Staff Member Spotlight: Bernhard Gessler

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Co-Founder and COO

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Bernhard, currently enrolled in a Masters degree in Business Informatics got into traveling when he was 20 years old. After backpacking Europe he got to Latin America in 2011 where besides traveling he co-founded Academia Superior de Idiomas. Since then he dedicates his time to improve Peruvian people's lives, with the help of international volunteers. At the moment he dreams of setting up free English classes for everybody in Northern Peru.

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

I wouldn't call it career path. During school and university I worked in a small software company to pay for living and to safe money for travels. First time I got to Peru I had the chance to co-found ASI and took it.

By now, 3 years later, I'm COO, leading a team of 30-40 employees, pushing social work and doing my best to enable our students to have a fun time. My family would like me to finish my Masters degree but currently I just don't have time for that.

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

Actually yes. Initially I came to Peru to study Spanish and do an internship. Initially I wanted to go the US and do an IT related internship. After realizing how much money and time I would invest I decided that such a stay abroad should not only benefit my career but especially me as a person.

So I came to the final candidates South America and China. By then I met a guy at university who had done an internship in China for six months and didn't speak a single word Chinese. As languages never were my strength, I decided for a Spanish speaking environment and headed for South America. This is how I came to ASI.

What country have you always wanted to visit?

I'd say it was never a specific country, rather a place. Since I was little I had dreamed of tropical islands with nothing but palm trees and coconuts on them. And although I'm far from having seen the whole world I made that dream true when sailing from Columbia to Panama. Unexpected as I hadn't planned to to travel there, so it was even better.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

Because it opens our mind and our way of thinking I've had a few unforgettable experiences while traveling either with nationals or other travelers I met on my way.

And after a while I just forgot the whole concept of nationality. When I saw travelers I didn't see Germans, Americans, French and Italians anymore, I just saw people. All of us young, all of us trying to have a good time.

What was your favorite traveling experience?

Nearly impossible to tell as I saw so many natural wonders, beautiful places and fascinating animals. But if I had to nail it down, there is that one moment in Costa Rica that always keeps me thinking: I was leaving the coast in the late afternoon.

I had asked several people for which busses to take and felt prepared. While being on the first bus, it started raining heavily and the night begun. I got off at a crossing in the middle of nowhere to wait for the other bus which never showed up. knew I had no chance to walk to next 100km, but as I had nothing else to do I started walking to at least keep me busy.

Tiredness and anger slowed me down and my backpack felt heavy. A taxi passed by and offered to take me to the next town for "only" 100 USD what I declined right away. It was late already when I passed by a restaurant that had rooms for rent. I stopped excited and felt relieved until they told me they just got booked out today.

Close to desperation I sat down and this guy sitting at the other end of the table approached me. He told me that he came from France to do an internship in a fish factory somewhere here. He just had arrived today and occupied the last room.

I somehow disliked him. After some talking he suddenly suggested that his room had 2 beds anyway and I should stay there for the night.

I felt like the happiest person on earth and in this very moment I got rid of all the German-French-dislike feelings that had been part of my like and thinking, made up by society. And to top it off, the owner, a very nice lady, got me some warm food on the house.