Juan Pablo Campora - Experience Coordinator
Juan was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is currently studying web design at DaVinci School, while working as the Experience Coordinator for Road2Argentina. In this role, Juan takes care of participants’ housing arrangements and is constantly in touch with the students upon arrival, making sure they are enjoying their stay in Buenos Aires and their placements. Thank to his educational background, he also does most of the design work for Road2Argentina.
How did you get connected to Road2Argentina?
Funny story actually. For Halloween 2011, I dressed up as Tom Brady and went to a party, where a girl, who was a Patriots fan from Palmer, MA, approached me and started talking. Little did I know that she would become one of my dearest friends, even hosting me in the U.S. when I travelled there a few months later. We’ve stayed in touch since, and last summer (January 2015) I was out of a job and she told me about this agency which had brought her to Argentina to begin with, which had an admin opening. I was pumped! After sending my resume and presentation letter I got no answer until about a month and a half later, when a housing opening became available, and after two very entertaining interviews, I got the job.
What inspired you to work in the field of international education?
Even though I did not like having English lessons at school four days a week, years later I found myself very fond of English and American culture. It has become easy for me to relate with foreigners at social events or bars over the years, getting to know them and learning from their cultures. The people of the world are very intriguing to me and I’ve always wanted to meet more travellers. Lacking the resources to travel much myself, I found meeting tourists to be a way to explore the world from home.
You work with interns and volunteers closely after arrival. What does a typical first day look like for an incoming participant?
The first thing you need to know as a porteño when you meet a foreigner in person for the first time is that they are most likely not used to getting kissed on the cheek. Beginning with a simple but warm handshake and slowly working your way up from there is the key. During orientation, they all seem pretty eager and excited to start their adventure, but they usually also have a lot of inquiries and hesitations on how to handle themselves around our culture. I always make sure they feel comfortable and tell them that any question is a good question, adding a little humor and good vibes always makes them laugh and relax.
We usually coordinate these orientations on the same day (or as close to as possible) to our weekly “tea time” activity, which most of our current participants come to. This is a great way for them to get to know more people in their same situation or with a little bit more experience already, and most importantly, make new friends. This environment helps them to feel less alone and less away from home as soon as they get here.
What is one thing you wish every participant knew before arrival?
The importance of bringing U.S. Dollar or Euro bills into the country. We always let them know about this issue, but they rarely listen and end up spending more money from their credit cards or bank accounts than needed.
How do you help participants adjust to their new home and their placements?
First of all, I personally meet every one of our current hosts and keep in touch with them regularly. Some of them have even invited me for breakfast or a social event in their homes. I make the call on which of them are fit or not to become one of our hosts, based on the kind of relationship they have with me and with the roadies from the past, and I always ask if they are happy with their housing situation on, at least, a bi-weekly basis. During orientation, roadies are given my personal phone and Whatsapp number, so they can contact me at any time for any issues that may arise. Hosts have this number too, for the same reason.
Regarding placements, on their first day of work or volunteering, I join each roadie to travel to their placement location, to show them how to get there and to make the proper introduction with their bosses, co-workers, or coordinators. Weekly, also, I ask them about their placements and also get in touch with the placement coordinator a couple of times during the participant’s stay.
What makes the Road2Argentina team unique?
Young vibe, professionalism, and broaden cultures within the team makes us really easy to talk to. Participants enjoy spending time with us. It’s not a job for us, it is a passion that we all share and have fun with.
We are local, we know our country, and we also know what our students want.
Why do you think Argentina is a great place for volunteering and interning abroad?
Argentina, as a third-world country, has many issues that need attention. Therefore, there are immense possibilities, for someone who wants to lend a hand and help as well as for someone who wants to learn about the trades and blocks that our people have to go through when running a business. All that, combined with the people’s warmth, open-mindedness, and love for international culture, makes this country the perfect destination for travelers of any age.
Describe a typical day of work for you.
My day starts at 10 a.m. That’s the only typical part of it, and not even! Working hours are very flexible, giving us the option to work from home from time to time. Everything I need is on my laptop, so I can get to work anywhere whenever.
Actually, my days are quite different as the rest of the team’s, as I spend a lot of time in the street, taking students to their placements or checking out new housing possibilities.
When I’m in the office I make the most of my time catching up on my e-mails, performing orientation for roadies, setting up housing and placement arrangements for future roadies, and also working with design tasks on R2A’s website or documentations.
What is your favorite part about working for Road2Argentina?
The team that works with me and the people I get to meet every week. A day in the office goes by really quickly when you love what you do and do what you love. The kids, are just wonderful to be around, and it is great to listen to their stories and experiences of my city.
What is the most important thing participants take home with them from their time in Argentina?
The independence of the experience, having lived by themselves in a completely different culture, with new rules and social standards, and the new perspective of what some real-world problems are there in a place that strives to overcome them day to day.