Melissa has never been a fan of comfort zones. Starting with her first international experience in Ireland, she realized the importance of pushing her own mental, cultural, and geographical boundaries to develop a better understanding of the world and herself. Melissa went on to participate in two undergraduate exchange programs in Europe through Linfield College and graduated with a BA in History. She then headed in the opposite direction to work in rural northern Japan for five years. After returning from Japan, She earned her MA in International Education Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Melissa is utilizing her international experience and expertise to further sustainable development and operations of VIA’s programs. She hopes her work will enable more students from the US and Asia to explore and grow beyond their comfort zones to gain a better understanding of themselves and connect with others in the world around them.