Overseas Educators

When it comes to selecting our Overseas Educators, we don’t mess around. Safety is our priority, but other attributes are essential in Overseas Educators including cultural competence, understanding group dynamics, mentoring, and strong problem solving/communication skills. All Overseas Educators have in country experience, wilderness first aid certifications and participate in an extensive in-house training prior to each semester. We’re amazed by our Overseas Educators, and are sure you will be too!

Adam Weatherell

Adam Weatherell

Read Bio

Adam Weatherell

Overseas Educator

Born in the greenest state in the land of the free and the home to the Grand Ole Opry, Adam’s childhood was idyllic to say the least. While hummingbirds and honeybees fed on his mother’s roses, Adam spent most days tucked in the Tennessee hills that enveloped his childhood home. It was there he learned to cook, to sing, to love, and perhaps most importantly, to explore. And while those memories of home have grown sweeter with the years, Adam has come to find a home in many, many places.

After high school, Adam took his own gap year and explored the American west as a professional ski instructor and backpacking counselor in Colorado. From there he was hooked, and continued to explore the United States as an expedition leader in various capacities. Adam has chased alligators in the Everglades. Outrun forest fires in the Sierras. Ran out of gas in the Bonneville Salt Flats, and made many, many truly gut-wrenching puns. After receiving a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee, Adam worked for a grassroots political organization in Brooklyn before liquidating most of his things to work as an educator in Guilin, China. Since then he has taught in the Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary, the Costa Rican cloud forests and the Australian bush. Adam is fascinated by the intersection of people and policy, and his work has increasingly become centered on how we, both collectively and as individuals, can live, act, teach and learn in ways that affirm human dignity, uproot oppression and advance collective struggles for rights and justice. He also loves Carly Rae Jepsen.

When not embroiled in the human condition, Adam daydreams about country western music, bicycles, Danielle Steele, backpacking, and fresh baked bread. Look for him at your local farmers market, spoken-word slam, or korean karaoke bar. It is there he is most happy.

Adam in inexpressibly excited about having the opportunity to learn and grow in a company as worthwhile as Carpe Diem.

Fun Facts

Lucille Ball is his great-grandmother’s sister.

Was once hit by a car.

Featured solo on Lifeway’s 2004 VBS hit track of the summer-Rickshaw Rally.

Alex Burgdorfer

Alex Burgdorfer

Read Bio

Alex Burgdorfer

Overseas Educator

Alex Burgdorfer’s upbringing consisted of living in Eugene, Oregon and exploring Oregon’s beautiful surrounding areas. Throughout his life Alex has always been passionate about adventures in the outdoors. Most often, when he is not working, you can find him being active outside with friends either fly-fishing, skiing, trail running, kayaking, bicycling or mountain climbing and backpacking/hiking. 

After completing High School, Alex joined the Carpe Diem Education family as a participant, traveling throughout Central America and then volunteering in the Dominican Republic with a non-profit focused in education. It was this eye opening experience, which influenced his studies at the University of Oregon (International and Environmental Studies). During his college summers he worked as a sea-kayaking instructor further developing his leadership skills while paddling throughout the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington.

Since graduating college Alex’s passions have led him to Guatemala to help distribute fuel-efficient stoves in rural communities, lead cross-cultural service oriented trips in Costa Rica, ski the slopes of Park City while providing medical support as ski patrol, and working for a non-profit helping businesses identify ways to become increasingly ‘sustainable.’

Alex is incredibly stoked for the opportunity to help foster cross-cultural experiences and to support his students in stepping outside their comfort zones while also seeing the world. 

Fun Facts

Alex was once a Carpe Diem student.

Alex has summited Mt. Shasta.

Alex has eaten local delicacy guinea pig while traveling in Peru.

Anya Chang-DePuy

Anya Chang-DePuy

Read Bio

Anya Chang-DePuy

Overseas Educator

Anya’s story starts in a small suburban town outside of Boston, the second daughter of two wickedly cool world travelers. This globetrotting duo started including little Anya on their international travels at the ripe young age of 5. Together they explored Europe, China, and Mexico. Once she learned to tie her own shoes, book her own plane tickets, and other achievements of young adulthood, she branched away from her parents to start adventuring around the globe with peers.

Although Anya’s interest in travel was peeked at a young age, it wasn’t until her first student trip to Thailand that she became addicted. She fell deeply and irrevocably in love with the country. SE Asia become a second home quickly after being unable to stay away for more than a year at a time. Student programs, turned to study abroad programs, turned to solo adventures, turned to volunteering, turned to leading high school programs (and the list continues to be built upon..).

Slowly, but surely Anya started to branch off from her endless return trips in SE Asia with a semester of study abroad in China, a summer leading high school programs in Fiji, and 6 months of solo travel in India. With a B.A. in Anthropology tucked under her belt and two years of exploring the possibilities of life- teaching English in Myanmar, getting her hands dirty on farms in India, working with an NGO focused on sustainable development for the Karen hill tribe in Thailand, learning how to silversmith in the mountain towns of Northern India…she kept coming back to leading student programs.

Anya started leading programs to satiate her desire to live and travel abroad, but it didn’t take long for her to realize the real reason she is drawn to this work. Having been a student on many educational abroad programs, she knows more than anyone the transformation they can invoke. Through her own transformation her passion has developed into providing young people with the opportunity to process, learn and grow through experiential educational programs with her support and guidance. She truly believes in the power of experiential education. She sees that this is how we learn to connect with others and the world, to be more understanding and loving, and to follow and spread a more peaceful lifestyle.

Fun Facts

If there is good music, good luck getting Anya to sit still! She absolutely loves to dance in all forms from interpretive to ballroom!

Anya loves creating things like designing and making silver jewelry and sewing her own clothes, laptop cases and yoga-mat bags.

Anya saw the Dalai Lama speak in McLeod Ganj, India, about how the United States (and the world) would benefit from incorporating compassion into their educational systems and she strongly agrees and attempts to do that whenever she leads a program!

Amanda Rader

Amanda Rader

Read Bio

Amanda Rader

Overseas Educator

Though born and raised in Pennsylvania, Amanda’s sense of home has extended across the globe. Her first international travel immersion was after her first year of college when she served as a volunteer in rural Honduras. The 6-week experience sent her life spiraling along new paths centered on questions of justice, and explorations of the lived experience and the interconnectedness of diverse approaches to it. Amanda’s Honduran journey inspired her to join the Peace Corps after completing her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Spanish from Franklin & Marshall College. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she spent three years serving in the capacity of Community Health Promoter in the Dominican Republic.

Turning her sights to graduate school, Amanda completed her MA in Peace & Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland in Australia under the auspices of Rotary International’s World Peace Fellowship. After a brief yet powerful chapter of living and teaching on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, Amanda launched into her first semester with Carpe Diem as a co-leader for the South Pacific trip. Since, she has also led semesters to Central America, South America, Southeast Asia and India.

In the most recent past, Amanda worked several years with Carpe Diem as a Program Director and Latitudes Advisor, and also spent several years in Tucson, AZ working for Earlham’s College Border Studies Program. She is excited and honored to return to the field as an Overseas Educator for Cuba Spring 2017!

Amanda has developed a passion for life through the intensity of her journey across cultural boundaries. She holds a profound belief in the potential of inspired youth to positively transform our world, and is grateful to be collaborating with Carpe Diem in generating a network of such changemakers.

Fun Facts

Walked from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail: 2,650 beauty-soaked miles!

Designed a semester to learn about First Nations people throughout the southwest, which is where she has found the most inspiring leadership.

Finds great freedom and joy in jumping into cold bodies of water, especially after a long, hot runs.

Bria Light

Bria Light

Read Bio

Bria Light

Overseas Educator

Bria was raised by two music teachers in the green countryside outside of Eugene, Oregon, where she divided her time between epic Supersoaker battles, romping about with the family rottweiler, and hiding away with her nose glued firmly in a book. As a child, Bria’s first spark of passion for travel and foreign language was kindled by a Japan study in fifth grade, which took her young imagination soaring to the exotic unknown of that faraway country, and prompted her to take three years of Japanese lessons.

Once at university, Bria seized the opportunity wholeheartedly to travel and learn languages. After her freshman year she spent the summer in a small coastal town in southern Italy working for Camp Adventure Youth Services. She later spent a life-changing semester studying Spanish and Mexican Studies in central Mexico and a summer term studying French in Angers, France. For Bria, it was a paradigm-shifting four years in which she discovered both the exquisite flavors and beauty of different cultures throughout the globe but also the immense tragedy of social inequity and poverty. She left that chapter certain that whatever pathways she chose, travel, social justice, and a drive to understand the people and places she went would be at the heart of her quest.

Also driven by a passion for the outdoors, in 2012 Bria spent four months living and volunteering as a full-time backpacking guide for Quetzaltrekkers in the beautiful western highlands of Guatemala. There, she led multi-day treks and spent evenings in the city cooking and playing soccer with the kids whose school and home were funded by treks’ proceeds. The following year, Bria returned to France to spend the year teaching English at two public middle schools and embarking upon many European adventures in her time off. The past several summers have found Bria in the small mountain hamlet of Telluride, Colorado, where she teaches outdoor education for the non-profit Telluride Academy and hopes to instill in her students her deep passion for the natural world and environmental stewardship. This past year, she backpacked the spine of the Colorado Rockies on the nearly 500 mile Colorado Trail, ran her first marathon in Torres del Paine National Park in southern Patagonia, and worked as a children’s librarian in the small rural town of Presto in Bolivia.

Bria is delighted to be joining the mighty explorers and educators of the Carpe Diem family.

Fun Facts

Brianna sang happy birthday to Neil Armstrong on his 82nd birthday.

Brianna’s first and only (thus far!) marathon was in Torres del Paine National Park in southern Patagonia, where runners were joined at times by guanacos and condors.

Brianna loves wearing a bathrobe and does so more than is socially advisable.

Brian Sheffer

Brian Sheffer

Read Bio

Brian Sheffer

Overseas Educator

Born and raised in Richmond, Massachusetts, a rural town in the hills of Western Massachusetts, Brian longed to experience the world beyond the forests of his childhood. He reveled in hearing his mother’s accounts of her business trips around the world and his father’s stories of traveling around Europe on a camper with his family. He spent his final two years of high school at the Loomis Chafee School, where his international experiences began in earnest. The summer between his junior and senior years, Brian spent 6 weeks in Barcelona focusing on language and cultural immersion where he first caught the travel bug wandering the streets of Barcelona and staring at the architecture of Gaudi and the art of Picasso.

Brian attended Sarah Lawrence College and earned a degree in Liberal Arts in 2010. He was able to spend the spring semester of his junior year in Cape Town, South Africa, studying at the University of Cape Town through a program focusing on community service. He chose South Africa as he was fascinated by the history of apartheid, particularly through a psychological lens and its effect on youth. Brian was also greatly influenced by a South African professor at Sarah Lawrence, as a desire to step outside of the box as many of his friends and colleagues were participating in traditional programs in Europe and South America. This experience had a profound impact on how Brian saw the world, and reshaped for him, the purpose of travel and intercultural experiences.

