Meet Jennie – our Site Coordinator in QLD (Turtle Rehabilitation and Marine Conservation)
Jennie is an experienced zoologist with a Bachelors of Science (BSc) Zoology/Marine biology and is currently completing her Masters of Science (MSc) at James Cook University. She is the co-founder of this project and has been leading it since 2000. Jennie conducts ongoing research on Sea Turtles at James Cook University. In addition, she and her husband own and operate Marlin Coast Vet Hospital.
Meet Sybella – our Site Coordinator in QLD (Native Australian Wildlife in the Tropics)
Originally from Victoria, Sybella has worked interstate and overseas, returning to Australia in 1996. The plan was to stay for 12 months, but 24 years later she is still here! Sybella has worked in various hospitality businesses before finding her true passion at this program. “[This] is a magical environment that offers an up close and personal experience with nature. It features a snap shot of the eco systems in our region and provides an interactive involvement with the animals and surroundings.”
Meet Ross – our Site Director in Cambodia
Ross is your in-country Site Director who has lived in Phnom Penh for over 15+ years! He is available for 24/7 support and assistance during your program. Ross was born in Stawell, Victoria in Australia and is now retired after 32 years as a Technician. He has 3 daughters, and after his marriage of 25 years ended he decided to travel. After travelling through South East Asia, Ross discovered Cambodia. In 2006 with two other friends, Ross decided to help the children in poverty who were scavenging at the local rubbish dump in Phnom Penh. He created the name CHOICE (Charitable Humanitarian Organisation In Cambodia by Expats) and it was registered as a Charity. By then there were 10 board members, some of whom were Khmer and had better local knowledge. The mission was to help the poorest. With good Khmer advice and managed by Ross, they moved their aid in 2008 to the province in order to help poorer squatter families. CHOICE takes pride in being transparent, non-religious, not-for-profit and keeping families together – it’s about them, not us. Ross is the Secretary of CHOICE Cambodia and the remaining founder. CHOICE, a registered NGO in Cambodia, is also registered in England, Germany and Australia. The mission is Education, Medical Care and Family Assistance for the extreme poor. He is available for 24/7 support and assistance during your program.
Meet Srey Nak – our Site Coordinator in Cambodia
Srey Nak has a BA degree in English Literature and lives close to our partner school in Phnom Pehn. She is an English teacher at the school and Charity Foundation and is popular with the locals and overseas student visitors. Srey Nak is a proficient communicator with a good sense of humour and a happy demeanour. She has been a CISaustralia trip coordinator to Siem Reap, managed day trips such swimming classes, zoo tours and tours of Phnom Penh and is now the Site Director for CISaustralia. Srey Nak provides wonderful, heartfelt local onsite support for all CISaustralia students, acts as a local translator and ensures everyone has a safe and enjoyable time. She cannot wait to meet you and introduce you to her homeland!
Meet Vanny – our Site Coordinator in Cambodia
Vanny Em is from the Takeo province of Cambodia and is the fifth of eight siblings. She attended Pannasastra University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh and has a Bachelor degree in both Finance and Teaching. She is currently completing her MBA degree. Vanny loves teaching children and gets great satisfaction from working and helping poor families, with education and medical needs as well various other issues.
Meet Ali – our Site Director in Canada
Born and raised in Canada, Ali is the Manager of Intercultural and Group Programs at Vancouver Island University (VIU). She takes pride in providing engaging, innovative and relevant programming that allows students to gain knowledge and skills in their program-specific area, as well as develop intercultural competencies, which ultimately help them connect effectively and appropriately across differences. She leads a dedicated team that regularly facilitates optional road trips, recreational activities and intercultural programs, allowing students to connect with each other and the community. She is the main on-site contact for CISaustralia participants joining the January and July VIU programs. Ali has a B.Com in International Business from the University of Victoria and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Vancouver Island University.
