Our Staff

Melinda Samis | Executive Director

Melinda founded International Summerstays (now ANDEO) in 1981. She has set foot on the soil of many countries, loves being able to read Mexican poets in their native language, and has opened her own home to students from South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. Traveling memory: "Being in a small village in France on September 11, 2001 and having all the neighbors stop by to extend their heartfelt wishes for my country."

Sara Bruckner | Deputy Director

Sara has hosted international students, lived with families in Mexico, Spain, China, and Tibet, served as an international camp counselor in Barcelona, and taught English in China as well as creative writing and composition at University of Oregon. She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Oregon and is passionate about facilitating cross-cultural communication and understanding. Favorite traveling memory: "Living with a host family in Mexico with my mother when I was nine. Laughing and blowing bubbles with my host brothers and sisters. Figuring out our own ways to communicate through play."

Kellie Irish | College Programs Manager

Kellie lived in Japan for four years, one of those with a wonderful host family. She has a B.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures with a focus on Japanese. Her love of cultures and adventure has taken her to twenty-two countries on four continents. Traveling memories: "Relaxing in a Japanese hot spring during snowfall after a long day of snowboarding; watching the sunrise in the Serengeti."

Rebecca Gundle | Teen Programs Manager

Rebecca got her first taste of international travel at the age of four when her family spent four months in Central America. Ever since then, she has been hooked! After high school, she backpacked through Europe and Southeast Asia and then studied Latin American Studies & Anthropology and Teaching. Before joining ANDEO, Rebecca taught at middle- and high schools. She speaks Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, lived with host families in Mexico and Brazil, and collected passport stamps from twenty-three countries on five continents. Memorable travel moments: “Learning to make tamales from my host mother and host sister in Oaxaca, Mexico; bicycling through the countryside in Laos.”

Kaylin Preston |  Coordinator- Teen and College Programs

One of Kaylin's first and most impressionable cultural exchange experiences was when she and her family hosted a Japanese student who attended high school with her and her sister for the year. Her passion for travel, cultures, and languages only grew after this, and she continued her schooling at Lewis & Clark College. She earned a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology and spent a semester studying French and Wolof in Dakar, Senegal. After university, she spent a year living and working in New Zealand before returning to Senegal on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award. She spent one more year teaching English in the Indian Ocean on Reunion Island before coming back to her home state of Oregon. During her spare time she enjoys exploring the trails around the Pacific Northwest, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, and finding any excuse to dance. Favorite travel memory: "Spending the day with a family in a small village in Senegal. We ate the national dish for lunch, brewed all three cups of tea under the mango tree, then attended the traditional wrestling match between neighboring villages that night. Afterwards we danced at the 'dust dance' until the sun came up and we hitched a bus ride back to the nearby town."

Julie Padbury | Local Area Coordinator  - Tigard/Tualatin/Sherwood areas

Julie has a BA in Liberal Arts from Portland State University. She studied French and German at Oregon State University, and is currently learning Spanish. After high school she toured as a performing artist with Holiday on Ice International in Europe, which took her to Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, England, Wales, Czechoslovakia, Spain and Italy. She has 4 children and has hosted students from France, Italy, Spain and Japan over a span of 14 years, starting when her kids were just 2, 3, 4 and 5 years old. Most memorable travel moment: "My fellow ice-skaters and I were walking the back streets of Tours in France after a long show day. We met some locals who wanted to know why we were in town. They didn’t understand “ ice-skating with Holiday on Ice” in French…but then I saw a L’Espoir newspaper on the cobblestone street that just happen to have an article about our show and full spread of pictures of us in full costume and ice-skates on the back page. It was quite the coincidence, as we didn’t even know the press had been covering our show. I still have that newspaper today!"

Petra Jacobsen | Cultural Exchange Associate- Teen and College Programs

Petra's passion for international travel began when she was in kindergarten and started studying Japanese through the Japanese Immersion Program in Portland, OR. She continued her studies in college where she got her B.A. in International Affairs and minors in Japanese and Asian Studies from Northern Arizona University. In college, Petra studied abroad at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo and stayed with the same host family that her mother had stayed with 30 years before! She loves fostering cross-cultural relationships and can't wait to travel more in the future!. Favorite travel memory: "My host mother in Tokyo dressed me up in a traditional Japanese kimono and took me to a local Japanese summer festival. Afterwards we had "all-you-can-eat" sushi which was one of the most amazing meals I've ever had!"

