Overseas Directors | API Study Abroad

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Discovering Croatia

This post is from our official student blogger, Sarah Al-Arshani. Sarah is from the University of Connecticut, and is a Communications and Journalism Major studying in Dubrovnik, Croatia. When I signed up to spend a semester in Dubrovnik, no one told me I would be living right by a movie set. Every day as I [...]

The post Discovering Croatia appeared first on The API Abroad Blog.

Academic Programs International Overseas Directors

API has more than 60 Resident Directors in our 23 host countries. Depending on the size of each respective host city, some sites have several Resident Directors with specific responsibilities, such as oversight of housing placements or cultural activities, whereas other sites have one director who manages all program components.

Parents and advisors are asked to work directly with the API Texas office rather than our Resident Directors. This allows the Resident Directors to concentrate more fully on the needs of the student participants and ensures accurate communication of API policies and procedures.

*Note – this page will be continually updated as we update our API Resident Director bios and photos.

Photo of Carmen Alvarez de Toledo
Carmen Alvarez de Toledo
Buenos Aires, Argentina Resident Director Latin America Regional Director

Carmen was born and raised in Argentina, and holds a degree in Sociology from the University of Buenos Aires. After moving with her husband to the U.S., she began her professional career teaching in the Spanish Department at Yale University for five years. Having enjoyed the contact with American college students, when she returned to Buenos Aires, she decided to join the local office of a study abroad program of a consortium of U.S. universities, where she was Assistant Director of the Program, and Resident Director of the summer program, together welcoming over 200 American students per year. When her family relocated to Washington, D.C., she decided to stay in the Study Abroad field and joined the American University Study Abroad Office in June, 2004. Now, back in her beloved BA, she is thrilled to have again the opportunity to help American students make the most of their experience in Argentina.

Photo of Rodrigo Lemos
Rodrigo Lemos
Mendoza, Argentina Resident Director

Rodrigo was born and raised in Mendoza Argentina, and holds a degree in Tourism Business Administration from the UTN National Technic University.  He has been involved in the tourism industry since 1995, working for companies in the travel agency, hotel, airline and, winery sectors. He has also been teaching tourism for 10 years in the International Tourism School and still serves as an internship tutor. Now, he is leading the promotional wine tourism department from the Government of Mendoza, and he is the responsible for promoting Mendoza in the Brazilian market. He also is a tango dancer and tai chi professor.


Photo of Tuki Attuquayefio
Tuki Attuquayefio
Sydney, Australia Resident Coordintaor

Tuki Attuquayefio is the Resident Coordinator for Sydney. He is currently completing his PhD in Psychology at Macquarie University and hopes to finish his thesis by the end of 2016. He is also teaching Psychology at Macquarie University and loves it.

Tuki loves science, musicals, and overseas travel. Tuki spent ten months abroad in France so he knows all too well the ups and downs of spending time abroad in a new country. Tuki was born and raised in Sydney and knows it like the back of his hand! His father is from Ghana and is mother is from Greece, and he loves the cultural melting pot that is his life, and that is Australia.

Photo of Axell Pineda Molina
Axell Pineda Molina
Melbourne, Australia Resident Coordinator

Axell is from Mexico City, Mexico, and studied abroad in Sydney, Australia. His educational background is in pharmaceutical chemistry from The National Autonomous University of Mexico, and he earned his Master of Biotechnology from the University of Melbourne. Axell loves Indian culture, foods, and languages, and is currently learning Hindi!


Photo of Thea Roberts
Thea Roberts
Brisbane/Gold Coast, Australia Resident Coordinator

Thea is the Resident Coordinator for Brisbane and the Gold Coast. She received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at the University of New South Wales. During this time she studied abroad at Penn State University and therefore has first hand experience and understanding in global exchange.

Travel has been a huge part of Thea’s life, and although she has been to all the continents, other than Antarctica (at least not yet), she intends on seeing a lot more of the world. She hopes to move to Canada in the near future and is eager to see a polar bear in the wild.

Photo of Claudia Aliaga
Claudia Aliaga
Santiago, Chile Resident Director

Claudia was born and raised in Santiago, but thanks to her father’s work, she was in permanent contact with people from different countries and cultures from an early age. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Advertising from the Universidad de Chile, and then moved to Barcelona for 8 years to perform a graduate degree in communications. She then worked for a time in children’s television, before returning to Chile to pursue a career in higher education, first as a teacher in the area of communications, and then in charge of the unit related to graduates and career services. She likes to travel whenever possible, to and runs half marathons! She sees her role at API as a great opportunity to continue to be in contact with students and to share her love and knowledge of Chile!

Photo of Alejandra Rojas
Alejandra Rojas
Valparaíso/Viña del Mar, Chile Resident Director
Originally from the south of Chile, Alejandra has lived in the Viña/Valpo area for nearly 20 years.  Alejandra is a journalist by training and holds a degree in social communication from the Universidad Del Desarrollo.  She is married and has two daughters, 11 and 13 years old.
Photo of Qin (Corrine) Zhou
Qin (Corrine) Zhou
Shanghai Resident Coordinator

Born and raised in China, Corrine studied Trade and Economics at Southwest University of Science and Technology in China and received a Master’s degree in International Banking and Finance from Salford University in Great Britain. She has taught full-time in the International Education College of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics for nearly ten years. Apart from teaching, she worked part-time for seven years with the Scottish Qualification Authority as an in-country external verifier; ensuring teaching quality assurance for joint programs in more than twenty Chinese Universities had been maintained within national standard. Before moving to Shanghai, Corrine worked as a full-time bilingual business course teacher and co-coordinator of the overseas joint-program at Yanjing Overseas University in Beijing. Corrine currently holds a “Teaching Foreigners Chinese Certificate,” authorized by the International Professional Certificate Association. She also provides training to expatriates working for multinational companies in Shanghai on cross-culture communication knowledge and skills. Corrine loves getting to know people from all over the world and exploring different cultures. She has traveled to most parts of China and twenty other countries on five continents.

