Sophia is the international HR manager for EDUCO's summer camp program since 2016. In addition to overseeing the recruitment process for over 200 educators annually, she is also responsible for allocating tutors to camps across the country and serving as their first point of contact throughout the program.
She is based in Sanremo but coordinates nationally with a team of EDUCO collaborators.
What is your favorite travel memory?
I have so many wonderful travel memories! It would be impossible to only choose one.
Snorkelling along the coral reef in Egypt's Red Sea, camel riding at sunset in the Sahara desert, racing (literally) through the Hermitage in St. Petersburg with my 13-month-old daughter, solo travelling through Vienna, Prague and Budapest during the Christmas holidays, living in Paris (my favourite city) as a student, are only a few of the many treasured experiences that come to mind.
Unlike other countries, I've had the privilege of getting to know Italy profoundly and over a long period of time, largely thanks to my work teaching and recruiting for EDUCO. Some of my most precious memories in La Bella Paese include long train rides from the north to south (I recall one particular journey of 12+ hours from Elba Island to Ricadi, Calabria where I watched one of the most beautiful sunsets of my life from my window), hiking in the mountains near Bergamo, having my taste buds awakened by Puglia's delightful and original culinary traditions, drives along the Amalfi coast, and day trips to Liguria's small, colourful fishing and mountain villages.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I moved to Italy from Montreal (Canada) in the summer of 2015 to begin a career in education in the country of my roots. Since then I've worked with dozens of people from various educational backgrounds - each of whom has shaped my vision for my work. My Italian language skills have greatly improved and I've gained invaluable insight into working within a bilingual environment. I've learned that providing young people with opportunities to work and travel in a foreign country is an enormous responsibility that, when taken seriously and carried out with passion, reaps immense joy and can even change lives.
But the biggest change for me personally undoubtedly came from becoming a mom. The experience of giving birth in Italy, away from my family and friends, and now raising my daughter here, has added an entirely new and incomparable dimension to my relationship with this country. I want to do the best work I am capable of, for her. I want her to grow up in an Italy that recognises the importance of learning languages, that celebrates ethnic diversity and cultural exchange. And I'm so happy she will grow up with access to my work environment, because it provides a window into all of that, and much more.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Each summer I receive dozens of emails from tutors who have completed our program and gained new perspectives. People write to say that, following our program, they are considering changing careers, or want to find full-time teaching work in Italy, or that they've made friends for life. Sometimes they write to thank me for sending them to a location they were initially hesitant about, or for trusting them to handle a certain type of project or assignment.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the people you've recruited grow, professionally and personally, over the course of a summer.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Hands down our camps! I spent three summers as a tutor on our program and they are among some of my best experiences. EDUCO camps offer an incredible opportunity to travel to unique parts of Italy while doing meaningful work with children and meeting people from all across the world. Our tutors come from dozens of countries, including USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.
In addition, you get to live with Italian families, who offer you a direct link to the culture - an opportunity to learn more of the language, the local secrets, and specialties, and indulge in their region's cuisine. Your accommodation is provided and EDUCO covers all transport between camps, so your expenses (apart from your flight of course) are few to none. Plus, you earn a generous study grant for each week in camp and a TEFL certificate following completion of the program.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
We are always striving to be competitive and attract the best talent for our programs. We recognise that this means setting a standard that is attractive for applicants across the world.
Currently, we provide the highest compensation of any summer camp program in Italy (and among the highest in the EU). We are the only company in Italy that offers a Theatre in Education program for children. We also provide outstanding networking opportunities on a national level, following the completion of our programs, with many of our recruits going on to accept full-time or part-time work in Italy via our collaborators and contacts.
Our staff are demonstrated experts in their respective fields and are continuously building on their education and training in order to provide the best for our new recruits.
EDUCO is a network of dozens of dedicated individuals across the Italian peninsula, from north to south. I don't think it can be stated enough, how difficult an undertaking it is to harmonize so many projects across great geographical and regional differences, but we do it! And I believe we're successful at it because at the core of what we do is a strong human component.
We are always feeding off of one another for ideas, ways to communicate better or synchronise our messages more thoroughly. Each year we involve over 100 000 Italian children and teachers in our programs. What we are able to accomplish on a national level annually makes me especially proud.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
The biggest factor in EDUCO's success has been strong, visionary leadership. Leadership that, at its core, allows the best characteristics and abilities of every person in our network and on our team to flourish. This, coupled with our ability to adapt to the needs of an ever-changing world, and a gradually changing Italy, has made us a game-changer.