Taking a Bite Out of Buenos Aires, South America’s Big Apple
By Jillian Sims, AYP Compliance and Operations Manager
Just one month ago, CCI Greenheart and the Academic Year program celebrated another year of accomplishments, student exchange, and it’s amazing team of field staff and local coordinators at the annual conference. This time, it was held in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, affectionately referred to as ‘The Paris of South America,” or, as one pop icon sang, the country’s “Big Apple.”
For one new local coordinator, Crystal, it was not only her first conference, but her first time in South America. Buenos Aires was quite the departure from her state of Tennessee and was a great opportunity to soak up all of the knowledge from LCs around the country. Whether they lived in remote rural areas or on the borders of larger cities, all had information to share on placing students, dealing with schools, and many more topics relevant to coordinators.
Crystal says attending a conference is “the single most important thing you can do” when it comes to training as an LC and getting fully immersed into the CCI Greenheart mission, culture, and opportunities.
In the two sessions, she learned about all of the many programs CCI Greenheart offers. From Short Term Programs to Independent Homestay, to the Private School Placement Program, all presentations and presenters were “very informative and helpful.” But what Crystal enjoyed most was learning about our Greenheart Club. “It really sets us apart and makes us so special” she says. In one presentation, LCs worked together, learning about the impact and opportunity CCI Greenheart is giving back to to the communities it touches through students, families and LCs volunteering in their communities. After participating in a session recapping all of the volunteering that has been done through the club, Crystal was inspired and going forward is “definitely making that a priority” with her students and families.
But it’s not just the informative sessions that entices field staff to annual conferences. The location, accommodations, food, and excursions don’t hurt either! “I had a fabulous time,” Crystal exclaims. “The conference was well planned, had a good balance of sessions and free time, and great group activities.” When pressed to pick her favorite activity outside of the sessions, she laughed a bit and said that was it was a “very hard choice between the tango show and the ranch. They were both amazing!”
Having to choose just one, she settled on the group excursion to a nearby “estancia” or ranch, in which guests enjoyed traditional Argentinean barbeque, gaucho dance, music, and horsemanship displays.
After attending the conference, Crystal is fired up to place bigger numbers than her first year, aiming for high placer status. After her first year of placing, balancing her career with her life as an LC, and keeping up with her own family, she’s figured a few things out to help her with future placements.
- Get started early! Some schools have early deadlines and spots fill up quickly. Don’t let the time pass by and miss an opportunity to place a student in your area schools. “You have to hustle!” When it comes to school spots, the early bird gets the worm.
- Matching is key! Use your best judgment in finding a student that will match your families interests and lifestyle. She has had some families that have requested one nationality or interest in particular, but she paid attention to the aspects of their personality, habits and interests and found a perfect match that went beyond what specificity the family initially expressed interest. She felt not letting a family know about such a great match “would be a disservice” to her students and families
- Monitoring: The earlier the better! Crystal sets early deadlines for herself when it comes to monitoring and contacting her students. This year, she makes her best efforts to contact her students by mid month, but next year has a goal of making at least her first contact by the fifth of the month.
Crystal has a few tips when it comes to traveling too. “Take advantage of the time” she says, encouraging that you extend your stay, since CCI Greenheart conferences are set in unforgettable destinations. Also, “whatever you packed, reduce it by half” she adds, laughing. There is always time for great shopping and finding some unique souvenirs to bring back. Buying for her four daughters, students, and friends, there were a lot of Buenos Aires trinkets to bring home!
Take her advice and there’s no doubt that we will see Crystal and YOU in Madrid, February 2015!
To learn more about becoming an LC and how you can travel through cultural exchange, click here.