Meet the Field Advisors: Sam Forti

Where are you from originally?

Columbus, Ohio

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I’ve always loved the outdoors and wanted to travel. When I found out I could do both, professionally I took my first instructor job and never looked back.

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

My first major travel experience was studying abroad in Mongolia with SIT for one semester in college.

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

SCUBA!

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Sam and his fellow Field Advisors at orientation

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

I really enjoy helping feel comfortable and confident when it’s their first time in the backcountry or immersed in nature.

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

Getting to track and trail the Big 5 (Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard) and other animals in South Africa.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m good at finding four-leaf clovers and can make a flute out of a plastic straw.

Photos of the Week 9/27

Trimester 1 began with our students traveling south to work with Outward Bound Costa Rica. Their 11 days with this amazing partner have just come to an end, but they were full of new adventures, beautiful sights, and challenging skills. From exploring the city of San José and becoming immersed in its culture to technical tree climbing, Spanish language learning, and becoming Wilderness First Aid certified, our students sure have been busy.

Take a look at some of these experiences captured on camera! If you’re interested in seeing more from Outward Bound Costa Rica, you can check them out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Zoe shooting hoops | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Alyssa experiencing Costa Rica | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Costa Rican architecture | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Waterfall hikes | Photo By: Peyton Farley
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Nik in the waterfall | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Felipe and Lydia hanging out | Photo By: Peyton Farley
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Liam and Alyssa high five | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Squad 1 playing mini-golf | Photo By: Jacob Rona
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Tropical hikes | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Justin tree climbing | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Leon and a feline friend
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Lucas in the rain | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Sleeping dog | Photo By: Jack Li
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Our students at Outward Bound Costa Rica | Photo By: Outward Bound Costa Rica
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Squad 3 at Outward Bound | Photo By: Outward Bound Costa Rica
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Alyssa tree climbing | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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University of Costa Rica | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Veronica and Jamie cheers after their skills | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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All smiles for waterfalls | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Wilderness First Aid certified | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Leon getting bandaged for Wilderness First Aid training | Photo By: Outward Bound Costa Rica
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Wilderness First Aid training | Photo By: Outward Bound Costa Rica

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

Hostels vs. AirBnB: Where to Stay?

One thing is for sure: young, modern travelers are tending to eschew hotels in favor of hostels or home sharing. But how should you decide where to stay, when? We’ve broken down the main differences between staying in a hostel vs staying in an AirBnB to help you know which will be right for you on your next trip.

Considerations

Privacy and Noise

If you’re someone who can’t function with strangers in your space, a hostel might not be for you. AirBnB is the way to go in order to have private space. Depending on how many people you’re traveling with, you can get your own room or even the entire house/apartment to yourself. If you’re going to be coming in after a long day of travel and you want to fall in bed without having to talk to anyone, AirBnB is a good choice.winterline, gap year, hostel

People

For those traveling alone but looking to meet new adventure buddies, hostels provide a space to interact and connect with like-minded individuals. However, AirBnB is more helpful for immersing yourself in the culture. You’ll be in someone’s actual home, and if the host is there with you, you have a go-to local to ask questions or recommendations from. Additionally, if you’re traveling with more than a few people, you may find that you get more for your money by splitting an apartment than getting a room in a hostel.

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One of our Africa Homestay Families with our Partners, ThinkImpact.

Location

Is there a specific neighborhood you’re looking to stay in? Most cities have more AirBnBs than hostels, meaning you might be more likely to find a place in your ideal area. Transportation factors in here, as well. Many hostels are located in central neighborhoods, near public transportation and tourist attractions. AirBnB allows you to filter by these specifications as well, so you can find accommodation that suits your specific needs and desires from either service!

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Riding the train in Thailand | Brittany Lane

Food

Do you like to cook? Do you think that after exploring your destination, you’ll actually want to come home and cook? If that’s a yes, it may be worthwhile to find an AirBnB that allows you access to a kitchen! This way you can also save money on eating out by making meals in your room.winterline, gap year, cooking

Duration of Stay

If you’re only in town for a night or two, and you know you’ll only be spending time at your accommodation to sleep, these issues may not matter much. In this case, it may just be worthwhile to go wherever’s cheapest!

