Ongoing Leader Support from Start to Finish
Experimenters are met by their two group leaders at a specific meeting location in the designated port of departure in the U.S. Group leaders immediately get to know all the participants and encourage them to engage with fellow members of their group. Right away — and continuing throughout the host country orientation — leaders work with students to increase their knowledge of the country and culture, develop communication skills, and cultivate new attitudes and awareness.
During the course of the program, group leaders keep in close contact with students and their homestay families, conduct group excursions, and guide participants through the learning process via discussions, activities, and reflections on their experiences.
At the end of the program, leaders help participants evaluate their experiences and assist them in considering how they can integrate what they learned about themselves and the world into their lives back home.
Our Group Leaders Are Educators
In 2017, The Experiment accepted only 21% of group leader applicants. Our leaders are selected for their leadership and teaching skills, especially in working with young people, and their international experience and language competence. Many of our leaders are teachers and professionals with a bachelor’s and often a master’s degree, former Peace Corps volunteers, and scholars (Fulbright, Rhodes, Truman, etc.). Our leaders are trained at our School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Experiment selects group leaders who have the following qualities:
- A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience
- Leadership experience working with high school students
- Experience studying, working, and living overseas
- Competence in the language and culture of the host country
I arrived to Rafaela on my host mother’s birthday. After being served a sandwich and fruit I was ready for BED, exhausted after a full day of traveling. After a shower my sisters told me, “get dressed! The guests are arriving soon!” Much to my surprise, the birthday party for my host mom began at 10 pm! Dinner was served at 10:30! Her friends and friends of my host sisters showed me a typical Argentina party — story telling, debates, jokes, and much laughter until late in the night. I retired to bed at midnight with a fully belly and quickly fell asleep. The guests stayed until 2:30 am! This is typical of Argentine culture. I don’t think my U.S. parents would make the cut – they go to bed by 10 pm each night, even on weekends! I am quickly learning that Argentines are nocturnal people – regardless of age!KelseyGroup Leader to Argentina
With all of our belongings tucked away in our rooms and with cameras in hand, we hit the pavement! We headed south several blocks to the plaza facing Le Centre Pompidou, France’s premiere museum of modern art. Here, we enjoyed our first meal together of savory crepes, paninis, and pizza. The topic of discussion: the subtle differences in taste between American and European soft drinks and cheese pizza. Before the symptoms of our post-lunch, “food comas” begin to set in, we continued our journey to Norte Dame. Located on the Île de la Cite, an island in the very heart of Paris. Notre Dame is the 2nd largest, and unquestionably the most famous cathedral in all of France. Unfortunately, the moment we queued up, the angry clouds gave out and it began to rain hard, or as the French would say, “comme les vaches qui pisses”. In the end, we braved the elements and hurried inside for refuge. Damp and groggy-eyed, we returned to Hotel Roubaix for a rendezvous with Julie, our program coordinator, for a quick preview of our program’s itinerary and general logistics. Shortly thereafter, we marched back into the rain for dinner at a French restaurant nearby. Students try filet de canard, poached salmon, beef carpaccio, and escargots at a local restaurant. With full stomachs and hearts, we all returned to the hotel and our beds for some tumultuous, jet lag-fueled sleep.EricGroup Leader to France
Born in Miami, Isabel Callejas grew up in Nicaragua. Her large, supportive family motivated her to pursue her ambitions and, at 17, she had her first life-changing experience abroad in France for a six-month exchange program. She lived in a small, quaint village in France with a generous host family. She received her B.A. in International Affairs from Florida State University and an M.A. in Education from Framingham State University. For several years, Isabel was the director of a project focused on training teachers in math strategies involving 14 primary schools in Nicaragua. She has also lived, worked and studied in Panama, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, and Kenya. Isabel has been a group leader for The Experiment three times -- twice in France and once in Spain.
Christie Moulton was raised in Northampton, Massachusetts, and was a participant in The Experiment in International Living France program while in high school. While getting her B.S. in Wildlife Conservation Biology at the University of Rhode Island, she spent semesters abroad in Senegal and Thailand. After graduation, she worked for a nonprofit organization focused on access to healthy food and sustainable food production. Working with immigrant farmers and community members inspired her to learn Spanish, so she headed to Guatemala to live with a host family and volunteer on coffee farms. Having fallen deeply in love with the Spanish language, she moved to Chiapas, Mexico, where she taught English as a Second Language. She currently teaches at a nature-focused elementary school in Stowe, Vermont. Christie was a group leader for The Experiment to Ecuador in 2015, Tanzania in 2016, and Vietnam in 2017.