Photo of Esteban Lopez
Esteban Lopez
San Joaquin de Flores, Costa Rica Resident Director

Esteban López was born in San José, Costa Rica and has lived there most of his life. As an undergraduate, he studied Spanish Philology at the University of Costa Rica. Esteban also learned French during a study abroad year at Université Laval in Québec, Canada, and nowadays he is working towards a Master’s degree in Latin-American Literature at the UCR. Esteban taught Spanish for more than 10 years in Costa Rica, Switzerland and Canada. He likes outdoor sports, especially hiking and mountain biking. He also likes all kinds of jazz music, good books, traveling and meeting new people from all over the world. Esteban has been working for API since early 2007.

Photo of Francy Orozco
Francy Orozco
San Jose, Costa Rica Resident Director

Francy Orozco was born in Heredia, Costa Rica and has lived there all her life. She studied psychology at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), where she continued to work for three years after graduation in the International Affairs and External Cooperation Office. At UCR, Francy worked with exchange students from every part of the world, who helped her to learn about other cultures, as well as to see her own country and customs with different eyes. Francy has also done volunteer work with the “Brigada de Intervención Psicológica en Situaciones de Desastres” since 2004. This is a group of UCR psychologists that come together when disasters affect the country; her work with the Brigada has included counseling after earthquakes, floods and landslides. In her free time, Francy likes to walk, read, watch television, and spend time playing with her son. Francy has been working with API since fall 2008.

Photo of Ivana Bajurin
Ivana Bajurin
Dubrovnik Resident Director

Ivana is a local, born and raised in Dubrovnik, Croatia. She spent extended time abroad during her childhood and studied in Trieste, Italy and Havana, Cuba, and has also enjoyed traveling to Dubai, Paris, and Vienna in recent years. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Foreign Trade, and has been working at Libertas International University since its inception.

Fun fact: Ivana is crazy for salsa dancing and water-skiing!

Photo of Nada Raic
Nada Raic
Dubrovnik Resident Director

Nada is a native of Mostar, Bosnia, and has lived in Croatia more most of her life. She has worked at Libertas International University since its inception, and is currently working on her Ph.D. Nada holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in philosophy and history of Croatian culture, and attended a medical high school in Dubrovnik.

Fun fact: Nada is writing an article about “Scandalous Practice and Behavior in the 18th Century Dubrovnik!”

Photo of Helen Jouen
Helen Jouen
Cuba Resident Director

Helene Jouen, was born and raised in France, and holds a degree in Foreign Languages Applied to Business and Trade – English and Spanish – from the University of Paris – La Sorbonne Nouvelle. After studying in France for four years and in Ontario, Canada for a one-year exchange program, Helene began her professional career assisting the president of a French-American university exchange non profit organization based in Paris. Then after seven years working for an American higher education provider coordinating student life in Paris, in 2013, she moved with her family to Cuba for a thrilling new life experience. She had the opportunity to teach English to primary and secondary schoolers at one of the international schools of Havana. Helene is the happy mother of two children. She has been working and traveling to the U.S. and other countries for many years and – though born and raised in France – she truly knows both cultures, so don´t be afraid to ask! She has been traveling around Cuba with her family for the last two years. Some of her hobbies apart from traveling are music, salsa dancing and photography, she’s also a cartoonist.

Photo of Emily Moran
Emily Moran
Havana, Cuba Assistant Resident Director

Emily is from New Haven, Connecticut and has first-hand experience living and studying in Cuba. She was a study abroad student at the University of Havana in 2013! After studying Spanish throughout high school and college, classes in Cuban literature and AfroCuban religion influenced her decision to study abroad in Havana. She has been finding ways to travel back and forth to Cuba ever since. Emily loves Cuban music especially fusión and jazz, she is also a fan of Cuban cinema and painting. After returning from her semester abroad, she graduated from Bard College with a degree in Sociology and Spanish. Emily wrote her senior thesis on the job market in Havana, and the different ways that young people find their place in it. Prior to joining API in Cuba, Emily lived and worked in New York City as a chef. Aside from cooking, Emily loves to listen to live music and draw.

Photo of Andrea Coba
Andrea Coba
Quito, Ecuador Resident Director

Andrea lived in the United States for over 17 years. She worked in the finance industry as Relationship Manager in the Asset Management Division for the Latin American Market for over 10 years. She worked in banks such as JPMorgan in New York City and Deutsche Bank in Miami, Florida. She mainly enjoys cultivating relationships with people of all cultures and strongly believes that quality service is a key factor for success. Andrea has lived in different cities and she is an avid explorer of the local cultures and surroundings. She enjoys traveling, music and learning about new cultures.