CHINA AND HONG KONG
Meet Howa – our Site Director and Virtual Intern Coordinator in Shanghai
As program manager, the scope of Howa’s duties includes internship placement and online marketing, as well as event management. He has a knack for problem solving and communication. Howa has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and has worked in the hospitality sector at both Four Seasons Hotel as well as the Ritz-Carlton. From his past experience, he can anticipate and fulfill guests’ needs and this will be also be helpful in understanding interns’ potential requests. Howa is good at creating a comfortable environment for interns. He believes a feeling of being at home is a benefit to intern’s experience!
Meet Jacky – our Site Director and Virtual Intern Coordinator in Hong Kong
Jacky is the Associate Director and point of contact for CISaustralia internships in Hong Kong. He advises and arranges interviews with companies for the students. Once a placement has been found, he assists students with the visa process and pre-departure process and will welcome students into Hong Kong until the end of their program. Jacky was born and raised in Hong Kong. He started studying abroad in the United States since he was 11 years old. Jacky graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He had his life-changing internship in Illinois in an event management company and helped plan and execute large-scale events such as music festivals and wedding exhibitions. He realised the importance of gaining experience abroad and learned a lot throughout his time in the United States. He relates and understands how it feels moving to a new country and will use that experience to make every intern enjoy their time in Hong Kong.
Meet Lorenzo – our Site Director in Costa Rica
Lorenzo is your in-country CISaustralia Site Director and is available for support and assistance during your program. Lorenzo has been a Director within our Sea Turtle partner program for many years, and is always a keen supporter of all international volunteers in Costa Rica. Lorenzo is an active supporter of social community projects and environmental work. For many years Lorenzo has been involved with international exchange organisations in different aspects but mostly in the field of education, volunteering and tourism. Lorenzo’s experience has given him the opportunity to learn about different cultures and people from a variety of countries and to support projects in need.
Meet Laura – our Site Coordinator in Costa Rica
Laura is the Director of the Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA). Laura has been working with CISaustralia to facilitate this program for Australian University students for 10+ years. Laura’s dedication and knowledge of the program is second to none. Laura plays an important role in supporting students during the program and offering advice and guidance to assist students to adapt to life in Costa Rica. Laura also plays a key role in working behind the scenes to facilitate the program coordination and logistics. If you do not see Laura during your program, rest assured that she is working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the program runs smoothly for CISaustralia students.
Meet Chloe – our Site Director for January in London, England
Chloe earned her degree in English Language and Linguistics from Oxford Brookes University and holds an MA in International Education from the University of Leicester. As a student, Chloe studied abroad in Australia and previously worked in Germany as an English teacher. Chloe can speak Spanish and French and is currently learning Dutch in her free time. She believes studying abroad is one of the most enriching and life-changing opportunities you can have as a student. Chloe loves living in London and loves helping study abroad students settle into London life, whilst helping them get the best deals on cheap theatre tickets and flights around Europe – be sure to stop by her office for some hot tips! Click here to view a short introductory video from Chloe!
Meet Anna – our Site Director for July in London, England
Anna holds a B.A. in English and German from Ca’Foscari University of Venice. The Italian village where she was born was never enough for her, and from a young age she decided she wanted to see the world and meet a lot of people from different cultures. Fascinated by foreign languages and traveling she first studied abroad in London when she was in high school and…oops, she did it again at Humboldt Universität in Berlin a few years after. New York City holds a special place in her heart, ever since she was an intern at the Italian Cultural Institute there. After volunteering and working for the not-for-profit association AFS Intercultural Programs helping hundreds of high school students enroll and prepare for their experience abroad, she moved to London and focused on working with university students. She loves musicals, fashion, drinking green tea, studying Korean and backpacking throughout Southeast Asia.
Meet Sheila – our Site Director in Fiji
Shelia is your in-country Site Director for Fiji. She is available to help address any issues or questions you may have. Shelia was born and lived in the USA until she completed University. After graduation she travelled the world extensively and emigrated to Australia. Shelia has worked in international education in the South Pacific for more than 24 years. She has a passion for Fiji and loves to share the country and its amazing people with students and volunteers. Thus, providing much needed assistance to the less fortunate Fijian people.
