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Daniel Ponce Taylor, IOI

When you offer those opportunities, they give a different perspective for international students

What makes you get up in the morning? 

Making a difference and making a change in how study abroad is currently happening – and making sure that we are considering more sustainability in our design, in our implementation – but sustainability in that sort of wider definition that we’re considering in our host communities and that we are considering in regards to the environment.

The other thing is that I’m trying to really push the sustainability concept, but making sure everyone’s aware that sustainability is not the end goal – it’s more of a stepping stone towards a more regenerative mindset. It’s about stepping outside of the current status quo of seeing ourselves as this species able to control everything – but we’re part of, of a system. And, how do we help students start thinking that way? 

What’s the best international education conference and why? 

I would say I’m very impressed with EAIE. Its approach to sustainability is good – and I know very well how difficult it is when you have an event of that size – because they’re actually considering making the effort and have really taken the step into leadership role in making changes in how you and how you approach such an event. They’re really trying to create that conversation.

What’s a story of a student you’ve interacted with that had a life-changing story? 

Our students are willing to just take really the plunge, and listen, but also be critical of their own beliefs and their perspectives. One of my current managers in the Galapagos is someone who came to one of my programs in Mexico 15 years ago. We offered them a scholarship, and then they stayed on as an intern, then as a manager, then as a country director – that was at our previous organisation. Now, they’ve come to IOI as the international program coordinator.

So I’ve seen the growth and when you offer those opportunities, they give a different perspective for international students. It promotes that global setting and not just a North-South perspective but just kind of just a completely different perspective.

What’s the worst food or beverage experience you’ve had at a conference? 

The Forum EMEA conference was held in Milan last year and the food was great, and the coffee was great too. But the problem was there was this guy with his little coffee machine making espressos, and every espresso was taking like three or four minutes. And every five espressos, the coffee machine needed a five minute break and the queue got huge. I remember one guy went, “Can I get an Americano please?” and the guy just said, “Nah, I don’t make Americanos here.”

“CANIE is really starting to say, “it’s time to make some really big changes””

Who is a champion or cheerleader the sector should follow, and why? 

I wouldn’t say one person. I think CANIE is really starting to say, “it’s time to make some really big changes”; to really make some good noise and signs to make people rethink their professional travelling.

That’s a huge thing. If we want to be efficient and good educators, I think we need to start by re-evaluating our own values and our actions. I think CANIE is starting to take some action about the elephant in the room. Institutions like that are trying to bring the industry together. 

Introduce yourself in three words or phrases. 

Passionate in all I do, I’m extremely competitive, and I’m obsessed with networking!

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