Photo of Marilyn Grundy
Marilyn Grundy
London, England, Director of Internships

Marilyn is Caribbean-American, grew up in New York and Connecticut and has lived in the UK for almost 10 years. The travel bug began in high school while traveling with high school bands and orchestras. This continued while in college in upstate New York. Having worked in higher education in both the USA and UK, Marilyn has extensive experience helping students discover their academic and career passions as well as British culture. She enjoys trying new cuisine, museums, sports, theatre and traveling.

Photo of Nadia Jennings
Nadia Jennings
London, England Assistant Resident Director

Nadia is Portuguese-American and is an API Study Abroad alumna from the University of Westminster, 2009-2010. Since studying abroad with API she has lived in both London and Berlin, Germany, and has travelled extensively throughout Western Europe. She looks forward to sharing her love of London with you and how to get the most out of your time abroad. Some of her hobbies include writing, film, fine art, and vegan cooking. Nadia is a graduate of Lesley University with a BA in Holistic Psychology, and is currently a post-graduate student at Regent’s University in Writing for Screen and Stage.

Photo of Carmen Von Rohr
Carmen Von Rohr
London, England Resident Director

Dr. Carmen von Rohr has lived in London since 2009. After earning her PhD in Sociology, she worked in study abroad and then spent several years working in higher ed publishing before returning to API in 2017. She loves introducing students to the wonderful city of London and acting as an intercultural ambassador. She has traveled widely throughout Europe and in her spare time enjoys reading, writing, and swimming.

Photo of Rachel Wellborn
Rachel Wellborn
UK Regional Director

Rachel spent her childhood in Yorkshire, but caught the travel bug early on during a school exchange program to Spain. She spent a year studying in Barcelona prior to commencing her degree in Hispanic Studies at Bristol University. As part of her degree program Rachel studied for 6 months in Mérida, Mexico and for another 6 months in Lisbon, Portugal. Then came a 6-year career as a re-insurance broker in the City of London, specializing in Latin American contracts, during which time a year was spent in Santiago, Chile. Next came a move to Austin, Texas where Rachel discovered a love of promoting the benefits of study abroad and joined the offices of API Texas for a period of 3 years. But the call of home beckoned, and Rachel now lives in North Yorkshire, from where she runs the UK programs. Rachel combines a love of all things from Yorkshire with a love of the fabulous cosmopolitan metropolis of London and shares her knowledge of all things British with her students. A genuine love of English history and a passion for all things old is unmissable during her excursions.

Photo of Laure Bettencourt
Laure Bettencourt
API Paris Coordinator

Laure was born and raised in Paris, France. She has always been curious about other cultures and has had the chance to travel to many European countries. After spending several summers studying English in Bath, Great Britain, Laure caught the travel bug. Laure spent a year abroad in San Diego, CA and received her bachelor’s degree. She then lived in Australia, interning at a sustainable energy company. After her internship, Laure moved to Barcelona, Spain where she earned her master’s degree in Marketing. Laure worked in market research for 5 years, then returned back to school, earning her degree in Tourism in Paris, France. Laure realized her desire to introduce the world to her beautiful country and city of Paris, France and has enjoyed doing so since.

Photo of Francine Bost-Millischer
Francine Bost-Millischer
Paris, France Resident Director

Francine is truly multiculturally oriented; she was born in Congo and grew up in Côte d’Ivoire — no wonder she developed a real curiosity for foreign countries, foreign languages and foreign cultures! Her professional experience started in the U.S. as Head of the Maison Française on the Hendrix College campus in Conway, Arkansas where she promoted the French Art de Vivre to the American students and became committed to international education. Upon her return to France she worked for American companies in various business fields as a supply chain manager. She has experience in management and operational organization acquired within multinational companies. Following these experiences, she longed to reorient her career to work more directly with people, and she has been able to fulfill this need quite well through working with young study abroad students. Francine is also the mother of three boys — so she definitely knows what it is to comfort, support and encourage young people!

Photo of Marie de Rocca-Serra
Marie de Rocca-Serra
Grenoble, France Resident Director, Regional Director

Attracted by North American culture, Marie lived for some years in Canada, and later returned to France where she served as a host family for 10 years. Now, as a Resident Director, she is delighted to devote herself to welcoming American students. Marie likes helping students understand, discover and appreciate her country and its specific culture. Even though she is a Parisian, she loves living in the middle of the gorgeous Alps, in Grenoble, where she can spend lots of time in the outdoors, hiking and skiing as well as taking advantage of the historical and cultural environment of this part of France.

Photo of Anna Exertier
Anna Exertier
Grenoble, France Resident Director
Photo of Caroline Lemenager
Caroline Lemenager
Caen Resident Director

Caroline was born in Caen, so she knows a lot about the city! As a child she spent 11 years in Algeria, and thus began her love of traveling and learning about new cultures. After graduating high school, Caroline spent a year in Michigan as an AuPair, and was able to live with an American family I learn a lot about American culture. Upon returning to Caen, she studied English at the University of Caen, and then later returned to the U.S., where she studied at the University of Delaware, and served as a teaching assistant.

As with most people in France, Caroline is really close to her family. She has two children (an 11 year-old daughter and an 8 year-old son), and they live in the countryside, just 20 minutes from Caen. In her free time she enjoys visiting new places, walking, horse riding, reading, etc. Caroline has been working with study abroad students for many years, and loves assisting students with any question they may have and helping them with their new life in France and discovering a new culture.