Meet Kym – our Site Coordinator in Fiji
Kym is your in-country Site Coordinator and is available for 24/7 support and assistance during your program. Caring, dedicated and enthusiastic, Kym started her career as a Travel Agent more than 30 years ago and has since moved into the International Education field. Kym has a passion for travel, especially learning about new Cultures. Kym has specialist knowledge in the mental health aspect of going abroad. She is very aware of some of the struggle’s students face when first settling into a new culture. She has presented at international conferences on topics such as developing successful study abroad programs and effective management of crisis situations impacting on student programs. Kym strives to ensure all students and program participants have a safe and hassle-free experience.
Meet Lavenia – our Site Coordinator in Fiji
Lavenia, born and educated in Fiji, worked in the tourism sector before relocating to Australia to start a new life and family. As part of the CQ University International Recruitment and Marketing Team she travelled extensively throughout the Pacific Islands and Asia, as well as Canada, Europe, and the United States. After graduating with a Master of Marketing Management degree as a mature-aged student, Lavenia joined the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) a Queensland Government Department. Whilst travelling throughout regional Queensland, Lavenia gained extensive knowledge in Community Consultation, Community Development and Ministerial Forums. She is committed, hard-working, loyal, and enthusiastic about every task she undertakes.
Meet Drasko – our Site Director in Paris
Drasko was born in Belgrade, Serbia, and graduated from the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Law, where he also obtained a master’s degree in constitutional law. He worked as an associate in a law firm in Belgrade and was hired by the Official Journal to analyze the jurisprudence of the Serbian highest courts. However, he decided to continue his studies abroad and came to France in 2013, where he obtained a second master’s degree in comparative law at Sorbonne University. Drasko was a participant of numerous seminars, conferences and summer schools in Serbia, France and worldwide. He is a national rowing umpire in Serbia and in France and he raced several half marathons. He completed a skydiving course and has an international diver certificate. Drasko is a self-proclaimed expert in finding the best low-cost train and airplane tickets.
Travel Tip: Travel is not only, as Mark Twain said, fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. It is also the best recipe for happiness, so explore, dream and discover.
Meet Aini – our Site Director in Indonesia
Aini was born and raised in West Sumbawa, Indonesia and is the proud mother of two beautiful children. Coming from parents who missed out on educational opportunities, Aini’s family strongly believes in the transformative power education & travel. After completing her university studies, she spent several years in Lombok before making the exciting decision to move to Bali, known as the “Island of the Gods.” With over 19 years of travel experience, Aini takes great pleasure in sharing the diverse cultures found across the islands of Indonesia. Aini’s aim is to ensure that every visitor experiences the warmth of the locals, immerses themselves in local life, and becomes part of the local community in each destination they explore. Inspired by her parents’ beliefs and observing the current educational landscape, Aini is committed to supporting students in their placement programs. She aims to help them achieve their goals, explore new opportunities, and build global connections by connecting them with local students and facilitating valuable learning experiences. Click here to view a short introductory video from Aini!
Meet Marcella – our Site Director in Florence
Marcella is an Italian American from Michigan. Marcella spent many summers in Venice, Italy, while growing up with her father’s family. In 2014 she moved to Chicago, Illinois, to pursue a Bachelor’s in Fine Art and Italian Language and Cultural Studies at DePaul University. It was her goal and dream to become fluent in the Italian language. Since graduating, she has been working in the field of international education and cannot imagine doing anything else. Marcella gets to live out her passion for learning, teaching, travel and creativity every day! Her favourite part about living in Florence is not just the incredible food but the immense beauty that encompasses the Italian way of life, architecture, art and nature. Now and then Marcella finds herself thinking, “wow, I am so grateful to live here, how incredibly beautiful is this place!”