Photo By: Emma Mays
After all, you could sleep anywhere | Photo By: Emma Mays

Do you prefer to stay in a hostel or an AirBnB when you travel? If you like to use both, then what’s the tie-breaker for you? Let us know in the comments!

Meet the Field Advisors: Joselin Hernández

Where are you from originally?

I am from Nicaragua, a country full of lakes, volcanoes and beautiful beaches, and warmhearted people. Most of my family still lives there.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I have worked with different organizations focusing on community service, leadership and global education for students abroad. Later in my career I started working on managerial roles & I realized where I could really contribute the most was in the field, working directly with student groups, as a mentor, as a curriculum designer. Winterline was the perfect next step, to be back in the field, to see and experience firsthand with the students the wins, the joys, the challenges and the personal growth that come from international travel.joselin hernandez, winterline, gap year

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

I remember my grandmother taking me on local excursions in Nicaragua, which fed the travel bug inside of me from early on. I decided to do my bachelor’s degree on Tourism Management, with the desire to work on sustainable tourism. I had my first experience abroad when I was 18. I went to Panama on my own for 10 days. I saw the tremendous power travel had on me, pushing me out of my comfort zone & expanding my perspectives on life. 

This trip to Panama motivated me to seek job opportunities where I could facilitate experiential learning experiences for youth abroad, which is how I began working with groups of American students in Nicaragua in 2009. From then on, I have worked in this field in different countries, mostly in Latin America.

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

I believe Winterline is an incredible opportunity for growth in so many areas: personally, professionally, socially. The skills portion of the program makes it worthwhile, and its approach to mentoring students to become increasingly more independent and self-sufficient as the program progresses is incredible. I am excited to try and embrace skills with curiosity, enthusiasm and open-mindedness together with students. I am most excited about Rancho Matastal, where we will be learning natural construction techniques, since this is one of my biggest passions. I have done several workshops on Bamboo and Cobb Building Techniques in the past and want to deepen my knowledge of it.joselin hernandez, winterline, gap year

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

I am 100% committed to support both the students in this journey, and the local partners in each country that have worked so hard to make each learning piece of the program and incredible experience for the students.

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

Exploring the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest and being mesmerized by the lush and dense vegetation and diversity of animals, I once saw a panther drinking water from a stream, not so far from me. Interacting with indigenous communities, and their traditions and ceremonies, learning from their plant medicine.joselin hernandez, winterline, gap year

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I speak 4 languages. Spanish is my native language, I learnt English while in high school. Then I moved to France to teach Spanish, where I simultaneously learned French. I went to study Tourism Management and Teachers Training in Austria for 2 years and learned German, which I am still studying. German has been the hardest one to learn.joselin hernandez, winterline, gap year

Photos of the Week 9/20

We are so excited to announce that our 2019-2020 gap year has officially begun! On September 11th, students from all three of our squads met up at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado, for orientation. Each individual squad began their own journey in Costa Rica this week, but it was amazing seeing students from each group bond as one entire Winterline family at orientation.

Below, we’ve chosen some of our favorite photos from Colorado to share with you. Be sure to stay tuned, as we’ll be posting Photos of the Week every Friday for the next 9 months as our squads move across the globe, some going to places Winterline students have never been before. Here’s to the best gap year yet!

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All 3 Winterline squads at orientation! | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Hiking views
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Bonding bonfires | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Hanging out by the fire | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Long bus rides | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Alyssa and Veronica at the YMCA | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Life looks better from the top | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Shooting hoops | Photo by: Lucas Massolo
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Winterline in nature | Photo by: Eliza Valley
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Pablo jumping for joy | Photo by: Eliza Valley
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Hannah and Peyton showing off the Winterline logo | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Squad 1 | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Squad 2 | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Squad 3 | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Our incredible Field Advisors | Photo by: Erica Schultz

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

Monteverde Independent Study Project

When we talk about Independent Study Projects, we often emphasize the Trimester 3 ISP most heavily. After all, this is the project that you spend Trimesters 1 and 2 planning and gearing up for. It’s the biggest taste of independence, and one of the most unique parts of a Winterline gap year. However, did you know that during the first trimester, you get an ISP, too?

