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A Note From our Founder

I'm so glad you've taken the time to get to know more about our extraordinary collaborative.  Our mission - to make real, immersive travel-based experiential learning accessible to all young people with a level of professionalism unmatched in the industry at large - is a result of the fact that travel has had on my life.  Without my first guided travel opportunities, I likely would not have encountered the diverse perspectives that later impacted my academic research and fieldwork.  It was these experiences that landed me my first job overseas and played a key role in securing my admission to Columbia University.  Throughout my career internationalism has broadened my personal perspectives, as well as integrated me into a fulfilling professional community scattered all around the world in a variety of fields.  It has also shaped my world view - navigating real-world conflict as a young person allowed me to see myself and my relationship with the world, my place in it, and my responsibilities to it, in a whole new light.  The lessons countless individuals have taught me as I have explored the world around me motivate every facet of my professional life.


Personally and professionally, my life would not be the same without the intensive, immersive, and productive educational travel opportunities many have worked hard to make accessible to me.  Educational Travel Collaborative's role is to open these same opportunities up to young people around the world, whether through independent travel or educator led excursions and intensives, regardless of the academic institution they attend.

There are three things I'd like you to take away from learning more about our organization:

  • Educational travel is an investment in an individuals future of unrestrained possibility

  • At ETC our unique qualifications mean we can support life-changing exploration of the planet in a way no other organization can

  • Most importantly, we can be trusted with our travelers' safety

After working in classrooms and on the road with thousands of students at the world's most innovative schools in the United States, the Dominican Republic, Japan, and the UAE, as well as living and working in the Middle East and Central Africa and having the privilege to spend years traveling through 89 countries on every inhabited continent, I know that I bring a great deal of experience and knowledge to the table.  What is amazing about ETC, though, is that every one of the individuals on our team does as well.

Hopefully, you've had a chance to look at what makes us different, our valuesand how seriously we take safety and protection.  But there is also a value in putting faces and names to our achievements.  The purpose of this page is to give you a chance to see why our team is so special - and why working with our team is such a unique opportunity.  I've worked closely with every one of these individuals, seen their passion for the world around us and the way they can convey that to young people and can say, without a doubt, there is no better-equipped team to help bring your educational travel plans to life.

Yours in Travel,
Andrew Kempe - NBCT

Introducing the World's Best Educational Travel Team

ETC is a dynamic place and the individuals with whom we consult and collaborate change depending on the projects we are working on at any given time.  That said, we want to give you a taste of just how capable and experienced a team of travelers and facilitators of learning you get when you work with the Collaborative.


Andrew Kempe

Andrew is a Social Studies educator and outdoors coach with a passion for culturally immersive travel.  While the Middle East, South Asia, East Africa, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America are some of his areas of expertise from a planning perspective, he enjoys exploring Europe and the backroads of the United States as well.  He has lived in Japan, the Middle East, and Latin America, as well as his native New York.  Sustainable Development, Decolonization, and Peace and Conflict Resolution are a few of his areas of interest, as well as helping travelers to understand the world's misunderstood locales.

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Sondra Mullenax

Sondra is an arts educator and 3D designer who has traveled extensively through Asia, Central Europe, and the Latin Caribbean and is currently based in Taiwan.  Her passion for engaging with a diversity of materials and seeing art as a dynamic force that shapes and reflects society is an asset to both travelers interested in the formal arts, as well as those looking to engage with local communities in new ways.  Sondra brings to the team new ways of remembering that art isn't a product housed in museums and galleries, but the very fabric of the world in which we live.

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Deanna Richards

Deanna's career in education has allowed her to lead in many roles, from teaching English in New York City to serving as a counselor, and later interventionist at some of the City's most innovative educational environments, to a licensed mental health counselor in private practice currently based in Mexico.  Her expertise in framing and shifting narratives towards inclusivity and supporting learners in understanding the way in which they may be seen and heard in key contexts is vital to supporting our travelers' work.  She has traveled extensively through the Americas as well as exploring Europe, Oceania, and Southeast Asia.

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Ken Schwartz

Ken has extensive experience planning and leading educational travel, particularly surrounding outdoor exploration, whether in tropical jungles or snowshoeing through polar extremes.  His experience as an athletics director and physical education teacher provides us with unique expertise in supporting itineraries that involve physical challenges or require specific training in advance.  Prior to entering education, he worked extensively as an architect and would be an excellent contact for students interested in the subject as well.  He is currently based in Bogota.

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Nikki DiNino

As a science educator with experience across the US, the Middle East, South East Asia, and Japan, Nikki brings an ability to spark wonder and make inspire engagement around various topics, even the most challenging.  She has unique experience running international institutional travel for groups involving over 100 travelers, representing these programs to all stakeholders.  Niki's ability to make young people smile, as well as to challenge dominant narratives about the areas to which we travel, is a unique asset to our team.  She is currently a school leader in El Salvador.

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Victoria Rojas

Victoria is an award-winning social studies educator, as well as an experienced outdoor exploration coach and leader of both high school and university-aged students currently based in Zurich.  Growing up along the Texan-Mexican Border as a Texan woman of Mexican descent - Victoria has unique experience engaging with the complexities of destinations navigating a polarized and complex political situation and has the skills to help young people to engage with the many perspectives that exist within a narrative they are exploring.

