What is your favorite travel memory?
My favorite travel memory has to be the first time I visited Nicaragua with my cousin and a friend in 2014. I found myself in the beautiful city of Granada - it was like stepping into a different world - a world full of unfamiliar sights, smells and noises. I loved the lively and friendly atmosphere, the music, the food. Nicaragua was awe inspiring. I spent a few days in San Juan Del Sur exploring the town and the surrounding beaches - sunsets on this coast are possibly the best I have seen in the world! I also spent a few days on the beautiful island of Ometepe - a place to reconnect with nature, hike a volcano and cool off under a waterfall. Finally, back to Granada where the markets, nightlife and architecture are some of the best I have experienced in Central America - a real must!
Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
The most underrated destination I would say are some of the villages surrounding Granada - "Los Pueblos Blancos". One of these villages, Catarina, provides fantastic views of the Laguna De Apoyo. The villages are renowned for their arts and crafts including handcrafted and hand-painted ceramics, homemade sweets and wooden furniture. These villages are also known for their "curanderos" or folk healers. A visit to these villages, just 30 minutes from Granada, is well worth a day trip whether you venture out alone on a 'chicken bus' to explore or take a guided tour of the region - you won't regret it!
Overrated in my opinion has to the town of San Juan Del Sur - its fun for a boozy night and is a great base for reaching the surrounding beaches such as Playa Hermosa and Playa Maderas, but the town itself is not pretty or an example of Latin American culture that I would recommend.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I think the people who are part of a company are the most important factor in making it successful. At INTESOL Nicaragua, all the staff work really closely together, we are a tight group who support each other every day to help make the school successful. From admin to tutors and drivers to directors, everyone is key to the success of the company, everyone is important and everyone is treated as equal. In this way, we are all invested to achieve the same goal and continue growing the school.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Since joining INTESOL Nicaragua I have learnt a great deal about working as part of a team. I have learnt to work with local people and other expats to make a successful school which helps people begin their career as English teachers whilst experiencing life in Nicaragua. I have developed my tutoring skills as well as my interpersonal skills and communication skills (in both English and Spanish!). I have also become more adventurous since attending various activities and weekend excursions with students - I am now not afraid to zip-line through the jungle, surf the Pacific or scuba dive off the Caribbean coast!
What unique qualities does your company possess?
INTESOL Nicaragua is a great and unique company - we are a small company and so we all know each other very well. We are unique in that we were all friends before we opened our school and so we all already shared a passion for Granada, a passion for Nicaragua and a passion for teaching. This well-established bond allowed us to work together honestly and creatively to build a school we are proud of. It is a school that prides itself in providing quality tuition and support to our students every step of the way as they study to become qualified English teachers.
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.
I felt particularly proud to be part of the INTESOL Nicaragua team when we welcomed our first students to Granada. It was a great experience to be part of these students' first steps towards becoming qualified TEFL teachers. Furthermore, I had the privilege of showing these students the best that Granada and the surrounding areas have to offer. Welcoming new fresh faces to Granada and to our school will never lose its excitement for me - its something I will always enjoy. To tutor someone to become a knowledgeable and confident TEFL teacher is a challenge but great fun and getting to know each student is really great too. We welcome students from all over the world and so it is always interesting to meet our new students when they arrive off the plane.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
My favourite story from one of our INTESOL Nicaragua students was a recent one - a student from Australia attended our course and passed with flying colours. Once qualified, instead of returning to Brisbane as she had planned, with the help of INTESOL Nicaragua staff, she found a job in Nicaragua working in a primary school with some of the poorest local children in Granada. She worked for 3 months as a TEFL teacher gaining invaluable teaching experience whilst getting to know the locals and truly becoming part of the community. She later told me that the TEFL course and subsequent qualification had changed her life and that it was an experience she would never ever forget. Great feedback for us here at INTESOL Nicaragua!