International Education Week 2021 is a Great Time to Share Our Stories

Via TRM doesn’t just talk the talk about the value of global experiences. We walk—or have walked—the walk. We’re a company built by international educators for international educators. We know global experiences have the power to change the world because they’ve changed our worlds.

One of the best parts of International Education Week 2021 for us was hearing how global experiences have changed the lives of our Via team members. In fact, that’s how we started off IEW. During our Monday Mashup, Nov. 15, we asked our team: “Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled internationally and why is it your favorite?” The stories were so uplifting and so reaffirming about the work we do in the Education Abroad community that we just couldn’t keep them to ourselves. Here are three we think you’ll especially love too.

Lisa Stern, Via TRM CFO

Lisa Stern posing with her family during their time living abroad in Paris, France from 2011 to 2012.

Lisa Stern lived twice in Paris, once for a semester her junior year in college and again for a year with her husband and three children. She chose Paris in college because a friend told her it was incredible. She knew when she had a family one day she would return “to create a memorable, bonding experience in a historic, beautiful, urban setting. I wanted my kids to see the world through a different lens.”

She kept that promise to her college-age self.

“We had many incredible experiences during our year abroad as a family,” Lisa says. “We learned our way around the arrondissements of Paris. We visited nearly every museum, tasted foods from incredible boulangeries, and were able to visit many countries in Europe.”

Some highlights included staying at an ice hotel, truffle hunting in Italy, seeing a show in London and visiting Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. Through their year living abroad, she says her family “learned resilience and that we can do hard things.” She believes her 12-year-old daughter said it best as the family was leaving Paris:

Scott Regenthal pictured with Andean village school children, after teaching on the importance of environmental conservation and watershed protection.

“Last year I pictured what it would be like to come to Paris, not knowing anybody, not knowing if I really belonged here, not knowing how to speak the language, not knowing how to say goodbye to my Michigan friends, not knowing how to live with my family for a year and no one else! But most of all, not knowing if moving to Paris was the right thing to do. Now I know lots of people from lots of different countries. Now I know my way around Paris. Now I know beaucoup de francais. Now I’m sad to leave my new friends. And now I know that moving to Paris was an unbelievable experience!”

Scott Regenthal, Via TRM Technical Support Engineer

While serving in the Peace Corps as a natural resources technician, Scott lived in Ecuador for three years. For two years, he lived and worked in a small coastal agricultural and fishing village where he educated youth on the importance of environmental conservation, collaborated with local leaders to develop and promote ecotourism, and helped establish a community bank. In his third year, he partnered with an organization in the capital city of Quito that was dedicated to improving and preserving the area’s watershed resource quality.

Inti Raymi celebration, honoring the Incan Sun God, in which indigeous communities express their gratitude for harvest and abundance through music, dance, and staple food crops.

Scott says through his time in Ecuador, he learned patience, resourcefulness, perseverance, diplomatic skills, humility, empathy, and gratitude. What stays with him is developing and nurturing genuine friendships and working with others to accomplish beneficial goals. Getting outside of his comfort zone to try new foods and have new experiences stays with him too.

“It was eye-opening to be immersed into the lives of others who presumably are less fortunate, but who, in reality, have equally enriching lives with qualities that are, in some ways, enviable.”

Bob Specking, Via TRM Account Executive

Bob’s first time living abroad was during his sophomore year at the University of Missouri when he went to Alicante, Spain. He chose Spain because he wanted to advance his Spanish skills. And, having grown up in the rural Midwest, he was excited about living in a coastal town with great weather.

Bob Specking in front of the Plaza de España in Seville, Spain.

He loved Spain so much he returned five more times. One of his favorite experiences: Afternoon naps during workdays, which taught him the value of work/life balance. Bob’s global experiences didn’t end with Spain. After graduating college, he lived in Bahrain, a small Arab state on the southwestern coast of the Persian Gulf. He worked for a company teaching English to business professionals and government employees.

Bob Specking posing for a photo with his students in Bahrain.

“I was intrigued by the chance to live in a place that was very different from what I knew,” Bob says. “I had also grown up in the wake of 9/11. There was a lot of Islamophobia in America and I thought spending a year and a half in a Muslim country would be both challenging and eye opening. We’re all ambassadors when we travel and I wanted to be part of bringing my culture and their culture closer together, compared to the divisions that had been so common in our media.”

When he looks back at his global experiences, both in Spain and the Persian Gulf, Bob says he learned empathy, curiosity, and the “fragility of life.”

“Living in Bahrain was not easy,” he says. “I was no longer in the safety bubble I felt at home or in the parts of Europe I’d visited. My time there really taught me to appreciate my life and what I have in ways that a book or an article could not.”

Let’s Connect

If you believe like Via TRM believes—that global experiences like those of Lisa, Scott and Bob will change our world—let’s partner. Our traveler relationship management and travel risk management software solutions are helping universities and organizations power global experiences. And our software also makes the workday go more smoothly for those in the EA Community. How can Via TRM help you?

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