Photo of Fabienne Maître
Fabienne Maître
Paris, France Resident Director (Parsons Paris)

Fabienne Maître is a Ph.D. professor of Literature (Sorbonne, 2005) who has been working for prestigious American Universities in Paris for more than 14 years now. Since 1999, she has been an instructor at Paris Catholic University, Dauphine University, Ecole Supérieure des Arts et Techniques (ESAT), as well as for the Paris campuses of Stanford, Emory, Duke, Cornell, Tulane , Hamilton College and Sweet Briar College in Paris. Having collaborated closely with these institutions of higher learning, she is extremely familiar with American students’ intellectual and personal needs in a foreign setting, as well as their academic needs and challenges while studying abroad. She has created various tutorials and handbooks for the students to use during the academic orientation processes, including a guide on “Methodology in French Universities” and “How to Behave in French Class”. She has also been a theatre director for many years, working for the Comédie-Française, the Opéra Garnier (for director Robert Wilson) and the Théâtre Mogador, where she participated in the creation of the French version of Julie Taymor’s Lion King.

Photo of Violaine Peladan
Violaine Peladan
Paris, France Assistant Resident Director

Violaine grew up in a small village in Southern France. After having obtained her Bachelor’s degree of Communication from the University Paul Valéry of Montpellier, she decided to take a gap year in Australia where she made a five month road trip across the country. After this exciting first experience abroad, she obtained a Master’s degree of Cultural Management at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris during which she led a research project about the link between fiction and reality in TV shows. Fascinated by American culture, she moved to the US to become a French instructor at the University of Wisconsin‐Madison and a French resident assistant at The French House on campus. Two years later, she’s back home in France where her passion for cultural interactions, languages, and her desire to keep working with American students have led her to work in the study abroad world as an academic coordinator for API in Paris.

Photo of Roberto Tolu
Roberto Tolu
Paris, France Resident Director (Parsons Paris)

Roberto studied Political Science and International Relations at Roma Tre University. He has previous experience working with U.S. study abroad students at Cornell in Rome, and also with other study abroad programs in Rome. He also worked in the United States as a language department assistant at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Roberto speaks English, French, Spanish, and Italian.

Photo of Anouk Haller
Anouk Haller
Berlin, Germany Resident Director

Anouk was born in Regensburg, in south Germany, but she spent a big part of her childhood (8 years!) in southern Spain. She studied at the University of Passau in Bavaria, where she earned a degree in International Cultural and Business Studies. During her studies she took advantage of the opportunity to study one semester abroad at the California State University in Fresno, California. After finishing high school, Anouk worked for one year in Munich at a theatre. After finishing her degree in Passau, she went to Australia on a working holiday visa for 9 months. Anouk moved to Berlin in 2016 and joined API soon afterwards. She loves to travel, dance, and loves outdoor activities and everything about the theatre. She is looking forward to introduce students to the exciting German capital!

Photo of Reka Futasz
Reka Futasz
Budapest, Hungary Resident Director

Reka has been working for API since 2004. Her qualifications include MAs in English and Latin Language and Literature, and a degree in Translation and Interpretation Studies. She is currently pursuing PhD studies in Language Pedagogy, specializing in Academic Writing. She is interested in languages and meeting new cultures, and has traveled to many countries of the world. She spent one year in Australia as an exchange student.

Photo of Sara Kothay
Sara Kothay
Budapest, Hungary Assistant Resident Director

Sara was born in Szeged. She studied at the University of Szeged, where she earned her BA degree in Film History and Film Theory. After graduation, she moved to England, where she spent almost 3 years in different parts of the country: Cambridge, London and Southend. After returning to Hungary, Sara joined API in 2014 October. Sara has a passion for movies and has made many short movies and animations. Besides working for API, she is also writing screenplays in English.

Photo of Gillian Clarke
Gillian Clarke
Dublin, Ireland Resident Director

A native Irish, Gillian holds a degree in International Marketing & Languages (French and Spanish) from Dublin City University. While a student, she spent one year Erasmus in Belgium. Gillian has extensive experience in the marketing field in Dublin, London and Brussels. She has mentored University students for the past two years and is very excited to apply her broad skills to her new position as Dublin Resident Director.

Photo of Maria Cooney
Maria Cooney
Limerick, Ireland Resident Director

Maria is a native of Limerick, born and bred. She studied English Literature and Philosophy both at Bachelor and Masters Level at the University of Limerick. She has a great interest in study abroad and worked as the Study Abroad Intern in the University of Limerick as her Junior Year placement. Maria is very proud of her Irish heritage. She enjoys sharing with others the literature and lore of the Emerald Isle. She is a voracious reader and her dearest ambition is to be a writer someday. Maria is an avid traveler and traveling the globe is her heart’s desire as she loves to learn new languages and experience new cultures. Maria looks forward to welcoming you all to Ireland with a céad míle fáilte!

Photo of Simon Egan
Simon Egan
Cork, Ireland Resident Director

Simon grew up in Kerry, a region in the west of Ireland. He has lived and studied the past seven years in Cork. Simon earned his Bachelors degree in History and Modern Irish at University College Cork (UCC) in 2011 and he is currently completing his PhD thesis on Late Medieval Ireland and Scotland at the same institution. He has also worked as a tutor in Medieval and Early Modern History at UCC for the previous four years. During this time Simon has acquired considerable experience teaching and mentoring students from a variety of cultural backgrounds and he appreciates the cultural differences that many visiting students encounter during their time in Ireland. Simon has numerous pastimes. In addition to reading and listening to music, Simon enjoys sports such as fencing, football and squash. He looks forward to welcoming visiting students to Ireland and introducing them to the vibrancy of Cork city.

