LIMELIGHT INTERVIEW WITH BECCA YOUNT
Becca Yount was bit by the “IE bug” while taking German language classes, starting in middle school through high school. While in high school, she participated in an exchange program that enabled her to become a host-sister to a German student. Becca later traveled to Germany to spend two weeks with her own host family.
After graduation, Becca enrolled in Illinois State University to pursue a degree in education. The university had a strong international student presence providing the perfect environment for her to explore and learn about different cultures.
“From freshman year, I lived and worked on the international student floor. I was a live-in resource for the students. We had students from all over the world with significant populations from Brazil, China, Australia, and England. It was a fantastic opportunity and where I got my inspiration to study abroad.”
After talking to some of her fellow students, Becca decided to study abroad at the University of Limerick, one of the top-ranked universities for international students in Ireland. There, she took courses in Irish language, folklore, and music.
“Irish is complicated to learn but beautiful when spoken,” she says.
Upon returning to Illinois State, she took on a role as a Study Abroad Ambassador in the International Education office – a position she would hold for the remainder of her junior and senior year. Her primary job was to host campus presentations and setup information tables on the quad during various events.
Becca decided to go back to Europe a third time as she finished her degree. This time, she went to England and completed her student teaching requirement at a small school on the southern coast. She spent two months living with a host family and gained valuable insight and a completely different perspective on educating elementary age students.
“We were outside for a couple periods of the day, teaching students how to do boy scout type stuff in ‘forest school.’ I think it was better structured for young children. They had six terms in the year, and each term had a different theme. One of the themes was outer space, so every lesson that they taught incorporated that theme.”
Becca also appreciated the school's location, which was adjacent to a church built during the 12-1300s and a castle built during the 700-800s. She was in awe at the history and architecture but said the students were accustomed to sites and not as impressed by their surroundings.
Following a temporary stint at the Disney College Program in Orlando, and a part-time gig at a local living history museum in Naperville, IL, Becca found a home at the Chicago-based study abroad organization, IES Abroad, where she has worked for the past three years.
As the Senior Program Advisor, Becca oversees eight centers abroad in cities such as Cape Town, Dublin, Paris, and Granada. She helps students coordinate their academic trajectory and obtain travel visas, among many other things. Like other international education providers, COVID-19 has brought their activity to a standstill- with the exception of a virtual internship program.
“We had been following the spread around the world because we have programs all over the place. In China specifically, we had to stop the program before it started. I also saw things unfolding faster than many of my local friends because of our centers in Europe, but we thought we were going home for two weeks.”
When Becca realized that working remotely would be indefinite, she decided to move back home with her parents in the suburbs to avoid commuting on public transportation. Although she now enjoys working from home, she misses her colleagues and is eager to get back to in-person engagement.
“Working in IE during a pandemic is a fascinating look at what’s going on around the world. Hearing from my colleagues in other cities and listening to how they are doing and how their countries are managing is especially interesting to see. Many of my colleagues were very interested in the outcome of the US election the effects that will have on the next few months.”
- Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Kanette Worlds
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