Kayla Alverez studied abroad with ISA in Seville, Spain during Fall 2011. After graduating from Cornerstone University, Kayla worked for ISA as a Site Specialist for Spain! Kayla has experience teaching English as a Second Language, working as a translator and in recruiting. We reached out to Kayla to learn more about how her international experiences have impacted her professional development.
1. What skills did you develop while studying abroad that help you in your professional roles?
I definitely improved my Spanish during my time abroad in Seville, which allows me to do translating work for sales and marketing materials at Nsight/Cellcom. As far as my position at International Experience, having studied abroad motivated me to work directly with students, as I want to help students who hope to study in the US. I also want to continue building my connections to other cultures and countries. My experience studying in Spain has helped me connect and empathize with my students because I was once in their shoes.
2. Tell us about your work as a Recruiting Coordinator for Nsight/Cellcom. What is your favorite thing about it?
Cellcom is a local telecommunications company in Wisconsin and Michigan. I help the recruiters find quality talent for the retail stores as well as on the corporate end. I really enjoy the translation work for our sales and marketing materials, as our goal is to display the information in Spanish and English. I even got to record a radio ad in Spanish a few years ago for the local Spanish radio station, La Más Grande, which was such a fun experience!
3. What do you do as a Local Coordinator for International Experience? How do you help exchange students? Any advice for others who might want to help exchange students in their area?
At International Experience, I look to find families in the area that can host a high school student in their home for a semester or academic year. Once I find a family interested in hosting, I run background checks and do a host family interview. Once that is complete, I help the family choose which high school student they would be interested in hosting. From there, I do a pre-arrival orientation with the family, a post-arrival orientation with the student, and then check-in with the student and family every month. At the end of the program, I conduct a pre-departure orientation with the student. Essentially, I am the mediator between the students and their host families if any issues arise at home or at school.
As far as advice, I would encourage others to give hosting an international high school student a try! It’s a great way to get to know more about a different culture from the comfort of one’s own home. Not to mention, host families help make these students’ dreams come true by giving them a place to live and study in the United States. International Experience has representatives in most US states, besides Hawaii and California, so it’s a great option for ISA alumni who are missing that connection to other countries and cultures. If hosting isn’t a good option at this time, make an effort to reach out to international students in local schools. If you have children, then I’d encourage your children to make an effort to reach out to the international students in their school. Small actions go a long way in making someone feel comfortable, and these students want to make friends and build connections just like anyone else would!
4. Tell us more about your mission trips. What were your favorite parts? What have you learned?
This is a hard one as there’s so much I could say! I went on missions trips to Poland and British Columbia in high school. I helped teach English as a Second Language (ESL) at a camp in Poland and I worked with First Nation Youth in British Columbia. The trip to Poland was a big reason behind why I decided to study Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and Spanish in college, which in turn is what led me to study abroad with ISA!
My first post-college mission trip was to Costa Rica in January of 2012 to run a children’s camp with a group of Americans, and I was an unofficial translator between the Americans and the ticos, which is what many Costa Ricans refer to themselves as. I also played a key role in helping with the children’s activities. It was a challenging, but incredible experience, and I gained confidence with my Spanish skills during that trip. I loved being able to stay with host families in Costa Rica because it allowed me to build meaningful relationships and see the culture first-hand.
My trip to Ireland was in June of 2017, and a group of Americans went to help three different churches with preparing a community dinner, children’s activities, power washing a church, raking rocks, organizing/shredding paperwork, and any other tasks. I really enjoyed getting to know the people of Ireland as they were incredible kind!
Peru was in January of 2019 and January of 2020, both of which were to work at a girl’s home. I led a group of 5 people in January of 2019, and the best part was the connection we had with those girls. They have been through so much in their lives, yet they opened their hearts to us and expressed so much love. In January of 2020, it was just my husband and I who returned to Peru, and we visited those same amazing girls. We brought materials to sew toy llamas to sell as a fundraising project for the home!
Inspired by Rachel’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in an abroad experience? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!