Photo of Fionnghuala (Finn) Geraghty – Hennessy
Fionnghuala (Finn) Geraghty – Hennessy
Galway, Ireland Resident Director

Fionnghuala Geraghty has been with API since 2001. She is commonly known as Finn. She is a native of Galway. She studied her MSc. in Environmental science at Queens University Belfast, PhD. in Zoology from NUI, Galway, and she has a B.Ed. from Hibernia College Dublin. She is an outdoor enthusiast (loves nature and sport). Her husband and best friend is Kevin and they have three little leprechauns! She has a passion for sharing her knowledge of Galway and her country with her API students and believes strongly in lifelong learning. She will enthusiastically welcome you and introduce you to Ireland and Galway!

Photo of Kevin Hennessy
Kevin Hennessy
Galway, Ireland Resident Director

Kevin studied Information Technology studies in GMIT, Galway and he has a Higher Diploma in Management from DIT, Dublin. He loves Irish history, Irish culture and the Irish humor. He has a love for cars, travelling and his family. Kevin is friendly, knowledgeable and always ready to help everyone. He knows where all the great places are in Galway.

Emile Noble
Ireland Internship Coordinator

Emilie is from Dublin, Ireland. She studied French, Spanish and Italian in school and spent many summers as a student in Europe. Emilie studied Arts in Trinity College and University College Dublin and during that time worked as a student abroad in the USA and France. She has many years of experience in marketing and business and holds a post-graduate Certificate in International Marketing. Her experience working with students includes organizing English language and cultural programs for international students in Ireland.

Photo of Alessio Balduini
Alessio Balduini
Rome, Italy Resident Director

Alessio has a degree from La Sapienza University in Communication and Mass Media and a Master’s degree from Humber College, Toronto, in Arts Administration and Cultural Management.

After completing his Master’s in Toronto, Alessio lived in Los Angeles from 2006-2011 and worked in the Cultural Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and also for the Italian/American Foundation.

Back in Italy he has continued working for a cultural foundation through the Foreign Ministry. Alessio has a vast experience in arranging cultural programs and activities.

Matteo Berni
Tuscania, Italy Resident Director
Photo of Monica Gabbrielli
Monica Gabbrielli
Florence, Italy Resident Director

Monica is from Florence, and serves as the coordinator of student relations in the API Florence office. She has a degree in languages (English, French, and Spanish), has studied accounting, and is currently pursuing studies in cultural communications. She loves to travel, and has lived and worked in the United Kingdom and Thailand, but her favorite destination is Corsica, France. As a hobby, Monica makes eco-friendly products for her home!


Photo of Federica Guerrieri
Federica Guerrieri
Italy Regional Director

Federica was born and raised in Italy, and holds a degree in Tourism Economy at the University of Florence, Italy. She began her professional career in the Tourism industry working for several years as tour leader in Greece, Tunisia, Egypt and North Europe. She continued her professional career working for the most important exhibition company in Italy, and in 2002 she joined the API Family as Florence Resident Director. In 2013 she took over as the Regional Director for Italy. Federica’s hobbies include art, travel, music, cinema, interior design and of course…Food!

Photo of Ellen Oyasaeter
Ellen Oyasaeter
Florence, Italy Resident Director

Ellen, co-Resident Director, has been with the API Florence Program since January 2003. She was born and raised in Norway and has been in Florence since completing her studies there in 1987. Ellen’s interests include fine arts, languages, and travel.

Photo of Valentina Scalini
Valentina Scalini
Florence, Italy Resident Director

Born in a small town near Ancona, Valentina moved to Florence in 2007 to follow her passion for art with a degree in Modern Art at the University of Florence, where she ended up falling in love with Florence itself and all it has to offer to a young and curious person. After working in a museum and collaborating on the staging of some contemporary art exhibition, she started working with API in 2014.  Valentina studied abroad in England and Spain, where she had the chance to improve her English and Spanish, and now she hope to help API students to live the best experience of their lives in Florence! Her hobbies include visiting art exhibitions, opera and theatre shows. Like most of the Italians, she loves good food — both cooking (desserts and cakes most of all) and discovering new restaurants to add to the list of favorites.

Photo of Daniele Sirna
Daniele Sirna
Taormina, Italy Resident Director

Daniele graduated in 2005 in Foreign Literatures and Languages (English and Spanish) at the University of Catania. He also received a certificate (CEDILS) from Cà Foscari, University of Venice, to teach Italian as Foreign or Second Language (L2). Daniele lives in Taormina, Sicily where he has been teaching Italian Language for five years at Babilonia, Center of Italian Language and Culture. Daniele is also interested in the arts in general. He collaborates with the Cultural Center ZO doing stage design and production of many dramatic works and concerts. He enjoys traveling and discovering other authentic cultures. That is why he loves his work; it gives him the opportunity to be in contact with people from other countries and to share with them a portion of his own culture and traditions.

Photo of Naike Valeriano
Naike Valeriano
Rome, Italy Resident Director

Naike grew up in Calabria, a region of the south of Italy, and studied in Rome. She has two degrees from La Sapienza University in English Translation and Modern Languages and Culture. Her interests include travel, music, writing, theatre and fine arts.

