Badger-Loving Program Director

Diana RosalesA recent interview with Diana Rosales, the new Director of CEDEI International Programs. She joined the team a few months ago, and has had lots of experience traveling the world and living abroad.

What does your position as Director of International Programs entail?

As Director of International Programs I oversee the Office of International Programs at CEDEI. I organize all the components of our study abroad programs and coordinate with our partner institutions to ensure that the programs fulfill their specific requirements or academic focus: logistics, traveling, cost, homestay, risk management and safety, academics, among others. I maintain relationships with our current partners and develop new partnerships.

I am the main point of contact with the universities, colleges, and other institutions that are interested in taking students to Ecuador as part of study abroad programs, both short-term and long-term. I supervise the on-site assistance provided to the students: support and supervision of program activities/site visits/excursions and medical visits, as well as ensure their well-being during their time studying abroad with us.

Why do you think study abroad programs are important?

I think that it is a unique experience for personal growth and development while gaining greater knowledge and awareness of other cultures. It is one of those opportunities that you can take advantage of while being a student. Studying abroad is nothing compared to traveling as a tourist. It is a way to get immersed in a culture and develop a global perspective.

Have you ever studied abroad? Share a story that made an impact from that time.

Yes, I studied in Wisconsin, U.S. for 5 years. I moved there in 2009 to study in an exchange program for a semester at the U. of Wisconsin – Whitewater and ended up staying to complete a bachelor degree in Business Administration major in International Business. After that, I studied a master degree in International Public Affairs at the U. of Wisconsin – Madison – Go Badgers!

It was an eye-opening experience. I learned a lot about myself, it helped me to grow up personally and professionally.

Being exposed to a new culture, a new language, and new friends, made me realize how small we, as individuals, are in the world.

I had to get out of my comfort zone, make mistakes, learn new customs.

Studying abroad helped me to become the person I am now: it helped to shape my beliefs, my professional and personal goals, and the way I see the world. I learned to value my own culture while learning about others. I interacted with people from all around the world with different languages, religions, customs, and perspectives.

When I applied to study in Wisconsin, I had never heard of this part of US before and of course, I did not expect a small college town in the middle of farms and cows. It was a surprise for me because the general idea that I had about the US was cities full of skyscrapers and big avenues– like NYC. And of course, Wisconsin is nothing like that. It was surprising for me to learn how different states can be but I ended up loving everything about living there, even the harsh winter!

New Cathedral, Cuenca, Ecuador

There are memories I made there I will always keep with me, like the lifetime friendships I made– friends I still keep in touch today.

If I could go back in time, I would not change a thing about my decision. Now, being involved in the field of international education at CEDEI gives me the opportunity to assist foreign students in Ecuador, and my personal story is a great source of learning experiences to share with them. I feel related to their questions, expectations, and even fears, because I went through them as well.

What is one tip you have for students coming to Cuenca? 

Cuenca is a great city to study abroad and learn Spanish. People are friendly, the city is a perfect size, and there are so many things to do and see.

I would remind students to keep an open mind. Observe, learn, and respect what is different. Don’t judge. Being exposed to a new environment can be scary at the beginning but at then end it will be OK. You will fall in love with your life here!

Favorite restaurant in Cuenca? 

La Esquina. Great place for meat lovers!