Meet Camilla – our Site Coordinator in Italy
Camilla, originally from Florence, has spent the last two years as an au pair in the United States, where she found a second home. Armed with a Bachelor’s in Performing Arts from the University of Florence, she is currently pursuing a Master’s in Student Affairs. As an avid traveler since childhood, Camilla has explored Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East, enriching her global perspective and fostering a commitment to both academic and cultural growth. Her journey reflects a vibrant blend of diverse experiences, shaping a narrative that continues to unfold with each new chapter – she is so excited to meet you in Italy!
Meet Steve – our Site Director in Japan
Steve, a Japanese-Canadian from Toronto, Canada, has been working in international education in Japan for roughly 30 years now. After visiting relatives in Kansai a few times as a child, and then partaking in a short-term Nara homestay during his teens, he eventually decided to move to Japan after university to learn more about his Japanese heritage. Arriving on the JET Programme as a Coordinator for International Relations, he was placed in rural Aomori in Northern Honshu. It was this unusual and surprising placement, combined with beautiful surroundings, kind and generous people, delicious food, a relaxing, peaceful lifestyle, and a new love for onsen (natural hot springs) and karaoke that encouraged him to stay for four years in the countryside. However, having been drawn to the bright lights of Tokyo and some new opportunities in the big city, Steve now calls Japan home and is excited to share everything the city and country have to offer. Whether you’re interested in Japanese food, culture, festivals, traditions, history, art, architecture, design, crafts, martial arts, sports, or pop culture including anime, manga, or video games, he looks forward to helping you pursue your passions while here. Steve’s interests include sports, traveling (15 countries and 40 of the 46 prefectures in Japan), reading, onsen, and karaoke.
Meet Dan – our Site Coordinator in Japan
Dan, originally hailing from Melbourne, Australia, is your onsite coordinator during your stay in Tokyo, Japan. Dan’s Japan journey began with a homestay trip to Shizuoka during high school, followed by 1 year as an international student at Ryukoku University in Kyoto and eventually a working holiday. His interest in the country primarily began with the language and Japanese sports cars but after living more than half of his life there, he now simply calls it home. Over the years he has been involved in a variety of different activities such as English teaching, the establishment of an international preschool, the establishment of an online English school, and the running of a car parts exporting service. Dan is a laid-back Aussie who has a wide variety of experience and knowledge in Japan. He is ready to help provide any support you need to get the most out of your time there.
Meet John – our Site Director in Laos
Melbourne born, John has lived in Cambodia for 15 years. He has a profound understanding of the local Khmer culture and its people. John has vast experience in working with local communities on a grass roots level in both Cambodia and Laos and is committed to making a difference. John has a passion for sustainable tourism and believes that travel can be a force for good. As well as being your local CISaustralia contact in Laos John is also Chairman of the Board of Directors for a local NGO that has changed the lives of thousands of children at risk. Another passion of John’s is local foods and he loves to stroll through local markets indulging in the best street foods on offer. Click here to view a short introductory video from John!
Meet Suna – our Site Director in The Maldives
Suna has been managing short term placement programs for university students in the Maldives for 10 years. Born and raised in the beautiful island of Hithadhoo in the southern most atoll Addu, she loves the island life and the beautiful natural environment. Having worked in the hospitality industry Suna loves sharing her unique culture, language and heritage with visitors from around the world. Sharing stories from her past and guiding visitors to have an authentic and unforgettable experience in The Maldives is her passion. From Suna: “Working with students on their placement programs has been a very rewarding experience. It is remarkable to see the connections they build with the people and the positive impact they leave on the lives of the locals; despite the language and cultural barriers, while also growing and learning from the experience themselves. I really enjoy working with students and helping them along their journey of becoming truly global citizens.” Click here to view a short introductory video from Suna!
Meet Ann – our Site Director in Myanmar
Born and raised in Yangon and graduating from Yangon University, Ann has vast knowledge of Myanmar. Ann believes that learning is a precious thing for everyone and Myanmar with its rich culture, history, unspoiled natural environment and such friendly people make it a dream destination to learn and explore. Ann has been working in the tourism industry for 15 years and is very enthusiastic about creating tailor made travel itineraries, particularly those based around sustainability and adventure. She has experience in development projects related to communication, human resources, leadership management, sustainable programs, community projects and supporting local products. In her spare time Ann loves to practices yoga and enjoys cycling amongst nature. Ann hopes to see you and welcome you to Myanmar soon.