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Nick McNeil
Wellington, New Zealand Resident Coordinator

Nick is a post-graduate student at Victoria University of Wellington studying towards a master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems and has worked in various roles at the University’s international office since 2012. His favorite experiences so far have been working with students from developing Southeast Asia and Pacific nations along with welcoming new international students on their arrival in Wellington. A Wellingtonian at heart, he enjoys exploring the city and its lush surroundings, but most importantly tries to find any excuse to travel as much as possible.

Photo of Tiana Meintjes
Tiana Meintjes
Auckland, New Zealand Resident Coordinator

Tiana graduated from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) with a bachelor of communications, and did her student exchange in Mexico. She remembers her study abroad experience as a phenomenal time – she met some wonderful people, saw some amazing places, and she can’t wait to share her native New Zealand with API students so that they can have their own phenomenal experiences!

Photo of Kelsey Paterson
Kelsey Paterson
Dunedin, New Zealand Resident Coordinator

Kelsey was born in Invercargill (near the bottom of the South Island) and raised in Dunedin. She hopes to one day complete a Masters of Dietetics so that she can become a registered Dietitian, work with top level athletes, and head to the Olympics one day as the team Dietitian. Kelsey is a very outdoorsy, sporty individual who loves being in touch with nature. She has played many sports such as netball, waterpolo, badminton, underwater hockey and was also a swimmer for many years. When not studying or working, she is often volunteering, working out, meeting up with friends and family, walking along the beach or shopping. She love being busy and challenged! She cannot wait to share the kiwi culture with you while learning about your different cultures and backgrounds!

Photo of Piotr Gebalski
Piotr Gebalski
Krakow, Poland Resident Director

Piotrek was born in Torun, city of Nicolas Copernicus and delicious honey cakes. He is a graduate in Law from the Jagiellonian University, and did postgraduate work in European Administration. He is a big fan of sci-fi literature and movies, and loves the mountains (biking, hiking, skiing).

Photo of Carlos Loureiro
Carlos Loureiro
Lisbon, Portugal Resident Director

Carlos was born and raised in the north of Portugal and graduated in Office Management and Administration from Aveiro University. After graduation he started working at Oporto Polytechnic Institute and started having contact with the Portuguese higher education system. Afterwards, Carlos moved to Lisbon to start working at ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon as the Exchange and International Students Advisor from 2010 until the end of 2015, whereupon he joined the API Lisbon team. Carlos has a strong interest in theater, and has been with the production of an immersive theater presentation in Lisbon. He loves to be with family and friends, and loves to travel and to meet people from different nationalities and cultures.

Photo of Ghina El Kasti
Ghina El Kasti
Doha, Qatar Resident Director

Ghina is of Lebanese origin and has lived in Qatar all her life. She speaks Arabic and English fluently. She graduated from Qatar University with an Engineering degree. During her college years, she was involved in a lot of student activities and student exchange programs. She traveled to the States twice as a student: once to North Carolina for Peace College and once to Stanford for a university visit with QU exchange students.

Currently, she is working with the Student Activities Department at QU, where she has organized many cultural and student life activities, and also escorted a group of students to the States.

In her free time, Ghina enjoys music, movies and spending time with her family and friends. She is currently learning to speak Spanish.

Photo of Tara Matthews
Tara Matthews
Assistant Resident Director

Tara is a born and bred Scot, who grew up in the north-east coastal city of Dundee. She came to Edinburgh to study an MA (Hons) in Chinese and Linguistics. During her degree, she studied abroad in China at Fudan University in Shanghai and at Shaanxi Normal University in the northwestern city of Xi’an, home of the Terracotta Warriors. As well as this she has lived abroad in Spain, working as an au pair for a Spanish family. She has travelled extensively through Europe and Asia and is all too familiar with the trials and tribulations of visiting and living in a foreign country. After graduating she worked in the Scotch whisky tourism industry, learning all about this infamous spirit. In her spare time Tara loves being in the great Scottish outdoors, enjoying activities such as cycling, rock climbing and hillwalking.

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María Angeles García
Madrid, Spain Resident Director

Mª Angeles was born in Madrid. From the very beginning she decided to study Tourism so she could have the opportunity to travel. When she finished her career she went to New York for an internship and after that she went to Munich to work as an au-pair. When she came back to Madrid she started to work for API part-time, and nowadays she is working full-time as the Assistant Director and as Resident Director for Summer courses with the Antonio de Nebrija University.

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Lola Bernal
Seville, Spain Resident Director

Lola was born in Seville in 1966. She graduated with a degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada. She studied German and English, specializing in Literature, and she studied for one semester in Heidelberg, Germany at the Karls-Rupert University for Translators. Lola lived in Stuttgart, Germany for three years, and had an internship in Bern, Switzerland working in a hospital. She returned to Seville in 1992 and started working for API in January 2000. Lola is married and has a daughter.

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Quique Blanco Lopez
Madrid, Spain Resident Director

Enrique (Quique) was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. Quique’s parents are both Spanish but because of his father’s job he got to live in many different countries: Uruguay, Brazil, Morocco, Spain, and the United States. He began working as Resident Director with API in the fall of 1999 in Madrid. He earned his degree in English Philology at the University of Granada. In 1993 he went to NYU and to NYIT and earned a degree in Economics. He then worked for Citibank and in 1998 moved to Madrid, where he worked as an English teacher for a year. Quique enjoys working with students because it gives him the opportunity to learn from and interact with young people from all over the world. Since he has spent time abroad, Quique is great at helping API students adapt to their new life in Spain and showing them how to get the most out of their time abroad.