After graduating, Brian applied and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras between 2011 and 2012 as a health volunteer, a direct result of hearing stories of his father’s best friend who had served as a Volunteer in Gambia in the 19070s. Brian worked in public health, specifically with youth in HIV/AIDS prevention, living in a small village in the south of the country. Upon returning to the US, Brian spent some time working with at-risk youth as a mentor and teacher before attending SIT Graduate Institute in 2013 earning his Masters in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management in May 2018. During his time at SIT, Brian traveled to Barbados and Trinidad on a field course, focusing on community/coalition building and leadership training and also returned to Cape Town for his graduate practicum working with a youth capacity-building organization seeking to utilize art and art skills to develop creativity as well as life and leadership skills in underprivileged communities.

SIT was also where Brian’s interest in international and experiential education blossomed. He was able to put what he was learning in the classroom into practice leading three high school summer abroad programs for The Experiment in International Living to Argentina (2014) Nicaragua & Cuba (2015) and back to South Africa in 2016. He joined the Experiment in a full-time Admissions and Recruiting role in 2016 and also worked on risk-management pieces during the past two summers.

This summer Brian will be working as a Program Facilitator for World Learning’s In-Bound youth programs, traveling to Mexico City, as well as facilitating a month-long exchange program for Mexican students here in the US. Additionally, he will be working in that same capacity at the Vermont Governor’s Institute focusing on current issues and youth activism.

Brian has a passion for adventure, experiential learning, and intercultural communication and is thrilled to be joining the Carpe team of Overseas Educators this fall! In his free time, you can find Brian hiking or practicing yoga.

Fun Facts

Cheridyn Egan

Cheridyn Egan

Read Bio

Cheridyn Egan

Overseas Educator

Growing up in the Midwest (Wisconsin), Cheridyn spent many hours squished between her two older brothers in the car, heading towards many a campground or National Park with her family. Thus, from an early age, a love for the outdoors and exploration of new places was instilled in her. Cheridyn’s worldview expanded as various opportunities started to take her greater distances away from home. She was drawn to St. Olaf College for their study abroad opportunities and participated in the “Global Semester,” which spent five months traveling and studying through eight different countries around the world. After literally coming full circle around the earth, she knew it was just the beginning.

Looking for an opportunity to dive deeper into one culture, Cheridyn joined the Peace Corps. She lived for two years in a small Peruvian village in the Andes working with the youth in the village, living with an amazing host family, learning how to roast coffee and much much more. While living in the village she met a really great guy who lived up the road (another Peace Corps volunteer named Ryan). Three years later, she and Ryan returned to the small village and were married.

Cheridyn’s nomadic lifestyle is balanced between leading trips with Carpe Diem, delivering hand painted portraits to children living in other countries with The Memory Project, and spending quality time with friends and family between travels. She has led Carpe semesters in Central and South America as well as Fiji-Australia-New Zealand. Cheridyn loves the life-changing adventures a Carpe semester provides and is super excited to be leading for Carpe Diem again this fall.

Fun Facts

Cari Peck

Cari Peck

Read Bio

Cari Peck

Overseas Educator

She got her first taste of travel when she was 12 years old and her friend’s parents invited Cari to to be her friend’s travel partner in Mexico. A monkey also got their first taste of Cari…but that’s another story…and yes, I said first (there would be 2 more in 2 different countries in years to follow)

Her real passion for travel, however, was sparked when she was 21 years old and studied abroad in Italy. There she found herself writing in her journal while traveling on the bus with her classmates to various lands…she wrote “I wish all people could experience this.” She was so elated by this opportunity and now couldn’t imagine a life without getting out and exploring the world. It was obvious there was so much more out there.

Already having an extremely open mind, it didn’t take much to convince Cari that she had to get back on the road soon after her return from Italy. The next summer she went to Germany to work as a Director of a military base day camp. The following year, she did an exchange at Hunter College in New York and interned at Saturday Night Live. Cari then wrapped up her degree with a Bachelor Arts in Psychology at the University of Oregon.

Upon finishing her studies, she packed up her life, with her guitar in the passenger seat and moved to Southern California to live with her best friend. She spent three years in San Diego and L.A. working as a behavioral specialist at a group home for foster kids and later with Autistic kids. She also switched it up and gained experience in marketing and sales working with Anheuser Busch. Always wanting to spice up life and roll around like the ball of life she is, she played around with different gigs…landing a position as a production assistant with National Lampoon’s Comedy Headquarters and assisting the Black Eyed Peas with concert work as well as managing Fergie’s MySpace (before the world of Facebook). However, the itch soon came…and it was time to leave.

She moved to South Korea to teach English for a year, then started working as an International recruiter for a volunteer company where she traveled the world. She lived in Australia for a year and worked on Aboriginal land at an Eco-Wilderness resort in the Outback (where she graciously shared her bathroom with a 3 meter Olive Python). Her next three years were spent program managing volunteer programs in South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand and Cambodia, for university students, engaging them in cultural immersion and leadership development. The programs focused on community development through construction projects (building classrooms), sea turtle and elephant conservation, and curriculum development.

Her most recent venture has been working as a Women and Youth Program Specialist in Rwanda with Peace Corps Response for a year. Cari supported women and youth living with HIV, by helping to create and manage their new businesses as well as assisting with music therapy in cooperation with Music without Borders.

Some of her adventures abroad took her on a road trip to New Zealand with 7 friends crammed into a car like clowns, on a camel through the deserts of India, trekking the Himalayas to Annapurna Basecamp in Nepal, gallivanting around Central and South America, invited to a local goat feast in Laos, trekking for gorillas in Uganda, chimp trekking in Rwanda, White Water Rafting the Nile, hiking to the largest lava lake in the world on top of a volcano in the Congo, and just recently she summited Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.

With many more stories up her sleeve and an infinite amount more expected in the future, she continues to live her life abundantly and fearless. Cari is extremely passionate about encouraging others to do the same. One of her favorite things to do is laugh.

Fun Facts

As of May 2017, Cari’s traveled to 49 countries and lived in 9 of them.

During an internship with the research and writing department at Saturday Night Live, she performed “bear growls,” for voice-over work in the background of a Bear Bar Scene Sketch. Strange…but Ridonkulous? Yes.

Cari used to finish warming up with her High School Varsity Basketball team and then sing the National Anthem before the games.

David Ficke

David Ficke

Read Bio

David Ficke

Overseas Educator

David Ficke first discovered the raw power of international travel and cross-cultural connection in Thailand. A few months of attempting to teach English to a few exuberant groups of Thai children was all it took for David to get hooked. He found a niche in the world of seasonal work, enabling him to spend quality time in his beloved Sierra Nevada, leading trips with Longacre Expeditions around the US, and traveling a fair amount about the world. Most of his solo travel has been throughout Latin America, where he has found endless inspiration and an unshakable addiction to the Spanish language. Most recently David had the incredible opportunity to wander sections of southern and eastern Africa, which only served to strengthen his fascination with the diversity and resilience of humanity. He has led student adventure travel trips in Maine, the Outer Banks, Oregon, Washington, and British Colombia, and three cultural exchange programs to Ecuador and Tanzania.

His first two semesters with Carpe Diem were stellar, taking him back to East Africa and Southeast Asia. Now he’ll be heading back to Central America, where his love affair with Latin America first began. He considers each of these challenges to be true blessings, and is thrilled be working with Carpe Diem!

Fun Facts

David’s first experience with group travel came during a 10-month stint in Americorps, shortly after graduating from Virginia Tech. His team had projects in California, Utah, Arizona, and Washington.

David is mildly obsessed with sunflowers. Can you blame him?

Dance is a huge part of David’s life. His first love is swing, but he is always down for salsa, merengue, bachata, zydeco, cajun, contra, blues–whatever’s on. Let’s dance!

Dan Varick

Dan Varick

Read Bio

Dan Varick

Overseas Educator

Dan was born in the suburbs of Chicago, but spent much of his childhood exploring the waterways and forests of the Great Lakes Region. There he developed a passion for exploration and ecology that he now shares with the people around him. During the school year, Dan would dream of his summers spent in the Northwoods of Wisconsin where he fell in love with wild places, spongy moss, and moving water.

It wasn’t until Dan’s own Gap Year that he found a passion for learning, cross-cultural travel, and education as a whole. During his time spent in South America, he explored the towering Andes Mountains, lived with Indigenous groups of people, and witnessed the application and transference of knowledge to his everyday life.

After this powerful experience, Dan returned to the classroom at Warren Wilson College located in North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains. Driven by his zeal to teach and empower others, he studied Environmental Education. Here, Dan had the opportunity to work in the local school district, designing and implementing curriculum for a variety of learning groups. Along with Environmental Education, Dan studied Sustainable Agriculture. As a part of his work-study program, Dan worked on the College Farm where he learned both agricultural research and management techniques. Today, Dan continues to tell people more than they want to know about soil structure, pig breeding, and tractor implements.

After graduation, Dan returned to South America where he traveled in Bolivia and Southern Patagonia. Here, Dan worked on remote subsistence farms learning indigenous farming techniques and sampling the delicious cuisine of the regions. He also spent time backpacking in these stunning and remote mountain ranges. Over the three months of travel, he continued to gain an appreciation and desire to learn more about the unique communities and ecosystems of South America.

When Dan wasn’t in school or traveling internationally, Dan worked as an Outdoor Educator at Camp Manito-wish. Dan led trips backpacking in the the Brooks Range of Alaska, canoeing the river systems of Northern Saskatchewan, and sea kayaking in the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron and Lake Superior. Most recently, Dan worked as a Field Instructor with at-risk youth through a Wilderness Therapy program focused on complex developmental trauma.

Dan is thrilled to have the opportunity to combine his two interests of international travel and education while working with Carpe Diem. He is excited to engage students and to help them discover their own passions as they navigate through challenging home stays, chaotic markets, and comical language barriers.

Fun Facts

You can often find Dan driving his mom’s old minivan to a new river, two canoes and a kayak stacked on the roof, with sunscreen slathered on his freckled nose.

Dan enjoys playing with geographic spatial tools.

Diane Sternberg

Diane Sternberg

Read Bio

Diane Sternberg

Overseas Eduactor

Spontaneous adventure has always been a priority in Diane’s life. Starting at an early age, she was prone to exploring the woods behind her house in New York accompanied by her older sister and their dog Jake. She loves the part of the world where fantasy and reality mix. Three days after graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Anthropology, Diane got a job on a schooner and discovered a previously unknown love of sailing. Since then, she’s been continuously inspired by experiential education at sea. Working with the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School for over a decade, she has facilitated courses of all lengths for a variety of students using the ocean as a platform for self-discovery. She also works for Ocean Classroom, teaching traditional seamanship skills and Maritime Literature to high school students.

Diane’s love of the unknown led her to Thailand several years ago, where she was struck by the unique landscape and the contagious energy she felt traveling through towns and villages. She continued traveling internationally to expand her own cultural awareness and overall life education. She is prone to visiting places where trekking in mountains provides a radical change of pace from life at sea. Peru, New Zealand and Nepal are among her favorite destinations.

A love of storytelling and writing led Diane to accept a job in India as a newspaper intern three years ago. She immediately fell in love with the country, her friends and co-workers and the dynamic and ever changing pace of life.

Diane’s greatest pleasure is teaching. Whether is it sailing skills, creative writing, or cross-cultural immersion, her students always impress her and she feels like she is constantly growing along with them. All the while she tries hard to see as many moonrises as possible and takes a fresh water dip whenever she can. Her favorite book is “The Little Prince” and she loves to eat ice cream.

