CAPA Study Abroad IRM Interview: Danelle Boone

Aug 7, 2013 9:30:53 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

Danelle at the Great Wall of China

Meet Danelle, one of CAPA International Education's Institutional Relations Managers who works with institutions that are mainly location in the Southwest of the US. She studied abroad later than most for the first time but found it became a passion that she has now combined with her career working daily with study abroad students and institutions. In her interview below, she tells us about one of the funniest moments she's experienced while abroad, some of the best food she's eaten in a CAPA global city and which destination she would choose if she was a student looking forward to studying abroad once again.

CAPA World: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Danelle Boone: I attended California State University, Chico for my undergraduate degree in Sociology and California State University, Northridge for my Masters Degree in Counseling. I was a non-traditional study abroad student in that I did not study abroad until after I had completed both my Bachelors and Masters Degrees. As an undergrad, I participated in the National Student Exchange and attended the University of Maryland at College Park for one semester as part of that program. During graduate school, I began to realize that perhaps I’d really missed out by not studying abroad. I like to tell this story to students because it really never is too late to study abroad. After completing my Masters and working full-time as a career counselor for a few years at UCLA, I decided to take a few weeks off during the summer and study Spanish language in Mexico. I studied at a small language school in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which is a beautiful town south of Cancun on the Yucatan peninsula. While the experience was just a couple of weeks, it whetted my appetite for additional learning abroad. The following summer, I took an 8 week leave of absence from my position at UCLA to study for a full summer in Barcelona, Spain. It was without a doubt, one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had, and I will remember it forever. My grandparents were from Spain, and I have many family members there whom I was able to visit, and somewhat properly communicate with while I studied in Spain. I made friends that I continue to stay in touch with and visit now eight years later.

Just as before, however, I found that eight weeks simply was not enough and I yearned to go abroad again. I began an application for a year-long program to teach in Spain, and also submitted an application to serve as a Resident Director aboard Semester at Sea, a study abroad program that takes place on a shipboard campus which traverses the globe, visiting up to ten ports in as many countries throughout the duration of the semester. Before I could even finish the application for Spain, I found out that I was selected for Semester at Sea, and I jumped at the opportunity. In Fall of 2006, I took another leave of absence from UCLA, and sailed on a voyage from San Diego to Mexico, Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, India, Burma, Egypt, Turkey, Croatia, Spain, and back to Florida. It was a life-changing experience that ultimately led to my transition from career counseling to international education.

Now, I blend both of my passions, counseling and international education into my career as an Institutional Relations Manager with CAPA International Education. Because we have an extensive internship program at CAPA, I find that my career counseling background and skills serve me very well in coaching, advising and promoting our internships to prospective students. My passion for studying abroad and international travel definitely fuel my interest in contributing to this field, and helping students to achieve their dreams of studying, living and working abroad. I've now worked in international education for about four years, and have been with CAPA since July 2012.

CW: What are the boundaries of your region and some of the universities you work with on a regular basis?
DB: I am based in San Diego, California, and my region includes Southern CA and the greater Southwest (TX, OK, AZ, NM, CO, UT, NV) and Hawaii. I love my region and all of the amazing staff, faculty and students I work with on various campuses. Some of the institutions I work most closely with are Arizona State University, The University of Colorado – Boulder and The University of California, San Diego. I am excited to begin working with institutions in Texas and Oklahoma this Fall, as these states have just recently been added to my region.

CW: Why is study abroad important?
DB: Until I studied abroad, I had no idea what it was like to be a “foreigner” in a new place. Studying abroad humbled me. It made me appreciate how difficult it is to arrive in a new country where the spoken and written languages are different from my own, and where I’d have to navigate a new landscape, language and culture. Meeting people who live in other parts of the world, whether they speak the same language or not is so important because it opens you up to all sorts of diverse perspectives and allows for conversations in which you can explore the similarities and the differences of various people, cultures, and societies.