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Inma Borrego
Regional Director for Spain and France Resident Director in Salamanca

Inmaculada (Inma) Borrego Ledesma serves as the Regional Director for Spain and France, as well as the Resident Director of the Academic Programs International programs in Salamanca. Inma is a native of Spain. She holds degrees from the University of Salamanca in both English and Spanish Philology and she went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language at the same University. She published her master’s thesis focused on the topic of Learning Spanish. She worked as a teacher of Spanish Language in the International Courses of the University of Salamanca and in the University of Stockholm, where she lived for two years. Inma was also a former Erasmus scholar in England. Since she has lived in many different countries, she understands our students’ needs very well and she helps them to overcome any difficulty that may arise. She has developed a great ability to closely connect with American study abroad students.


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Juan Calvo Salazar
Seville, Spain Resident Director

Juan was born in Seville. At the age of 15 he went to the United States for one year to study at a high school located in northern New York State. There he had the chance to learn English and the culture of a different country. After he went back to Spain, he finished his high school studies and went to the University of Seville, where he studied Philosophy for five years and Computer Systems for one year.

Since Juan finished his studies he has had many interesting kinds of jobs: promotional jobs for Smart and BMW, organization of an environmental conference in Córdoba, planning and design of the new Seville bike path system and a particular bike system for Andalucía´s government workers, and the restoration of damaged buildings as a vertical worker (applying climbing and alpinism techniques to access difficult parts of buildings).

Juan loves rock climbing and alpinism. He also enjoys traveling to new places and natural locations, mountain biking and playing guitar and bass guitar.

Photo of Carmen Chico Mohedano (“Curra”)
Carmen Chico Mohedano (“Curra”)
Granada, Spain Resident Director

Curra was born in Cordoba, not far from Granada. She studied Hispanic Studies in Granada and as many others fell in love with this magical city. After some years in Madrid, she managed to come back to her personal paradise. In Granada, she started to work in this field, first as a host-mother for American students and soon afterwards with API, helping within the student services area. Later on, she started to use her experience as host mother to work on the students’ accommodation area.

In total, she has 6 years of experience in the study abroad field. During this period, she has been in charge of excursions, housing and student services in general.

Her hobbies are photography and writing; and traveling, of course. She is determined to increase the red crosses on her personal map.

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Ruth Gómez Layola
Barcelona, Spain Housing Director

Ruth is from Hospitalet de Llobregat, in the suburbs of Barcelona, but considers herself a native of Barcelona since she spends most of her time in the city. She speaks Spanish, Catalan, and English fluently, and has some background in Italian. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Philology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and a Masters degree in Intercultural Communication from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Ruth studied abroad in London and in Maryland, USA. She has also been several times in East Africa volunteering with an NGO she is an active member of. She loves to travel and learn from other cultures. One of her last trips was to Finland and she loved hiking in those landscapes.

She has experience in the Study Abroad field working with American students both in the U.S. and in Barcelona. She has been a part of the API Barcelona team since Spring 2017.

Ruth is passionate about culture and language. She has taught Spanish at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and English at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. In her free time, Ruth enjoys learning from other cultures either by traveling, reading, or taking classes. She finished a Postgraduate program on African Societies from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona. She loves this job because of the intercultural exchange and experiences students live in her hometown, Barcelona. She really likes to take part in their cultural immersion.


Photo of Andrea Gorritxo Morales
Andrea Gorritxo Morales
Bilbao, Spain Resident Director

Andrea was born in Bilbao and has always lived here. She started liking English language when she was young, so she studied and got a degree in English Philology from the University of Deusto. She spent some summers in London, working as an au-pair, and she loves that city, so she goes there whenever she can. She enjoys what she calls “passive hobbies” – listening to music, going to the cinema, and, most of all, reading. She used to work as a teacher in academies, teaching English, and she has worked for API since September 2005. For her, the best part of her job is meeting people and traveling. She also loves animals and lives with a dog and a cat.

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Marta Herencia
Seville, Spain Resident Director

Marta Herencia was born in Seville and decided to stay for university because of her love for this Andalusian city. She specialized in Arabic Philology due to her interest in Islamic culture, the Arabic language and history. Marta has also studied English, French, and Italian. After completing her major in Arabic, she worked for a non-profit agency where she taught Spanish to Moroccan women in 2000. Marta has also studied solfeggio, and enjoys singing. Marta has been working for API as a Resident Director since 2001, managing various programs in Seville. She is happy that she can work with students and help them learn about the rich Spanish culture.

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Pilar Llamas
Director of European Operations

Hometown: Vélez-Rubio, a small and beautiful town in Almería (province of Andalucía, Spain)

International experience: Pilar studied abroad in Bournemouth, London and Newcastle (England) while in college.  She spent 3 wonderful and key years in Albuquerque, NM (USA).

Favorite Travel location: it changes as life does.  Could not settle for one.

Education: BA in English Philology (University of Granada, Spain);  MA in Spanish Literature and TESOL (University of New Mexico)

Fun Fact: Pilar wears fun ties and colorful socks.  Her favorite tie is one with many white sheep and one black one.

