Each week we will be featuring interviews with ISA staff members as part of our 25th Anniversary. This week we’re talking to Ángel “Chicho” Eguilúz Pacheco, Executive Vice President of European Operations, who is based out of the ISA Sevilla Office. Chicho has been with ISA since 1997.What do you do here at ISA?
While I am based out of the ISA Sevilla Office, my main duty is to coordinate different offices in Europe. There are two coordination lines: one has to do with the offices, sharing information that is relevant to every site and the other one that has to do with establishing good communications among the staff in each office and among the rest of the colleagues. This summer, I’m looking forward to traveling to Houston to attend the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conference with my ISA colleagues. I have also contributed directly in the development of new programs and their academic design and implementation. All this has made me travel frequently and learn about different cultures. I talk to the students every time an opportunity arises so that I can understand better students’ interests, expectations, needs, goals… After all, they are the main purpose of this job.
Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you came to work for ISA as Resident Director in Sevilla.
In 1986, I moved to Salamanca to study Spanish Philology at the University of Salamanca. When I finished my degree, I went on to work in the Cursos Internacionales department at the university [teaching Spanish]. In 1993, I moved to the U.S. to teach Spanish at James Madison University in Virginia. It was a unique experience and a wonderful year. After that, I returned to Salamanca where I completed my Master’s in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. It was then that I came in contact with ISA for the first time. In 1997, [ISA President/CEO] Gustavo J. Artaza proposed that I become part of the ISA family, and work full-time for ISA as Resident Director in Sevilla. Since then, I have devoted my time, energy and enthusiasm to work for ISA.
Did you study abroad? If so, please elaborate.
My last year at the university I completed my studies at the University of Leuven, in Belgium, where I specialized in Linguistic Studies. It was without doubt one of the best years of my life. I learned a lot of things during that year, but the most important is that I met Lieve, my wife today, and the mother of our children Emma and Lucas.
How has international education evolved in the years since you started your career with ISA?
This is such an easy and difficult question at the same time. Needless to say that international education has changed a lot, obviously for the better. We have moved from the student basically interested in the language and civilization of the host-country where he was living in, to the student we have today, much more demanding, who pursues other interests and values in a more global way. Students today want to learn politics, economy, anthropology, history, cinema, science, music, etc. Certainly our “civilizations” and our society is also much more multidisciplinary, and languages are not the only scope of study abroad, as it has been along the history, but also, a valuable tool that allows to deepen into different fields of study. Thus, the appreciation of learning foreign languages has completely changed. Students today, want, more than ever, to explore the world in a way that allows them to understand better other ways of thinking and from different perspectives. It also allows them to appreciate different people and cultures. Today’s society needs to be conceived from a wider point of view. We need to integrate other values, other interpretations in our daily life to better understand the world. Globalization is not the imposition of a set up model, but the combination of several or sometimes all of them
What are you most proud of?
I feel very happy when a student say thanks at the end of his/her program and when it is clear that his/her studying abroad experience has changed his/her life and his/her way to understand the world. This is probably the most rewarding thing in our job and it is what encourages us to work harder every day.
Tell us a little know fact about yourself.
Fifteen years ago I had never imagined that I would have felt so attracted to Moroccan culture. This culture is at the same time so close and distant from our own. It seems so familiar to me and at the same time so fascinating.
Finally, what do you like about working for ISA?
I like everything about my job. I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to do everyday what I love. I feel privileged because I enjoy working and doing what I do. Yet, I should say that this job would not be the same without the colleagues I work with. They are a great group of people, with great human values and a lot of dedication to their jobs. Without them I could not imagine this job.