In Monteverde, Costa Rica, our students get to participate in an ISP that’s a little more structured since it occurs so early. While no two students can participate in the same Trimester 3 ISP, students may work side-by-side in their Trimester 1 ISP. However, there’s only one student per homestay family.  That’s right; in Trimester 3, students find their own ISP accommodations. But in Trimester 1, students are placed with a local family. This allows you to become immersed in the cultural experience, connect with new people, and learn even more skills.

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Homestay family

There’s a long list of potential Trimester 1 ISPs that students get to pick from. Below we’ve highlighted just a few of the possibilities to give you a glimpse of how much Monteverde has to offer!

  • Coffee – Farm to Cup
    • If you can’t start your day without caffeine, you’ll love this experience. Students will learn and practice the process that coffee goes through from seed to cup. This includes fertilizing soil; picking, washing, and drying coffee; running sample roasts; and even preparing espressos!

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      Grinding coffee beans
  • Handcrafted Paper
    • We use paper all the time, but have you ever really considered how it’s made? Now, you can learn how to turn pulp into paper. Not only will you get to create the pulp and screen it into paper, but you’ll take it to the next step and learn bookbinding!

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      Screening paper
  • Horsemanship
    • Animal lovers, this one’s for you. Learn how to take care of horses the Costa Rican way. First, you’ll get a basic lesson in horseback riding. From here, you’ll tackle feeding and washing, checking and cleaning equipment, and even shoeing and training the horses! Once you’ve got this down, you can improve your riding skills on a horse tour.winterline, gap year, monteverde, horse
  • Medicinal Plants
    • Herbalism is both an art and a science, meaning this ISP can appeal to anyone. You can pick up botanical vocabulary and learn how to identify plants, as well as their medicinal properties and herbal actions. Once you know what they do, you can use them to prepare teas and other products!winterline, gap year, monteverde, plants
  •  Traditional Cooking with Local Crops
    • The best way to understand another culture is to eat their food. Not only will you learn to prepare Costa Rican cuisine, but you’ll do so using fresh and local food produce, like yuca, corn, and guava. Each day, you’ll learn about the ingredient, what you can make out of it, and taste its flavor.

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      Cooking in Costa Rica

Remember, these are just five of our 30 ISP possibilities! If you were going to Monteverde today, which ISP would you pick? Is there anything in Costa Rica that you’d love to get hands-on experience in that we haven’t listed? Let us know!

Meet the Field Advisors: Carlos Gustavo Moriera-Alvarez

Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Costa Rica, I was raised in the mountains of Heredia Province, surrounded by wonderful landscapes and coffee fields all around. I now live in London, but will move soon to Canada.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I decided to become a Field Advisor because I got to meet 3 WL students 2 years ago when I designed one of the ISP they enrolled in Monteverde. I liked the spirit they had, I loved the way they were just trying to figure out their lives and I wanted to be a part of it since they all told me that they would like me to lead along their side. I wanted to be able to inspire and help them reach their goals and potential.

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

I started teaching when I was 20, I was traveling and doing a lot of grassroots development back then… I got to work in with students in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama. I taught in tough urban and rural, same as for indigenous and afro communities within those countries. I wanted to change the world back then, that spark of altruism started my travels. Then, with time, the rest of South America, some of Europe and Asia as well.

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Carlos at the YMCA of the Rockies for Orientation

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

I am excited about the possibility to create a positive impact in the lives of the students in a way that allows them to discover their path, what may like or not, and to get a general idea of themselves and their role in life.

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

I am going to push them to their limits, I intend to get them to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I will share with them what implies critical thinking and cultural understanding. I love to talk, I smile a lot, I am also a very peaceful person. They can always reach out and find someone that will listen to them, to try to understand what they may be feeling and experiencing.

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Carlos and the other FAs at Orientation

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

There is no way to sum this up with words nor within one sole experience. I lived on the riverside communities scouting the Amazon river all the way from Iquitos (Perú) to Manaos (Brazil). I have done skydiving over the Iguazú waterfalls during sunset. I hicked/ran the Inka Trail towards Machu Picchu. I did 12h trecking over a glacier in Patagonia (Argentina) after backpacking for 300+ km. I backpacked for 1 year between Europe and Asia without a paddle, just figuring out what I wanted to do along the way. Hitchhiked/boat-hiked allover Philippines and then lead a group of volunteer teachers from diverse nationalities. There’s a lot out there in the world, these are a few of the things I remember.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I am very goofy! And I love (in a crazy way) nature and wild animals that are not from the ecosystems I grew up in, therefore I will be with a sense of awe and wonder in these new places… just like a child.