Fun Facts

Diane once rowed and sailed an open boat from the Florida Keys to Maine with a group of her friends from Outward Bound

While adventuring off the coast of Mexico, Diane had the opportunity to swim next to a humpback whale.

Diane is a collector of puppets and uses them frequently as tools for storytelling, teaching and making friends laugh.

Doug Zaideman

Doug Zaideman

Read Bio

Doug Zaideman

Overseas Educator

Born and raised in suburban Chicago, Doug’s family laid the groundwork for a love of nature at an early age thanks to their keen interest of escaping the city to the northwoods of Wisconsin, the Boundary Waters and road trips all over the country. His mother always had him helping out in the garden, and Doug is thankful that he has inherited her green thumb as a result. As a teen, he participated in several adventure travel camps that first showed him the power and benefit of group experiential education and gave him his first glimpses of the wild west. Unaware that you can actually study for and work towards an actual dream job, Doug went on to Indiana University, he focused on Sport Marketing and Management, Spanish and Business while always maintaining a passion for travel and the great outdoors. Post-grad brought him to work in the front office for a minor league baseball team. While working in baseball may have felt like a dream job at times, it wasn’t quenching a thirst for adventure; and soon friends and mountains lured Doug west to Colorado, where he has lived, on and off, ever since.

When not hiking, snowboarding, fly­ fishing throughout the Rocky Mountains, or leading incredible trips, Doug still finds a considerable amount of time to travel internationally and spends time working for an outdoor gear co-op. He has pursued interests in permaculture, teaching English, cooking, sustainable local development, SCUBA, meditation and environmental tourism across the globe. Some of the coolest things that have come with this pursuit have been swimming with swarming manta rays and a whale shark in the warm Indian Ocean; tuning in to the rhythm of the Amazon traveling down its waters by boat; or exploring mystical caves in Laos and Vietnam!

During the latter stages of a formidable South American solo adventure, it dawned on Doug to head back to his roots and pursue work in outdoor experiential education and adventure travel. He loves to show people all of the beauty in the world and his passion for education and travel is ever growing. Since the ‘awakening’, Doug has been a trip leader or guide on several lengthy trips throughout the Midwest, west coast, Hawaii, South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. Through travels the past several years it continues to amaze Doug how powerful and impactful the right kind of travel can be, for both the traveler and host. It offers you an entirely different style of learning that can not be replicated in a classroom.

Fun Facts

Recently hiked the Colorado Trail.

Has been SCUBA diving in 9 different countries.

Loves super spicy food!

Ellen Molander

Ellen Molander

Read Bio

Ellen Molander

Overseas Educator

As a shy kid growing up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ellen never dreamed that her life would take her to over 20 different countries and across 5 continents.

Ellen studied Early Childhood Education at Ohio University and began her career in education as an elementary school teacher. One snowy day in 2007, she began daydreaming about warmer weather and new horizons. Her search brought her into the field of International Education and she departed for her first year of teaching abroad in Guatemala, where she was promptly bit by the travel bug! Flash forward nearly ten years and Ellen is still working, living and adventuring across this great planet we all home.

If you ask Ellen where home is, she may have a hard time answering! Although if she had to pick, it would probably be Guatemala. She spent three years teaching elementary school in the highlands of Guatemala at Lake Atitlan before packing up and moving to Colombia and then Nicaragua. Not being able to stay away for long she returned to Guatemala for another three year stint where she continued to work on her Spanish fluency and perfected her tortilla making skills. Ellen has worn many hats as an educator including classroom teacher, academic director, teacher trainer and experiential education trip leader.

Feeling the travel itch and the open road calling her name, Ellen sold off most of her possessions in Guatemala and hit the road again. Her most recent adventures have taken her to India and Sri Lanka where she completed an advanced yoga certification, Peru to teach yoga, leading experiential education trips with GLA in Costa Rica, back to Guatemala to teach yoga, and most recently leading for a summer with GLA in Tanzania. Whether she’s on the open road, or has set down roots for a bit Ellen loves to practice and teach yoga, spend time outdoors, and try out new recipes on unsuspecting dinner guests. Ellen is excited to be joining forces with Carpe Diem this fall.

Fun Facts

Ellen is a 500 hr certified yoga instructor.

Ellen spent 9 months living on an avocado farm in the mountains outside of Antigua Guatemala where she learned how to add avocado to any recipe!

Ellen has been a wandering nomad living out of her backpack, blowing where the wind takes her for nearly two years now.

Eric Strickler

Eric Strickler

Read Bio

Eric Strickler

Overseas Educator

Why hello there! My name is Eric Strickler, and I will be narrating this written Bio for…Eric Strickler. I do hope you enjoy 🙂

Eric began his days on earth in the lovely mitten state, also referred to as the “Great Lakes state,” also referred to as Michigan. Eric has always enjoyed being near, in, or on top of the water, especially the freshwater of the Great Lakes (that salty stuff stings the eyes). During summers as a child Eric spent time at his father’s farm in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia helping to pick apples and running off to play in the New River which lay only a short jaunt from the house. He also was frequently jammed into a Subaru with his step-siblings and delivered to Moose Pond in Maine, where the Loons are ever present with their peaceful calls, but the Moose, not so much.

Before graduating high school Eric’s zoology nerd of a father had dragged him off to “help” his graduate school friends with their research projects in far away places such as Papua New Guinea and Australia. Three Outward bound courses over the course of this budding young man’s high school career helped to instill a passion in him for exploring and adventuring in the great wilderness realms of this planet.

Eric attended college at Grand Valley State University, in west Michigan, where his father is a professor of Anatomy but couldn’t handle the surrounding cornfields being his primary scenery. Eric studied abroad in New Zealand as well as Norway, each for a semester, and would have studied abroad again had graduating with a degree in Natural Resources Management not kept him from doing so.

Post graduation this motivated buckaroo headed west and landed in the Seattle area where he worked for 2 seasons at Mount Rainier National Park, served as an Americorps intern with Cascade Land Conservancy, and crewed as an educator/deckhand for 2 seasons with Salish Sea Expeditions. Eric also hopped over to Colorado for a season working with Rocky Mountain National Park. These experiences allowed Eric to give back to, gain a better understanding of, and explore many fantastic places within our country, but what he found he enjoyed the most was sharing them with other people. To that end he left the sunshine and blue skies of Colorado and returned to Seattle where for 3 ½ years he served as the Program Manager with Salish Sea Expeditions, helping to bring experiential marine science and sail training programs to youth around Washington’s Puget Sound.

It must be understood that this young man is a restless soul, and constantly desires adventure and new experiences from which to broaden his horizons and challenge himself. It is thus that even equipped with a standing desk, he decided his role as Program Manager had to come to a close. This newfound freedom would allow him to branch out and get back to working directly with the students that he was so excited to share the wonders of this world with. Eric is looking forward to sharing lots of interesting tidbits about culture and nerdy details about geology and marine biology with his students.

Well now that you are here at the bottom of this Bio I would like to thank you for reading! I do hope we can interface again at some point, but for now stick a smile on that face and go about into the world and make it contagious 🙂

Fun Facts

One of my favorite desserts is peanut butter and nutella, dipped into with a big spoon, with a nutty bar on the side. Peppermint tea as well, to aid in digestion of course.

I like to listen to audiobooks when I run. I set a “time goal” instead of a distance goal, open up to the last chapter I was on, and zipppoooo!

I saw a Rhino unexpectedly while on a safari hike in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park and the first thing that came to my mind was a scene reminiscent of Jurassic Park where a huge dinosaur that could definitely crush a human makes a sideways glance at a bunch of tourists, turns it’s head back in the direction it was going, and keeps on walking into the tall grass. Whoa…seriously, it was a whoa moment, those Rhinos are really big!

Frederick Livingston

Frederick Livingston

Read Bio

Frederick Livingston

Overseas Educator

Frederick grew up in Olympia, Washington. He used to push his toy lawn mower in the neighborhood cemetery because that was the closest thing to a playground he could ride his tricycle to. He studied industrial education throughout elementary, middle and high school, then moved to Bellingham to pursue ecology, poetry and dinosaurs, resulting in an Environmental Science degree. During a study abroad in the Himalayas, Frederick encountered more stars in one night than he had in the rest of his life and became very curious to see what else he was missing.

After school, Frederick tried his hand at many forms of experiential education, including leading trail crews in the Pacific Northwest, work-trading on farms and community centers in Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, and a county in California called “Yolo,” which none of the residents seemed to find hilarious.

For the next two years, Frederick served as an environmental extension officer with Peace Corps in rural Tanzania. His projects included family gardens, art classes, construction, beekeeping, women’s health seminars, open-fire baking and learning enough Kiswahili to understand when his students were making fun of him.

The following year, Frederick taught wilderness skills to elementary schoolers, led backpacking trips, then moved to Portland to work as a bicycle tour guide, bartender and sock model, which was all one job. In his free time, Frederick enjoys cultivating avocados, nibbling on things in the woods, sitting quietly drinking tea and orchestrating the peaceful takeover of the planet by sentient kelp.

Fun Facts

Frederick was president of his middle school in 8th grade. His first act was to create a cloak-making workshop.

Frederick raced bikes in college, toured all down the West coast, even dabbled in bike-polo, but has never owned a car.

Frederick loves creative cooking, but somehow ends up in places with gross food, from Tanzanian sugar spaghetti to Japanese raw-egg pizza to Tibetan barley flour and wine soup.

Hannah Newman

Hannah Newman

Read Bio

Hannah Newman

Overseas Educator

Hannah grew up in the suburbs outside Philadelphia where she developed a strong love of soccer and board games. Family vacations were spent in southern Maine where her family would hike and rent bikes to go on map-less adventures. Summers varied between sleep away camp and outdoor adventure trips, such as backpacking in Wyoming and climbing the Grand Tetons.

Soccer dominated most of Hannah’s childhood and teenage years, taking her to Europe and Costa Rica to play abroad in middle school and high school respectively. It was in these trips that she fell deeper in love with travel and cross-cultural experiences and began spending her summers being a soccer camp counselor for middle and high schoolers. Ultimately, she decided leaving soccer in her hometown wasn’t an option, so she pursued the recruitment process to play at the collegiate level for Middlebury College. It was here that Hannah studied neuroscience while playing varsity soccer in the fall, skiing with friends in the winter, and doing club ultimate frisbee in the spring. She went to Costa Rica for a second time during a Winter Term to live in the small town of Nosara while teaching two English classes a day to both kids and adults. Upon returning, she realized med school wasn’t the path for her, so she approached a professor to craft an independent project focused on science writing, which led her to NYU’s Journalism School where she got her Master’s in Science Journalism immediately after leading a summer Putney Student Travel program to Costa Rica.

After three years of working in Manhattan, Hannah quit her job to pursue a career in outdoor experiential education, starting with a five month solo trip to South America where she lived with a family in The Galapagos, worked on a farm in the Ecuadorian cloud forest, hiked around a crater lake said to have no bottom, flew over the Nazca Lines, trekked in Colca Canyon, lived in the Sacred Valley for a month, and hiked to both Machu Picchu and its so-called sister, Choquequirao.

It is with a heart full of adventure, community, and new experiences that Hannah joins the Carpe Diem team excited to positively transform lives and empower young adults to push their boundaries, explore sights unseen, and conquer unprecedented challenges.

