"In developing this summer abroad program, I endeavour to provide to students an experience they'll treasure for the rest of their lives. I'm proud to offer this program to anyone who has a genuine interest in learning about the world, firsthand."
Program Director & Founder
Patrick Braxton-Andrew, known perhaps more often as PBA or (Señor) Pato, is a lifelong Davidson, NC resident with passions for education and travel, preferably integrated into one package.
Not long after graduating Davidson College in 2006 with a B.A. in English (and an utter lack of Spanish competence), Patrick's grandmother decided to take the family to Costa Rica. Patrick, one of the minority percentage of Davidson College students to never study abroad, acquired a passport, received a few vaccinations, and -- after reading several horrific travel accounts floating through the blogosphere and acknowledging his sad inability to turn down delicious street eats -- invested heavily in immodium.
The ten day trip to Latin America turned out to be a transformative one, awakening Pato's passion for travel and a genuine interest in learning Spanish, the very language he'd so despised as a high school and college student. He devoted the next year of his life to saving money sufficient to fund an extended trip through Latin America, an opportunity to experience and appreciate the beautiful and diverse cultures throughout the region and to learn the Spanish language spoken by so much of the world.
Pato left his office job on one-way ticket to Mexico City. Over the course of the next eighteen months, Patrick traversed Mexico, Central America, and the northern parts of South America. He studied Spanish and lived with a incomparable host family in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala. The friends Pato made during his trip, some fellow travelers but mostly locals, remain some of his dearest friends.
Upon returning to the US, Patrick was afforded the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with the Davidson College in Perú Semester Abroad Program. From late 2011 through the end of 2014, Patrick worked as the Assistant Resident Director to the Davidson College program, coordinating and developing the program each year, and spending around six months in Perú with each student group. He left Perú with a network of professional Peruvian colleagues and dear friends, all of whom are directly involved in study abroad, who understand the powerful importance of that remarkable experience.
In between each Davidson in Perú study abroad program Pato would return to Davidson, NC, where his luck continued (and continues today!). He had the great fortune to be hired as a middle school math and Spanish teacher at Davidson's Woodlawn School, a laudable and unique academic institution with a genuinely family-like community. Developing strong relationships with his students and their families, Pato realized that the transformative immersion experience of study abroad, the privilege of being able to travel and simultaneously be exposed to essential foreign language education, could change the lives of his students forever, offering them invaluable and rarely-attained global experiences and perspectives.