Why You Should Sign Up for a Home Visit

We hope that to you, a gap year with Winterline sounds appealing. 9 months of traveling to 10 countries, learning new skills, meeting new people, seeing the world, re-energizing yourself for whatever waits upon your return? To many of you, it sounds like a dream come true, and it can be! But sometimes the hard part is getting your parents to see why it’s right for you. Our alum and former intern Anna wrote about how she got her parents on board. Luckily, Anna’s parents understood her reasoning, but it’s not always so easy. Which is why we want to help by talking to your parents ourselves.

Our Director of Outreach and Recruitment wrote about how excited she is to travel to some of your homes for a family visit, but we wanted to emphasize how uniquely beneficial these visits can be for you and your parents or guardians. We don’t want there to be any misunderstandings or unanswered questions about the Winterline gap year. And what better way to clear these up than to sit face-to-face with one of the staff who knows and embodies what our program stands for?

Caroline and Erica celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Caroline and Erica celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo by Dini Vermaat

Students, the first step is on you. Have a serious conversation with your parents about what taking a gap year means to you. Explain to them why you think this is the next right step for you, instead of college or work. Once you open this door, we can help you with the rest. Parents have their concerns about sending their children off around the world for 9 months; we understand that. So we want them to know that we’ve curated this program to be as safe, eye-opening, and fun as possible.

We can respond to the questions that you might not know the answers to: how our risk management and safety protocols work, what your tuition money goes to, or how we find our partners. We can tell them about the benefits of a gap year, in the educational, professional, and personal realms. We can show them the passionate faces behind the program and remind them that we truly care about making sure students and guardians alike benefit from a gap year. We can show them what makes Winterline special.

I’m Erica. I was a Field Advisor during the 2017-18 gap year program. Just like students, Field Advisors endure the highs and lows of the program: the excitement of new skills and the onset of homesickness, the moments of alone time and the feelings of togetherness, the elated feeling of scuba diving and the unfortunate feeling of eating a food that you probably shouldn’t have bought from a street vendor. We experience it all while making sure that students get the most out of their program by supporting them, having fun with them, and ensuring their safety.
Erica in Belize while a Field Advisor for Winterline.

The staff at Winterline are real people, just like you and your parents. We have a real interest in making sure that every single student ends up on their right track. So if for you, that track is a gap year, let’s make it happen. You can schedule a home visit with Erica by emailing erica@winterline.com and we’ll be in touch to figure out a date that works for all involved. Or if it’s better for you to do a video “home visit” we can do that too! Just let Erica know that is what you prefer.

Meet the Field Advisors: Kimiko Strayer

Where are you from originally?

I’m from a city in the Bay Area , California called Fremont.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I’ve been searching for a position like this for a very long time. After researching and a whole lot of dreaming, Winterline was the opportunity that presented itself to me loud and clear. Traveling, exploring, learning, and my favorite age group-yes please!

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

Traveling has always played a huge role in my life. I was still in diapers when I first left the country. It’s a part of me. Teaching and mentoring came a little later. I was doing some soul searching in college and decided to apply for the freshman orientation leader position at school. This solidified my love for the 18-25 year old age group and I never stopped working with various students in this age group in roles such as teaching, mentoring, advising, and counseling.

What are you most excited for about Winterline in Trimester 2?

Meeting and getting to know the students! I’m excited to watch them grow throughout our time together.
What’s the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen while traveling? The people! Traveling is not about the pretty buildings or beautiful sites for me. Seeing the sites and exploring are so much fun– don’t get me wrong. But my most incredible experiences abroad have been in meeting the people and understanding the culture of the various places I go. Some of the most impactful moments I’ve experienced were in visiting extremely impoverished communities and seeing how incredibly strong, humble and grateful they were for what they had. Specifically, there was a squatter town in Dominican Republic where the people had very few material things, but their love, gratitude, and generosity towards one another was the strongest I’ve ever witnessed.

