PROGRAM LEADERS FOR TBB’S GAP YEAR PROGRAMS
Thinking Beyond Borders’ Program Leaders bring an outstanding array of skills, knowledge, and experience to their work educating TBB students. Strong program management skills, diverse educational backgrounds, impressive teaching experiences, and extensive international travel make each of these individuals a powerful addition to the team.
GLOBAL GAP YEAR
(click on each photo for bio)
Hailing from northeastern New Jersey, Nora grew up in a family which placed great value on serving others. Thus, Nora identifies strongly with TBB’s service-learning platform. Through her volunteer work, she has had the honor of meeting Mother Theresa, traveling to Guatemala, and receiving a Pax Christi Award for community service.
As an undergraduate student at Penn State University Nora participated in an intensive language and culture curriculum, studied in France, and returned there to teach upon graduation. These experiences stimulated her enthusiasm for intercultural studies.
Nora graduated in 2004 with Bachelor of Science degrees in International Business, Logistics, and International Studies, as well as a minor in French. She has worked at a number of Fortune 500 companies and a small start-up firm, maximizing efficiency across business units and partner organizations.
Motivated by a desire to work with students and learn Spanish, Nora moved to Puerto Rico in 2007. At the University of Puerto Rico, she taught undergraduate writing and literature, mentored students, began an initiative to increase participation in study abroad, and enjoyed being immersed in Puerto Rican culture. In January 2011, she graduated summa cum laude with a Master of the Arts in English Education, having completed research in the areas of cultural studies, socio-cultural theory, critical pedagogy and linguistics.
Most recently, she taught third graders as a member of the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows, an Americorps affiliate.
Amanda grew up in suburban Connecticut and it wasn’t until she worked as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching and living in a small rural farming community in Moldova that she came to truly understand and appreciate the diverse world we live in. This humbling and life changing experience inspired her to become an educator and a farmer.
Amanda received her MA in Teaching from the School for International Training and has taught English-language learners from almost every continent throughout public schools in New England. Although deeply rooted in central Vermont, Amanda’s travels have taken her throughout Eastern and Central Europe and Central America. She is excited to travel to many of the countries her former students come from.
Along with teaching, a deep interest in living sustainably led her to learn about organic vegetable farming. Most recently, she started a farm program and CSA for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps where she taught youth about many aspects of sustainable agriculture, from the technical side of growing food to ideas about creating more healthy food systems.
The most meaningful learning comes through experience and relationships, and Amanda is thrilled to be joining the TBB community. She brings with her a dedication to learning and teaching, a commitment to and passion for sustainable agriculture, travel and working with culturally diverse communities.
Vanessa grew up in politically active household that valued political involvement and social justice. This upbringing developed into a lifelong dedication to community and political organizing. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, she focused on local level community development (B.A. in Community Studies). For her field placement, she traveled to Nicaragua where she taught English in the local high school and worked on a Sister City project that connected her hometown of Fresno California with Telpaneca, Nicaragua. At New School University in New York, she conducted a comparative analysis of historical strategies used to produce progressive change (M.A. in Historical Studies and Political Science).
Throughout the past eight years, Vanessa has worked on issues addressing workers rights and economic inequality. She has worked on dozens of local and statewide political campaigns. During her years in the Labor Movement, Vanessa organized and coordinated countless successful organizing and election drives, lobbied for Statewide policies and organized large rallies and events.
She has traveled extensively throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. As the leader of several international delegations, she has served as a group leader to assist in teach-ins, logistics and one on one mentoring. In 2010, she hiked the entire John Muir trial traversing 247 miles and 12 mountain passes.
Vanessa is currently the field coordinator for a California State Assembly race.