At SAI we are proud of our highly qualified, well trained staff, many of whom have been with SAI for 10+ years! We think this sets SAI apart and makes it a very unique company. Our staff truly make SAI. We are, therefore, excited to announce our new “Staff Spotlight” feature. Each month we will be highlighting one of the members of our staff so that you can get to know us a little bit better.
Staff Spotlight: Ben Strevens
What’s your name and title?
Ben Strevens, Director of Communications.
How long have you been at SAI?
I first joined SAI in 1999 and worked for two years in Admissions. Then I re-joined the team in 2006 and have been with SAI ever since. So, if you add it all up, I’ve been at SAI for almost nine years!
What do you love most about working at SAI?
The SAI team is a very special group of people! I love working with such a dedicated group of professionals; folks who are committed to international education and student services. I also love the common goal that we’re all working towards: to provide our students with life-changing international experiences that will help them grow personally, academically, and professionally.
What is your favorite place you have ever visited and why?
Do I have to choose just one?! I can’t! I love Rome, Paris, London, Florence, New York, and so many others… Here’s the thing: if you travel with the proper attitude, you will ALWAYS find something to love about your destination. Every location, whether it’s a large city or a small village, has something to offer. I think this is especially true of international travel; when we come face-to-face with another culture, another language, we move beyond our comfort zone and expand our capacity to understand the world around us.
Do you have any memorable traveling stories to share?
Sure! I remember the first time I travelled to Italy. I was 21 years old in 1996 and had taken a year off from UC Santa Cruz to work, save money, and travel solo around Europe. I had been on the road for about three weeks when I decided to go from Nice, France to Florence, Italy by overnight train. After a long (and mostly sleepless) journey along the darkened Mediterranean coastline in a crowded third class cabin, we pulled into the Santa Maria Novella train station as the sun rose over the hills around Florence. I remember thinking that it was the most beautiful city I’d ever seen. Actually, I think it still is! That trip signaled the beginning of my fascination with Italy and Italian culture.
What’s your favorite Italian food/meal?
I’m a sucker for a good lasagna Bolognese. For dessert: tiramisu!!
What’s your favorite thing about Italian culture?
There are many, many wonderful things to admire about Italian culture! While it’s dangerous to generalize, one thing I especially appreciate is the importance given to interpersonal relationships. Relationships between friends, between family members, between business associates, are cherished in a way that I find deeply inspiring.
What is your best advice to students embarking on their first study abroad experience?
The most important things to bring with you don’t go in your suitcase; they are an open mind and a sense of curiosity! If you’re open to new things and curious about the places you visit, you will come home with a richer understanding of the world and a deeper understanding of your place in it! Buon viaggio!