Success Story: Associated Kyoto Program

“Via’s made my life so much easier,” says AKP’s Arlynne Criste

When Arlynne Criste learned that their software provider was increasing the price, she knew it was time the Associated Kyoto Program (AKP) switched providers.

Arlynne Criste, Program Administrator for Associated Kyoto Program.

“The product was more than what we actually needed and the price reflected that,” recalls Arlynne, Program Administrator for AKP, a non-profit organization that provides undergraduates from across the U.S. with study opportunities in Kyoto, Japan.

Having attended several NAFSA conferences, Arlynne had a good idea which software provider AKP should reach out to: Via. She first learned of Via during a NAFSA regional conference and recalled how easy it was to use.

“We reached out to Via and got a couple of demos,” Arlynne says. “Everyone at Via was super responsive, and the software itself looked very user friendly and intuitive. It confirmed the feeling that we didn’t need all the bells and whistles of our old product. In the end, Via seemed like a better fit overall.”

Arlynne Finds Via “Simple and Straightforward”

While Arlynne has a supervisor, she is the primary person handling administrative duties at the AKP office based at Pomona College in Claremont, California. AKP also has an office in Kyoto, Japan.

“We are a pretty small program,” Arlynne says. “We send about 30 students a semester to Japan. So relative to the number of applications and students we handle per term, the system we were using before Via was a lot more complicated than I thought it needed to be. Our Kyoto staff was also on that system and it was complex for them too.”

Arlynne’s office switched to Via in October 2021. She likes how Via allows her to easily message students and keep track of previous message exchanges. She also likes Via’s quick filter system and pleasing aesthetics.

“Via’s simple and straightforward,” she says. “I’ve been very happy with the experience. Via has made my life much easier as a one-person office, especially in terms of collecting and organizing information. The speed with which I can process and check the status of our students’ many pre-departure forms has been a lifesaver. Also, with Via’s responsive support staff behind me, I never feel alone when trying to tackle a problem. Their willingness to listen to our smaller program’s needs as Via grows is hugely appreciated.”

Study Abroad “Near and Dear” to Arlynne

The child of Filipino immigrants, Arlynne grew up in Hawai’i and began studying Japanese in the sixth grade. She studied abroad in Japan on a high school summer program and, after the experience, knew she wanted to return to Japan in college. While double majoring in Writing Seminars and East Asian studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, Arlynne participated in a one-year exchange program at the University of Tokyo.

Students on the 2019 Spring AKP Hiroshima Trip!

“In Tokyo, I interacted with students from around the globe and it got me thinking about my place in this global society,” she says. “That experience influenced my desire to get involved in international education, to be someone who supports students who want to fulfill their dreams of going abroad.”

After graduating from Johns Hopkins in 2014, Arlynne worked as a diplomatic coordinator at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. While there, she began her master’s in International Training and Education at American University.

Halfway through her degree program, she began working for NAFSA, first as a coordinator for Volunteer Leadership Development and Regional Affairs and later as a senior coordinator for Professional Learning Services. After earning her master’s degree from American University in 2019, she moved to California to take the job with AKP.

“Study abroad is very near and dear to my heart,” Arlynne says. “No matter what kind of experiences students have, I want to be there to help them see it as a learning experience—that it’s not just a fun trip you take during college, but something they can use to grow and expand their horizons. I’m very grateful to be working in this field.”

Let’s Connect

Like Arlynne Criste at AKP, Via believes global experiences will change our world. That’s why we created traveler relationship management and travel risk management software, which helps universities and study abroad program providers to empower global experiences. If you want a true education abroad partner, turn to Via.


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