Meet Scott and Sunita – our Site Coordinators in Nepal
Scott and Sunita are your CISaustralia on-site support contacts in Nepal. Scott has lived in Nepal for over a decade. He has established health clinics and hospitals in rural communities across Nepal and in 2010 was recognised for the Sir Edmund Hillary Medal for his service in Nepal. Sir Edmund Hillary was the first to climb Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak, which is located in Nepal. Sunita was born and raised in Nepal. Her childhood memories are of persecution for having been born a daughter, rather than a son. Since early childhood, she’s felt in the most personal and direct means the oppression that women in Nepal face daily. Sunita has dedicated her life to helping women and children in Nepal to have a better life. Both Scott and Sunita welcome you to be a part of their work, helping women, children and improving lives of thousands in Nepal.
Meet Kyra – our Site Director in the Netherlands (International Relations and Politics in the EU, Leadership and Management in a Global World)
Kyra is the program coordinator for the International Relations & Politics in the EU and Leadership & Management courses. She was born on the island Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles) and was raised in Maastricht (the oldest and most beautiful city in the Netherlands) where she studied Tourism and Leisure Management. She lived in Paris for half a year and travelled the world extensively. Kyra has been in the field of International Education for 10 years and she loves seeing the growth students go through while in Maastricht. Her favourite thing to do is stroll along the many cobblestone streets and having a drink on one of the many terraces in the city.
Meet Myrthe – our Site Coordinator in the Netherlands (Forensic Psychology, International Environmental Law)
Myrthe is the program coordinator for the Forensic Psychology course. She is from a small village in the province of Brabant and moved to the ‘big city’ of Maastricht to study International Business. During her studies, she spent six months in Grenoble, France surrounded by the French Alps. After graduating, she stayed in Maastricht and started her career at Maastricht University in the International Relations Office of the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences. Six years later, she joined the Center for European Studies (CES) team. In her spare time, Myrthe loves doing sports, mountain biking, hiking, joining boot camps, swimming and playing basketball. She also loves travelling, exploring nature, tasting local cuisines and going on city trips.
Meet Suzanne – our Site Coordinator in the Netherlands (Positive Psychology)
Suzanne is the program coordinator for the Positive Psychology course. She was born and raised in the Netherlands. Suzanne studied Tourism and has been working as an International Relations Officer at CES since October 2016. She loves the variety of the job and the interaction with students. Her aim is to give her students their best study abroad experience ever. Next to her job as an International Relations Officer, Suzanne enjoys strolling around in beautiful Maastricht and loves to travel. Australia is still on the top of her list of countries she would like to visit!
Meet Christiane – our Site Director in New Caledonia
A native from Lifou Island, Christiane is the manager-owner of her training and consultancy firm. She has over 20 years’ experience in local and international assignments in the Asia-Pacific region for academic, government, para-government and diplomatic organisations. Christiane has extensive experience in the academic field, having set-up and supported the delivery of several programs such as the University of New Caledonia (UNC) French as a Second Language for Pacific-region students. She also setup the 3-way partnership program between the UNC, the IRD (French Institute for Research and Development) and the Vietnamese Aquaculture Research Institute, which brought Vietnamese PhD students to the Noumea branch of the IRD. She was commissioned by local institutions to prepare young people for training abroad. She has also been the Director of Cultural Affairs for the New Caledonia South Province government. In this role, she supervised the organisation of cultural events in the Province, organised overseas visits of various academics and artists from and to New Caledonia and participated in the development of public policies to support the interactions of New Caledonia with regional stakeholders. Christiane is active with Acaroa (alumni association of New Caledonia students having completed undergraduate programs in New Zealand) and Cadres Avenir (alumni association of New Caledonia having completed studies in France & Europe).
