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 2018, The Experiment accepted only 21% of group leader applicants. Applicants for the leader position go through a rigorous selection process that includes a comprehensive application review, several stages of interviews with the Leader Hiring Team, and a thorough screening and background check process. Candidates that are selected for the leader position have extensive experience with youth education, local expertise in the country or region of their program, language abilities, knowledge in their program theme, travel logistics and management know-how, experience with health, safety and risk management, and are ready to spend a month living and learning with their Experimenters. The Experiment co-leaders are paired strategically to complement one another and provide comprehensive support to all members of their group.
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
At The Experiment in International Living, we value our group leaders as professionals in their fields. We utilize the skills they bring to us, while making sure to provide development and support in the areas needed to be successful leaders of our programs.
Before our programs, we gather all of our leaders together on our School for International Training (SIT) campus in Vermont for a week of intensive training. During training, leaders get in-depth, interactive training on a range of topics relating to the broad areas of youth, education, logistics, and health & safety. Youth sessions cover adolescent psychology, youth development, diversity & identity facilitation, and behavior management techniques. Education sessions cover curriculum development and delivery in our languages and themes; experiential education techniques; group dynamics; and working with a co-leader. Logistics sessions cover specific country briefings with our full-time staff and in-country partners, to delve into the particulars of managing the logistics and budgets for their program. Health and safety sessions are led by our professional full-time staff and these sessions cover mental health, physical health, safety, and risk management theory and procedure within an international context, as well as specific applications regarding how these policies and procedures work on the ground in each program country.
“Not only do I come away feeling prepared, supported, and nourished as a facilitator, but I feel like I want to bring ANYONE in a leadership position (corporate, non-profit, or even people planning to become parents) to this training. Too often ‘leader’ is a title that reflects salary, but not equity or ability. The Experiment training provides the tools to excel in every aspect of leadership.” – Jen Fowler, Leader to the United Kingdom and Argentina.
“This training week is truly the best and most directly applicable professional development session I have ever attended.” – Lauren Duda, Leader to Peru
"(My leader) was sweet and super responsible with us without making us feel restricted. She made sure everyone was included and had everything they needed while trusting us to be responsible for ourselves."2018 Experimenter to Argentina
"My child reported establishing lasting relationships with his group leaders. They were an invaluable resource for understanding cultural norms and expectations but also providing a grounding element of home throughout the experience."Parent of 2018 Experimenter to South Korea
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 SIT Study Abroad). 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.