The Newbie Who Goes… Caribbean Edition

There is no question that travel sits comfortably atop the list of perks that come with being a boarding school admission representative.  The sights, culture and people that we encounter is unprecedented and as far as I’m concerned, a blessing.

Prior to the fall months of our travel schedules, admission offices will submit their registration information to countless secondary school fairs and with it, a moderate fee to cover the cost of the facility, table set up and electricity.  Schools will embark on itineraries similar to that of the year before.  As mentioned in an earlier post, some of the most innovative admission representatives are even collaborating and teaming up for their travel.  This is the future.  In the recent past however, a newbie found herself in charge of registering, booking and planning what was an already established Caribbean itinerary.

(This went slightly unrealized)

Unsure of the opportunities extended to our office, this particular region of the world hosts Canadian and US boarding schools by way of two well known tour groups or more simply, by two well known educational consultants.  Michael “Bedi” Walker and Versan Education’s Sandra Bramwell, combine for nearly 29 years of experienced educational placement of students from the Caribbean islands.  While we have been a Walker participant in the past, this year, the Newbie signed up to travel with Versan Education.  Versan’s tour would consists of 3 school visits, 2 fairs and nearly 15 hours of one on one interview time.

I firmly believe that no tour is better or worse than the other.

Let any opportunity to speak proudly on behalf of education be our number one reason to travel.  

With this as the primary focus, Versan Education’s tour proved itself invaluable and may have even changed our Caribbean fair plan for years to come.  I would recommend this experience to any new admission professional.  The students are products of an educational system where learning exists at its most simplest and raw state.  Every young man and woman I came in contact with was well spoken and driven by a desire to broaden their understanding of the world and enhance their educational opportunities.

“Versan is a 19 year old company that has been educating students across the Caribbean for secondary, tertiary and professional programs.  Known as the Ivy League elite club, it has not been difficult for Ms. Sandra Bramwell, Columbia University graduate to filter students across the top schools in the world.  Marked for her personalized one-on-one consultations with each student, she has managed to place close to 600 students annually.”   –http://www.versan.org/p/about-us.htmlMy

Versan has offices in Kingston, Montego Bay (Jamaica), New York, Dominica, Guyana and hosts students in India.  She has done online consulting with families in Korea, China, England, Barbados, Trinidad, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Russia and South Africa.

Upon my arrival in Saint Lucia I joined up with fellow colleagues from Deerfield and Rothesay Netherwood School.   A  single dinner conversation was all it took for me to realize the magnitude of this fearless woman’s efforts. Ms. Bramwell has not only placed her students in some of the finest boarding schools in North America, she has maintained an impressive level of contact with each and every one.  First names, last names, dreams and aspirations are at the ready as she contributes facts and accolades on every student to our dinner time coversation.

Newbies, as you begin your travel plans for the spring or even looking to next fall, step outside the box and explore the alternative routes available to us especially in terms of international travel.  So many wonderful programs exists all over the world that organize tours for us to attend with minimal organization needed on our side.  Traveling on the coat tails of Ms. Bramwell, I was introduced to students who were well on their way to a boarding school education.  The question became, which one would they end up at.  With an air of prestige and self confidence, the pool of inquiries walked through the door and sat down in front of my table.  Clad in blazers and tight ballet buns positioned atop their head, these young woman had clearly been prepared for this moment.   I was handed resumes and short cover letters, but nothing compared to the well spoken manner with which they began to share their story and their desire to explore their education beyond their home island.  I have so much respect for Versan and their wonderful students.

-The Newbie who Goes.

-Caroline Blaum

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