Meet Cassidy – our Site Director in New Zealand (North Island Volunteers)
Cassidy grew up in the Bay of Plenty, where she spent most weekends at the beach or local forests. Cassidy has always had a deep love and respect for the environment, which led her to pursue a career in conservation. In 2021, Cassidy graduated from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Ecology and Biodiversity. Throughout her studies, Cassidy loved to get outdoors and do as much practical conservation and environmental science as possible, including many different volunteering events. She has worked in environmental monitoring of rivers and streams in the Waikato region, before relocating to Auckland. Cassidy is now part of our Auckland team as a Conservation Officer, where she enjoys engaging with and working alongside volunteers on a variety of conservation projects.
Meet Hamish – our Site Director in New Zealand (South Island Volunteers)
Hamish feels privileged to have worked for this project since 2017. He has a love for the outdoors, in particular skiing and tramping, and this is what led him to work in conservation. Hamish has been fortunate enough to travel abroad, however, he feels there’s no place like home and that it’s essential we look to preserve our landscapes and the treasured species we have remaining. He believes as people, the connection we have with our environment is essential for our well being. Based in Ōtautahi, Hamish enjoys working with a passionate and dedicated team who have the same motivation and vision as he does. Hamish is also deeply inspired by our wonderful volunteers who never cease to amaze him – their energy and dedication is beyond words.
Meet Lisa – our Site Coordinator in New Zealand (Study)
Lisa has been the Summer Stays Manager at the University of Auckland since 2020 after a long career in tourism. She helps to support all student groups in the University Halls of Residence over summer.
While at Waiparuru Hall, CISaustralia students will be well looked after by the entire Residential Team, led by Resident Manager Robbie Morrish and the senior residents who are all current University of Auckland Students and know all about life on campus.
Meet Mila – our Site Director in Peru
Milagro (Mila) was born in Cusco, Peru where she completed her primary and secondary studies and pursued a degree in Economics at the Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad del Cusco. Although she did not graduate from San Antonio Abad, she later completed her studies at the Universidad Particular Andina del Cusco, graduating with the title Certified Public Accountant. After graduating, she began working for a variety of public and private institutions including serving as the Director of the Charity Pharmacies of Cusco. Additionally, she worked for many different municipalities as a supplies and logistics specialist and held the post of Administrative Director for the Municipality of Urubamba, before joining ProPeru as the accountant in 2003. In May 2009, Milagro assumed the post of Administrative Director of ProPeru. She did her Master’s degree in Administration with a focus on Tourism at La Universidad San Antonio Abad del Cusco. Mila looks forward to meeting and supporting all students attending the CISaustralia Rainforest Environmental Conservation and the Community Development and Environmental Change programs in Peru.
Meet Lorraine – our Site Director in the Philippines (Community Development)
Lorraine graduated from Leyte Normal University at the top of her class, earning a degree in secondary education. She worked as an online English teacher throughout her college degree, but decided not to pursue a career in teaching after graduation, and instead pursued a job at a local IT company. Lorraine grew up as an only child. In her free time, she enjoys working out, eating and sleeping. Through her role as Site Director, Lorraine works to ensure students are adjusting as smoothly as possible to life in the Philippines and making sure they are able to enjoy their experience as a volunteer fully.
Meet Søren – our Site Coordinator in the Philippines (Marine Conservation and Diving)
Soren is originally from Denmark. He has been living onsite in the Philippines since 2014 and has been working in professional diving since the early 2000s. Presently he holds a rating as a technical deep dive instructor and spends most of his days doing research on mesophotic coral reefs. He’s the happiest when he’s scootering on deep twilight reefs, dragging huge amounts of dive gear with him and exploring caverns and deep canyons where no one has ever been before. He lives in a bamboo hut on a mountain, he’s occasionally the proud dad of four crazed dogs and he’s considered a bit of a fish hippie by the locals.
