We’re continuing the series introducing the team behind AIFS Customized, who create faculty-led study abroad programs for hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the US.
This week, we are chatting with Trung Tran, Florence Program Coordinator, who is based in our Florence Study Center, Italy.
Hi Trung, what is your role at AIFS?
I work on students’ cultural calendar during the semesters, and summer itineraries with faculty. I am also involved in day to day student services.
How long have you worked for AIFS?
Four years. Since December 2016.
What do you love most about your job?
I was an AIFS student myself, so my job is not actually a job, but an extension of my student career. I love to meet students when they first arrive, timid and all, then full of self-confidence and energy when they leave. My job is to help creating global citizens.
What do you love most about working for AIFS?
The massive network of study abroad locations because you realize that your job in Florence, Italy, Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Stellenbosch, South Africa is equally important. Unconsciously, you come to think with a global mindset and understand that we’re all connected in so many ways.
What do you like most about working with faculty and students?
I love taking students to the Colosseum for the first time with their eyes wide open and big smiles of their faces. So, I love seeing students enjoy learning new things and listening to their stories about discovering new places.
Where and when did you study or work abroad?
2010: Florence; 2012: Bologna; 2014: Tours, France
Any advice for faculty thinking of leading a CFL program abroad?
Use your teaching location as much as possible.
Any advice for students thinking of studying abroad?
This is not your last trip abroad, enjoy it responsibly.
Tell us something about yourself:
I run because it’s the best way to explore a new city. I love traveling to less popular destinations because there is always something to learn and stories to be heard.
Where do you plan to travel to next?
Dream destination? Iran because I still don’t know anything about this beautiful country. Next destination: Germany, CAKE!
Tell us a favorite travel story:
I couchsurfed in Lviv, Ukraine in 2013 at a young couple (Ph.D candidate and young artist). They had very little but spared me a bed in the corner of their studio. They were so welcoming and warm-hearted people, they even went out of their way and cooked Borscht for me. Somewhat of a cliché, but travel doesn’t require money, it asks for an warm heart and open mind.
A favorite book/movie/restaurant or experience that inspired you to travel?
As a food historian, I love Fred Plotkin’s Italy for the Gourmet Traveler. It’s a guidebook about the regional enogastronomic cultures in Italy and takes the traveler to tiny villages all over the country. But it’s more than just the food, it’s about meeting and talking to everyday Italians, with broken Italian or hand gestures.
Tell us your dream trip with an unlimited budget:
Unlimited time? Via Francigena Camino, walking from Canterbury, England to Rome, Italy. It’s a pilgrimage walk, but one doesn’t have to be religious! Why fly when you can walk? Experience the sound, the smell and the energy of different places, and hopefully learning a thing or two at the end.