The onsite directors will be your program leader and are there to lead and guide you during your study abroad experience. Our programs also have assistant directors that help manage the programs, especially during the excursions and cultural activities. Onsite directors are usually host-country nationals with cross-cultural experience. All of our directors have experience working with groups and have international experience (travel and work) and many have studied abroad themselves as students.
Eva is originally from Venice, Italy and has lived in Oaxaca since 2003. She loves to travel and explore the world and had the opportunity to visit and live in many countries while studying and volunteering. She was an AFS exchange student in Pennsylvania for a year, then while at University she spent a year studying abroad at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. Eva later travelled to Australia, India, East Africa, Latin America and Costa Rica where she spent 6 months coordinating a Nature Conservation Project. All of these amazing experiences put her in contact with important issues such as Forest Conservation, Indigenous Rights, Sustainable Tourism, etc. which led her to pursue a Master's degree in Environmental Policy and Culture at Sussex University, UK. After completing her studies, she left Europe to get more field experience in developing countries and landed in Oaxaca where she worked for a local NGO dealing with natural resource management. In Oaxaca State she had the opportunity to explore very remote indigenous villages as part of a research program and also practiced participatory video as a way to film documentaries by involving the local community in the whole filming process. Since her first weeks in Oaxaca she has come in close contact with an extraordinary variety of cultures, environments, traditions, foods, and arts. This had such an immense impact on her life that she decided to live in this this beautiful and diverse country. Eva is very excited to share with students the magic of Oaxaca and guide them through the life changing experience of living abroad!
Priscila "Pris" Holder
Priscila Holder was born and raised in Oaxaca City, Mexico. Since she was very young she has always had a passion for traveling. This passion developed as a child when she visited her family’s coffee plantation, located in the tropical forest of Pluma Hidalgo, near the “costa grande” of Oaxaca state. Her summer visits to the pacific coast sparked her curiosity in nature and exploring Oaxaca. After finishing high school she decided to take a year off abroad in France in order to learn French and experience French culture. Priscila lived in Nice and Lyon during her stay and she also traveled around Europe. After this journey she became very interested in languages and new cultures, so she decided to choose an academic career that dealt with these subjects. She moved to Mexico City to attend university where she studied Languages and Translation and lived for 6 years. While at the university her interests in languages and cultures grew. Whenever possible, she enjoyed traveling around the country and volunteering in museums as a tour guide. After finishing her studies in Mexico City, she moved to Juchitán de Zaragoza, a Zapotec village located in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the southeast of Oaxaca state. In Juchitán, she worked and volunteered at the Foro Ecológico de Juchitán and was involved in the organizing the Festival del Río. While residing there she took Zapotec language lessons and did a linguistic study into the culture and language. After her Juchitán experience, she moved back to her hometown of Oaxaca City, where she got the chance to work as a tour guide in the agave and mezcal industry. For the past 3 years Priscila has been working for the International Book Fair of Oaxaca, organizing diverse cultural and literary events. Priscila speaks Spanish, English, French and Portuguese fluently, and she has used these language skills to host international writers from around the world during their time spent in Oaxaca City. Priscila is enthusiastic about sharing her culture and loves showing off the amazing wonders her state and city have to offer. She also enjoys traveling, meeting new people, reading, and cooking.
Ena Aguilar was born in Mexico City and has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Anthropology and a Master's degree in Political Studies from the UNAM in Mexico City. When she finished high school, she spent a year at Rockford College in Illinois learning English as a Second Language. After her year in the US, she dedicated time to travel. She visited several countries where she found a profound appreciation and respect for the pluricultural world in which we live. After her travels, Ena was selected as a student assistant for an anthropological research project at CIESAS (Social Anthropology Research Center) in Oaxaca where she discovered the incredible diversity expressed in her native Mexico. Oaxaca became an extraordinary place for her great curiosity of peoples and cultures. As part of this project, she traveled around Oaxaca state gaining a true understanding of the complexity of a multicultural country. Oaxaca is a place where 16 indigenous groups still coexist and the communities have kept not only their unique traditions and languages but they have also protected and preserved the second largest forest in Mexico. Ena has worked as director at civil organizations and has extensive knowledge and understanding of the social and cultural environment of Oaxaca. One of the things Ena most values is the creativity brought to her from a pluricultural and multidisciplinary team or work group. Ena worked at the Oaxaca Design Center where she had the opportunity to travel and live for few days in many different villages around Oaxaca state at the homes of the artisans. They shared their food, families, work and their magical or special places with her. Sometimes her daughter, Daniela, took the opportunity to go with her on these amazing adventures. In her free time, Ena practices meditation and Neijia, an antique martial arts form based on the understanding of our body and its internal energy for improved better health (similar to yoga). She loves hiking, traveling and horseback riding.
