Employee Spotlight: Robert Brown, Student Development Manager

1. What is your name and job title?

My name is Robert Brown and I’m a Student Development Manager for the West Region.

2. Where have you traveled to outside of the United States?

Mexico, Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland, France, Peru, Morocco, China, and Canada!

3. What other languages do you speak?

Spanish and beginner level Chinese.

4. Please describe a time when you experienced culture shock in a funny way.

I can remember when I moved to Spain where I taught English at a local elementary school. I would go to the center of town to go grocery shopping or get something to eat after school. Each time I arrived to the center of town, practically all the stores and shops were closed. I didn’t understand why. After about my second week, I started talking about this with the locals and found out why. From 2 pm to 5 pm, all the store owners go home for lunch and “siesta” (a nap). Stores re-open at 5 pm. It didn’t take long for me to adjust because I later enjoyed a few siestas myself after a big lunch!

5. What’s something about American culture that you have found others outside of America find weird?

In America, we have such a variety of different options. For example, in the U.S., we have so many types of sugar: Equal, Sweet’N Low, Splenda, Regular, etc. And how about Milk — there are so many different kinds of milk,  let alone brands – low fat, 1%, 2%, skim, whole, etc.

6. What do you think is the biggest benefit for international students studying at US High Schools?

A student has the opportunity to open their mind and see the differences between their schools and home life. Later, they can compare the different cultures and then have the opportunity to choose which bits and pieces of each culture they like. This creates the person they are as adults.

7. What was your favorite food that you tried in another country?

While studying abroad in Mexico, I volunteered at a Taco Shop called “Tacos de Tromp.” The El Paso tacos are incredibly delicious. With the variety of fresh salsas and guacamole, I could probably still eat ten in one sitting.

8. If you could be instantly fluent in one language that you currently do not speak, which would it be?

Chinese, then I would be able to speak to my wife’s family!

9. Why do you like working in international education?

I enjoy working in international education because it serves as a bridge between countries and cultures. It creates a cross understanding when students work together on a project, meet each other outside of the classroom, or study in class together. Different languages, customs, traditions, political relationships, and religious beliefs are bridged through educational endeavors. The biggest benefit to studying abroad is to see how other parts of the world live, study, eat, celebrate, and believe.

10. What do you think is the greatest benefit of hosting a student?

The greatest benefit of hosting is the possibility of creating a life long relationship and watching the student grow as the years go on. And knowing the host was part of their success is joyful!

11. Is there a student you are particularly proud of this semester?

One of my students, Ben Wang, is very involved with the school in the math club, the Performing Arts Club and on the junior varsity basketball team. He is an outstanding student who is always willing to help other students. Something that me and Ben have in common, which is kind of funny, is that he is originally from Hangzhou, China, and is now living with a host family in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. When I lived in China, I lived in Hangzhou, and I am originally from Hyde Park, Massachusetts. We may be the only two people who have swapped and lived in those two cities! I am very excited to be a part of Ben’s life and watch him grow.