Meet the Spirit Team!

November 13, 2018

As part of International Education Week 2018, the Department of State developed a fun way for people to introduce themselves and share their cultural experiences - the "Exchange Your Name" Game. We used the game to introduce the Spirit team! You can find our answers below.

The Rules: Using the #IEW2018 Alphabet Poster, spell your name and answer the question for each letter! If you need to use the same letter again, don't worry - just share another answer.


Ana - Program Assistant

A - Although I have not participated in an exchange program personally, I have traveled to other countries, and my children have traveled independently to other countries.

N - The most exciting holiday I have celebrated abroad is Christmas in Mexico. It was exciting, educational, and colorful.

A - The most exciting trip Ive made was to Lacanja, the Mayan jungle in Chiapas, Mexico helping to distribute medicine to volunteer area doctors.


Anna Marie - Account Services Coordinator

A - Yes, I have participated in an exchange program. I studied abroad in Granada, Spain in 2012!

N - Ive celebrated Thanksgiving in Mallorca, Christmas in Italy, and Easter in Portugal. And a few other holidays abroad, too!

N - My favorite international city would have to be Budapest or Amsterdam.

A - Most of my international friends live in Spain since I taught English there. But a few others are in Germany, Australia, and the UK!

M - I would most like to visit anywhere in Canada since thats where my dad is from!

A - My must-have item while traveling is tissue.

R - People should try macaroni-and-cheese in my country :)

I - I speak English and Spanish.

E - I am celebrating #IEW2018 with an International Happy Hour with all the co-workers in the office!


April - Director of International Business Development

A - I participated in a Russian language immersion program in St. Petersburg, Russia.

P - My favorite color is blue.

R - Visitors to the USA should try a "hotdish" which is what Minnesotans call a casserole!

I - I speak Italian and Englishbut my Russian is a little rusty by now

L - My favorite way to communicate with my family all over the globe is with group texting on WhatsApp.


Austin - Account Advisor

A - I have participated in an exchange program, I worked and lived in Thailand for 3 years as an English teacher

U - My favorite subject in school was lunch! Just kidding, but I always did well in math

S - If someone is visiting the US, I think they should visit Yosemite National Park

T - Oo its hard to choose a single favorite international city, so I will give my top 3. In no particular order: Kyoto, Budapest, and Chiang Mai

I - I can speak English, a little bit of Thai, a little bit of Spanish, and I can say Cheers! in Hungarian (Egészségére, or phonetically, eggay-sheggay-dray)

N - Since I lived abroad for 3 years, I celebrated quite a few holidays abroad. But my very first was Thanksgiving 2013 which I enjoyed with a meal of stir-fried basil & chicken along with a glass of Thailand’s finest lager


Barb - Internship Program Assistant

B - I have a family member living in China

A - I went on a short exchange program to Russia back when it was the USSR!

R - All the different styles of pizza thin, deep, Sicilian, Grinder . Theyre all good!

B - I also have several friends living in the Netherlands


Cathriona - International Account Executive

C - I grew up in Ireland and went to school there.

A - Im thrilled to be helping students who want to be on a cultural exchange program!

T - Melbourne, Australia

H - Yes, I have two! I have dual citizenship.

R - Ice-cream sundae Yummy!

I - English, Irish and a tiny bit of French

O - Thai food

N - Yes, enjoyed many celebrations in Ireland

A - Cara is friend in Irish


Chelsea - Communications Coordinator

C - I studied abroad in Rome during fall 2012!

H - I do have a passport!

E - I am celebrating #IEW2018 by using our social media and newsletters to spread the word to our partners and participants.

L - My favorite way to communicate with family while I'm traveling is video chat.

S - A visitor to the United States should see Mackinac Island and the Great Smoky Mountains.

E - I have been on an airplane; my first plane ride was at two weeks old!

A - I participated in the study abroad program through Saint Mary's College.


Christina - International Account Executive

C - Yes I attended school in Athens, Greece for a semester in college.

H - Yes I have a passport, got brand new (renewed) one a few weeks ago! But I’m bummed my 10-yr China visa doesn’t get transferred over, so I’ll have to travel with two passports later this month.

R - Some foods people should try when visiting the US are pancakes, popcorn and key lime pie!

I - I speak English and some Greek… 

S - I think visitors to the US should see Chicago and Glacier National Park (see photo!)

T - Ooh, its tough to name my favorite international city but I really love Dubrovnik in Croatia, Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic and Monemvasia in Greece.

I - and some French? 

N - Ive celebrated many holidays abroad, Oxi Day in Greece was memorable. My friend and I watched a big parade through downtown Athens and learned a little more of the history by talking to fellow parade watchers. The holiday commemorates the day when the Greeks rejected Mussolini’s ultimatum during Axis occupation and they were suddenly flung into WWII. The Greeks are very proud of this history.

A - I participated in an exchange program in high school where I traveled to Strasbourg, France to stay with a host family and take part in a summer language program.


