I’m currently the Director of Operations here in the office, and I also lead 5 or 6 trips per year, in the Spring and Summer. I first heard about TFT when I was teaching English in Verona, Italy in 2007. As a teacher, I had the summer free, and my college buddy encouraged me to apply for a summer staff job so we could work together. I worked TFT’s Italy trips that summer and afterwards I jumped at the opportunity to come on board full-time as the Italy Director. After developing programs for Travel for Teens in Italy, I eventually took over the role of Director of Operations at our headquarters near Philadelphia.
What position do you hold at Travel for Teens? What has been your career path so far?
Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
When I went to college, the one thing I knew I wanted to do was study abroad. I ended up studying Italian and I chose to spend my entire Junior year studying at the University of Ferrara in Italy. This was the ultimate in being "thrown into the deep end," but it was the ideal way to master the language and meet other Italian students. I wouldn’t have made it without the friendships I developed with my fellow students, who helped me with all sorts of advice about how to get through the year in the Italian university system (which is very different from the States). I also studied for a year in Florence, where I did my master’s degree in Italian Studies.
I was inspired to study abroad by a series of trips that I was fortunate enough to take with my parents when I was younger. The people I met and the places I experienced awakened a lifelong wanderlust in me, and the opportunity to study abroad in college was just far too good of an opportunity to pass up. And that study abroad experience led directly to my choice to live abroad for the next eight years!
What does the future hold for Travel for Teens - any exciting new programs to share?
We are super excited about Travel for Teens’ 2014 programs and we are already on track to have our most successful summer ever in 2014. One new program that I am particularly excited about is the Croatia & Italy Sailing and Adventure trip, which includes a 3-day sail up the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia! Our trip in Japan is also one of our more unique offerings, and it was a huge hit last summer. Our goal for the future is to continue striving to offer experiences that impact teens’ lives in a meaningful way. Whether it’s a cultural trip to Italy or a community service trip in South Africa, all Travel for Teens programs share the power to transform young lives and open entirely unexpected doors to the students who travel with us.
What about the future of the high school abroad industry? How do you think international education will change over the next 10 years?
One thing travel does is teach you that we really are all living in a global village, where events in one community can have a ripple effect across the world. Over the next 10 years, I think that student travel abroad will become even more important and essential to what we consider to be a ‘well-rounded education’. I see more and more high schools integrating international programs into their curricula as a vital way for teachers to physically bring students face-to-face with their subjects. Travel for Teens will be bringing a record number of high school groups abroad in 2014, and we aim to be a leader in the high school abroad industry over the course of the next 10 years as more schools recognize the advantages of an international education.