This year for International Education Week, we asked our Resident Directors overseas about study abroad and their own thoughts and experiences. Hear more from Danica, our Resident Director in Paris, France.
What position do you hold at AIFS? What has been your career path so far?
I am the Resident Director of AIFS in Paris since September 2007 and over 20 years ago I was the Academic Assistant for the AIFS program at the Sorbonne. I enjoyed the international profile of AIFS and strongly supported its mission to introduce students to other cultures and languages. I was fascinated by America and Americans as well as the concept of the “melting pot” its diverse cultures. I left my position after my marriage to a Frenchman and the birth of my twins (now in their 20’s). I later resumed my career in an organization that promoted Franco-Slovak relations. I was born in Slovakia but since a young age have attended French secondary schools and universities.
When the position of Resident Director in Paris became vacant six years ago, I accepted the position without hesitation. Since then, with my previous professional and personal experiences, my enthusiasm for and dedication to working in a cross-cultural educational environment has increased. I enjoy sharing my own experience and perspective with young Americans; I encourage them to enrich their academic career and to broaden their horizons through their study abroad experience.
Why is cultural exchange important?
Today’s world is a global world. The English language is used by the world to communicate, but one can hardly understand the global environment without having learned to adapt, to communicate, and to understand and accept cultural differences. This can happen only if one interacts with the other cultures, habits, customs, and regulations. Such interaction has an impact on each student’s outlook, develops the strength to adapt and enables a broader view of history, culture and civilization.
How have you changed by working in international education?
My listening skills have increased and I have become more interested in transatlantic relations, public affairs and politics. For many participants, it is their first experience abroad, and for them I become a facilitator and supporter who assists and advises not only in academics but also in personal and cultural matters. Each session is different and I have learned to adapt not only to individuals but to each group. I also have become more flexible and sensitive and this has changed my personal life as well. The cultural enrichment works both ways and teamwork is essential.
Between the rainbow, the Eiffel Tower and Danica’s study abroad wisdom, do you need any more reason to go to Paris? Find out more about how to study abroad there on our website.