Languages: Danish, Swedish
My father was Canadian; my grandparents came to America speaking only French and growing up I thought that was really cool. I was determined to learn to speak French so I could travel to exotic French-speaking countries and practice saying merci beaucoup. After visiting relatives in Quebec at age eight, I discovered that Canadians put vinegar on their French fries, yuck- suddenly it was un-cool to learn to speak French. From the mind of an eight year old that made all the sense in the world to me. Since then I have traveled to twenty-nine countries, have tried french fries with remoulade, gravy, mustard, cheese, mayonnaise, curry, chili, garlic, au jus, and tzatziki and each time I taste these cultural delicacies, I have the desire to learn the language of that country.
I grew up in Michigan, left home at age twenty and have since lived in California, Denmark, Greece and Washington DC. While living abroad I experienced the amazing differences as well as similarities in people from around the world. Living abroad evoked such a profound change in me that I just knew that I wanted to find a way to give this opportunity to as many individuals as I could~ pay it forward~ so to speak. I have now been pursuing that dream for the last twenty years and cannot imagine my life without international friends, students, travel, languages, cultural awareness and yes, even french fries, which were the catalyst for my quest to learn and explore!
As the President and Founder of Quest, I am proud to acknowledge our 20-year anniversary with the opening of the Quest Thailand office in Ubon Ratachathani. Being able to provide twenty years of educational opportunities for students from around the world is the result of Quest’s long-term partnerships, which have enabled Quest to remain a strong presence in the international education field. I look forward to seeing Quest grow and develop so we can continue our mission to promote cultural awareness and global compassion that will unite us all as one.
High School Program Manager
I have had a strong desire to travel since I was young and my “to-do list” of places to see is constantly growing. Growing up in Sacramento I was lucky to have frequent visits from my extended family from Ireland, which inspired my interest in travel from a young age. I finally had the chance to study abroad during college and it was a life-changing experience. I was able to immerse myself in not only a new country but a new and different school system. I had the privilege of living in international student housing during my time abroad and was exposed to many different cultures and languages.
This experience helped me form lifelong friendships with people all over the world and furthered my interest in cultural compassion and awareness. I have my Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Counseling with a Master’s Certificate in Conflict Resolution. My area of study focused on interpersonal relationships and counseling for individuals and groups, as well as meditation techniques. My particular interest has been school and career counseling for high school and college students. My passion for travel and my background in counseling has led me to the field of international education and I am excited to be a part of the Quest Exchange team!
As the High School Program Manager, I work with American and international students who are interested in a high school study program in one of our 20 destinations. I help students and parents through the application process and provide individual counseling for students who need extra support and guidance during their program.
Van Den Handel
Placement Director, High School USA
Languages: German, Swedish
Travel is the most intense mode of learning. Growing up in Germany, I was following my father’s advice to travel and learn languages. I followed him on many business trips and at the age of 14 I took my first language class trip to England. I traveled all over Europe and North America and took a trip to Asia. My passion for other countries and cultures influenced my career and I got a degree in Travel and Tourism in Germany. Shortly after that, I moved to England to continue my studies. After living in Sweden for several years and working with High School exchange students I decided to continue my studies in San Francisco and during that time, I traveled around Central America. It was important for me to share my experience with my children and raising them bilingual in German and English; we traveled every year to Europe to explore different countries and cultures. We had two different German Au Pair’s living with us while I was supporting a youth group in the Florida Keys. Having lived in several countries and understanding the languages and cultures early on helped me make friends worldwide. Travel is a great education and I am very excited to work as part of the Quest Team to help exchange students gain a great learning experience.
As the Placement Director for High School USA, my main responsibilities are to ensure all students are placed and applications are reviewed & accepted by our partner schools. I provide counseling for students and host families, train & oversee the Quest local coordinators. Working closely with the USA Program Director Program I help develop new school partnerships & provide on-going support and service.
Internship Program Manager
Languages: German, French
My mother and father are both first-generation Americans; immigrating from Vietnam and Germany respectively. I grew up in a culturally diverse home where we celebrated Lunar New Year, trained our German Shepherds in German and ate delicious Vietnamese pho on weekends. My desire to gain a broader understanding of my father’s mother country (Germany) was the catalysis for my studies abroad. I graduated high school early and, at the age of 15, took a gap year to Germany. Studying abroad was an incredible, eye-opening experience that developed my independence, leadership, and cultural awareness. As a business major at the University of New Hampshire, I often discover a common senior’s regret to be not studying abroad. I am an advocate for students to have affordable quality study abroad opportunities. I am very excited to be a member of the Quest Exchange team and look forward to helping others fulfill their study abroad aspirations.
As the Intern Program Manager, I develop and manage our intern program by delegating and composing tasks, providing structure, creating hiring criteria, and ensuring for successful internship placements within Quest Exchange.
Executive Assistant Intern
Languages: Learning Mandarin
The thought of traveling never scared me, even if it meant going to a new country by myself. When I was only fourteen, I took my first overseas trip without my parents to Italy and immediately fell in love with immersing myself in a different culture and seeing what another side of the world had to offer. Shortly after I turned fifteen years old, I had the opportunity to take another parent-less trip to Korea, where I had the self-realization that I had a passion for travel. As my third year of college came around, I wanted to delve into the unknown and take myself to a place (both mentally and physically) where I had never gone before. That curiosity lead me to study abroad in Hong Kong for six months, which has completely changed my life.
Not only was I able to broaden my view on so many different cultures, but I also started to understand my role as a global citizen. By visiting other countries that don’t necessarily have the same privileges as the United States and interacting with other human beings from all the way across the globe, I developed a more worldly and compassionate perspective. As my time living abroad was so profound, I made a promise to myself that I would do anything in my power to help others share the same life-changing experience. This promise lead me to work at Quest Exchange, where I can contribute my time and efforts to a company that provides resources for students to expand their minds and open their hearts by studying abroad.
As the Executive Assistant Intern, I work directly with the Quest president to provide support, I am responsible for ensuring an effective and efficient operations flow in the office. I provide administrative support to the Quest Team by managing schedules, generating reports, and organizing Quest documentation.
Intern Social Media / Marketing
During my junior year of high school, we began reading Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. It was then that I was exposed to Chris McCandless, a character that was told he had everything he needed to live a fulfilling life, yet abandoned it for what he believed to be a more valuable one, marked by endless, unforeseen experiences. At that same time in my life, I had started to feel like I was stuck in a routine, and was eager to make a drastic change in my life.
I decided then and there, in just the first few weeks of the semester, that I wanted to study abroad. Unfortunately, my high school didn’t offer any kind of study abroad program. But I was determined to make it happen. After days of researching, emailing, and making phone calls, I stumbled upon Quest Exchange. Before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to my family and getting on a plane to fly halfway around the world and live with a host family in Italy.
To this day, my experience that I had abroad continues to influence and change my life for the better. I’m currently a student at the University of California, Berkeley, working to get a bachelor’s degree in Political Economy with an emphasis on the Chinese language and marketing. I’ve studied over 4 languages and been to 10 different countries, and am eager to travel and learn more. I’m excited to be back at Quest exchange and give back to the program that truly gave me so much.
As a Social Media Intern, my focus is to help build Quest’s social media platforms including YouTube videos, student testimonials on the website and help manage various social media content and updates.