What is your favorite travel memory?
My favorite travel memory would have to be the trip I took down to Southern Thailand during my week long break for Christmas and New Years while I was teaching abroad. My friends and I took a seven hour long train ride from Central Thailand down to the South, another 2 hour bus ride, and then hopped on a ferry that took us to the nearby island Koh Phangan. During our travels, we met incredibly friendly Thai people who helped us along the way, and offered us their seats on the train. I ended up sitting with a Thai family who I formed a deep connection with on this train ride. They even asked me to hold their sleeping one year old baby for almost the whole ride! After this long journey, we arrived at the island and I had never seen something more beautiful! We spent New Years day, which was January 1st, 2020, floating in the warm ocean talking about our hopes and desires for the new year. (Little did we know COVID-19 was on the horizon). This trip was such a highlight for me because we got the chance to swim to another island from the one we were on. The ocean water was so shallow that we could almost touch the floor on our way there. It was the perfect start to a year that ended up turning our world's upside down. I am so thankful to have this memory before the whirlwind of COVID-19 appeared before us!
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Since starting my job as a Senior Coordinator for CIEE, I have grown so much! I have only been apart of this team for 5 months and I have already gained so many useful skills. I have been given the wonderful opportunity to connect with like-minded people who want to experience a cultural exchange like I did, which really fills my cup everyday. Not only have I grown personally, but I have also grown professionally in the past 5 months. I have had the opportunity to interview candidates for our Volunteer in Spain program, grasp new management skills as I manage our teach in Thailand program, communicate effectively with our partners in Thailand, and learn from my knowledgeable colleagues that I look up too!
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
I know of a past participant who went on one of our Teach abroad programs who met the love of her life! They met at orientation, taught English abroad together, then traveled across the world, and moved in together once they came back to the states. They are now getting married and planning on having children. Teaching abroad can really alter your life in so many wonderful ways!
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
If I could go on any program that our company offers, I would choose our teach in Thailand program all over again! My experience teaching abroad in Thailand was something I will never forget. This program offers free rent, 24/7 support from our partners in Thailand called OEG, and the opportunity to make worldly connections that will last you a lifetime. I was welcomed with open arms into my community and school. On your free time, it is extremely cheap and accessible to travel around Thailand as the cost of living is so low! Expect to spend your weekends on a nearby island, up in the mountains in the North, or in a tiny village in the East. You will never be bored living and working in Thailand!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
CIEE is unique in so many ways. Our company really puts in the effort to connect with each and every employee! I never feel like I am alone or on my own with any difficult task. I feel comfortable going to any of my colleagues for help or even just to chat about our day. A few months ago, a colleague and I virtually presented on a panel for a university here in the states where we spoke to upcoming graduates about international education and opportunities to work abroad. I had only been working for CIEE for a month or 2 and was a little nervous! But, it ended up being such a great experience and I felt very supported by my colleague the entire way. I am really proud to be apart of this teach abroad team. We are a small team which makes it easy to connect with each and every person. I am so lucky to be working on the teach in Thailand program that I actually participated in!
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I believe the biggest factors in being a successful company is putting in the effort to communicate effectively to your team and emphasizing the importance of inclusion and diversity. Creating an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and comfortable will aid to a company's success. I think it is important to also have an overall mission that everyone feels that they can relate too. Our teach abroad motto is "Travel with purpose. Inspire and be inspired." I know that myself and my team can all connect with this and love to intertwine this mission into our calls with applicants who are applying to teach abroad with us.