Get to know our tour managers, well-traveled and fascinating individuals who make your ACIS educational tour truly unique and unforgettable. Today we’re happy to introduce you to Cristina Hurduiala.
Hi Cristina, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in a small town in Romania, but since turning 18 have lived and studied in the UK and Italy. My education includes a BA and MA in Tourism and Languages and a Master in Innovation, Development, and Change at Bologna University, Italy. I speak French, Spanish, Italian and a little bit of Arabic.
Wow! You’ve lived abroad for so long and speak so many languages. When did you fall in love with travel?
As a young child I did not travel as I lived in communist Romania until the revolution took place in 1989. Nobody was allowed to travel abroad apart from the leaders of the communist party. I used to daydream during the history and geography lessons about visiting the US, China and Italy. I never imagined I would become a tour leader and travel the world, that I would walk on the Great Wall of China, climb Machu Picchu or touch the stones of the Colosseum.
I left Romania for the first time when I was 18 and started my studies in Liverpool. I spent one year of my university degree in Genoa, Italy as an Erasmus exchange student. It was the best experience of my life up until then. It was the time when I matured and learned how to balance studying and working whilst living in a foreign country and using a different language. Since then, I started working as a tour leader and the job has taken me to more than 50 countries worldwide.
From not being allowed to travel to being a complete pro. What’s the one thing you wish every student could experience while traveling?
‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ – Lao Tzu
I hope that every student that travels will leave behind their comfort zone, will meet new people and learn about different cultures. Students should learn words and expressions in the local language and use every opportunity speak and interact with the local people. They should do things like using public transport, buying food from local markets, asking for directions which will build their confidence and ability to adapt to foreign situations. Another important thing is to network. Making friends abroad makes the world feel smaller and locals always know best.
We know you’re an ACIS Tour Manager, but what do you do when not leading a tour?
During my master studies in Bologna I become very interested in political analysis studies and started working as an electoral observer for the European Union. Election observation is extremely important because it promotes democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide. It contributes to strengthening democratic institutions, building public confidence in electoral processes, helping to deter fraud, intimidation and violence. I have worked as an electoral observer in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Paraguay and Nigeria.
The way to describe the job is like taking a blood sample. You don’t need to be observing the elections all over the country to realize if they are transparent and fair. It is essential to talk to all the stakeholders involved in elections in the region where we are observing, from political parties to the media and the local NGO’s, to be able to write accurate reports regarding the development of the electoral process.
Too often we take for granted the right to vote in the west and many people even choose not to vote in an election, so, to see women with young children and old people travelling from miles away on foot and queuing from 3 a.m. in front of the polling stations was a humbling experience in Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
That’s amazing and so true! From leading students through Rome to ensuring the election is legitimate in Afghanistan—what an interesting life! Thanks Cristina!
Learn more about what makes ACIS Tour Managers exceptional here!
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