Fun Facts

Hannah rarely wears matching socks.

Played in the largest youth soccer tournament in the world, hosted in Sweden.

For her Master’s Thesis, Hannah became a fruitarian, eating only fruit (and some veggies, nuts, and seeds) for a month — the story is pretty epic.

Jonathan George

Jonathan George

Read Bio

Jonathan George

Overseas Educator

Jonathan was raised in the mountains of Colorado. With his father working for the U.S. Forest Service, and his mother passionate about the outdoors, Jonathan spent much of his youth camping, skiing, bike riding, and exploring. He was lucky enough to have a family that was passionate about travel, and summers vacations were spent discovering the country. At the age of 12, his family took him on his first international trip to Europe, and thus began his lifelong passion for exploring the world.

While pursuing a degree in French language in the University of Colorado at Boulder, he fed his love of the outdoors by spending his summers working for the U.S. Forest Service creating service projects for groups of AmeriCorps volunteers, and working with law enforcement as a Forest Protection Officer. Along the way, he somehow managed to become a professional ballroom dance instructor for a few years when he showed up to a new ballroom studio opening celebration and clumsily danced with a few attendees. He must have made a good impression, as the studio owners, who offered to pay for his training to become an instructor, told him he had great potential. Never being one to pass up an interesting experience, he agreed, which led to one of his first teaching positions, and the discovery of a new passion: Education.

While completing his degree at CU Boulder, Jonathan studied abroad in France, which opened his eyes to the power of experiential education. Being able to see and touch the world with his own hands while he simultaneously studied the area in which he found himself, was a transformative experience. Upon graduation, he found himself on a plane to Egypt to spend a month visiting his aunt and uncle, who were international educators. He ended up staying three years, teaching English, learning Arabic, and leading adventure tours in both Egypt and Jordan with Imaginative Traveller. For the next eight years he went on to lead adventure tours in South East Asia, Central America, and South America, amazed at the power cultural exchange could have on the lives of his groups, as well as the people visited. Between tours, he found time to become a PADI SCUBA instructor and taught diving in Honduras for six months. Jonathan returned to South East Asia to lead bicycling tours from Vietnam to Thailand and Myanmar for a season with Spice Roads Cycle Tours, and get in some time teaching diving by working on a small island in Indonesia for four months.

After nearly 10 years on the road exploring the world, and working in 20 countries, he decided to return to America to pursue his passion of education. He completed a Masters of Education, as well as received his secondary teaching license in French, Chemistry, and Biology. The last semester of his degree was spent teaching middle school French language in the American School of Bombay, in Mumbai India, where his passion for education was completely solidified.

Having been rather unfocused in his college years (not choosing a major until his 3rd year), Jonathan truly believes in the benefits a gap year can provide. He see’s the world as the best possible classroom, and is passionate about the experiential and place based education that Carpe Diem offers, which completely eliminates the gap in education between what students experience in a classroom, and what the real world expects of them.

Fun Facts

Loves learning language: Speaks French, Spanish, and Arabic, along with having “survival” language abilities in many others.

Loves swing dancing…..Lindy Hop is the greatest!

Rode a small scooter for 1000 miles across 3 islands in Indonesia as it seemed like it would be fun…..it was!
Has climbed 18 of the 54 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado, with a goal of doing all 54 sometime in his life.

Has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Bought a small, completely unsuitable, 1.2L engine car in England and drove 10,000 miles across Europe, Central Asia, and Russia, to Mongolia with his mother and father for charity.

Jonathan McDonald

Jonathan McDonald

Read Bio

Jonathan McDonald

Overseas Educator

Hailing from Upstate New York, on the border of Canada and Vermont (yeah, that far north); Jon had the good fortune of belonging to a supportive family and having significant mentors who helped foster his growth as a Human. As such, depending on your views on Nature versus nurture, many of his shortcomings may be blamed on them.

Jon’s passion for the outdoors was cultivated in the Adirondack Mountains with Pok-O-MacCready Summer Camps. At Poko, Jon was able to safely expand his comfort zone, overcome his fears, learn about the natural world and create friendships he still holds to this day. Over a period of 16 years, Poko would become a second family to him as a camper, a counselor and eventually an Outdoor Educator.

Choosing to Study Adolescent Education at State University of New York at Oswego, Jon hoped to empower young minds and travel the world at the completion of his studies. As a student Jon jumped at every opportunity to contribute to his College community, serving as a Resident Mentor, organizing events with the Student Programming Board and participating in Student Government. Outside of student involvement, Jon was drawn to travel abroad through programming offered by Oswego. His first experience abroad (Canada was his backyard growing up, so he doesn’t quite count it) was a 2 week trip to Benin and France observing classes, learning about local culture, and assisting in a long term project to bring scientific calculators to classrooms across Benin. This trip helped serve as a catalyst for further world exploration later down the road. The following year he participated in an “Alternative Winter Break” service trip in Jamaica, hosted by his College. His final year of school was highlighted by Student Teaching in New Zealand – a decision that led him to stick around the country for a total of 13 months, ultimately causing Jon to skip out on his graduation ceremony. He’s apologized to his parents multiple times for this.
Coming back Stateside, Jon found the traditional classroom setting not to be the right fit for him. He chose to take on a job as an Outdoor Educator with Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center. For 3 years, Jon taught classes in High Adventure, Teambuilding & Leadership Development, Living History and Natural History to groups of students of all ages and backgrounds for up to a week at a time. A unique facet of his job was the inclusion of many Quebequois (French Canadian) student groups attending the center for English Immersion.

In addition to his travels listed above, Jon has also spent time in Iceland, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Jon is excited to be joining Carpe Diem this Fall as an Overseas Educator and is looking forward to working with his group of students.

Fun Facts

Jon knows from beginning to end how to dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

Jon has worked at 3 different haunted attractions, including one in New Zealand for 6 months!

Jon has spoken publicly in front of an audience of 3,000 people.

Julian Hartmann-Russell

Julian Hartmann-Russell

Read Bio

Julian Hartmann-Russell

Overseas Educator

Julian’s passion for cultural exchange and travel was sparked when he was 13 by a chance encounter with Valentin, a French boy his age, on the streets of his hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. They hit it off and began a longstanding exchange that continues today! Over 7 years, Julian went to spend a month with Val’s family every summer, where he was completely immersed in French (oh, the joy and the struggle), developed a love for French cooking and baking, and became part of a large French family. Valentin came to the U.S. every summer to study English, learn to jump off of rope swings, and experience attending Julian’s performing arts themed high school. Julian is now the proud godfather (le parrain) of Val’s baby daughter!

After studying for 2 years at Concordia University in Montreal, Julian transferred and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelors degree in Geography. Already a French speaker, he wanted to learn Spanish and expand his communication skills with Spanish speakers in the U.S. After graduation he enrolled in a language school in Montevideo, Uruguay, and spent several months traveling across South America, from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia to Santiago to Cuzco, all by land! Upon returning to the U.S., Julian jumped at an opportunity to become a founding teacher at a social justice-based public high school in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where he spent two years developing curriculum and teaching basic Spanish and French in the classroom.

After two years teaching in the classroom, Julian developed an interest in experiential education. He has developed and taught elective courses on food justice, gardening, and hiking. Agriculture, food access, and the right of people to nutritious, fresh food has been important work to Julian since he worked on an organic farm in Hawaii during his own gap year. These passions drove him to earn a masters degree in Geography at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he concentrated in globalization studies, food systems, and GIS, while teaching at the social justice school.

Julian is currently embracing the lifestyle of being on the road and working as an international educator. He has planned, co-led, and coordinated logistics of high school and university programs in Québec, Hawaii, Puerto Rico (twice), the Dominican Republic (twice). He is thrilled to work as an Overseas Educator with Carpe Diem and feels privileged to work with students as they discover and develop their passions, dreams, and goals with the support of Carpe Diem.

Fun Facts

I would take a boat, train, or bus (in that order) ANY DAY over a plane.

I have never been white water rafting but have always wanted to and am waiting for the day.

I speak French, Spanish, and a little Portuguese, and the next language I want to learn is Arabic.

Kate Abraham

Kate Abraham

Read Bio

Kate Abraham

Overseas Educator

As a child growing up in Wisconsin, Kate dreamed of becoming a teacher, a world traveler, or a dentist. Many years later she is proud to say she found a way to combine the former two while still maintaining an undiminished passion for teeth brushing. Kate’s many years of childhood family camping trips propelled her into the summer camp field of work at a young age, jumpstarting her ever present passion for encouraging youth and adult growth through experiential education.

Kate’s main passions in education are facilitating collaborative and personal leadership growth, conflict resolution, and character identification. Kate loves the diversity of strengths and weaknesses each individual possesses and is passionate about working with people to help them identify their own strengths and the strengths of others. Experiential education is the perfect platform for this exploration and growth and Kate has worked as a facilitator for a huge variety of groups, some of her favorites being groups of students from a scholarship program for first generation college bound students and the other being groups of students from Indigenous American Reservation schools. While some of these programs last only a short two days in Wisconsin, other leadership growth programs Kate has been fortunate to work for have taken her and her many students on expeditions in the Rocky Mountains, the Alaskan tundra, the waterways of northern Canada, and a number of other inspiring wilderness locations.

Kate’s passion for natural spaces leaks into her work and personal life frequently.
Though travel has always been present within Kate’s life since she was young (Thanks Mom, Dad, and the roadways of America!) it was the mountainous wilderness of Patagonia that finally lured Kate into purchasing her first one-way plane ticket. After a couple months of tromping around the Andes, Kate was hooked on international travel but felt as though an important element had been missing from her trip. She desired a stronger connection with the people and the culture of the places she traveled, not just the land, and her following international trips balanced touring with volunteering and living in local communities. She has, as a result, met countless kindhearted, inspiring individuals all over the world that continue to fuel her passion for self, community, and exploration through international travel. She was able to share her passion for making connections and volunteering with a group of western students during the summer of 2015 while leading trips in India and is ecstatic to be joining the Carpe Diem family, returning to India, a country saturated with culture, passion, and connectivity.

In Kate’s downtime she enjoys cooking, eating, impromptu dancing, trying to teach herself new skills, yoga, chatting, laughing, and being borderline too enthusiastic about nearly everything.

Fun Facts

Kate frequently works as a wilderness trip leader, which once enabled her to go seven weeks without showering. Fear not, for the sake of others she showered as soon as she could.

Kate struggles with parallel parking cars but is consistently successful at parallel parking canoes (in the water, of course. Not on the road.)

Kate has loved maps since a (should-have-been-stressful-but-Kate-found-it-fun) young childhood event in which she needed to navigate her father across all of Albuquerque, NM using only a paper road map and her own will to succeed. Her love of maps inspired her college career and she now holds a degree in cartography.

Katie Rixon

Katie Rixon

Read Bio

Katie Rixon

Overseas Educator

Katie has been sharing her passion for experiential, transformational land-based education for fifteen years. As a person who learns through movement and activity, Katie has always loved to get her overalls muddy, jump on her bike and ride wherever her legs take her, and tromp around in the woods, foraging for mushrooms and native medicinal plants. Early experiences of working and learning with Grandpa Paul in the garden or playing in the backwoods laid the foundation for Katie’s exuberant and energetic style while fostering a sense of wonder and awe for the natural world. It was this raw and innocent curiosity that inspired, evolved and challenged Katie to step out of her comfort zone and guided her through her young adulthood. In addition to her educational and professional development, Katie found so much personal growth in traveling. Whether it be learning art history in Florence, Italy, making chocolate in Oaxaca, Mexico, or farming in Nicaragua, Katie not only learned more about herself but also the interconnected relationships of the larger world.