Meet Holly – our Site Director in Scotland
Holly was born in Sheffield, UK. You could say she got the bug for studying abroad when she lived and went to school in Jamaica as a young child. Holly’s second study abroad experience was during her Comparative American Studies B.A, where she studied in San Diego for one year. She finally got to work in study abroad in 2013 when she joined the University of California London Centre. She went on to work at the University of Westminster, looking after incoming students. When the pandemic hit, she finally took the chance to move to her dream country – Scotland. Holly’s main goal is to make sure students explore as much as the local area as possible and for everyone to try haggis (or veggie haggis) at least once. She spends the weekends in the countryside walking her dog, exploring new restaurants and going to the cinema.
Meet Dexter – our Virtual Intern Coordinator in Singapore
Dexter is the Site Coordinator for Interns in Singapore. He is also the co-founder of an agency specialising in social marketing consulting. Over the years, he has frequently been invited to give career talks in schools where he shares his entrepreneurial and media experiences with students. Dexter has coordinated many experiential learning programs for interns in Singapore from various universities all over the world. These experiences makes him a natural fit to continue supporting student growth in Singapore for years to come.
Meet Elena – our Site Director in Spain
Currently based in Barcelona, Elena was born in Girona (north of Barcelona), but has lived in a variety of cities in Spain. She has her B.A. in Advertising and Public Relations from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona and a M.A. in Communication, Tourism and New Technologies (e-Tourism) from the University of Barcelona. Her work experience is focused on Place Branding Online and she is the co-founder of the association International Exchange Erasmus Student Network at UPF, which helps to welcome university students to Barcelona. She has worked and studied in various countries throughout Europe (Holland, Turkey, Italy, England) and is a world traveller. Elena has worked with international students for 10 years and enjoys introducing them to the dynamic city of Barcelona. She loves languages, dancing, travelling, culture and, above all, people.
Meet Shakir – our Site Director in South Africa
Shakir has been in the hospitality industry for a number of years and has grown the volunteer and youth experiences from inception. Based in Port Elizabeth, Shakir offers the team the necessary strategic support and guidance to ensure that all participants are well looked after and leave with a once in a lifetime experience.
Meet Logan – our Site Coordinator in South Africa (Volunteers)
Logan has been with the Big Five Wildlife Management and Conservation project in South Africa from inception and has worked in various roles within the reserve. At present, Logan oversees the various components on the project site, including the logistics for volunteer participants and their general wellbeing. Logan’s dream is to travel the world with his grandkids once he retires.
Meet Rowan – Our Virtual Intern Coordinator in South Africa
Originally from Zimbabwe, Rowan came to study in Cape Town after school and did not get around to leaving. Cape Town has that effect on people! Rowan has had varied professional experiences ranging from being PADI scuba diving instructor and owning an adventure sports business to running the Cape Town branch of a payment gateway solution. Rowan is passionate about business and startups and loves working with our network of partner sites. His favorite part of being on the VACorps team is witnessing the growth interns experience when they push themselves outside of their comfort zone.
Rowan is married and the lucky dad of Fynn and Isla; outside of work the kids keep him busy. He’s also pursuing a degree online so when he’s not on the job he’s catching up on assignments, which helps him understand the challenges of being a student. Rowan loves running and keeping fit, for some odd reason burpees are his favorite exercise. He makes sure to get his kids out to the beach at least once a week, snorkeling at the beaches around Simons Town never gets boring.
Meet Mahiru – our Site Director in Sri Lanka
Mahiru was born and bred in Colombo and although a qualified accountant, his passion for travelling made him join the tourism industry. He has almost 10 years of experience in the field and still continues to have the same spark for travelling and discovering new places. Mahiru believes that Sri Lanka has tremendous potential for student travel especially in the areas such as environmental conservation. In the past, he has been involved in handling projects related to conflict management, seagrass conservation & restoration, reforestation, community development projects with village schools, and more. Mahiru believe that Sri Lanka is a tiny island with the biggest diversity and almost anything is possible. He loves travelling to the hill country mountains, national parks and rainforests within the island that he considers as one of the most naturally blessed countries on earth. When he is not travelling or at the office working, he can be found with a guitar in his hands or in the kitchen cooking up a “Black Pork Curry” which is his favourite dish. Click here to view a short introductory video from Mahiru!