Sara Miller | Cultural Exchange Associate- Teen and College Programs

Sara’s incredible homestay experience in Santiago, Chile as a college student changed how she thought about travel and intercultural exchange. After earning her B.A. in Anthropology and Hispanic Studies, she moved to Northern Thailand to teach English. Since then, she has lived all around the United States, as well as a year working in Ecuador. Sara dreams of eating her way around the world and helping others do the same. Favorite travel memory: "Learning to ride side-saddle on the back of a moped in Thailand! I was required to wear long skirts to work every day, so I had to learn how to ride modestly like other Thai women. At first I was terrified, but I learned quickly and would often eat my breakfast while side-saddle on my way to work."

Stephanie Harrison | Cultural Exchange Associate- Teen and College Programs

Stephanie’s favorite book has always been a world atlas, and she has dedicated her life to developing international relationships and cross-cultural exchange. Her international experience started in high school with a German host family exchange, followed by a yearlong study abroad in Germany during her undergraduate studies, and a U.S. Peace Corps service tour in Ukraine where she taught English for 2 years. She has a BA in both International Studies and German from the University of Wyoming and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Portland State University.  In her free time she can be found knitting, cycling, and cooking. Favorite travel memory: “While I was a PC Volunteer I went to the Carpathian Mountains for a festival. However, rather than spend the whole weekend at the festival, I ended up in a small village helping dig a trench from a well to a house to equip it with running water. One of my fellow PCV’s had written a grant to turn the house into a shelter for battered women and their children in their area, but she needed some free help to dig the trench and over 20 volunteers turned up to pitch in. The most amazing part was the reaction of the Ukrainians to see this many volunteers at the drop of a hat show up to help out. They were so grateful that they prepared us a wonderful lunch that we ate together after the trench was finished.”

Rachel Stone | Cultural Exchange Associate- Teen and College Programs

Rachel’s first experience with international exchange was in high school when her and her family hosted an Australian student. From there, she developed a strong passion for cultural immersion and travel which motivated her to pursue studying the Japanese language. As an undergraduate, she spent a semester studying abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan. In Osaka, she taught English conversation classes and tutored Japanese college students in English writing. Her Japanese homestay experience was so impactful that it made her eager to get others excited about hosting or living abroad with homestays. She has earned a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Asian Studies from Lewis & Clark College. In her free time, Rachel enjoys running and going on spontaneous road trips around the Pacific Northwest. Favorite travel memory: “Watching my host sister’s school performance one afternoon in the suburbs of Osaka. It was in celebration of the Japanese national holiday ‘Health and Sports Day’, and at the event my host sister and her classmates performed a series of synchronized dances and other sports activities for their family and friends. I had so much fun watching the show, meeting my host family’s friends, and eating the delicious ‘bento’ lunch boxes that my host mom had prepared for lunch. I remember feeling like I was truly a part of their community!”

Julio Lara Silva | Cultural Exchange Associate- Teen and College Programs

Julio grew up in Argentina and quickly acquired a taste of traveling and learning about different places from the young age as he and his family moved frequently around the world for his dad's work. This led him to earn a Bachelor degree in tourism from Instituto Superior Mariano Moreno in Cordoba and served as a tour guide in Cordoba. He has lived in Bolivia, Brazil, and Guyana, and he is always daydreaming about his next adventure. Before coming to work at ANDEO, he was following one of his passions - coaching soccer. He is now excited to be following his other passion, facilitating cultural exchange. In his free time, he could be found up at the mountain snowboarding, at the beach, biking, playing soccer or watching his favorite team. Favorite travel memory: "Playing barefoot pickup soccer game at the beach in Brazil. It was Argentina vs Brasil, and we played until the sunset when we had no more light to play, we just jumped in the water. The next day, I was happy to find out that these games happened every day."