A LITA trip is a memory-making machine. Each day there are moments of discovery, reflection, pride, and connection. That being said, my fondest LITA travel memory involves a pick-up soccer game on the grounds of a centuries old monastery in Galicia (a "mystical" area in Northwest Spain). Our local guide had given us a twilight tour around the grounds, all the while spinning spooky stories of the area's past. I soaked up the theatrics of the tales, the beautiful scenery, the bonding with my LITA students. Then our guide rolled out a soccer ball and, without missing a beat, we all dove in to an impromptu soccer game on the monastery's "pitch." The sun set and we continued playing long after the ball was no longer fully visible in the dark. The entire evening was unforgettable.
Staff Spotlight: Brittany Shelley
What is your favorite travel memory?
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
After a decade-long career as a Spanish teacher, the ebbs and flows of the academic year were baked into my DNA. My life passed one marking period at a time, and I loved being part of a school community and sharing my passion for the language with my amazing students. However, since joining LITA I have opened the fire hose of the possibilities in my professional life. While still being able to use Spanish and interact with students, I have been presented with so many new challenges and responsibilities. It is exhilarating to be learning so much in support of a project that is so near and dear to my heart. I am endlessly grateful to Jordan Romm for allowing me to join his LITA team.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
The best story from a program alum is more of a recurring theme of LITA students. When I check in with a student and they share that they have made plans to return to Spain to visit their host family or that their host family / sibling will be coming to spend time with them in the U.S. I am filled with joy. To know that from the seed of a short, 3-week long homestay a lifelong friendship spanning two continents can grow never ceases to amaze and energize me.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
The North 5 Week trip is my passion project. I have led this trip three times, and with each return to the tranquil casa rural, to the familiar homestay community, to the thrills of the Pyrenees I fall more in love with the diversity of Spain and the amazing people who call it home. The trip has the perfect balance of natural beauty, wonderful folks, and energizing experiences.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
Working for LITA feels like a public service. The mission of the company is to connect students to rural travel and to forge true connections in a foreign language. The measure of "success" for LITA is not measured by the bottom line. I am proud to work with a company that is so mission driven and student-centered.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
LITA's mission statement of fostering meaningful connections informs every decision our team makes. Because we know the impact that people have on a traveler's experience we prioritize creating a strong group dynamic among students, placing students with warm and accommodating host families, and connecting with locals who are brimming with excitement to welcome our groups. Every member of LITA's staff understands the impact of these connections and that through-line is what makes LITA stand apart.