Following her bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, and wilderness leadership, Katie moved to Hawaii to begin working at a horticultural therapy program, where she worked with adolescents and young adults and was introduced to the transformational influence of Permaculture, conservation, and farming.

Katie continued gaining experience in the field of transformational education when she moved to the Green Mountains of Vermont where she farmed and worked as a lead field guide for a wilderness therapy program. Her recent position as a Crew Leader for a conservation corps has reinforced her passion for working with young adults and the transformational power of land-based education and skill development.
In December, Katie received her Master’s Degree in Leadership for Sustainability Education at Portland State University. Recently, she spent time with the School of Lost Borders learning how to facilitate and guide four-day, solo vision fasting experiences. Committing her life to holistic, transformational education, Katie is a certified yoga teacher, mindfulness in schools educator, permaculture designer, and Wilderness First Responder. She has received her Master Gardener Certificate in the state of Vermont and has received a certificate in clinical herbalism.

Fun Facts

Favorite Quote

The great risk in life has always been the work of becoming one’s true self amidst the uncertainties of existence. Thus, each crisis can become a crucible in which we are pulled and stretched by an unseen force that was in us all along. At each turn in life we have another chance to hear the call, follow our calling and be emboldened by the roots of our souls.
-Michael Meade

Kelsi Lyon

Kelsi Lyon

Read Bio

Kelsi Lyon

Overseas Educator

Kelsi was raised in Eugene, Oregon by a Firefighter and a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Her mother’s students introduced her to different foods, values and worldviews that gave a glimpse into the richness that diversity brings. Both parents fueled her love for adventure with family road trips around the country and lots of time in the wilderness.

There have been a couple of events in Kelsi’s life that have been key turning points. During college, she went on a sea kayaking trip in Mexico, and discovered the field of experiential education. This re-awakened a love for life that had been dormant. Several years later, Kelsi received an invitation from her uncle to travel with him on a photography assignment in Burma. She was blown away by the mystery, culture and deep spiritual connection. This spurred an insatiable desire to learn how to open her heart and to experience other magical places around the world.

Her love of sharing the benefits of travel with others has led her to work with groups throughout the US, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. She also still has way too much fun messing about in boats and mountains and has been working in experiential education for over a decade instructing sea kayaking, canoeing, mountaineering, and sailing.

Currently, Kelsi feels incredibly fortunate in how she is able to spend her time. She divides her year leading overseas with Carpe Diem Education, studying Buddhism in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal and India, and instructing outdoor leadership in the North Cascades and San Juan Islands – not to mention visiting her family and adorable niece in Colorado every chance she gets.

She is thrilled to be able to share the place that has most captured her heart with one lucky group of students, as she is developing and leading Carpe Diem’s first alumni program in Nepal!

Fun Facts

She is often teased for having a very soft voice and a very loud laugh.

On the day the Vatican announced the sainthood of Mother Teresa, Kelsi had the bizarre good fortune to be volunteering in Kolkata with a Carpe group, cleaning her Tomb.

Before one fateful trip to Mexico, she was studying to become an accountant.

Kevin Floerke

Kevin Floerke

Read Bio

Kevin Floerke

Overseas Educator

Originally from the wine country of Northern California, Kevin has had a lifelong passion for exploring. Beginning with daily after-school excursions into the canyons and woodlands near his home and bike rides along the backroads of his hometown, he has always been propelled by a desire to see what lies beyond the next bend. His thirst for adventure and new experience first took him abroad in 2006, when he travelled to China to compete in a global martial arts competition. This trip stoked his interest in international cultural exchange, and he soon moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA where he majored in anthropology and archaeology.


While instructing at the university rock climbing wall he met an archaeology professor in need of an experienced climber for a project in the highlands of Peru. This began a love affair with the Andes that would find Kevin working and travelling through South America every summer for the next seven years. He began an intensive study of the Inca Road System, hiking and surveying the mountains around Cusco, Peru looking for remnants of ancient roads and mapping their course around the former Inca capital. Most recently he has been exploring the cloud forests of the Vilcabamba region of Peru where he has been investigating the relationship of the Inca to their sacred landscape, and searching for previously undocumented archaeological sites.


Kevin is also active as a journalist and photographer. He uses his opportunities to travel to unique locations as a way to connect and inspire people around the world. He has written pieces on marginalized populations across the Americas including homeless children in Nicaragua and indigenous communities affected by environmental disasters and cultural change in the Amazon. He often encourages his students to take the opportunity to use semesters to document their experiences not only for personal growth and reflection, but to inspire meaningful conversations and work to create change. 


While all of these experiences have shaped him, Kevin’s true calling is education. He has led programs for high school students to Peru and Costa Rica, managed archaeological field schools for UCLA, and given lectures at universities in the US and Peru. He feels his greatest satisfaction comes from exchanging ideas and perspectives with his students. Kevin’s combined interest in travel, education and service called him to Carpe Diem, where he has shared his passion, experience and gratitude with groups of amazing young adventurers. He feels blessed and excited to have the opportunity to travel and learn alongside a new generation of thinkers and explorers!

Fun Facts

Kevin once got lost in the Peruvian countryside and accidentally discovered a previously undocumented Inca burial site.

Despite a history of contact sports, skateboarding, and other generally unadvisable activities, Kevin has never broken a bone. He has, however, broken his nose several times.

Kevin can recite the names of every U.S. President in chronological order in less than a minute. Seriously, ask him, he’ll do it.

Laura Wondra

Laura Wondra

Read Bio

Laura Wondra

Overseas Educator

Laura spent her younger years in the land of snow, mosquitoes, and hugs. Otherwise known as Minnesota, Laura bets she can pack a snowball and outrun a mosquito better than most of the U.S. Having parents who thought it important for their daughters to expand their worldview from suburbia, by the age of 15 she had traveled throughout remote parts of Egypt, Vietnam, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic. These travels included real interaction with locals, homestays, and copious amounts of reflection – aspects of Carpe Diem’s program model she is extremely passionate about. After these experiences, Laura’s passport became her favorite possession, and she has since traveled to 25 countries across 5 continents.

In high school, Laura translated running around the prairie she grew up on to running around a soccer field, and eventually to a track. Laura carried her passion for track and field into college, and she competed all four years as a multi-event athlete. While long jump and the 400m relay were her specialty, Laura is still convinced the 800m run was invented solely as a punishment. Upon graduation, Laura had the opportunity to coach high school track for two years, and she will gladly geek out about the sport with you.

After graduating with a B.A. in International Studies and Politics and couchsurfing her way through Europe, Laura realized she knew a lot about diverse cultures and ways of life abroad, but not in her home country. She therefore made the decision to complete 2 years of service with AmeriCorps and work with diverse populations within her home state. During this time, Laura worked with immigrant, ex-offender, homeless and other underserved populations and became very passionate about increasing access to technology through education and open access spaces.

After coming across the field of International Education during her service, everything seemingly clicked into place. She moved across the country to begin her Masters at SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, and so began the most life-changing 2 years of her life. While at SIT, Laura discovered her passion for youth program work, and in doing so combined all the main loves of her life: experiential education, cross-cultural interaction, community, self-discovery, and action. After a life-changing summer spent working with incredible youth from Mexico, 12 Caribbean nations, Europe and the U.S. through World Learning Youth Programs (WLYP), Laura moved to the the mountains of Ecuador to work for a small study abroad company and complete her Masters work. While in Ecuador, Laura sought out every opportunity to stare at the mountains, hike, and play soccer with the locals she could.

This past April, Laura returned to the states and graduated from SIT Graduate Institute with her M.A. in International Education and focus on risk management and youth work. After a summer spent hanging out with more incredible youth through WLYP and several U.S. road trips, Laura is stoked to have the opportunity to work with Carpe students ready to learn incredible amounts about themselves and the world.

Fun Facts

Laura has several accidental claims to fame, including appearing on Google Maps street view and getting a role in a Kung Fu movie. If you search 560 Loras Blvd in Dubuque, IA you’ll see a college-aged Laura resembling Big Foot on her way to track practice.

In high school, Laura had the opportunity to meet Beyoncé and may not have washed her right hand since. But, no worries – she’s a hugger anyway and won’t make you choose whether a handshake is worth it or not.

Labels Laura subscribes to are Loungewear Aficionado, Tolkien Geek, Conversation Enthusiast, and Coffee Guzzler.

If Laura could sustain herself on chips and salsa alone, she would.

Lolly Beck-Pancer

Lolly Beck-Pancer

Read Bio

Lolly Beck-Pancer

Overseas Educator

Lolly’s first international travel experience was moving to San Diego, CA from Montreal, Canada shortly after entering the world. As soon as Lolly could form lasting memories, her mom, who lives by the philosophy that her three daughters become world citizens, let her choose an international destination. At 10, Lolly chose New Zealand and fell in love with the majestic landscapes and friendly folk who treated strangers like family. She vowed to return…

Off Lolly went to Pitzer College, where she designed a major in Global Health and Social Justice. Lolly’s education outside the classroom included teaching English in the Peruvian Altiplano as well as studying the impact of lead contamination on pregnant women in a village in Brazil. At college she facilitated experiential learning through community partnerships with a Day Labor Center and Juvenile Probation Camps outside Los Angeles.

After college Lolly taught English to hundreds of smiling Muslim high school students in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She loved the people and the unique fruits of Indonesia including salak and mangosteen. Upon returning to the States, she began a Master’s in Public Health in Health Education at Emory University with a belief that prevention and education are powerful tools for addressing social injustice. Her capstone project evaluated Farmers Market Incentive Programs’ ability to increase access to local fruits and vegetables for food insecure families. At Atlanta’s Truly Living Well’s Urban Farm Summer Camp, Lolly loved inspiring five-to-fifteen year-olds, to be the next generation of earth keepers. Motivated by a desire to address inequities through the intersection of wellness, conscious consumerism, and environmental sustainability and enraptured with the good food community, Lolly became a farmers’ market manager and food justice educator for Community Farmers Markets. In this role, Lolly planted Sungold tomatoes with elementary school garden clubs, turned smoothies green with a handful of kale, and did anything within her power to strengthen the local food movement.

With great difficulty Lolly pulled herself away from these amazing experiences to finally return to New Zealand. Through sun and rain she cycle-toured the South Island, supported child-led learning at the Golden Bay Community Gardens, immersed herself in permaculture at Solscape and Taunga Kereru Farm, and began to learn Te Reo Maori. 

Lolly is grateful to the teachers who have invested energy in making her a more compassionate inhabitant of the earth. She thrives on mutual inspiration, swimming in bright blue water, eating fresh fruit off the tree, and making friends across the age spectrum. If left to her own devices she would do yoga all day long.

Fun Facts

Lolly has never owned a car and loves to ride her bike wherever she calls home, from Los Angeles to Indonesia.

On Chincoteague Island, Lolly once swam out to a pod of wild dolphins who frolicked around her, she’s been part dolphin ever since.