Meeting my Winterline Coworkers

Winterline staff members are spread out across the world – from Southeast Asia, to Latin America, to various cities in the United States. In some ways, this distance is amazing. It allows us to have regional experts in the locations that our students visit, and it means someone is available for assistance in every time zone. However, by far the biggest downside of this distance is that it’s difficult for our staff members to spend time together in person.

There are coworkers I’ve spoken to almost every day for the past two years over the phone, through text, or on a video call – yet we’d never met in person. That is, until September 3rd, when the majority of our office staff met up in Winter Park, Colorado for a staff retreat! We flew in from across the world, with our farthest staff member coming in from Cambodia and our nearest arriving from other parts of Colorado. We also got to spend time with a few members of our sister organization, Thinking Beyond Borders.

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Colorado views

Now, “work retreat” might sound like an oxymoron to some people, but for many of us, this time together only solidified our passion for Winterline. By far the highlight of these days was getting to know my coworkers on a deeper level! We covered all the basics that just don’t come up over meetings: where people are from, where they went to college, whether they have siblings. But we also got to connect much further. I learned what the perfect day for my coworkers would look like, which values they hold most esteemed, and what their individual goals for the year are.

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All smiles from Ashley, our Director of Student Services, and Cara, our VP of Sales and Marketing

We sat around and talked, of course, to figure this out, but I also learned a lot about my coworkers through our activities! We participated in a ropes course, just like our students do at orientation. This day was so much fun and it was so inspiring to see how each and every person gave their all. We took risks, we supported each other, and we celebrated each other’s accomplishments. Yet, no one pressured each other to go faster or to complete a course that was too challenging for that individual. This balance of respect for each other’s boundaries and encouragement to push each other to do our best came naturally to our team, and is something that reflects in our workplace relationships, as well.

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Our Admissions Advisor Nora conquering the ropes course

I think it’s important for you, our students and families, to understand this aspect of our company. Comprehending what goes on behind the scenes or picturing who the individuals are that make up Winterline is hard. Even I have had trouble comprehending this information at times, being separated from the rest of the team!

But let me tell you this: I already knew that Winterline is made up of the most dedicated, passionate individuals. From this staff retreat, I learned that this work ethic comes from strength, diversity, and integrity in my our personal lives. Having a team composed of such well-rounded people allows us to offer a program that allows you or your student to grow and learn, take risks and challenge yourself, and become your best self.

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Showing some love to our coworkers!

I’m already looking forward to our next retreat. And if you have the chance to talk to any of our incredible staff members, whether it’s about work or not, take us up on it! We’re always happy to meet you, support you, and help you figure out what the right path is for you.

Meet the Field Advisors: Jamie Hackbarth

Where are you from originally?

Columbus, Ohio! Most recently I call home Denver, Colorado.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I choose to become a field advisor because I believe in the transformational power of experiential education. I experienced the positive impacts of learning outside of the walls of the classroom and want to share that experience with young people today to shape and expand their worldview.

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Hiking Mont Fitz Roy in Patagonia

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

I began traveling during high school down to Honduras to assist at an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS. This experience made me hungry to keep learning from other cultures and people from different life experiences, which led me to study abroad throughout Central America and Barcelona, Spain. After college, I served with the Peace Corps in rural Peru, which is where I began teaching and mentoring young adults. I continued my teaching over the past several years with the State of Colorado by leading educational programs for entrepreneurs and small business owners. I continue to travel for personal growth reasons throughout the world every year and am excited to do so with Winterline!

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Holding Nala in her Peace Corps community in Peru (brought home the dog!)

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

I am most excited to share my passion about global experiential education with students, and mentor them through this process.

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

I truly believe in the power of authenticity, and bringing that to grow and learn from every experience and person you encounter.

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Kayaking through Chicago

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

Sky-diving over the Great Barrier Reef and exploring the Amazon Jungle with locals!

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

As a kid, I used to perform in half-time college basketball games as a mini ‘Harlem Globetrotter’! Ask me how to spin a ball on your finger.

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Hanging out in Machu Picchu