Monica Methe was born in Michigan and was raised in Japan for 18 years. She is bicultural and bilingual in Japanese and English. In her years in Japan, Monica attended a Japanese elementary school and an international high school where she learned the art of the Japanese tea ceremony, which gave her a deep, visceral understanding and appreciation of Zen Buddhist philosophy and Japanese culture. At Beloit College, she created her own major, exploring Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies, which prompted her to live with Tibetans, a people in exile, in Nepal and India (via School of International Training). Because Tibetans live through these questions every day, her experience with them, both individually and collectively, fueled her passion for furthering cross-cultural communication and understanding around the globe. Monica was a group leader for The Experiment twice to Japan.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Calvin Walds holds a B.A. in Political Science and Ethnic Studies, an M.A. in Pan-African Studies and an M.S. in General and Special Education. Calvin is a senior fellow with Humanity in Action (Paris, 2012), and was selected as a New Leader with the Center for Progressive Leadership. His work has been published in Callaloo Journal, Coldnoon Journal, and Diffractions Journal. He has taught in New York City as a teaching fellow, served as a visiting teacher at Abaarso School of Science and Technology in Somaliland, and completed field research in Detroit, Michigan; Accra, Ghana; and the Bijlmermeer neighborhood in Amsterdam. He is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Writing at the University of California, San Diego. Calvin led The Experiment’s Leadership Institute program in South Africa.
Anna Wolf's interest in cross-cultural engagement began in high school, when she was a participant in The Experiment in International Living in both Costa Rica and Morocco. She graduated from Beloit College with a dual B.A. degree in Spanish and International Relations. Anna then lived in Hyderabad, India, for three years, teaching English and working for an organization called Prajwala that battles human trafficking. While completing her M.A. in Social Work at the University of Maryland, she became a Licensed Graduate Social Worker. She currently works as a bilingual trauma therapist at a public high school. Anna has led The Experiment's programs to Mexico, Peru, and India.
Eric Ziegelman hails from the beautiful state of Vermont, where he works as a high school Spanish and French teacher. Since graduating from the University of Vermont with a dual B.A. in Global Studies and French, Eric has approached his work in cultural exchange and educational development through the lens of international education. He has facilitated three cultural immersion programs for high school students, including The Experiment’s Painting and Photography in Paris and Provence program. These experiences have reinforced Eric’s enthusiasm for international education and deepened his professional resolve to be an educator and development practitioner. This fall, Eric will be moving to Philadelphia to pursue a graduate degree in international educational development at the University of Pennsylvania. Eric is a two-time leader for The Experiment to France.
Tracy Stein Hinson
A native of Connecticut, Tracy spent a semester abroad in Kenya with SIT Study Abroad and then a summer at the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe. Tracy holds a B.A. in Africana studies from Vassar College and received her M.A. in African studies from Yale University, where she focused on African literature. A strong believer in experiential learning and cross-cultural exchange, Tracy has led high school and college students on service learning and academic study-abroad programs for more than three years in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, including working as an Academic Director for the SIT Kenya program, of which she is an alumna. For the past 10 years, Tracy has worked in international health programs for Save the Children, most recently as director of operations for the organization’s campaign to reduce child mortality. Tracy is a two-time leader for The Experiment to Tanzania.
Kimetta Ortiz is what many would call an “Air Force brat.” Her home was wherever her parents found themselves stationed. As a child, she lived on numerous Air Force bases throughout California and in Germany and Spain. Moving to Spain at the impressionable age of 12 helped define her life and the career path she has established for herself. Kimetta has been working as a Spanish teacher at the middle school/high school levels for more than 17 years in both Florida and Georgia. During this time, she has traveled extensively throughout Spain, Ecuador, Peru, and Turkey. She has a B.S. degree in Business Administration, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is currently pursuing a second master’s in Linguistics. She was also selected as a Fulbright scholar with the Curriculum Development Team of the Andean ``HATSS`` Project (2008). Kimetta was a group leader to Spain for The Experiment.