What is your favorite travel memory?
So many great memories come to mind! Island hopping in Greece for an amazing combination of fun and beauty, touring around the interesting cities of hugely underrated Belgium, including staying on an eco-friendly barge in Ghent - but my favorite memories probably come from Spain.
Andalucia was the most facinating for me with its passion, its fresh calamari, its flamenco, its Moorish architecture, its stone squares that come alive after midnight, its barren but beautiful countryside interrupted by olive trees, castillos and big black bull silhouettes!
Traveling up into the mountains near Granada we stayed in a tiny village that was literally at the end of all roads and tracks. Although it was mostly a mountainous dessert, the natural springs mean you also had some lush green areas with delicious figs just falling off the trees to be eaten. The silence and the beauty was just breathtaking.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
It has been great for me to combine my management skills with my teaching skills in one position. I can help develop both the learners the teachers, and in doing so I have developed myself.
There is a big focus in the world today on soft skills, and these are certainly needed in my job. Developing people skills I think is about understanding people and understanding yourself, and that is a life-long journey. There is no better way to understanding people than spending a week with around 40 of them from all over Poland and all over the world, from age 18 to 86, and from every career background imaginable.
I can be with participants exercising at 7:30am and can be saying goodnight after socializing well after midnight. So there is plenty of opportunity for learning and sharing ideas. With every program I learn something new about business, about other countries, about life, about people or about myself.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Many students and volunteer teachers talk about the program being a life-changing experience and form lasting friendships.
Of course the students come to improve their English but often they end up valuing even more the inspiration they take from meeting so many interesting people from around the world.
The sort of people that are attracted to the program are usually open to and interested in new experiences and meeting new people. This in itself creates a fantastic atmosphere, where everyone learns from each other in so many different and unexpected ways. Our native speaker participants are often invited to come and stay at the homes of Polish participants and others even get jobs.
A recent returning Polish participant had taken time off work to secretly go on the course to improve her English and when she returned her boss immediately noticed a huge difference. So, it's good to hear that people are also achieving their original goals!
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I would go on a week long program leaving from Wroclaw. We give our native speaker participants a free city tour and meal the day before the program, and Wroclaw is the best city for this in my opinion.
We have a fantastic tour guide there and Wroclaw is such a charming place with all its little gnome statues, and with such a fascinating history as a former German city.
From Wroclaw we travel up into the mountains near the Czech boarder to Hotel Chojnik. The staff are so friendly and there's billiards, sauna, gym, table football, tennis courts, volleyball court and even cute bunny rabbits in the foyer. Weather permitting we also do a walking tour up to Chojnik Castle for even better views.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
Firstly you need to have a really good product that people want. People can spend a lot of money traveling to language programs in the UK, or maybe they can spend less traveling to programs in Malta, but they can spend much less staying in their own country, which of course is more convenient too.
It is also win-win as our volunteers gain a huge amount too: a free stay in a beautiful location, teaching experience and development, and a unique cultural experience. As we have been in the market longer than most of our competitors we have had the opportunity to gain a huge amount of feedback and improve things over the last 5 years, and we are still refining that product today.
That being said, a product or concept can still be copied, so I think the most important thing is still the people. As they say, if you get the right people in a room together, the rest will usually take care of itself. I think at Angloville we have some fantastic people, and as coordinators we hopefully have the skills and attitude to lay the foundation for the even more fantastic people that come on our programs every week.