Lolly’s greatest achievement is the incredible people she gets to call friends.

Mai Mao Yang

Mai Mao Yang

Read Bio

Mai Mao Yang

Overseas Educator

Mai Mao was born in Thailand and raised in St. Paul, MN. Her passion for the outdoors and travels started during the summer of middle school up to the Boundary Water Canoe Area. She spent a week canoeing, portaging, and sleeping underneath the stars and simply fell in love. Her first overseas experience took place in sophomore year in college. She was afforded the opportunity to go study abroad for two weeks with in the Dominican of Republic. It was an experience of a lifetime, yet humbling.

In college, Mai Mao worked numerous odd jobs. The most exhilarating out of them all was the Outdoor Connection where she led numerous multi-days and week longs back-packing, canoeing, kayaking, and mountain biking trips throughout various regions in the United States. Some of them include Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Pacific Crest Trail in California, and Superstition Wilderness Area, Arizona. Recently, Mai Mao led trips throughout Laos and Thailand and got the privileged to work with ethnic villages on infrastructures.

Mai Mao feels fortunate for all the opportunities and people in her life that has helped shape who she is today. Life is most meaningful to her when she can give back to people and communities that raised her. She is an avid advocate for public health, human rights and women’s right. You can usually find her on a bike, eating peanut butter, or chilling on a the floor with her cat.

Fun Facts

Doesn’t own a birth-certificate.

Became a chronic hiccup-er in college.

The love of her life; her cat IceCube – the dopest.

Mandy Moran

Mandy Moran

Read Bio

Mandy Moran

Overseas Educator

Born and raised in Michigan, Mandy never lets the grass grow beneath her feet for too long as her dad would say, and has spent the better part of the past decade abroad. She remembers learning about Amelia Earhart, Mount Everest and the expeditions of Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea as a young girl, and has been drawn to explore the world ever since. In eighth grade, she took a class trip to China, which she spent getting car sick, feeling jet lagged and subsisting on a diet of predominantly plain rice for 10 days. While her palate for both food and pushing her comfort zone have evolved greatly, she remains an avid seeker for opportunities to learn, grow and connect with the people and world around her.

While her family is convinced that she’s CIA, for the last year and a half what she’s really been up to is leading immersive, experience-based travel education programs in California and Fiji. With a focus on service, sustainability and responsible travel, her job duties have also entailed jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet, snorkeling with bull sharks in the Pacific, climbing North America’s tallest waterfall and driving nearly 10,000 miles in “Fran” the Transit over the course of 8 weeks. She believes wholeheartedly in putting beliefs into action, approaching newness with curiosity and cultivating kindness. “To change the world, start with yourself”, is a mantra that resonates deeply for her.

For Mandy, the greatest sense of accomplishment and fulfillment has come from building meaningful relationships. Whether it’s with co-workers, students, local villagers, or Paul the car wash guy, she believes community is an integral thread of humanity’s quilt (she loves a good quilt). She’s looking forward to bringing a positive, adventurous spirit to Carpe, building an awesome team of unique individuals and empowering others to follow their path.

Fun Facts

She can greet you in fifteen languages.

Her trail name is Mango. (And yes, she loves all varieties of mango—fresh, dried, chili-fied.)

She called a felt yurt “home” for two years while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia. It was so cold, even her toothpaste froze.

Give her anything—a junk drawer, a closet, a dysfunctional system—and she’ll make sense out of it, color-code it and put a metaphorical bow on top.

Mary Heinemann

Mary Heinemann

Read Bio

Mary Heinemann

Overseas Educator

Throughout her youth Mary bounced around the country living in four states before officially settling in Colorado as a teen where she basked in the sunshine, friendliness, and scenery. She didn’t realize that moving around as a child created a deep seeded desire to continually seek out new adventures. After earning her degree in women’s studies and communication at Colorado State University, she moved to Seattle to start her next journey. There she continued her passion of working on women’s empowerment and health education.

Adventuring around the states was a wonderful start to finding herself but she knew she needed to explore some of the endless cultures of the world. While serving as a Health Extension Volunteer with the Peace Corps in a rural village of Tanzania she began to grow in unnamable ways. She embraced the beautiful East African culture, surrounded by the strong, “soul-fulfilling” women and she realized this place would forever be a home to her. She grew to speak fluent Swahili, worked on projects where she led, organized and collaborated with the community on various health related projects including; youth development, education and empowerment, chicken husbandry projects, Malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention and education, women’s empowerment through family planning and cooking classes and much more. She swam with whale sharks, went on 15 hour bus rides with no breaks, sang with crying mamas at funerals, guest spoke at stranger’s weddings, and discovered her new passion of cultural and experiential education.

She is an avid filmmaker, yogi, music aficionado and full-circle moment seeker. Nothing makes her happier than having a good, life conversation with a new or old friend under the stars. She has led trips to Tanzania and Nepal as well as traveled to China several times. Leading trips to her home of East Africa has been the most rewarding experience she has been privileged enough to have. Being able to share the beautiful culture with students while learning and growing together makes her heart swell. This will be her first semester with Carpe Diem and she is beyond excited to be surrounded by like-minded, traveling souls to start this new journey.

Fun Facts

I have a tattoo next to a scar I got while living in Tanzania on my back that says, Inaanza na Mimi, which translates to, It Starts With Me.

In college I rocked around town in a cute scooter that I named Duey. Even after getting hit by a car on it.

I have never been more of a geek than when I bombarded Dan Savage after a live show to tell him how huge of a fan I was and how listening to his podcasts during the Peace Corps made me smile every day. I could hear myself grin when he hugged me.

Matt Shamey

Matt Shamey

Read Bio

Matt Shamey

Overseas Educator

Matt grew up in the woods of Western Massachusetts. Growing up, he romped through the forested hills and played in streams, excavating small alcoves as a refuge for the wayward turtles he found in the road. The turtles, however, rarely obliged his invitation for lodging and were gone by the next sunrise.

In high school, Matt gravitated towards the sports of ultimate and cross-country running. He poured his energy into these pursuits. After graduation, he spent a gap year working in Zion National Park before attending Grinnell College where he majored in Political Science. Although he developed an affinity for the undulating fields of corn and soy, he was ready to explore after years in Iowa. His travels first took him to the far reaches of western Brazil and onto East Africa to continue his education. Later, Matt returned to Tanzania and explored the Masai culture, got a crash course in Swahili, and went on Safari while leading a group of students in 2015. In the following years he returned to Latin America leading cross-cultural immersion programs.

He returned to Western Massachusetts to serve as the Assistant Director of Global Education at Hampshire College, where worked with and supported the College’s international student population and advised students on study abroad opportunities. In this time, he also discovered Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga and feeling a strong attraction for the vitality of the practice immersed himself in the discipline and became a certified teacher.

Matt is extremely excited to join the Carpe Diem team and share his enthusiasm, knowledge and experience in connecting with people, places and oneself.

Fun Facts

Matt ran a marathon. Matt won a marathon.

Crossing a town park on an evening in June, he heard a whimpering and discovered an abandoned baby raccoon near a fire hydrant. That baby thusly became known as Sammy the Bandit – a true inquisitor & admirable companion.

Verified: on sultry summer nights in Iowa when the moon is high and the air is thick and one is willing to dirty one’s knees and crawl deep into the foment of corn, growth is truly audible.

Matthew Paffhouse

Matthew Paffhouse

Read Bio

Matthew Paffhouse

Overseas Educator

Matthew was raised in a world of ever so slight divergent cultures, where he enjoyed being both confused and smitten with the different life narratives swirling around his childhood. Born to a liberal family but raised in the conservative land of Northern Michigan, he was a precocious social alchemist, mixing and matching the finest visions of these worlds alongside the ever present cultural fabric of the United States.

After surviving the long process of education from youth to college graduate, he decided to forgo the world of consulting in favor of a journey to explore the world and discover the frontiers of his emerging weltanschauung, his philosophical world view. Soon it was evident to him that no single philosophy or culture made perfect sense, so he took to refining his life-long passion of being an alchemist of experience and belief.

The journey lasted four magical years as he traveled to the monasteries of the mind through literature, of the spirit while studying Buddhism and Sufism in South Asia, and of the environment by embarking on expansive hikes in the mountain ranges of the world. In the summers he could be found floating on the river as a white water rafting guide, likening his journey down the river with his own path through life.

Seeking to contribute to the goal of improving global harmony and equality, Matthew then began a study of international relations in the TransAtlantic Masters Program from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Although he was enamored with his education and an inspiring internship with the United Nations, he decided that at present the best influence he can have on the world is by sharing his ardent belief and passion in the wondrous benefits that cultural exchange and experiential education can have on the individual and society.

Fun Facts

His favorite book to recommend is The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham.

Thinks few things are better in life than a great walk. Some of his favorites are solo treks around the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and the Salkantey trek in Peru (which if you’re on the South America semester, you’ll be stoked to be doing).

Once had his parachute not open when skydiving in the Czech Republic. Thinks that might have been one of the most present moments in his life.

Michelle Nance

Michelle Nance

Read Bio

Michelle Nance

Overseas Educator

Michelle’s wanderlust developed at a young age, thanks in part to her family’s frequent moves. She developed an appreciation for the extraordinary natural beauty of the country. Whether it’s hiking in Yosemite or plunging into the blue depths of South Carolina lakes, she loves spending time outdoors and exploring new places.

Michelle’s love for exploration blossomed in the 1st grade, when her teacher introduced her to Spanish culture. She began to cultivate a fierce curiosity for different communities, customs and languages.

This passion followed her to college where she focused on international trade and the Spanish language. She spent a semester studying in Alicante, Spain, but found time to travel through Europe and northern Africa. She also interned in the Patagonia region of Chile developing deep relationships in the community. The travel opened her eyes to the roles (good and bad) of tourism and its impact on sustainable development in communities.

She returned to school to pursue her Masters in Parks, Recreation and Tourism, focusing her research on the relationship between microfinance and tourism opportunities in the developing world.

Michelle lived in Lobitos, Peru, from 2013-14, where she worked for WAVES for Development, an organization that unites community, social entrepreneurship and environmental health — and world class surfing!

Fun Facts

Member of the ACC Champion Women’s Rowing Clemson/member of the U.S. U23 Team

Michelle has spent the last four summers leading language immersion and service learning trips to Costa Rica.

Sailed from West Palm Beach Florida to Cuba on a 40-foot sloop sailboat

Mike Sobel

Mike Sobel

Read Bio

Mike Sobel

Overseas Educator

Mike spent the better part of his tender, young years in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A dreamy and introspective lad, he was often found under a tree with his nose inside of a book. Other times he'd be found exploring, hiking, biking, skiing, and camping with his father and brother in the mountains near his hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Following the proverbial advice to go west, Mike attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon. After graduating with a degree in Biology, Mike worked in the Oregon forests as a wildlife biology researcher, before taking off to Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He spent his Peace Corps tenure as a secondary school teacher in Malawi, a country that holds a special place in his heart to this very day.

Mike has worked for experiential education programs in the field for many years. He also served for six years as the Asia Programs Director for Carpe Diem Education. He is currently excited to return to Africa as an Overseas Educator.

Fun Facts

Mike has lived, worked and traveled on all seven continents.

Mike has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Annapurna Circuit.

Mike is a motorcycle enthusiast. He spent the past several months exploring the country of Colombia by motorbike.

