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Welcome Ksenia!

25 maart 2024
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We are excited to introduce you to our new program coordinator: Ksenia van Ness!

1. So, tell us, who is Ksenia?
I’d like to begin by expressing that I’m a very philosophical person. Whatever I do, especially in my professional life, must be spiritually rewarding. Given my multicultural background — being the child of a Russian mother and an American father — my sense of purpose naturally evolved from the satisfaction of helping others fulfill their dreams abroad. In the era of globalization, I believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience different countries. This helps expand your consciousness and learn new things about yourself: how do you behave in a reality completely different from the one you’re used to? What are your limits, fears, and unknown pleasures? When abroad, a person encounters other cultures, languages, and people —opening up a completely new world. My past experience includes mentoring prospective students hoping to enter foreign universities, focusing particularly on how they present themselves. My guidance has helped students enroll at many prestigious institutions, including Stanford University, Tsinghua University, and the University of Amsterdam. Understanding that the future of these students relied partly on my actions serves as a powerful incentive for me to evolve as a mentor and gain knowledge about various aspects of international travel, including visa processes. I am also a certified teacher of English as a foreign language, which has provided me with new perspectives on how people use language to pursue greater opportunities. I consider myself fortunate to have both English and Russian as my native tongues, giving me natural insights into how speakers of other languages approach the learning process. With experience, I became highly receptive to my clients, acknowledging that each student may have various needs and could require a tailored approach to address any challenges. It’s essential to be aware of one’s background, prior learning experiences, and preferences to devise appropriate strategies aligned with their career goals and development.

2. What have you seen of the world so far, and which country is on top of your bucket
I’ve visited a total of twelve countries — if we’re not counting airports. My mom worked for a well-known cruise line for many years, which allowed me to see much of the Caribbean from an early age. I’ve been to countries like Haiti, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. Growing up, my summer vacations were divided between Russia and Montenegro, which also gave me the chance to visit several Balkan countries: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania. Last year, I went to Rome for the first time — being a huge lover of history and art, you can imagine how speechless I was standing inside the Sistine Chapel. When it comes to the top country on my bucket list, that’s probably the most difficult question you could ask me. China, Japan, and Greece all fascinate me for their rich cultural heritage, including their ancient philosophies and breathtaking architecture. How wonderful would it be to visit the places that gave birth to Confucianism, Taoism, and Platonism!

3. What has been your most remarkable experience abroad?
My heart belongs to Montenegro. I’ve been visiting the country almost every summer since I was 11, forming a deep connection with its stunning landscapes and warm-hearted people. The beauty of Montenegro is like no other — there are pristine lakes, lush mountains, and the breathtaking Adriatic coastline. I was fortunate to have my first “real” work experience there after graduating from university, which only deepened my appreciation for the country’s charm. However, a place that truly stands out in my memory is its neighbor, Albania. I took a bus there from Montenegro completely alone when I was 17, not knowing what to expect. The country was closed under the iron rule of Enver Hoxha for 40 years, and many architectural remnants from this period are still around to this day — the most prominent being the bunkers scattered across fields, serving as silent witnesses to the nation’s isolated past. On another note, the Albanian language is unlike any other, making it very fascinating to read and listen to.