Nahú Rodríguez was born in Oaxaca with his twin sister. They were the first of his very large family to be born there. During high school Nahú participated in various community volunteer projects. The experience which helped most to form his identify was dancing in the traditional dance festival, the Guelaguetza, in a school dance group. It was as a member of this dance group that he first learned about the mysteries of Oaxaca and its 17 different cultures. First Nahú learned the dances, and then expanded his knowledge about the towns and regions that are represented in the Guelaguetza festival. He learned more about their customs, foods, and drinks. He fell in love with the diverse ways these distinct cultures have of understanding the world. Dance gave Nahú the opportunity to travel. Not only did he travel and get to experience the beauty that exists in Oaxaca state and in Mexico but he also got to visit other countries and experience their cultures. As part of the dance group he traveled to Japan, Brazil, Argentina and the United States to represent Oaxaca. It was through this experience that his respect for diversity and cultural richness was born. In college Nahú studied Communication Sciences at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Puebla and became passionate about radio production. So much so that in his professional life he is now an advisor in community communication for various radio stations that broadcast in the indigenous communities of Oaxaca. Nahú has on ongoing interest in gaining a deeper understanding of the cultures of the state of Oaxaca as well as Oaxaca’s rich ecology and its beautiful landscapes. Through this interest he has traveled to the 8 regions of the state coordinating a communications program for an NGO where he provides information on climate change in Oaxaca state and the ways we can adapt to the new conditions. Some years after having graduated from his university he returned to be a teacher there. For the past five years he has been receiving students from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Puebla, and other states, to carry out their required social service work and collaborate on community projects. This allows them to strengthen their critical thinking about the world in which we live. Nahú is also passionate about sound production and the musical environment of Oaxaca. Through this interest he has worked in sound production with well-known musical artists such as Lila Downs. In addition to constant research in this area, he also continues his training in pedagogy and community studies to better accompany the students that he receives in Oaxaca. As you can tell, Nahú is a very interesting person with much to share about Oaxaca!
Sergio "Yeyo" Beltrán
Sergio Beltrán Arruti, better known as Yeyo, was born and raised in México City. He moved to Oaxaca in 1997 to support and learn from indigenous communities. Yeyo is co-founder of the Universidad de la Tierra (Unitierra) and Herramientas para el Buen Vivir, AC. Through his work in the non-profit sector he has developed a deep respect for the capacity people have to make a good life (el buen vivir) for themselves when they are able to freely take responsibility for their own communities. Since 1999, Yeyo has been involved in the design and facilitation of study abroad programs and learning journeys in Oaxaca and Chiapas for several universities, foundations, and NGOs. He studied Latin American Studies at Mexico’s national university, UNAM. From 2004 to 2005 he was a grantee of the UNESCO program Search and Research. In 2010, Yeyo was part of the pioneering team of the Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations in Spanish, and has hosted and organized multiple intercultural encounters around the world using these tools for dialogue. Sergio is a fierce spiritual warrior who stands for peace, and for the rights and capacities of people everywhere! Currently, he is focusing his efforts on encouraging people to take responsibility for their own garbage and helping people to recover the capacity to create the future in which they want to live.
Daniela "Dani" Aguilar
Daniela, or Dani, was born in Oaxaca City in 1997 and lived there until she finished high school in Instituto Blaise Pascale. Her mother, Ena Aguilar, is a Program Director for Sol Abroad and Dani has been involved with Sol Abroad programs for many summers! She says one of the best things about being with Sol Abroad is all of the amazing friendships that come as a result of the program. Her family is from Mexico, but moved to the United States many years ago. When Dani was 8 years old she lived with her uncle in North Carolina for eight months and attended elementary school. This is how she learned her English and was able to acquire a native speaker’s accent. She continued to improve her language skills while in middle and high school by practicing with an english teacher. Dani currently lives in Mexico City where she attends college. She is completing the equivalent to a Master’s degree (Licenciatura) at the Universidad de la Comunicación, and is seeking a degree in Visual Communication. Her passion is photography, illustration, and film. Dani says that she chose to study Visual Communication because as a Mexican and a Oaxacan it is her desire to show the world the reality of where she lives - to show how incredibly rich in culture it is and that it is also a place that needs more validation and understanding.