Gloria - Senior Account Services Coordinator

G - Popular artists in my country, the island of Puerto Rico, are Ricky Martin and Daddy Yankee.

L - When Im far from home I absolutely love to communicate with family via FaceTime.  Makes me feel as if they are with me.

O - My absolute favorite international food is Panang Curryand any food from Thailand.

R - My parents are from Puerto Rico, and a food that people should try is Mofongo.  It is made of mashed, fried plantains, and usually stuffed with seafood or meat. Since Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, I would say that a food that people should try while in the US is Chicago style stuffed pizza!

I - I can speak English and Spanish

A - I have not participated in an exchange program but am highly encouraging my children to do so.


Hope - Account Advisor

H - Yes, I do have a passport!

O - My favorite international food is Indian or Greek food.

P - My favorite color is purple.

E - I will be celebrating with my wonderful coworkers and by volunteering at the local food pantry with Spirit!


Jessica - Regional Account Manager

J - A must have item when traveling is chapstick.

E - I am celebrating #IEW2018 by doing THIS!

S - A visitor to the US should see the Pictured Rocks in Michigan.

S - A visitor to the US should also see Washington DC.

I - I speak English and some Arabic.

C - I attended the American University in Cairo as an international student.

A - I studied abroad in Egypt in 2008!


Julie - Internship Program Assistant

J - My must have travel item is a good scarf

U - My favorite subject in school was social studies

L - My favorite way to stay in touch with family while Im traveling is either face time or phone

I - I studied French in college and have taken Korean language classes although it would be a stretch to say that I speak it

E - Being with my Spirit teammates!


Kailei - International Account Advisor

K - Friend in Thai is เพื่อน (puuan)

A - I was involved with the Peace Corps. I served in Thailand, working with English Teachers, from 2012-2014

I - I speak English and Thai.

L - My favorite way to communicate with family when I am abroad is through Facetime and Facebook Messenger

E - I am celebrating #IEW2018 with Spirit Cultural Exchange and we are having a special party with international dishes

I - ฉันพูดภาษาอังกฤษและภาษาไทย ได้ (Chan puut pasaat angrit le pasaat thai dai)


Lisa - Account Services Coordinator

L - I have not lived abroad, but started traveling abroad at 17.  I have been on an airplane 2-3 times a year since I was 9.

I - I have traveled to each of the lower 48 States (many, multiple times).  Furthermore,  Ive  lived in Michigan, South Carolina, Arizona and Illinois.

S - Id love to learn Papiamento – the official language of my favorite place,  Aruba.

A - A traveler to the U.S.A. should definitely visit the Grand Canyon,  the South Carolina Lowcountry, northern Michigan (especially Mackinac Island) and the desert Southwest.


Michelle - Director of Account Services and Operations

M - I would most like to visit Italy.  I love its history and food and every picture I see of its coast and its wine country is absolutely beautiful.

I - I speak English and Japanese.

C - I have never attended a school as an international student, but I did attend elementary school in Japan on a military base

H - Yes I have a passport

E - I am celebrating IEW week this year by baking for our international happy hour

L - My favorite way to communicate with my family when I am abroad is through Skype or Google Hangouts

L - I participated on a program through my college called SICE, Studies in Cross-Cultural Education, where I lived with a family in Morioka, Japan and taught English at a local Junior High and Elementary School, while also taking courses in English about Japanese Education and Social Sciences.

E - So far I have loved Melbourne, Australia and Kinosaki, Japan the most of all my travels.


Sarah - International Account Advisor

S - Anyone visiting the US must visit Moab and Arches National Park.

A - I was lucky enough to participate in two exchange programs: I studied for a semester in Nantes, France through IES Abroad in my third year at university.

R - You cant go wrong trying mozzarella sticks!

A - The second program I did was through TAPIF. I taught English to elementary students in Orleans, France.

H - Yes, I have passport!


Suzanne - Internship Program Supervisor

S - Chicago! There are so many things to do from beautiful buildings and amazing plays/musicals to delicious food.

U - Reading I love digging in to a good book.

Z - Comfortable shoes (definitely comfort over fashion).

A - Yes! I spent a semester in Granada, Spain during my junior year of college.

N - Does a futbol game between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona count as a holiday in Spain? It sure felt like it (go Real Madrid!).

N - While studying in Spain we celebrated American Thanksgiving with our Spanish friends.

E - By trying new food from different cultures with my co-workers.


Tina - Operations Supervisor

T - This is a hard one, every city is so different! I really liked Barcelona, Granada, Melbourne, and all of the little towns in Southern France!

I - I speak English and a little bit of Spanish. I am trying to get better!

N - I celebrated Easter in Sevilla, where it is called Semana Santa. I also lived in Mexico for a year when I was young, so we celebrated all of our American holidays and their Mexican ones.

A - I traveled to Costa Rica for a biology and ecology exchange program when I was in high school. It was amazing!