ISA at 25: Carrying the “Spirit of ISA” to Barcelona – A Resident Director’s Story

Each week we will be featuring an ISA staff member on ISA Today as part of our 25th Anniversary. This week we’re talking to Manuel Urí Martín, Resident Director of ISA Barcelona Programs.

Manuel with students in the ISA Barcelona Office.

Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you came to work for ISA as Resident Director in Barcelona.

I’ve been a teacher for Spanish and foreign students in different universities in Spain, France and Canada. When I was working in Sevilla, ISA’s Vice President of European Operations Angel Ángel Eguilúz Pacheco proposed to me to become ISA Resident Director in Madrid, where I stayed for a year and a half, and then I became the ISA Resident Director in Barcelona, where I have been for almost two years now.

ISA Barcelona

ISA has offered programs in Barcelona since 2000, when very few other study abroad programs were available there. Over the past 12 years, however, Barcelona has become one of our top destinations. Why would you say that is?

On the one hand, Barcelona is a city of undeniable attraction, very dynamic and lively with an excellent image for the foreign visitor. Also, I think the difference between ISA and other programs lies primarily in the service we offer the student. As many of our students have commented to us comparing our program with those of their friends, ISA Barcelona offers a more dedicated and personalized experience.

You have an extensive experience teaching Spanish in France, Canada and Spain. How does your background as an educator affect your perspective as Resident Director?

The fact of having been in daily contact for many years with students from around the world helps me to understand the variety of interests, motivations and concerns of a diverse student group. I also draw on my experience as an educator to reach out to students in need of language tutoring.

You currently oversee ISA Barcelona, but were Resident Director in Madrid before then and have worked in Santander and Sevilla. How does ISA’s Barcelona program compare?

A program such as ISA Barcelona that has many more students necessarily determines how to proceed in almost all aspects (logistics, meetings, excursions …). Still, my main purpose is to keep the “spirit” of ISA at all times and give personal attention to the students so that they can feel that we are for a time their new family or new friends.

What are you most proud of?

On the one hand, I am proud of what I just mentioned. Furthermore, I am very pleased that the people who work every day in the program in Barcelona, both here and in Austin, have the feeling of being a united team working “face to face,” despite being separated by a great ocean and thousands of miles

Tell us one thing about yourself that people might not know.

I love to cook Spanish dishes as well as Mexican, French, Greek, Indian …

Finally, what do you like about working for ISA?

I am glad to continue in some way with the educational work that has always been a passion in my life. Working for ISA offers the same rewards that I was able to get from teaching: opening a window for the student in order to know a culture very different from their own and that in many cases will become an amazing life changing experience, as they almost always say at the end of their stay here.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.