GoAbroad Interview

Dana le Roy - Team Manager

Dana le Roy - Team Manager

Dana was born in Seattle, Washington, but he was raised in Chicago, Illinois and Spokane, Washington. He graduated with degrees in international studies and Spanish, with a focus on Latin America, from Whitworth University. Dana has spent extensive time studying and working in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Guatemala. When he’s not working, he loves joining all kinds of outdoor activities.

You earned your bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish. What experiences inspired you to pursue these majors?

I grew up in a household where international education was seen as a key part of being able to see beyond yourself and be made aware of the grand injustices and inequities in the world. It was international experience, at a young age, which drove me to seek an education the broadened my worldview. And, it was the question of “how am I to best love and serve my neighbor when I do not know her/him?”, that compelled me to study language and put myself in situations where I was able to know my neighbor.

Friends talking on a balcony in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Dana chatting with a student In Quetzaltenango

How were you first introduced to the job opportunity with International Service Learning (ISL)?

I was first contacted by a professor that was aware that ISL was looking for staff.

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

When in Spokane I ride my bike to our office downtown and spend the day on the phone with future volunteers and parents, helping to address any concerns that they may have about their upcoming trips, and spend the rest of my day collaborating with my coworkers to develop our new long term internship program.

Currently, I am living and working in Nicaragua, helping to put the pieces together on the ground for the pilot season of our new internship program. Here, I work closely with our Nicaragua country coordinator to find organizations that are willing and excited to take our volunteers as well as coordinate host family placements.

In your daily work with prospective volunteers, what is the most frequently asked question you receive and what is your response?

A question I received fairly regularly is about the safety of our locations. I’m lucky to be able to speak form personal experience when I tell them that our locations are very safe and we have local leaders on the ground that would inform us the minute they felt otherwise.

Men meeting in Nicaragua

Meeting with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health

As someone who studied abroad in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Guatemala during your undergraduate career. What is your best piece of advice for individuals contemplating participating in an international program?

Get out of your comfort zone! International travel pushes the limits of what we are comfortable with and forces us to grow, whether it's in regards to language or cultural practices. Take consistent leaps outside of our comfort zone to really get the most out of your experience.

How has your own experience studying abroad in Nicaragua helped you develop and improve ISL’s Nicaragua program opportunities?

I was lucky enough to work at a full time internship when I was studying in Nicaragua; it was this internship experience and the experience of my classmates that inspired our vision for the ISL Internship and long term placement program which we are currently developing.

The goal for this program is to give volunteers the chance to live with a family in one of our countries, while earning credit (or not) working at an internship. This gives the volunteer an opportunity to develop language skills and intercultural relationships, while hopefully learning an incredible amount and giving back to their host organization where they can.

You are fluent in Spanish, which no doubt has helped you in your own career endeavors. How do you ensure volunteers have opportunities to improve their Spanish skills while in Nicaragua?

With the internship program, we highly encourage interns to participate in an intensive in-country language school before starting their internship. We hope that this gives our interns a footing to continue their language development while they are living with their host families and working at their internships.

Hiking a volcano in Guatemala

After hiking one of the Tallest Volcanoes in Guatemala

You often attend conferences to represent ISL and promote their programs. What is the most attractive feature of ISL’s programs that you use to entice potential participants?

I think one of the most wonderful things about ISL is its commitment to have all of its non-U.S. staff be from the countries they are working with. This way our volunteers are consistently getting a Latin American (or Tanzanian) perspective from the medical doctors they are interacting with to their group leader; this is the richness that ISL brings to the volunteer experience.

What do you love most about working for ISL?

My coworkers are most definitely one of my favorite things about working for ISL, both the ones in the U.S. and our international staff. The diversity of experience and language is a wealth I cherish everyday I go to work.