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

That I’m a compassionate, fun-loving, and positive person. It’s important to me that my students know that they are cared for and that they can come to me about anything, without any hard-feelings. More than anything, I want us all to have a valuable (and fun!) experience. That’s my priority.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Despite my height, the only sport I’ve ever participated in (PE in school doesn’t count!) was Sports Aerobics. It incorporates strength elements and flexibility. At one point, I out pushup-ed the boys in my class. As for flexibility, I can still do the splits and put my feet behind my head 🙂

Meet the Field Advisors: James Townsend


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Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in a small town just north of Baltimore, Maryland.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

Being a Field Advisor with Winterline is such a special position and the choice was easy to make. I’ve often asked, and have been asked by coworkers while working in similar jobs: if I could create my own program, what would it look like? When I first discovered Winterline’s Gap Year program, my mind was blown by how similar it felt to what I had been imagining all along. Strong emphasis on a global education, with practical skills learning, an introduction not only to the world but in a way to one’s self, and in a time frame in which participants can really make the most impact on their life, that’s the kind of program I have always wanted to be a part of!

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

I got my start working internationally with a company that runs trips out of Tanzania. I studied abroad in Tanzania for a semester and it was the regional focus of my degree in International Studies, so finding an opportunity to lead and teach in a country I am completely in love with and knew a lot about was something I had to do! Previously I had been leading outdoor adventure and leadership trips in the USA for several years, and to find an industry that combined my passions for experiential education as well as travel and culture was nothing short of a dream job.

james townsend winterline gap year

What are you most excited for about Winterline in Trimester 2?

This will be my second or third time to most of the countries on the itinerary. Part of what I love about my job is being able to introduce and share the things that made me fall in love with in these places in the first place! For example, I spent a month in Cambodia last year and one thing I was so struck by is how it really wears its history on its sleeve. From the ancient temples of the Angkor period 1,200 years ago to the abandoned structures from the Khmer Rogue era in the 70s found throughout the country, the more you see, the more you’re constantly inspired to learn more about its history and people. The more you learn, the more you can understand and contextualize every experience you have into a greater understanding of what Cambodia really is. Being a part of that learning journey is what I love not only about my job, but about traveling as well.

james townsend winterline gap year

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

Honestly, the most incredible thing I’ve seen is the amount of hospitality so much of the world gives freely to complete strangers visiting their country. Last year I bought a motorcycle in Vietnam and spent two months traveling up the country. The tough thing when traveling by bike is that between all the tourist sites and major cities, there tends to be up to three to four days of travel through rural villages, mountain passes, and dense jungles before you get to where you’re going, and not very many resources to know if there will be a place to stay or eat on the road ahead of you. The real surprise came in these moments, where I’d stop in a village and ask for a nearby hotel and people would insist I stay with them and their family for the night. Or I’d stop under a tree in the rain to take a break and someone would just appear with a hot cup of coffee and a towel, without a word of English. One memorable night involved an invitation to camp on the beach with a family who brought all the tents, a massive feast, and a giant portable karaoke machine. The amount of meals offered to me by complete strangers who refused any money in exchange was incredible, and has really taught me the value in trusting others.

james townsend winterline gap year

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

I was a student of experiential education. I grew up going to summer camps, doing multiple study abroad courses and semesters at university, and even now to a degree by being a part of programs like Winterline. By far those have been the most impactful and transformational experiences of my entire life. They’re exciting and rewarding, but can also be challenging and demanding at times. It’s often those challenging moments that are the most defining in our personal growth. I believe having someone who understands those challenges, and the rewards that come with surmounting them there to mentor you is one of the unsung benefits of a gap year program, and it is a part of my position that I take most seriously.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

The Maasai tribe of East Africa takes the honor of who they offer the first drink of the meal to quite seriously. In my constant effort to not offend my hosts’ culture, customs, or hospitality, I am pleased to report on behalf of anyone curious, that raw goat’s blood tastes exactly as you’d probably imagine raw goat’s blood to taste.

james townsend winterline gap year

 

To find out more about all of our amazing field advisors and the rest of our staff, be sure to check out our Winterline Team here.

Meet the Field Advisors: Nicole Trecartin


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Where are you from originally?