Meet Kya – our Site Director in Tanzania
Kya has volunteered throughout Africa with many different organisations, from this experience it fuelled her interest in working within these organisations. Kya first worked in Zanzibar in 2018 as the Teaching & Community Coordinator. During COVID Kya moved to Rwanda to work for a charity in the sport for development sector. When Zanzibar opened up again Kya was able to move back and continue her work. The community, projects and the people are where Kya’s love for volunteering stems from & she feels very fortunate to call this place home.
Meet Max – our Site Coordinator in Tanzania
Max is a marine biologist from Hamburg, Germany, who has conducted research all over the tropics with a focus on marine conservation and sustainable fisheries. During his Master’s studies in Bergen, Norway, Max spent 3 months in Zanzibar to collect data for his thesis. He fell in love with the island and its people, so he returned right away after finishing his degree. Max now runs a number of research and conservation projects based in Jambiani and Kizimkazi. These include researching and improving the dolphin tourism industry in Zanzibar, monitoring the fishing activity in the local village, and recording data on the bleaching status of nearby coral reefs.
Meet David – our Site Director in Thailand
David was born in the UK and moved to the US when he was 16 and completed high school and University in Colorado. As an avid traveler, his first thought on graduation was to travel to Asia. He volunteered and lived with a family in Kathmandu for 2 months before traveling to Thailand. He quickly fell in love with the country and for the last 12 years has worked as a teacher, as a development officer in NGOs, and has worked with volunteers and study abroad programs for the last seven years. He has an MA in Asia Pacific Studies and is fluent in Thai. He loves his work because it allows him to share his love of Thailand and its people with participants and at the same time support the great things that people all over Thailand are doing every day.
Meet Kristin – our Site Director in the USA – UCLA
Kristin is a native of Portland, Oregon, USA and now lives in Seattle, Washington working remotely for CISaustralia. She has spent a majority of her adult years living overseas, including in France, Ghana, Czech Republic, Morocco, England and Australia. She holds a Master of Arts degree in International Education and her favourite part of working in the field is getting to know students and helping them discover the joys of cross-cultural exchange and the personal growth it brings.
Meet Noah – our Site Director in the USA – New York State
As Harwick’s Director of Global Education, Dr. Noah Goldblatt has over 20 years of experience in international education. Noah has also served as Senior International Officer and Senior Director of International Education at Champlain College. Noah has extensive experience building program capacity. He helped bring the Champlain College study abroad participation rates to number 12 in that nation. Noah holds Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Vermont and focused his research on the impact of study abroad on career outcomes. Noah also holds an MA from Dartmouth College in Globalization Studies. Noah has worked for third party study abroad providers, and led international service learning trips while teaching Spanish at a boarding school in New Hampshire. In his free time, Noah enjoys skiing, traveling, cooking, yoga, and spending quality time with his family.
Meet Hong – our Site Coordinator in Vietnam
Originally from Hanoi, Vietnam, Hong comes from a background deeply rooted in travel, tourism, and hospitality. With over 15 years of experience in the travel industry, she has had the privilege of occupying diverse roles that have allowed her to explore this dynamic field. Hong’s passion lies in educational travel and the profound impact it has on personal growth. She finds immense joy in learning from students during each journey, and she is equally dedicated to sharing the rich culture of Vietnam with young students from all corners of the globe. Her travels have taken her to various corners of Asia, and through these experiences, Hong has have come to firmly believe that traveling is a crucial catalyst for personal growth and a broader understanding of the world.
Meet Sander – our Site Director in Zambia
Sander started off as a volunteer with our partner organisation in Africa for 8 weeks back in 2014. A year later he came back as a staff member to the Livingstone projects. He then finished his studies as a Social Worker in the Netherlands where he was born. Sander has been back in Livingstone since March 2021 after the Covid break as the Base Manager and has no plans of leaving Livingstone. You can find him watching football, watching the sunset from the Zambezi River or having a cold Mosi next to the pool.