Back in November 2000, I started working in a Study Abroad program in Barcelona, almost by chance. Did I have any experience with foreign students? No. Did I know much about the USA culture? Just a little. Was I aware of these students’ needs? Only those my common sense provided…
With the support and trust of that program, my colleagues and through the experience I gained day after day, I started learning the essentials of Study Abroad and knew more about what my students needed, expected and could achieve during their time in our country. As it happens to the big majority of my colleagues, anecdotes could make up a few books… But all together conformed a good amount of skills that I would have loved to have from the very first day.
In 2014 I decided to take a break from the professional activity and devote time to learn more about the theoretical part of this amazing world. Through this study, I became more aware of what had been in my head since the beginning: faculty and professionals involved in International Education need to acquire some basic knowledge before starting working in this field. Students go over a bridge on a big culture gap, and faculty and staff need to support this bridge with their own skills. Afterwards experience would mean a plus, but without those skills, the students’ way is slow, confusing and frequently frustrating, both for the student and the educator.
Despite, as I said, having arrived here by chance, I’m passionate about this world and all of the opportunities it offers. The main reward is see our students learn and grow as individuals, how they become conscious not only about the “other” culture but also about themselves, and how this awareness will be with them in the future.
We have created a detail-oriented program for Study Abroad professionals, join us in Seville!
Amalia Herencia Grillo is currently finishing a PhD in Intercultural Education at the university of Sevilla, Spain. She holds a degree in English and another in Fine Arts, and a Masters degree in Education and another in School Management.
She has been a Resident Director for Academic Programs International (API) in Barcelona for eight years and in Spanish Studies Abroad (CC-CS) in Seville for four years. She has also worked as an educational consultant for the University of Barcelona, Development Coordinator for Morocco Exchange and teacher.