14 Apr PINC PODCAST Ep 2: Tori Chirdo
PINC International's PODCAST: Welcome Home with Tori Chirdo. This episodes guest is Tori, a PINC International Alumna who went on the Summer 2016 8-week Internship program where she interned with Madrid and Beyond.
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Tori, tell us about yourself.
Tori is from Mount Laurel, New Jersey and is a recent graduate of West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Tori is a travel agent for charities, working with clients that are NGOs, churches, and some Universities to get them around the world. Tori has traveled to Spain, France, and the Caribbean, but her favorite place is the Caribbean.
Was the 8 - Week internship with PINC the longest you had been away from home?
Before you departed and before you left, what were some of the apprehensions you had? Did you have any predispositions about travel or Spain before you left?
Tori did not really know much about Spain, which added to the "wow" feeling she felt when she landed. She says that everything was mind-blowing because the culture in Spain was completely different from American culture. She recalls how the only thing she was nervous about was being away from home.
How did it feel to just be dropped in a country where, asking directions became almost impossible?
Tori remembers the first day when she landed in the Airport, and everyone was speaking Spanish and thinking “what did I just do?” She was nervous because, though she took Spanish in high school and college, she doesn't think the education for language is up to par in America. Tori learned how to read Spanish, but did not really know how to speak, she notes how that was one of the scariest things she encountered.
If you could have the opportunity to sit down with someone in the Board of Education, and specifically the language department, what would you change about how you learned the language for all those years? What’s something you would do differently for the students of today?
Tori would reference the Spanish language classes she took while she was in Spain with PINC International at La Aventura Española. On the program, she attended one week of these classes, however, Tori decided to extend her education, taking classes for the entire 8 - Week Internship. Tori said her decision was based on the teaching style of the school, La Aventura Española refused to speak English during their classes. If she could sit with the Board of Education, Tori would tell them how language classes in America are based around reading and writing, not speaking, which she believes that speaking is the most important aspect of learning a language--Tori says, "Am I going to be carrying around a white board around with me the whole time I'm abroad and write it down so someone could read?" At Madrid and Beyond, her coworkers refused to respond to her if she wasn't speaking Spanish, so she was forced to learn to speak, which allowed her skills to excel faster.
When were you in Spain? Were there any big global events that were happening while you were there that you want to talk about?
Tori was in Spain over the Summer of 2016. She said there were three distinctive events that she remembers. The first occurred right before Tori arrived in Spain, it was the intense rivalry between (soon to be) President Trump and Hillary Clinton, just before the RNC and the DNC. Once she arrived in Spain as an American, anyone who was Spanish, or an expat of Spain, asked her "is this really happening?" The RNC and DNC were international stages and everyone was able to watch them, and experience the confusion together. The second event that Tori remembers was Brexit. One of Tori's coworkers was from the United Kingdom and Tori asked her, "Did that really just happen?"
Prior to that, when you were home in the states which was only a week before, to be honest, had you heard about what was happening with the UK and the EU back in the news at home?
Tori had only learned of the events once she got to Spain.
How do you think that that happened, such a big situation that affects the globe, that you didn’t know about it in a way?
Tori never used to check the news in the morning or ever because she felt that it was a really depressing space. However, at her internship in Spain, she would come in to work and her coworkers would come up to her asking about the news, they new more American news than she did. She felt like her being out of the loop was playing into the American stereotype, so Tori downloaded the CNN app and looked at it every morning before work to stay informed. She said it was so eye-opening, "I should really care about other things."
And what was the 3rd event that happened while you were abroad?
The attack on Nice, France was the third event. Tori recalls that during the summer of 2016, terrorist attacks were huge, but Nice was closest attack to her location. One of her friends had been planning to visit Nice before the attacks happened. Tori said it was a really confusing time, she remembers thinking that something like that would never happen near her, it was a scary time.
Do you feel that when you’re in the states?
She doesn't, which she feels is weird. She didn't feel that way when she initially landed in Spain, it was only after the Nice attack.
Now do you want to just explain to everyone where this beautiful confidence came from while you were abroad?
Tori says that being abroad made her a better person. She recalls her parents telling her, "Oh you can do anything," but she didn't really know that she could do anything until she was put into a situation where she had to do something. When she went abroad she didn't think she would have a problem since she has been independent her whole life. Tori missed a few big familial events while she was in Spain, and she was homesick after seeing all of the photos from the events. She started to second guess her decision, want to go home, but she got outside of her own head, and told herself it was sink or swim, and she wasn't going to sink. Tori realized that she truly can do anything.
L: And what did you find in that moment that helped you? Do you remember what it was? Was it an action or a thought?
Tori says that she started to fully immerse herself in Spain. She worked 9am-4pm, took Spanish classes twice a week, and she would use her free time to go get froyo and see new places. One of her favorite places was Templo de Debod, where they would sit and watch the sunsets. Tori and the other women planned a trip to Portugal as well! She would stay busy, but she still made time to call her parents everyday to tell them about all of her amazing, once in a lifetime experiences.
What has changed about you? Or how have you changed? Or what have you done now that you’ve integrated this experience into your life?
One of the biggest things that Tori has tried to bring back to America's type A society was to enjoy her coffee in the morning, even if it makes her late to work. She remembers that some mornings she would skip her favorite cafes for Starbucks, drinking it on the way to work, and people were astonished that she wasn't sitting down to enjoy her coffee. She noted how Spaniards really enjoy living, so she took note. Even her Instagram has less posts because instead of getting the perfect picture, she focuses on living in the moment, "I promise traveling, and that program, and Spain have changed me for the better."
For anyone that’s listening who has traveled or is thinking about traveling, or is hesitant to book that next destination, what are you going to say to them right now to convince them to just do it?
Tori says to just do it, don't plan it too much, it's not a decision that you need to think about too much!I feel like just do it. She thinks there are so many 'pros', there aren't any negatives to traveling, just go!
Where are you off to next? Or where would you like to head next on your travels?
Tori is going to visit her friend in Denver, Colorado. She wants to travel the world AND the states. I want to travel the world, but also I live in America where there’s 50 states. Her next international trip will be to New Zealand.
So if people want to give you any tips about New Zealand, how can they contact you? Where can they follow you?
Facebook: Tori Chirdo
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About the Program
PINC International designs and organizes Internships Abroad, Study Abroad, & Leadership Retreats programs for young women ages of 18-24 designed to connect with their inner leader and become global citizens. Our goal is to show the world that when young women travel it can only benefit campuses, communities, meeting, and boardrooms and help change laws. Since its conception in 2014, the program has welcomed students from OVER 25+ universities across the United States.