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Merilyn Winslade

Merilyn's career has been profoundly varied, involving work in the cruise industry, international development research and fieldwork, and science education, just to name a few fields.  As an educator, she has been based in Europe, Asia, and her native Australia, and is currently based in Western Australia.  She also served extensively with Volunteer Service Overseas in Ghana and has special expertise in preparing young people to engage productively, as equals, with the communities in which learners travel, research, and engage in dialogue.

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Daniela Pesce

Daniela has worked as a Social Studies educator across the United States and has led experiential education opportunities for young people in some of Europe's great cities.  She brings a special passion for helping young people to understand, engage with, and find solutions to the problems facing our world, as well as a wealth of logistical experience and perspective.  She currently works as the Education Abroad Advisor for Northern Arizona University, giving her unique insights into how our programs can leverage young peoples' higher education careers.


Bobby Lincoln

Bobby's career as an English Language and Literature educator has allowed him to inspire laughter and passionate discussion in classrooms in Chicago, Australia, Kuwait, the Dominican Republic, and Morocco, his current home.  While his career as a traveler has taken him around the world, he brings particular expertise to travelers exploring the Americas, the Caribbean, Australia, and New Zealand.  His experience as a practitioner of both creative and descriptive writing provides a particular benefit to our travelers as they work to document their learning, creating meaning from their observations and field notes.


Mery De La Cruz

Mery's career as a Science teacher in the Dominican Republic has made her an expert in working with students of diverse cultural and political perspectives, and her experience living a life between Santo Domingo and New York City gives her unique insights into the impacts setting and sociopolitical environment can have on communities and individuals.  She is experienced in leading student travel both within the Dominican Republic and internationally, and her expertise in science education makes her a special asset to thinkers and learners in this field.

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Hillary Hewins

Hillary's career as a School Counselor and Director of University Counseling has involved work at some of the most prestigious institutions in New York, Shanghai, and the Tokyo metropolitan area.  Her passion for helping students find areas of intellectual interest and working with young people to build and document academic and professional understandings is a great asset to our team as we work with young people to develop and undertake career-defining travel and fieldwork.  She has traveled the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the Americas extensively, and has particular expertise in Japan and the Asia Pacific in general.  She is based in Tokyo and is an entrepreneur in the tourism and design fields.

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Kimi Pichardo

Kimi is a dynamic Theatre and Drama educator who has mastered the skill of harnessing the power of a close-knit, inquiry-driven community for academic gains.  Through a career spanning the United States, the Caribbean, South Asia, and Japan, Kimi has had the opportunity to engage with performing arts communities and in diverse cultural settings, giving her a unique perspective on her field.  Her broad travels mean that she is well positioned to assist students interested in Drama or the performing arts industry in deepening their understandings of the field wherever they find themselves traveling.  She is currently based in the southern United States.

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Reni Fenton

Reni is an exceptional inquiry-driven Mathematics educator who combines the power of project-based learning with a capacity to build collaborative learning communities to impact the thinking and development of young people in a profound way.  Her unique ability to find new ways to apply and engage with content, combined with her experience engaging in this work across Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean makes her a unique asset both to our travelers interested in formal Mathematics, and those who are engaged with gathering or applying quantitive data.

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Anna Davies

As an Arts and Design educator, Anna has worked with young people in her home country of New Zealand as well as Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan.  Anna has an incredible optimism and positivity that permeates every aspect of her work, serving as an exceptional motivator to help the young people with whom she works expand their thinking and push themselves professionally.  Students interested in art and design - either in the creative process or in honing their ability to engage with and reflect the aesthetic of a destination, are well served by the chance to plan and collaborate with Anna!


Kyle Quint

Kyle's career as a designer and educator includes extensive work in East Africa, Hawaii, and Japan, as well as the Pacific Northwest.  His ability to inspire excitement in young people as they engage in design thinking, as well as his skills building autonomy to allow individuals to create their own solutions to challenges that may arise along that journey translate beautifully into his work with Educational Travel Collaborative.  His expertise in eastern and southern Africa, as well as his passion for unconventional adventures, makes him an invaluable thought partner for many of our travelers.  Those interested in design, tourism management, and film production also stand to benefit from his diverse professional experience.

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Tila Hidalgo

Tila is an expert facilitator of youth travel opportunities with global experience as a science educator and a school leader.  Tila has served as an international school principal in Hanoi, a head of school in the United States, and is currently a leadership team member in Tel Aviv.  Her experience at all levels of school leadership brings a useful perspective to the team, and her experience co-leading educational travel with Andrew in the international school environment makes her an indispensable member of ETC.  Whether supporting young people through engaging with the complexities of the destinations we serve, or building real-world connections to science and leadership skills, Tila's involvement in ETC is a real asset to our clients!

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Rachial Parrish

Rachial is a Science educator who brings significant experience working in both research and commercial laboratory settings to our team.  Young people interested in careers in the sciences have the unique advantage of working with Rachial on how to connect their travels and fieldwork, as well as the skills they develop on the road, to the achievement of their future academic and professional goals.  Rachial also brings expertise on domestic travel within the United States, as well as the unique perspective of having worked in an exceptionally diverse array of school communities, a significant asset to our cohort-based guided travel model.

Together, we have:


  • Extensively traveled 134 countries

  • Lived and worked on every inhabited continent

  • Spent more than 80 combined years on the road

  • Earned 25 graduate degrees

  • Presented at dozens of professional conferences

  • Run educational travel experiences on every inhabited continent

  • Put together the industry's best guided and independent travel offerings

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