About Melissa

I am an intercultural specialist who helps people connect across cultures & manage themselves during cultural change & transition. To do so, I draw on my real-world experiences, academic learning, and background in foreign affairs, education, journalism, non-profits, and relocation.

Personal

I have always enjoyed seeing the world from different perspectives.

Born and raised in Arizona, I have lived in small towns, suburbs, and cities across the U.S. Southwest, Midwest, and South. I have also moved 15 times and visited more than 40 states from coast to coast. On a global scale, I have visited more than 20 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia, studied abroad in high school, lived in Poland, repatriated to the U.S., and married into a Korean American family.

Academic

These experiences are backed up by rigorous academic training. I earned a B.A. in Russian Area Studies from St. Olaf College, graduating Magna Cum Laude in three years. Next, I studied Central and Eastern Europe at Jagiellonian University in Poland. Finally, I received a M.A. in Intercultural Relations from the University of the Pacific, in a program jointly offered by the Intercultural Communication Institute. Highlights included researching interculturalist assumptions about the development of bias in children and writing and publishing an intercultural children’s book.

Professional

After working as an assistant at the St. Olaf College World Language Center, I began my career as a summer fellow at a Russian policy think tank and then wrote policy briefs as an associate analyst for a geopolitics publication. After a relocation, I served as an ESL assistant in Phoenix-area public schools, wrote and edited cultural feature articles, and supported global professionals with English communication. Next, I worked as an associate advisor and then a communications coordinator and trainer in global mobility. From there, I expanded into independent expat coaching, mentoring international students, and advising organizations on cultural issues.

Service & Leadership

I have been committed to serving diverse communities for all of my adult life. During college, I served as a weekly volunteer at a rural retirement center, and later became a regular volunteer for a YMCA Adaptive Swim program. I then served as a weekly ESL volunteer in adult education. Later, I became a social media volunteer with Families in Global Transition, served on the board of Young SIETAR as the Education Coordinator, and volunteered with SIETAR USA at their conference and on their scholarship committee. I am currently supporting Tempe Sister Cities as a cultural writer.

Awards

I was named a “Distinguished Scholar” for a year-long cross-cultural program I co-designed and implemented while still in high school. More recently, I received scholarships from the Association for Training & Development and SIETAR USA, and was awarded the Pacific Fund Grant for my intercultural research.

Putting it together

These experiences have shown me the beauty, the challenge, and the necessity of crossing cultures with dexterity, competence, and an open heart. They have also motivated me to help others with their journey! You could say that I am throwing my arms around the world and helping others do the same. Won’t you join me?