Peter Benassi

Peter Benassi

Read Bio

Peter Benassi

Overseas Educator

Growing up in the burbs of Chicago, Pete always embodied a unique combination of adventurousness and sensitivity: in the karate studio he was Purple-Belt Pete, at the ice hockey rinks he was Slap-Shot Pete, and in school he was Pete the Poet. Now in his 20’s, not much has changed.

In college, Peter had the opportunity to do a field study in East Africa and a spend a semester in the Indian Himalayas. These experiences— along with an exchange semester in Amherst, Massachusetts and an internship teaching creative writing in Chicago Public Schools— earned him a B.A. in Education and Leadership from Prescott College in Arizona. Since graduating, Pete has worked as a backpacking camp counselor and coordinator in Durango, Colorado; an environmental educator in West Virginia; a wilderness therapy field guide in Virginia; and a service trip leader in Tanzania.

In addition, Pete is passionate about music, movies, reading, bicycles, and backpacking. He became a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in June 2016.

Pete is very excited to be a part of the Carpe Diem team and looks forward to sharing his passion for authentic and meaningful travel!

Fun Facts

Was gifted an (organic!) handmade arrow by hunter-gatherer pals in the Hadza tribe while camping in Tanzania.

Serendipitously couch-surfed in Lyon, France during the spectacular Fête Des Lumieres (an amazing festival of lights!).

Rode a bicycle from California to Colorado— spontaneously slept in the yards of many friendly strangers, including biking legend Inga Thompson (a very gracious host with lovely cows!).

Rachel Anderholder

Rachel Anderholder

Read Bio

Rachel Anderholder

Overseas Educator

Rachel grew up in Renton, WA just outside of Seattle and spent her youth busy playing softball and singing in choir. When she was 13 she was lucky enough to go to Japan through a sister city exchange program with 11 other middle schoolers from her hometown. While only in Japan for 10 days, the tears that came when leaving new found friends and culture behind were intense. It was a while before she would travel again, but that experience changed something in her, and made her much more interested in exploring.

Late in college, the stars aligned and Rachel was able to study abroad in Sevilla, Spain. That was the beginning of the rest of her life. She loved learning Spanish and being immersed in another culture. After graduation, Rachel decided she wasn’t ready to pick some random career and “settle down,” that there was far too much out there to explore. She lived in Washington and Colorado working odd jobs to make travel to South America possible. She then took a 6 week US road trip with her future husband, Bryce, camping in the back of their truck and staying with friends. Finally, Rachel decided she wanted to try her hand at teaching, so she and Bryce packed their bags and moved to Costa Rica, where Rachel got a job teaching English to pre-schoolers, kindergartners and first graders. She determined that teaching wasn’t for her – but that working to improve educational quality was her calling.

Rachel went on to get her master’s in international development at Concordia University in Portland, traveling to Italy and Ecuador, and became attached to the concept of place-based education, making learning relevant to students where they are. Throughout graduate school, Rachel interned with Carpe Mundi, Carpe Diem’s nonprofit sister organization. Rachel was eventually lucky enough to land a full time gig with Carpe Mundi, working with Portland area scholarship students. While she loves mentoring students in the US, she is thrilled to share her love of Latin America and the life-changing experience that is travel with her Carpe Mundi students.

Fun Facts

Rachel played softball in college and sang the national anthem wearing her catcher’s gear at every home game.

Rachel and her husband Bryce just adopted a puppy and kitten. They’re 10 weeks old and will be best friends.

Rachel lived in the Galapagos Islands during graduate school and discovered that the sea lion is her spirit animal.

Rachel Milito

Rachel Milito

Read Bio

Rachel Milito

Overseas Educator

Rachel grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, and went on her first camping trip before she was potty trained (a fact which, in retrospect, her father regrets immensely). She spent much of her childhood running wild through the White Mountains in New Hampshire on regular camping trips with family and friends, where she became accustomed to living outdoors and cultivated a love for adventure.

Her first foray into foreign living came at age 17, when she spent a summer in Mexico learning Spanish. With this first experience of traveling abroad came the realization that learning a new language and integrating herself into a foreign culture was more challenging than she had expected, and she decided to dedicate her college career to learning languages and gaining experience living in other countries.

Rachel studied at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, where she majored in Culture and Politics, focusing specifically on the experiences of immigrants arriving in the US. In her four years at college, she took classes in Spanish, Portuguese, Quechua, and Arabic. She also spent two summers working in Central America and a semester studying in Peru. During her time at Georgetown she became involved in Washington’s immigrant community through her involvement in an ESL tutoring program with youth and adults. She also learned a great deal about the complicated nature of our increasingly globalized economy by standing in solidarity with local and international workers fighting for their rights.

Determined to forestall living in the “real world” for as long as possible, Rachel has dedicated herself the world of experiential education. During the summers she leads canoeing and backpacking trips in Maine for the Outward Bound. In past lives, Rachel has worked at a high school, a progressive think tank in Washington, DC, and an organic farm in Vermont.

Rachel is excited to join the Carpe Diem team and can’t wait to see what new adventures are in store for her.

Fun Facts

Rachel plays the tuba and was the top tuba player in her state when she was in high school.

Rachel has traveled to 19 countries (and counting…)

Rachel loves to cook! Her favorite thing to make is pizza for her friends.

Rebecca Liebeskind

Rebecca Liebeskind

Read Bio

Rebecca Liebeskind

Overseas Educator

Rebecca was 9 years old when she took her first extended trip abroad. From the moment she stepped off the plane, she felt exhilarated by the new sights, smells, sounds and taste (especially the taste, if Rebecca had to be labeled, she would be ok to be called a foodie). That initial experience opened her mind and senses to the world and was instrumental in shining light on what she wanted to do: travel and connect with people the world over, as well as pursue work and studies with an international focus.

Rebecca received her B.A. in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies and Jewish Studies from Emory University and her M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben Gurion University in Israel. Following the completion of her degree, she spent a year and half on her own exploring India, a country that epitomizes the meeting of cultures. India is a place of immense diversity and following that initial post graduation trip, Rebecca has been lucky to have returned over 11 times and to have led 7 Gap Year trips there, each time seeing and experiencing something new.

In addition to leading programs in India and many other countries, Rebecca has worked with the refugee population in Atlanta (Did you know that just outside of Atlanta is the most ethnically diverse square mile in the United States?). She also spent 10 years working at an Indian restaurant, and has held a number of odd and interesting jobs; including being a lady Santa Claus in India. In her free time, Rebecca likes to cook and to sample all of the local culinary fares of the places that she is traveling in.

Rebecca has been a puzzle enthusiast all of her life. As a kid she would spend her days completing jigsaw puzzles. Rebecca still enjoys a good jigsaw puzzle, but now her love of puzzles is more metaphorical. She enjoys figuring out how everything is connected, and when she travels she gets especially excited when she sees historical links between different cultures. Like the missing connecting piece of a puzzle, Rebecca can’t wait to connect her Carpe students to wonderful experiences and a transformational experience.

Fun Facts

Despite traveling and flying on a regular basis, Rebecca is scared of flying.

At the age of 10, Rebecca dreamed she was being eaten by a cow. Since that day, she has been a vegetarian.

Rebecca once got caught in the middle of a cat fight (feline) and has a scar down the middle of her face to prove it. It required a number of stitches.

Rebecca Wolff

Rebecca Wolff

Read Bio

Rebecca Wolff

Overseas Educator

Born in the U.S.A but grown up in both England and Canada as a kid, Rebecca was born an avid traveler with a dose of wanderlust. While in school, she decided that life in Canada wasn’t exciting enough. Rebecca first visited South America in 2010 as part of youth leadership program, and promptly fell in love with the culture and beauty of Ecuador. Feeling very much at home in the Andean highlands, she made it her goal to return to South America in a way that would create more positive and lasting impact on the communities she had gotten to know.

Over the next 6 years Rebecca would end up spending every summer in Peru. She has worked on local health initiatives with Quechua communities in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco, and with Shawi and Shipibo communities in various regions of the Peruvian Amazon on how climate change is affecting community health.

While studying Biology and Spanish at the University of Guelph, Rebecca embarked on an independent research initiative of her own. She received funding from the National Geographic Society as a National Geographic Young Explorer for what became a 2-year project in the Peruvian Amazon. Rebecca looked at how cultural and spiritual beliefs impact treatment and diagnosis of illness in Indigenous communities.

After her time spent working with incredible Indigenous Peruvian communities, and later through a Fellowship involving Canadian Indigenous health, Rebecca has become an activist of Indigenous rights and health in both Peru and Canada. She has worked as a human-centered design consultant on Indigenous health curriculum for medical schools. As well, Rebecca is an independent freelance anthropologist turned writer, covering the impacts of oil spills on Indigenous health in the Amazon.

It was her first youth leadership program in Ecuador that fundamentally changed Rebecca’s life and redirected her towards her passions for South America, Indigenous peoples, and global health. It also inspired her to make that opportunity possible for other students and share her experiences and love of the region with students. Over the last 3 years, Rebecca has lead youth leadership programs in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, across themes involving entrepreneurship, global health, and social transformation. She sees intercultural exchange as a key part of creating the future leaders of today, and seeks to promote learning, growth, and exploration through travel and adventure!

Fun Facts

Used to be a nationally ranked cross-country and track runner.

During university Rebecca travelled across India for four months and ate a minimum of one dosa a day.

You can hear Rebecca’s voice in the Johnny Depp movie ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’.

Ryan Egan

Ryan Egan

Read Bio

Ryan Egan

Overseas Educator

Ryan was born and raised in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona. He thanks his father for instilling in him a love for adventure and the outdoors, as well as for removing all of the cactus spines from various parts of his body.

During college, Ryan spent two summers exploring Southeast Asia and subsequently discovered a love for international travel. He later spent a semester studying sustainable tourism development in Mexico, where he refined his Spanish skills while living with a host family. In 2004, Ryan completed a BS in International Hospitality Management from Northern Arizona University.

A year later, he joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Peru where he spent two years assisting coffee farmers with a variety of development projects. Ryan stayed an additional year in Peru as a Volunteer Leader, guiding and supporting a group of volunteers working in the snow-capped highlands of central Peru. He later returned to serve as a Peace Corps trainer for Peru’s Small Business Development program. While Peace Corps provided Ryan with many life lessons (and a few parasites), it also gifted him with a best friend – Cheridyn.

When not in Peru (or scheming the next escape to Peru), Ryan loves spending mornings with Cheridyn dreaming together over coffee. He can also be found ankle-deep in a trout stream or planning fishing trips and disguising them accordingly so that Cheridyn will agree to come. Since joining the Carpe family in 2012 Ryan has led the Southeast Asia, South America, and South Pacific programs.

In addition to leading for Carpe, Ryan and Cheridyn support the Memory Project (www.memoryproject.org), which involves gifting hand-painted portraits to children around the world who have been orphaned or disadvantaged. To date he has delivered more than 30,000 portraits to children in 15 countries.

To Ryan, meaningful international travel creates the ideal environment for introspection and reflection. He loves facilitating this beautiful process of discovery and growth for young adults.

Fun Facts

Ryan served the Peace Corps in Peru assisting coffee farmers with a variety of development projects- he stayed an additional year as a Volunteer Leader and later returned to serve as a Peace Corps trainer for Peru’s Small Business Development program.

