Meet Claire, API’s Assistant Director of Teach, Work and Volunteer Programs.
I actually come from a multicultural household, and did second grade in France, so I was put into a position that encouraged me to look at life through multiple cultural lenses from a very young age. I have always tended to create very diverse groups of friends for myself, which heavily influenced my sense of curiosity for people, their story, and what has made them who they are.
My first time abroad independently was to France for four months during the summer between my junior and senior year of college. I had heard French spoken in my household my entire life, but sadly had no interest whatsoever as a child to respond in French and could barely put a sentence together. I reprimanded my child self as I approached my 20s and realized I had missed out on the optimal opportunity to be 100% bi-lingual. Going to France to take intensive language classes seemed the best way to make up for it, and as quick as possible.
I wanted to experience multiple regions I was not familiar with, so I split my time between two cities. I spent the first month in the historically preserved city of Bordeaux and the last three months of the summer in a quaint town in the Alpes, Annecy.
I was lucky enough to experience multiple accommodation possibilities; a student residential hall, shared apartment, and home-stay. This allowed me to live among 20 other students studying abroad from all over the world, all wildly stimulated every minute of each day, as to not miss out on a thing. I also lived in the house of a mature couple (the woman shared my mother’s name) in the countryside of Annecy, where I would enjoy long evening walks with my host-mom and her pooch, and have family picnics in the rolling hills nearby.
This was just the beginning of living the following 10 years living, studying, and working abroad. I returned to do a year-long internship in the same French language school where I had studied in Bordeaux upon graduating from college, and I was not even one year back in the States before I took off again to teach English in Colombia, staying there for almost five years. These experiences paved the way for me towards piecing together my career in International Education and have been working on both the receiving and sending end of abroad programs most recently.
Teach, Work, and Volunteer participants are a reflection of myself, as well as many of my colleagues here at API. Being in the position to lay the stepping-stones for others towards reaching dreams of making a positive mark on the world is humbling. The results are never immediate, though every individual who has a meaningful experience among people with whom they are otherwise unlikely to interact is one more person in the world who has the opportunity to transform the way they think, act and identify themselves as an active global citizen.