of life there made a lasting impression on me. My favorite memory is when a group of kids took me on ocean kayaks to go snorkeling. It was unforgettable! I watched them spearfish for lunch, make a fire on the beach, scale tall trees to pick coconuts and machete the coconuts open for us to enjoy.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I will never underestimate the value of good customer service, meeting people where they are at, and assuming positive intent.
I started out with the CIEE Support team, the team that is responsible for handling any and all problems that may come upon a participant's exchange year. It was an incredible learning experience that taught me not to take things personally, adults aren't always "right", and that kids can teach us incredible lessons if we only allow them and are open to the experience.
I started out working primarily with minors on our High School USA program, their host families, and local CIEE representatives. With so many cooks in the kitchen, it is important to know how to stay neutral and objective; something that has and will continue to serve me in my personal and professional life.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
I spoke to an older participant who went to Spain on the Volunteer program last year and he is already trying to go back for another few months. He was so enthusiastic and spoke to me in Spanish, obviously overjoyed about having the opportunity to practice his Spanish. He is in his 60's and reminded me that it is never too late to try something new like going and living with a host family! When I worked with high school students on the Support team, I enjoyed being able to help them and hear their reflections and maturity after having returned home.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
That is a difficult question to answer. If I had to choose and had all the time and resources to do so, I would do CIEE Teach Abroad in Chile.
I have never been that far South within the Americas and have always wanted to go. While many people are drawn to Spain (been there, done that!), I think it would be more helpful to learn South/Central American Spanish and culture given the number of Spanish speakers in the USA. I really had to try hard to neutralize my "Castillian accent" when working with South/Central American people in the various jobs I have had since university.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
CIEE provides the absolute best support to its participants.
This summer, I was exceptionally proud when we were able to assist a mother from Ecuador travel to the USA to be with her daughter who was hospitalized while on the Summer Work & Travel program. Being able to be with someone in a vulnerable moment like that was a very proud moment for our team with several staff members assisting over the course of the summer months.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I believe that everyone must be treated equally and support to be the best version of themselves at work as well as in their personal lives. The health and well-being of all is of the utmost importance and all organizations should make that a priority for their employees in any position. This means providing career mentoring, health insurance, paid time off, etc. I think CIEE does a great job with this.