Ryan can be found ankle-deep in a trout stream or planning fishing trips and disguising them accordingly so that Cheridyn will agree to come.

Ryan and Cheridyn support the Memory Project, which involves gifting hand-painted portraits to children around the world who have been orphaned or disadvantaged.

Favorite Quote:

“If the culture doesn’t work for you, don’t buy it – create your own.” – Morrie from Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee

Read Bio

Sarah Lee

Overseas Educator

Sarah grew up in the beautiful Willamette Valley in Eugene, Oregon. Her family consisted of big travelers and adventurers, and by the time she was twelve she had been to Sweden, Greece, Italy and Kenya. The travel bug hit her hard and while her family slowed their adventures – she revved up. After her first year in undergrad she signed up to spend the summer volunteering in villages in Tanzania. This was her first trip without her family where she lived at a homestay and considers it the most transformative experience of her life.

Later she studied abroad in Parma, Italy, and while taking art classes also took advantage of an opportunity to teach English in the local high school. Her favorite memories of Italy were of walking around the town center, making tortelli di zucca with her Italian host grandma who didn’t speak English, and drinking espresso with friends at little cafes throughout the city.

After graduating from Pitzer College with a B.A. in Economics and Art, she was determined to live abroad and was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Thailand. She loved it and stayed another six months after the teaching year, working in Chiang Mai at ACE Education advising international students. Her family only convinced her to come home by entering her in a triathlon.

Stateside she decided it was time to explore her own country. She planned and completed a 3 month, 4,000 mile self-supported bike tour that looped in the West, connecting 11 national parks. She lived in Chattanooga, TN for the next two years, climbing, taking trips to the Smoky Mountains, and exploring the humid South. She soon realized that her love of cycling was tied more to the community, health of societies and wanted to pursue how to make cities healthier through personal connections.

She moved to Berkeley, CA and after doing an intensive summer program in city planning at Cal, balanced working in community development with guiding on the weekends for a women’s backpacking organization, the Trail Mavens.

Sarah is so excited to be working with Carpe Diem and have the opportunity to work with students who are actively seeking personal connections with other cultures and are pushing themselves to be bigger, brighter and bolder.

Fun Facts

Sarah loves to collect hats.

Sarah played collegiate water polo and swam from Alcatraz to the shoreline in 55 degree weather without a wetsuit!

She loves sculpture – she crafted a bronze octopus arm using lost wax technique, and carved 300 raindrops from wooden dowels using a lathe.

Sarah Silverstein

Sarah Silverstein

Read Bio

Sarah Silverstein

Overseas Educator

Sarah grew up on a farm in a small town of Minnesota, and spent most of her childhood exploring the surrounding 50 acres of unused farmland by foot and on horseback. Of course, that also meant that she spent a great deal of her early life doing barn chores before and after school. The overlap of inside and outside living gave her an appreciation for wide open spaces, fresh air, and getting your hands dirty in pursuit of fun.

During her undergraduate years at Northeastern University, Sarah took advantage of the numerous opportunities for experiential education and spent more time away from her university than on campus! She had the chance to live in both Italy and New Zealand, and spent six months working at a social enterprise in the townships of Cape Town, South Africa. Her capstone class took her to Dubai and Saudi Arabia, and she visited Israel in 2011. These global experiences at such a young age helped shaped her worldview, enhanced her understanding of diverse and complex cultures, and have taught her more life lessons than she can begin to count.

Since her college years, Sarah has called Colorado home, with regular stints away. She’s spent her summers leading adventure travel programs in Fiji, Costa Rica, and Spain, along with stints in Colorado and Utah. During the rest of the year, she’s worked behind the scenes in the industry, programming international itineraries for adventure travel organizations. Recently, she took a few months off to cycle and tramp around New Zealand, and when she can’t stamp her passport, she spends her free time hiking, skiing, camping, and exploring the areas closer to home. All while drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Sarah remembers the first time she worked as an outdoor educator for students – she was sent to Fiji, of all places, and couldn’t wait to come home and tell her friends about the beautiful places and culture of a new country. Instead, she came home talking about her incredible students and the meaningful connections that were made during her month in-country. There is something so special about experiencing a place with a close group of people, and Sarah discovered that her real passion is sharing that experience with others.

Fun Facts

Sarah’s happy place is sitting around a campfire with friends, musical instruments, and the freedom to shamelessly attempt to belt Amy Winehouse songs under the stars.

She has run three marathons – the last of which was the 2016 Boston Marathon, where she ran on a charity team that raised money to send youth from underserved communities to summer camp. After that, she somehow found herself in a full-circle turn of events working as a summer camp director for two years.

Sarah’s most random job was a short stint working as a zipline guide in the Minnesota River Valley, where she had the opportunity to take the Twin Cities’ most well-known radio personalities on a private tour. And, because Minnesota is adorable, her dad turned out to be their veterinarian.

When leading a summer program in Costa Rica, she and her students ended up at an expat’s Fourth of July celebration in San Jose with members of the US embassy. They ended up making the cover of the expat newsletter due to their enthusiastic dancing in the middle of a rainy plaza.

Sheldon Ito

Sheldon Ito

Read Bio

Sheldon Ito

Overseas Educator

Here are a few things you should know about Sheldon: 1) He doesn’t like writing bio blurbs because he doesn’t think the form really suits its function and things like that upset him. The word “persnickety” comes to mind. 2) He’s flexible enough to bow to convention and say that he’s from Honolulu, where, btw, he’s never heard the word “persnickety” uttered. Not even as a joke. 3) Although reluctant to and pretty bad at bio writing he does want you to get to know him (and vice versa). Here are a few conversation starters that if he were a German Shepherd, would make his ears stand up and rotate in your direction: a) “You’ve been sailing a ton for Outward Bound over the past four years, what do you love about it so much?” b) “You never trained as an actor and have no interest in it, but you were on the X-Files tv show twice. Who thought that was a good idea?” c) “Your writing reminds me of both David Foster Wallace and Ernest Hemingway, but without the talent of either, is that why you don’t talk about your writing?”

And if you really want to know him: d) “What about Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” do you find so upsetting?” e) “Explain again how the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle applies to Hedberg’s theorem that Bigfoot is blurry.” f) “You think Hotline Bling is highbrow art? You really think that?” g) “Wait, your drivers license says Cambridge, Massachusetts, you work on boats in Maine and Florida, and now you’re going to Thailand with us, but, like, where do you live?”

Sheldon, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, was a founding teacher of Expeditionary Learning charter schools in Brooklyn, New York and Saint Paul, Minnesota, and has traveled extensively in Thailand, Ecuador and Mexico. A recent trip to Tokyo netted him a deep appreciation for pod-like sleeping quarters and an illogical conviction that he is one of the select few who knows where to find the best ramen in the city. He finds referring to himself in the third person oddly liberating and is excited to join the staff at Carpe Diem this Fall.

Fun Facts

Second fastest boy in the 5th Grade (could never beat Malcolm Chow) at Wai’alae Elementary School. Wai’alae is also the alma mater of musician Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole (never met him, but his cousin Chris was in my grade).

Former member of the Hawai’i Carpenter’s Union Local 745.

Would love to build his own ukulele one day, but right now just looking for one to take to Thailand. Hopes you like music.

Suzannah Crandall

Suzannah Crandall

Read Bio

Suzannah Crandall

Overseas Educator

Suzannah, born and raised in northern Wisconsin, grew up eating cheese and playing outside. Her love for exploring nature and traveling began at a young age during family camping trips and a stint in Germany at the age of 10. Suzannah pursued her love for the environment and travel studying abroad in Costa Rica while obtaining her degree in biology.
After college, she was able to combine her desire to fully immerse herself in another culture and pass on her appreciation for the environment as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. She spent two years in Paraguay working with schools and her community on environmental education projects. Her most memorable experiences include drinking mate with her neighbors, enduring the Paraguayan heat, and laughing through the language snafus.

Her desire to work in the environment with students pushed Suzannah to pursue teaching environmental education in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and later in Wisconsin running an outdoor skill development program for high school youth.
Most recently, she has had the pleasure of traveling and working in central and south America with a student leadership program. Suzannah is excited to be part of the Carpe Diem team and support students during their experience.

Fun Facts

Ha’e oñe’ekuaa Guarani. She speaks Guarani, an indigenous South American language.

Suzannah grew up on a hobby farm and has mad chicken raising and gardening skills.

One of Suzannah’s favorite spots is under the canopy of cocoa trees in Costa Rica. She spent several months researching the growth of cocoa pods and tabulating monkey, parrot and fungus damage to the pods.

Favorite Quote:

“As you go through life, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.”

Topher Stephens

Topher Stephens

Read Bio

Topher Stephens

Overseas Educator

Born to wonderful hippy parents in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Topher was raised on a healthy diet of creek water, hugs, and folk music . Although the blue-green hills of Appalachia have always awed and nurtured him, from a young age he has been called to wander. His first international adventure came in the form of a high school exchange program to Costa Rica when he was 16. Although he interpreted the “high school” portion of the program quite loosely, the exchanges he had with the locals while surfing, hiking, and chatting over banana milkshakes kindled a lifelong passion for cultural exchange and reinforced his belief that real learning happens outside of the classroom. He returned home to finish his education, choosing a degree in biology so that he could spend as much time as possible in the forest. A strong advocate for gap-years, Topher broke up his own undergraduate studies by taking a year long, around-the-world trip to study ecologically sustainable communities and to volunteer on organic farms across India, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. Upon returning home and graduating from UNC Asheville, Topher began to formally apply his passion for out-of-the-box education. Working in a holistic Integral Model school, a Meher Baba spiritual camp, and teaching banjo and guitar lessons on the side, he bided his time until he secured his dream-job: Overseas Educator for Carpe Diem Education.

Topher uses his travels as opportunities to learn and exchange ideas about sustainability, community, culture, and creativity. He is intrigued by the meditative and philosophical traditions of the East and the ways that those traditions are colliding with and influencing Western culture. He is currently studying Wilderness Meditation, Deep Ecology, and Sacred Activism which offer him hope and fortitude in the face of the social and ecological crises of our time. He loves working with and learning from young adults, whose inquisitiveness and youthful energy give him the opportunity to meet each experience with fresh eyes and an open heart. Deriving his sense of fulfillment from moments of beauty, clarity, and connection with the people and places he encounters, he considers himself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. Whether it is meditating quietly in a monastery, singing harmony to an old folk song, sweating alongside a farmer in a paddy field, or laughing and playing games with his students and co-leader, Topher is striving to stay fully present for the miracles that happen in every moment and practice copious amounts of gratitude for each one.

Fun Facts

Topher spent last summer counting birds in the prairie-sagebrush of Eastern Montana where he discovered his spirit animal: the burrowing owl, which is essentially a hobbit with wings.

Topher was the undefeated arm-wrestling champion of his kindergarten class (although this title was disputed by many students who thought he should have been disqualified for being the teacher).

Topher has been called many things in his life including “T”, “Toph-money”, “Toph-dog”, “Toph-dizzle”, “Toph-drizzle”, “Toph-digglet”, “Diggles”, “Diggledorf”, “Toe”, “Tophs”, “Tophstafari”, and “Tophster Strudle”. Needless to say, he is aware that his name rhymes with gopher and expects a bit more originality than that.