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Carmen López
Granada, Spain Resident Director

Carmen has served as API Resident Director in Granada, Spain since 2002. A native of Santander, Carmen has lived in different cities (Santander, Madrid, Ciudad Real, Granada, and London), but Granada is by far her favorite. Carmen moved to Granada to study at the University of Granada, and holds its degree in English Philology. Carmen also completed a course for Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo. She lived in London for three falls studying at Westminster College and had also previously traveled to Ireland as an exchange student. This experience gave her a knowledgeable sense and sensibility for the job she has now. Attending to students’ needs and understanding students’ cultural adjustment is her main concern. She thoroughly enjoys transmitting her understanding and love for Granada. Carmen is an enthusiastic person who loves social relations, meeting new people from other cultures and traveling. Her passion for languages and traveling has taken her to study Italian, French and German and to travel throughout Europe and Northern Africa.

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David Lorenzo
Barcelona, Spain Assistant Director

David Lorenzo is from Hospitalet de Llobregat, in the suburbs of Barcelona, but his family is from Galicia, in northwestern Spain.  He speaks fluent Spanish, Catalan, and English, and has some experience with Portuguese. He has lived for 2 years in the U.K., and he has also spent time in Brazil – his wife’s homeland.

In his free time, David enjoys traveling, practicing sports such as cross fit and surfing, and watching movies and tv shows. David has a great deal of experience in customer service, and previously worked wit U.S. study abroad students. He is very well-traveled and has visited countries such as Japan, Thailand, Iceland, USA, and Brazil.

Photo of Marta Nieves Gómez
Marta Nieves Gómez
Barcelona, Spain Resident Director

Marta is a native of Barcelona and speaks Spanish, Catalan, English and French fluently. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism from the Universitat de Girona and a Masters degree in Cultural Management from the University of Barcelona.

Marta has worked with study abroad programs in Barcelona since 2002 (with API since 2008), so she understands students’ needs very well. Marta studied abroad in The Netherlands and worked in France and Brussels during college. She loves to travel and has been to dozens of countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and America.

In her free time, Marta enjoys gastronomy, movies, learning languages, dancing Bollywood, traveling around the world and spending time with her friends and family. She loves showing the students her city, history, and culture since she is a Catalonia Tourism Official Guide. She is married and has a 3 year-old son.

Marta’s favorite aspect of working with American students is helping them to mature and open their minds to other cultures.

Photo of Mireia Pujol
Mireia Pujol
Barcelona, Student Services Director

Mireia Pujol is from La Roca, less than one hour away from Barcelona. She holds a BA in Tourism Management from the Universitat de Girona, and speaks fluent Spanish, Catalan and English. She also has some background in German, French, Italian and Polish. She lived for three years in Ireland, and also spent three summers working in the United States.

Mireia has been with API since Spring 2012, and has also worked for another study abroad program in Barcelona. She has extensive experience working with international students and tourists, having taught English and Spanish for foreigners. She also served as a tour guide for soccer teams in Barcelona and Catalonia. She holds a BA in Tourism Management from the Universitat de Girona.

In her free time, Mireia enjoys traveling and learning foreign languages and cultures. She is really into sports, especially team handball, and also likes socializing and going to cinemas and theaters. She is married.

Mireia loves this job because she can be in contact with English speakers and it is related to her educational background and professional experience.




Photo of Vicky Rodríguez García
Vicky Rodríguez García
Cadiz, Spain Resident Director

Victoria (Vicky) Rodríguez García was born in Cádiz and holds a degree in Tourism and a master´s degree in Communication. Vicky spent a year studying at the International School of Management in Dortmund, Germany. Upon completing her degree, Vicky spent another year in Berlin, Germany, studying German and working in the tourism industry.

Upon completing her Master’s degree from the University of Cadiz, Vicky went to Edinburgh, Scotland to study English, International Business Management and Marketing at Heriot Watt University.

At the University of Cádiz, Vicky has worked organizing excursions, housing and assisting students in general. She says that her most rewarding job is what she does now – helping students that come to Cádiz as she would have liked to be helped when she studied abroad.

She loves traveling, socializing, walking on the beach and sports, especially basketball and water sports.

Photo of Arnau Roma Sansa
Arnau Roma Sansa
Barcelona, Spain Academic Director

Born and raised in Barcelona, Arnau considers himself a language lover. He speaks Catalan, Spanish and English fluently, he is good with French and has basic notions of Portuguese. It’s no surprise then that he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpreting (English-Spanish) from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Also, he finished a 2-year Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Universitat Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona.

Arnau spent a year studying in Canada and has been to the USA several times. He has also visited a fair share of European countries and during the summer of 2009 he backpacked through Indonesia for a month and a half.

Despite not being able to play any instrument, listening to music and attending concerts is one of Arnau’s passions. His other pastimes include sport (especially basketball), writing about indie music and reading detective novels.

In a bustling and dynamic city like Barcelona, he loves to rediscover his favorite spots and is really excited to find new ones. When working with American students, his aim is to exchange experiences and to help them immerse themselves in Spanish and Catalan culture so they feel less like tourists and more like real “barcelonins”.


Photo of Hong Ho
Hong Ho
Sharjah, UAE Resident Director

Hong comes from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. She did her undergraduate studies in Food Science and then worked at a seafood export company. After she met her husband, who is Canadian, and with their traveling life style, she decided to pursue further education in Accounting. She earned her Masters degree in Accounting from University of Southern Queensland and CPA Australia designation. She has been at the American University of Sharjah since 2003 and has been working in the Finance Department at AUS since 2006. She is very familiar with the administrative system and has an in-depth knowledge of culture in the UAE. She enjoys meeting new people, reading, spending time with her daughters, and traveling to different countries.