It's time to meet your Instructors for the Spring 2022 Semester Programs...
An introduction of the Mini Semester Instructors will soon follow!
Hawaii Semester Program | Instructors: Kim & John
Kim was born in Boston and raised outside the city before returning for college at Northeastern University. “Curious” has always been used to describe Kim, whether it related to her desire to try every sport and musical instrument growing up or her wide range of internships during undergrad. True to her New England roots, she has spent every summer in Maine kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and hiking. She has travelled to 13 countries in the last two years across Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania as well as taking every opportunity to drive across the U.S.A. Hawaii will be the 25th state she has explored (cue Bon Jovi’s Halfway There). Since graduating Kim has led two groups of first-year college students through a semester abroad in Sydney, Australia, and Berlin, Germany. Her favorite part of these semesters was guiding the students through new experiences and seeing all them - and the staff as well - grow as a result.
John has traveled through 6 continents and explored the beauty of Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, parts of Europe, South America, Central America and his home in North America. He finds himself in love with the cultures and experiences each place has to offer but always highlights the importance of his connection with the people he meets on his journey. John has cooked different cuisines in restaurants all around the world, worked on farms and vineyards in Australia, snowboarded to work every day on a mountain resort in New Zealand, worked in multiple National Parks around the world, and most recently completed a year leading a conservation corps in the US, amongst many other diverse jobs. John looks forward to working with his students to help them see a bigger picture in the world and to find a way to bring comfort and excitement to our quest for meaning and purpose throughout our lives.
South America Semester Program | Instructors: Amelia & Verny
Amelia grew up in Colorado exploring the many mountains and rocks of the Western United States. While studying Biochemistry and Environmental Design in college, she decided to take a semester off and spent Fall as a student on a Pacific Discovery Southeast Asia program. The experiences she had, the relationships she formed, and the incredible mentorship from the instructors coupled with all of the outdoor adventures were an enormous stepping stone in her personal growth and discovery, and since then she has been dedicated to being a part of facilitating that wonderful growth and experience in others. Throughout college, Amelia began rock climbing and developing skills in alpine mountaineering, allowing her to explore some of the most isolated mountains in the deserts of the West, the Rocky Mountains, and the Cascades. This led to her passion for traveling to explore crags and mountain ranges across the globe and experiencing new and wonderful cultures everywhere. Between traveling and leading programs, she spends her time building out her van/home and working on organic farms, using permaculture and sustainable food production practices to grow veggies and experiment with preserving produce.
Verney is originally from beautiful Costa Rica and grew up in a sporty family. His father became the first Costa Rican triathlete at the World Championships, and he spent his childhood practicing all kinds of sports such as triathlon, adventure racing, open water swimming and more. Oceans, lakes and mountains were a big part of his childhood. After high school, Verney started training to become an adventure guide. This included river guiding, white water kayaking, sea kayaking, rappelling, horseback riding, mountain biking, trekking and much more. Being around the water and the mountains his whole life has made him so passionate about the outdoors. He has worked in adventure travel since high school and it has been a great journey. Working in an industry that allows him to share his passion, hobbies, knowledge and skills with others makes him feel very fortunate.
Central Semester Program | Instructors: Ashley & Manuel
Ashley is from Jamestown, New York, a small town south of Buffalo best known as the birthplace of Lucille Ball. In 2015, she graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia where she double majored in Social Studies Education and History. It was also during this time that she received her high school teaching certification. Ashley continued to study education at New York University where she received her master's in International Education. She has always loved to challenge herself by stepping out of her comfort zone to meet new people and learn from shared experiences. Over the past several years, she have traveled throughout Latin America, Europe, and Africa. More recently, Ashley served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone where she taught high school English and co-facilitated a program for out-of-school girls. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, she held various positions working in non-formal education as a mentor, tutor, and leader. She has always been passionate about experiential, “hands-on” learning and looks forward to continuing that work.
Manuel was born and raised in Mexico City, where he graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering. After 10 years of experience and training in Chinese martial arts, he followed his passion and ventured to China to learn more. While in China, he also studied the language and traditional Chinese medicine. For the past eight years, Manuel participated in many cultural exchange and volunteering programs in China, focused on experiential education in multiple leadership roles, which led him to work as a facilitator and senior program manager for The Jump! Foundation, an experiential education provided operating in China and Southeast Asia. He also worked in the adventure tourism industry as a hiking and camping guide to the un-renovated sections of the Great Wall of China, and in the service-learning industry in China and Costa Rica. Some of his passions are permaculture, holistic medicine, martial arts and meditation.
Thailand Semester Program | Instructors: Annie & Austin
Annie Waschko was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania but has committed to exploring as many new places as possible. Her motto is “life is not short; it’s the longest thing you get” - she believes that there is lots of room for growth and adventure in life as long as you step intentionally towards it. She received her BA in English from Loyola University Maryland and her MA in Cross-Cultural Communication from Newcastle University. Her travels have taken her to more than twenty states and more than twenty countries, but the most meaningful, extended amounts of time have been in Boston, Texas, Thailand, Greece, Spain, England, and Vietnam. Led by her curiosity, she sees every day as a school day in the most fun way possible and as a result, places the utmost value on experiential learning. Her passion for working with children and young people has taken her through the worlds of study abroad, TEFL, outdoor education, summer camp, and now gap year programming. Annie is thrilled to help guide Pacific Discovery students through this incredible experience and to promote empathy, community, and self-reflection.
Austin grew up in Texas and graduated from Baylor University with a B.A. in International Studies with a concentration in Political Science, during which she studied abroad in Italy at John Cabot University studying foreign affairs. Afterward, she served an AmeriCorps VISTA term as a community organizer at the Texas Hunger Initiative, a capacity-building and collaborative organization seeking to develop and implement strategies to end hunger through policy, education, community organizing, and community development. Afterwards she moved to Washington, DC. to get into business management in the corporate world. Wishing to apply her experience to her love of traveling and adventure she moved to New Zealand to pursue a program with Pure Exploration, Pacific Discovery's sister organization, where she trained to be an instructor. From here she heard about Pacific Discovery taking young students on a gap year and she couldn't wait to get involved! She has now been living in New Zealand and working for Pacific Discovery for 3 years, both in the office and in the field.
Find out more about these legends on our team page here