Meet our new Associate Director of Xperitas Community Partnership Programs, Brooke Marchewka!
Brooke started her new position at Xperitas on June 30 and in the first few weeks of her tenure, we have been impressed with her intelligence, drive, eagerness, warmth and a strong belief in and adherence to Xperitas’ mission and values. In this introductory interview, Brooke talks openly about herself, her background and her vision for the Xperitas Community Partnership Programs.
What attracted you to Xperitas as an organization, and the CP program in particular?
Cross-cultural understanding is a necessary skillset to thrive in the world. Being at the forefront of developing intercultural skills in others is exciting work for me, since I have experienced firsthand the transformative power of cultural immersion. With regard to the Xperitas Community Partnership Programs, I believe that nurturing our community partnerships is the most important part of the work, and I’m looking forward to getting to know each of our partners in the United States and around the world.
How did your academic work prepare you for this role?
As a student at The Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, I gained practical knowledge from extraordinary professors, many of whom had long careers in diplomacy and international development. I was particularly fascinated with international development, anthropology, and the lived experiences of indigenous peoples – so much so that I researched and wrote my senior thesis on the effects of Canadian gold mining on indigenous land rights in Guatemala. I believe my academic background has prepared me to understand how our work at Xperitas fits into the bigger picture of international affairs.
Could you tell us about your own personal or professional experience as it relates to our mission of transforming lives through shared global experience and intercultural learning?
Before Xperitas, I lived and worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years in a small town in Paraguay. During my service, I realized that personal relationships with people in my community were a prerequisite to carrying out effective projects. At Xperitas, I challenge myself every day to understand the perspective of our community partners and to approach my work with cultural sensitivity. Prior to life in Paraguay, I worked in the Office of Innovation at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. where I developed a virtual internship program for university students and managed a language training program for Peace Corps trainees. I believe this experience prepared me for the partnerships and program management aspect of my new position with Xperitas.
What has surprised you the most about working for Xperitas so far?
I’m surprised by the amount of flexibility and creativity that we have at Xperitas. I think it is so beneficial to create a workplace where people not only feel their ideas are valued, but they also have the chance to implement them and see a change in the organization.
What do you think will change about Xperitas, and our industry, in the near future?
I think that the “voluntourism” industry is shifting towards the community-driven model that Xperitas exemplifies. By that, I mean the industry is taking a good, hard look at itself and is becoming conscious of what needs to change to create experiences that are mutually beneficial for the volunteer and the community where they work. Not only communities, but also volunteers, are seeking authentic immersive experiences. Although I think Xperitas is already operating in this space, there are always opportunities to improve and I think the organization will only change for the better.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love visiting new places, whether it be a new campsite or a new country, and spending time outside hiking, biking, kayaking, or running. I also love playing with my cat, Birdy, who I brought back from Paraguay, woodworking with my boyfriend Mike, and staying in touch with my friends and family in my native state of Massachusetts.
Anything else you would like our community or partners to know?
I am committed to making our Community Partnership Programs the best that they can be for our participants, communities, and Team Leaders. I’m open to hearing from you if you have feedback on our programs, suggestions for ways we can improve, or would simply like to learn more.
Welcome to the Xperitas team, Brooke! We are looking forward to this exciting new chapter in our Community Partnership Programs. If you’d like to welcome her to the organization, or have feedback or suggestions for Brooke, you can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.