We love highlighting the stories of students here on the HECUA blog, but occasionally we’d also like to introduce you to members of our hardworking staff and faculty. We started out our staff profile series with New Zealand Program Co-Director Charles Dawson, and now we’ve got the second staffer in our series: Adriana Corti, Program Assistant and Field Trip Coordinator for our HECUA Ecuador study abroad programs. Read on for more about Adriana, and if there’s anything you’d like to see included in these profiles in the future, feel free to make requests! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s your favorite part of the HECUA semester?
Adriana says one of her favorite parts of the semester is the midpoint, when the group dynamic gels and students start to settle in. “When everything works well, the group dynamic is so good, like a little family,” she says. “They care for each other, they go around together.” Another highlight Adriana identifies is when students start to shine in their internship placements. In particular she noted that it’s inspiring when students feel that they can be really self-directed. “For example, in 2006 we had a student [Claire Stoscheck] who had set her mind to working with a biking organization. Initially the organization said, we don’t have the capacity, we don’t have the space, we don’t even have a computer! But this student was so determined. She said, ‘If you give me a table, that’s all I need.’ She really went above and beyond. She raised money independently, and she created a program that connected the group that she worked with and another, similar organization across town.”
Students from CILA preparing for their bike tour of Quito.
What’s been a challenge?
“There’s not anything I would describe as really negative,” Adriana says. Sometimes there are setbacks, things that are challenging, but primarily those challenges stem from interpersonal relationships. “It’s difficult when students don’t get along with one another, when there is limited group cohesion, but that’s really only happened a handful of times.”
How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
Adriana spends most of her time with students supervising, organizing, and debriefing their field trips. She was quick to point out that she is not the primary lecturer in the course, but it’s clear that her own experiences with hands-on learning abroad have influenced her approach to structuring the field experiences in Ecuador. Adriana and Program Director Martha Moscoso change the field experiences in small ways each year, making sure that the students are prepared for the progressive Spanish language immersion of each stage, and that the readings, speakers and reflection flow naturally into each excursion. This process reflects their commitment to making sure students are connecting what’s happening in the classroom to what’s happening on their field visits.
Adriana Corti (left) and Martha Moscoso (right) accompanying students on one of the Ecuador abroad field visits.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself.
“I was born and raised in Quito, so this city (where the program is based) is home to me. My siblings live close by, and we are all in the same neighborhood, more or less.” Adriana received her Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics and Literature from the Catholic University of Quito, and with a minor in International Relations and Business.
Don’t let her hometown pride fool you: Adriana is no stranger to study abroad experiences from the participant side. Her first foray outside of Ecuador came as a high school student, when she studied abroad in Denmark. “I was an exchange student for a year,” she says, “and that had a huge effect on me. What you learn from an experience like that you never forget. My time in Denmark was amazing. I learned Danish, for one! I am still in contact with my host family there, in fact.”
Adriana has been the Program Assistant and Field Trip Coordinator for HECUA’s Ecuador programs since 2001. When she’s not organizing and facilitating amazing field experiences for HECUA students, she spends time doting on her two dogs and digging around in her backyard garden.