Staff Spotlight: Colleen Daley

Colleen is a former Peace Corps volunteer with a strong passion for social justice, youth, languages, and cross-religious and cross-cultural dialogue. Colleen is currently a program advisor at Global Experiences, arranging and coordinating international internships for students and young professionals. Through her work at Global Experiences, she has developed a passion for career development and advising. She has visited every continent (except Antarctica), speaks 3.5 languages, and loves going on food-based adventures!

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

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Colleen: I am a program advisor at Global Experiences, which means I make sure our interns have a smooth pre-departure process and that they feel like they have someone "in their corner" whom they can reach out to while they're preparing to intern abroad. I've always worked with youth, since I was one myself! I was a counselor and advisor for my church youth group growing up, I worked with Moroccan youth in the Peace Corps, US American youth traveling through Morocco after that, and supported first-year grad students while I was getting my Master's at The University of Pennsylvania.

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

Colleen: I studied abroad in Spain during the fall of my undergrad junior year. I was already addicted to travel and knew I wanted to gain fluency in Spanish. Mistakenly, I thought that going to Spain would be the only way to learn "real Spanish." If I could re-do the experience, I would've picked Central or South America. Then again, living in Spain led me to Morocco, so I don't have too many regrets!

Which study abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

Colleen: Western Europe is the most overrated destination, at least for US Americans. It may be easier, but its culture is too close to ours for much change or growth to happen while you're living there. I think that Western Africa is the most underrated destination. Not only is it quite safe and full of wonderful diversity and cultural differences, but how cool would it look on your resume if you were able to say you lived in Ghana or Togo for a semester?!

What country have you always wanted to visit?

Colleen: All of them! In all seriousness, however, I've always wanted to visit countries that US Americans are not 'allowed' to enter (ie: Iran, Cuba and Saudi Arabia). I think there are a lot of ways we can improve relations with these countries, and one of the first ways to dispel negative media stereotypes is to actually MEET people in their home environments. I have a particular interest in Saudi Arabia (mostly because I speak Arabic) but there's something so fascinating about a country that houses the most holy sites of Islam yet forbids women to drive. I would love to visit Cuba because I love their food and music. Lastly, Iran is on my list because some of my best friends (not to mention some of the most friendly people I've ever met) in the world are Persian, and I desire to experience their culture firsthand.

What was your favorite traveling experience?

Colleen: At the end of my Peace Corps service, my father, my Moroccan boyfriend and I went to visit my best friend at her Peace Corps site, which was located 30 km from the Algerian border. We drove for 16 hours straight, through mountains, plains and the most barren, flat desert I've ever seen. We were driving a 3-cylinder, manual transmission, white Fiat; not to mention it was my boyfriend's first time driving after he got his license and my dad's first time visiting Morocco and a Muslim-majority country. To get there, we had to drive through a desert thunderstorm on a dirt road with nothing to guide us but piles of rocks to mark the edges of the road!

We arrived on the last day of Ramadan (a major annual holiday!) and my friend's host family welcomed us into their home for meals, talking and celebration. Later, we were even invited to their grandmother's house for a huge celebratory dinner! Both my dad and boyfriend were blown away at the generosity of the people of this small desert town; as well as its difference from the Western area of Morocco where my Peace Corps site was. I'll never forget that week.

What does your home-country's culture​ value that is taught in your program?

Colleen: I think Global Experiences' six core values, which we try to instill in our interns as well as ourselves, represent characteristics that many US Americans have: unflappable enthusiasm, industriousness, personal accountability, innovation, rising above the drama and showering everyone with kindness. If we can get our interns to engage with others using one of these values every day, I honestly believe the world will be a better place.