Medford, MA

winterline global skills gap year

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

Sometimes I laugh at how long it took for me to realize that this is what I should be doing with my life. Being an FA combines all of my favorite things together. I get to travel the world, see new things, be outside, try new food, and, most importantly, have a positive impact on people’s lives. I love the community which is built through experiences such as these, and I’m honored to be able to be a part of it.

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

When I was in University, I spent a semester in New Zealand in an outdoor education facility learning about environmental sustainability. From that moment I discovered two passions of mine: travel and experiential  education. After that experience, I knew I needed to travel and discover more of the world, so I set off to teach English in Thailand for 2 years. My study abroad experience in NZ was really the lift-off point.

winterline global skills gap year

What are you most excited for about Winterline in Trimester 2?

I’m so excited to meet all of the students and get to know who they are and what they are passionate about. I’m also very excited to head back to Thailand and have the program end so close to my hometown!

winterline global skills gap year

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

On Sumatra Island in Indonesia, I got up close and personal with an orangutan, and on Bali I had an amazing view of Mount Agung as it went through one of its smaller eruptions. It was wild to see nature so raw and dramatic right in front of my eyes. 

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

I am in this line of work because I love it. I love to connect with young adults and help them discover something about themselves, help them uncover their potential. This kind of experience is one of a kind and I am so excited to help learn and grow from it. 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’ve hiked 20 out of 48 New Hampshire 4000 footers and hope to complete the rest in 2019!

winterline global skills gap year

To find out more about all of our amazing field advisors and the rest of our staff, be sure to check out our Winterline Team here.

Meet The Field Advisors: Arielle Polites

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in a small town in Connecticut. As a teenager, I was eager to see the world and live in a big city; this inspired my decision to move to New York City for college. Now that I am older, I am drawn back to the woods, the sprawling hills of New England, and being surrounded by nature. I thank my mom for my love of nature. She always took us for hikes in the fall to see the changing leaves. She also fostered a passion for culture in me, hence my love for exploring cities, too.

Why did you choose to become a Field Advisor?

I love being a mentor to others and facilitating learning in non-traditional classroom settings. Winterline has such a unique program model and it mirrors many of my personal ideologies and outlooks. I had to try a lot of different jobs and experience many different ways of life in order to find what makes me truly happy. I am honored to be a part of the Winterline student journey as they learn more about themselves and the world.

Winterline Global Education Arielle Polites

What are you most excited for when it comes to the Winterline itinerary?

I am excited about everything! I am, however, thrilled to practice my Spanish and be in nature. I can’t wait to experience the beauty of Costa Rica and Panama with our students and partners while my friends and family are shivering in the cold fall weather back in New England!

What is your favorite thing about traveling?

My favorite thing about traveling is connecting with locals and learning their food traditions. I love to cook, and sharing a good meal (preferably outside!) is my favorite way to connect with others. Food brings people together despite language or cultural barriers.

Winterline Global Education Arielle Polites
Arielle with her co-facilitator, Jeff.

What sparked your passion for teaching/traveling?

I went through a number of challenging experiences when I was a teenager and I longed for a mentor that could support my growth and remind me to believe in myself. As the quote by Ghandi goes, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and I have striven to become the person I needed when I was younger.

What has been the most interesting food you’ve tasted while abroad?

I did pass on the opportunity to eat fried insects in Thailand, which is perhaps the most exotic food option I’ve had abroad. I have tried so many fantastic and interesting foods abroad though. My favorite food memory comes from when my time teaching English in Italy. I went out to a meal with my host family and what I thought was my entree was simply an appetizer…I ended up eating a seven course meal, with foot-stomped homemade wine, and squid ink pasta…..all just a block from the ocean and without understanding more than a few words in Italian.

What is something you want students and parents to know about you?

I would like the students to know that though I am a silly and fun-loving person, and my first priority is student well-being. I live my life and do my work with compassion.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I can do a few crazy yoga poses (I am a yoga instructor) but the coolest thing I can do is 20 non-stop cartwheels. It’s been a few years since I have had to prove this skill…so you may have to trust me on this one.

Winterline Global Education Arielle Polites

 

To find out more about all of our amazing field advisors and the rest of our staff, be sure to check out our Winterline Team here.