Definitely my top travel experience and the personal challenge was hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2016. The 7-day high altitude hike tested my limits both physically and emotionally, and at the end filled me with such a feeling of accomplishment and recognition of how fortunate I was to be healthy and have the opportunity to travel to such incredible places such as Tanzania.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Working for SAI has allowed me to hone my skills at responding to the needs and expectations of students from all different kinds of backgrounds. Studying abroad not only in a new country, but also in a new language can be daunting for some, and exciting for others.
I've gotten better at understanding and meeting each individual student at their particular comfort level to help them assimilate and get the most out of their experience, no matter where they are at the start of the semester.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
One of my former students was so heartsick at having to leave France at the end of the semester that, when he moved back to the States, he bought a French bulldog and named him Nicolas (nee-coh-lah). He even started an Instagram account where you can follow Nicolas' activities and French life in the U.S.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I would jump at the chance to join our Sicily program! In addition to being in such a beautiful location with access to the blue Mediterranean Sea, it would be great to hike Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe.
Being in a smaller program site would allow for a more personable and genuine local experience.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
SAI Programs is a small personalized organization with a focus on quality over quantity, as we've deliberately kept our program offering limited to three Mediterranean countries: Italy, France, and Spain. Providing quality programs and services across 8 cities while ensuring students have rewarding and unforgettable study abroad experiences is our end goal.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
Being adaptable is absolutely necessary for being a successful company. If we were still using the same procedures and methods that we used when the company was founded 25 years ago, we would be severely out of date.
Technology has evolved, Millenials have replaced Generation Xers, and students today have somewhat different goals in mind when studying abroad. Being adaptable allows us to respond to the changing times and expectations of students today.