GoAbroad Interview

Chloe Barber-Smith - Enrollment Coordinator & Trip Leader

Chloe Barber-Smith - Enrollment Coordinator & Trip Leader

Chloe was born and raised in Philadelphia, but she headed south to New Orleans for college, where she lived for six unforgettable years. However, she didn’t stop moving then. Chloe’s travels have brought her all over the world, from South Africa to Nicaragua. She strongly believes that every day should be spent having fun, and she has incorporated that philosophy into her job at Global Works. Chloe fills her free time by playing rugby, dancing whenever possible, and exploring beautiful Colorado.

Your relationship with Global Works began long before you joined the team professionally. How did you end up working for Global Works?

As a participant in these programs when I was a teenager, I always considered it one of the most influential experiences I had ever had. I wanted to be the one who fostered these experiences for others, so when I moved to Boulder, CO and saw that Global Works was based here, I reached out to work for them and voila! I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this amazing company.

Volunteer with kids in Fiji
Hanging with the local kiddos in Fiji

How have your own international experiences influenced your career?

It all started with my international journeys to Costa Rica and Ghana when I was in high school. The seed was planted and I wanted to not just travel as much as possible, but to really connect to the communities I visited. I’ve been lucky enough to experience many ends of the world, from Ireland to South Africa to Ecuador, and my passion for travel continues to grow. Having these experiences has taught me to travel consciously and intentionally. I know how to travel with an emphasis on both safety and fun, and I love bringing that knowledge to our students.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

Working in the home office, I get to experience a lot of the back end of things. A typical day involves communicating about paperwork, talking to parents on the phone, and, of course, a little joking around with everyone in the home office. It’s a great combo of productivity and fun. Then, I get to go out in the field a couple of times a year, which is the other side of the coin. A typical day traveling with students is always packed with adventure and service!

Global Works staff
Having fun in the home office

Based on your experience leading trips, what makes going abroad with Global Works unique?

Global Works really emphasizes its slogan “Travel with Purpose!” On our trips, you truly get to connect with communities and then give back in ways that are meaningful and that the communities ask for. There’s also an incredible bond that happens within a group. Global Works groups become a little family through this unforgettable and new shared experience. This all creates a unique experience that is so different than a teen tour or a family vacation.

What is your best advice for someone about to embark on a Global Works program?

Take it on with enthusiasm and an open mind! There is so much to get out of these trips, and if you approach it whole-heartedly, you’ll be shocked at the impact traveling with Global Works can have on you.  It may push you out of your comfort zone, but if you take it all on, you’ll go home with friends, connections, and memories that will last a lifetime.

How does Global Works ensure that each participant gets the most out of their program?

Our leaders are all extremely well-trained to ensure that each kid is having a worthwhile (and safe) experience. Our trips have a great balance of service, cultural exchange, and adventure that each student will have something that’s special for them. Leaders also make sure to regularly check in with participants individually to see how they’re doing. We foster a wonderful group dynamic and work through issues as they arise with each student.

Jumping shot at the Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala
Jumping at the Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala

You have led Global Works trips to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Fiji. What is your favorite destination and why?

How can I pick?! I’ve loved each one of my trips for different reasons, so this is a really tough question. The one that is freshest in my mind is Fiji, since I just went there this past summer. The people in the community that we stayed in were so warm and loving, it was impossible not to feel close to them. Everyone on our trip struggled to stay goodbye. The culture of Fiji is also so unique and vibrant. I still reflect on my time there regularly. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it!

What is one thing you hope participants take away with them after completing a program?

I hope students take away a powerful sense of global citizenship. We are all connected through this world community and can make a meaningful impact through those connections. I hope students walk away with an understanding of the joy and adventure that comes through international travel and service, and continue to bring that to the rest of their lives.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I am always stunned to see the growth of our participants over the course of these programs. Almost everyone begins with hesitancy and ambivalence, and leaves with a new community of close friends and a broadened sense of self and the world. The impact of this type of travel is so evident to me working with Global Works, and I could not be more grateful that I get to be a piece of the puzzle.

Volunteers mixing cement in Costa Rica
Working hard at the service site in Costa Rica

In your opinion, why is international travel important for youth?

Travelling as a teen, I learned that cultures can be so different, yet people so similar, and this has held true for me. We all get so caught up in our own lives, and an authentic travel experience opens your eyes to what’s out there.

Once you are aware of how big the world truly is, you can’t ignore it; that knowledge of diversity and human connection permeates through every aspect of your life, with your community at home and abroad.

If you get the chance to travel in your youth, you learn open-mindedness, independence, and global citizenship, lending to an incredible world full of incredible individuals.