Staff Member Spotlight: Tamara Mihalap

Title
University Relations Development

Photos

Tamara Mihalap is the US University Representative for Accademia Italiana. She is responsible for the development of relationships with US universities while working closely with AI's schools in Florence and Rome in their international exchange and study abroad programs.

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

As Accademia Italiana's US University Representative, I develop and maintain relationships with our US partners to strengthen the study abroad component of our academic program. While I've always worked in international education this is my first job in study abroad.

Previously I taught English overseas (in Portugal, Italy, the UK and Thailand), coordinated short-term programs for international students in the US, worked on international development projects related to education and training (in Ecuador, Washington DC and El Salvador) and conducted cross-cultural training programs (in Vietnam).

What country have you always wanted to visit?

Brazil. I've always been attracted by its cultural and geographical diversity, its music, its natural beauty and the warmth of its people. I would love to visit the Northeast of the country, Bahia, during Carnival time.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

Speaking another language and understanding another culture by immersion are not only important to me but I think vital for the next generations, both for personal success (globalization of the work place) and for building international understanding and empathy with which to ease international conflicts.

My interest in all things global started early. I grew up in a culturally mixed household - my mother is Greek-American and my father from Belarus.

What was your favorite traveling experience?

I lived in Vietnam with my family from 2006 to 2011. My favorite vacation during that time was a trip to Laos when my children were two and five years old. I wouldn't have expected it, but it was a great place to take kids: very peaceful, relaxed and beautiful. We visited craft villages where they make paper, wood-carvings and textiles, and stayed in an eco-lodge along the river that was near an indigenous minority community.

It was great to see my kids play together with the local children, despite the language and cultural differences. We panned for gold on the river banks (but didn't find any) and ate delicious grilled fish under star-filled skies.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Unlike many study abroad destinations, Accademia Italiana is a private Italian university recognized by the Ministry of Education, with a very international student body. Our study abroad students learn alongside Italians and students from around the world, so have the chance for real cultural immersion.

As an accredited design university, we offer study abroad students interested in design the chance to improve their skills with experts in the field and to take advantage of our links to the design industry. Design students will not only have a wonderful study abroad experience at Accademia Italiana but will return with valuable knowledge and abilities that will serve them well in future careers.