The old quote by Mark Twain rings true for me. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

Danelle with CAPA colleagues in London

CW: What's the funniest moment you've experienced during your time as a CAPA IRM?
DB: While there have been many, the funniest for me was during a training visit to CAPA London this past winter, in which all five of the Institutional Relations Managers were visiting our London center for the first time. We had gone out to celebrate one of the IRM’s birthdays after a long week of training. When we returned to the hotel, three of us performed an impromptu song and dance for the birthday girl, which she captured on her iPhone and forwarded to us later for our viewing pleasure. Three grown women dancing and singing, “Go, Sue, it’s your birthday”, and dancing crazily after a fun night out in London provided a great opportunity to relax and have fun after an intense week of training, and to bond as a group, since the majority of our time is spent individually on the road travelling to the respective institutions in our region. I may be biased, but I think we could be the next YouTube sensation. Look out Justin Bieber.

CW: What would be your personal choice as a CAPA study abroad destination and why?
DB: This is a tough decision because I am equally enamored with all of our destinations. Istanbul, Sydney, London... Each of these are amazing global cities, and I would be thrilled to spend a semester in any one of them. But, after a recent visit to our newest global city program in Ireland, I’d have to go with Dublin. The people, the culture, the history... I just fell in love with all things Irish, and left wanting to learn, experience and see so much more. It’s also a bit of a heritage inspiration because I am of both Spanish and Irish descent.

CW: Tell us about a book or film that inspires you to travel.
DB: Just about any film that captures the essence of travelling or living abroad inspires me. “Midnight in Paris”, “Under the Tuscan Sun”, and “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” are a few that, for me, brought back memories of my own experiences abroad, but also inspire me to continue travelling to places both familiar and unknown. Reading “Eat, Pray, Love” also allowed me to relate to the author Elizabeth Gilbert's time in Italy and reflect on my experiences in Spain, as well as my brief but very impactful visit to India. If I could take a full year off like she did, I’d write my own book chronicling a journey through Central and South America.

CW:What's the best food you've tasted while abroad in a CAPA city and where were you?
DB: I had the most delicious Hereford Pie while in London. It was like a delicate but hearty chicken pot pie, with scrumptious gravy, carrots, and mashed potatoes, that was so mouth-wateringly good, I had to take a photo of it. My dream career is to be an international food critic. I would go back to London for that pie.

CW: Do you have any advice for study abroad alumni who are struggling with the returning home phase of their journey?
DB: Definitely connect with others who have studied or lived abroad and keep in touch with those friends you made while abroad. It’s difficult at first. I cried like a baby when I left Spain and was depressed for weeks after returning from my trip around the world. At first, I didn’t want to look at the pictures because it made me sad, missing those friends, many of whom I’d never see again. But those pictures are filled with wonderful memories and I smile every time I see them now. I also find that planning another visit abroad gives you something to look forward to. And if traveling abroad again is not in the cards for you, then by all means, delve into the international community at home.

CW: What song would you put on your study abroad playlist?
DB: Daft Punk’s “Around the World” and “Anima Libera” (Italian for “Free Spirit”) by Emi.

CW: Do you have any photography tips for students studying abroad?
DB: Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to ask someone to take a picture of you somewhere if you’re alone and you want to capture an image of you climbing the Great Wall, or tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain. There are millions of pictures of the Eiffel Tower, but you may only have one chance to get a picture of you having a picnic beneath the tower with a glass of rosé, some brie and a baguette.

Danelle in a Dublin pub

CW: What has been your favorite discovery as an IRM on the road?
DB: One evening in Dublin, my Director and I decided to grab a bite and a drink at the pub that was connected to our hotel. I ordered the Irish stew, which was quite bland unfortunately, but the live band and the spirited crowd made up for it in spades. As luck would have it, it wasn't a tourists’ bar at all but rather a favourite local pub where people of all ages danced and sang along to the tunes belted out by this lively little band.

CW: Where will you be traveling next?
DB: Training in Boston next week... and then it will be a whirlwind tour of campuses across the Southwest.

Thanks Danelle!

Topics: Interviews