Meet Our Squads Abroad Program Specialist Emilie Virgilio
At Squads Abroad, we have a team of dedicated professionals that are passionate about empowering youth to generate positive changes in communities throughout the world. Emilie Virgilio is our Program Specialist who works tirelessly to assure that Squads get the most out of their trips.
Emilie couldn’t wait to share what drives her to empower students through Squads Abroad.
What’s your favorite part of working for Squads Abroad?
My favorite part about working for Squads Abroad is seeing everything come in full circle. From the moment I contact a Squad interested in one of our sites, to seeing the project that they complete, I love being there for every part of their journey. It’s incredible to see how all the students and even the teachers grow through their experiences while making a lasting impact in communities throughout the world. I also love supporting Squads Abroad’s mission statement-I grew up with similar morals, being pushed to serve others and create positive changes throughout the world. I am so happy to be able to empower students in the same way that I’ve been empowered–it’s helped to change me and make me the altruistic person I am today.
What do you love about Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a gorgeous country surrounded by luscious trees, mountains, and incredible beaches, but it also has many local communities with high-needs. Our home-base is located at the perfect location, a safe neighborhood that is located near beautiful rural communities. At the Home-Base, the staff are so kind and ready to assist however they can. Our chef is amazing as well, always serving the best local Costa Rican dishes. One of my favorite program sites in Costa Rica is Coris Elementary School. During my first month in Costa Rica, I had the opportunity to visit this site, where one of our Global Health Squads had the opportunity to build a handwashing station. It was incredible to see the impact that they made here, it even inspired me. The entire community was positively affected by the work that they completed, and so grateful for the work they completed. The Squads create a rippling effect of positivity on the communities–it’s an honor to get to see it all happen in person.
What role do you play for Squads Abroad?
I love the work that I do for Squads Abroad. I help with the entire process of sending volunteer student groups abroad. I help with the initial set-up to prepare student groups for travel, assist with program logistics and I visit possible sites locations throughout the country to assure that Squads are making the maximum impact in communities that need it the most. I work directly with the In-Country staff who are experts about the different needs of each country. We work with them to assure that we are producing the most authentic experience for our groups. When Squads are here, I serve as an on-the-ground professional to assist with the day-to-day itinerary and assure that everything runs smoothly.
What is the importance of empowering youth through service?
With Squads Abroad, we empower youth by giving them the opportunity to become active global citizens. Students get to learn about a new country through our fun, guided cultural activities and then get the opportunity to serve that country. With our service projects, they learn the importance of giving back, and how a few hours of their time can make a lasting impact on a community. When they learn the importance of service at a young age, they can carry it with them throughout their lives. It shapes them as a person and they will take their experiences into consideration when deciding upon a career as well.
How does Squads Abroad widen the perspective of students?
What’s special about Squads Abroad is that we focus on specific, high-impact projects in local communities that truly need the assistance. Students get the opportunity to see communities in different countries that they wouldn’t normally get exposed to, and it helps them to truly understand the world. With the projects that they complete, they get to see how they can change a community with just one week of focused work.