Staff Spotlight: Justine Harrington

justine harrington of spi abroad

What position do you hold at SPI? What has been your career path so far?

I’m a Program Advisor at SPI. I get to help guide parents and students through the process of studying abroad, which pretty much combines all of my greatest passions in life: global education, travel, study abroad, intercultural communication, and language learning. Before finding my chosen career in study abroad, I was a Montessori teacher, ESL educator and general vagabond who liked traipsing across foreign countries with nothing more than a backpack on my shoulders (except, I’m definitely still the latter!).

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

I studied abroad for two semesters in college as a French student, and had the most amazing experience of my life. I had always known that I wanted to study another language and go abroad while in school, and I decided that France’s Cote d’Azur was the perfect place to do just that! I loved my days in France spent studying the French language, culture and art history – as well as eating baguettes on the beach alongside the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea. Studying abroad molded who I am today, for the better – I left the States a shy Midwestern teenager from a town of 3,000 people, and came back from France a confident, cultured, wholly better human being.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

It’s like Mark Twain says: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” I firmly believe in the power of meaningful travel and global learning to help eradicate potentially harmful stereotypes that you may have about other peoples and cultures – after all, you just can’t help but become a more tolerant, knowledgeable person when you really immerse yourself in another way of life. By learning another language and embedding yourself in another culture, you’re enriching yourself and those around you, increasing your brain power, and thus helping to make the world a better place.

justine in colombia

How have you changed/grown since working for SPI?

I’ve found what I truly love doing – helping others to achieve their dreams of studying abroad. This has been huge for me, in so many ways. I’ve really discovered how much I love spreading the word about the importance of studying abroad in high school – it’s something I never considered for myself, and yet it’s something that high school students, especially, benefit so much from.

I love being part of a person’s study abroad journey; knowing that you’ve helped someone to grow in their knowledge of the world around them is just so fulfilling. I also feel as if I’m truly able to put my strengths and passions to good use during my day-to-day life at SPI, which I’ve discovered is really important for my overall well-being!

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the SPI team.

Honestly, I feel incredibly proud to be part of the SPI team every day. It’s so wonderful to be part of an organization that gives students the chance to really engage with a foreign language and culture. Everyone works so tirelessly to help our students have the best and most rewarding experience possible. I’m also always extremely proud to hear back from our all of our students on how much they enjoyed their program, and how much they learned in such a short amount of time – it’s so great to witness in others the same positive transformation that I had as a study abroad student.