“A professional delegation is a group of highly focused professionals who have the opportunity to meet with their counterparts and experience the day-to-day challenges and successes in their global counterparts’ working environment.”
– Dawn Davis, Executive Director of Professionals Abroad
In April 2017, Professionals Abroad simultaneously hosted three separate delegations in Cuba, with the total number of delegates reaching nearly 100! Managing such large groups is no easy task; however, Professionals Abroad’s long-standing history in Cuba, and the help of a knowledgeable and professional support team, helped to ensure the success of the program.
The support team in Cuba is made up of many pieces. A vital piece to that puzzle is the delegation manager, whose sole responsibility is to maintain the health and happiness of the delegates. Of the multiple delegation managers who accompanied the three delegations in Cuba this past April, three include:
1. Dawn Davis, Executive Director of Professionals Abroad
2. Jennifer Davies, Cuba Program Manager at Academic Travel Abroad
3. Rebekah McCann, Partnership Coordinator at Academic Travel Abroad
“There are obvious logistical challenges associated with traveling in a group,” says Jennifer, “from meals, to boarding and disembarking a bus, to bathroom breaks.” “However, on a group tour or delegation, essentially everything is taken care of for the traveler. They (travelers) can sit back and enjoy their experience,” says Jennifer.
Along with managing logistics, the delegation manager also works closely with the local representative in Cuba, who is a trained professional with excellent translation skills. Together, the local representative and delegation manager work to stay on schedule, adjust visits as needed, and add special things for the group where possible.
Delegation managers, however, are not experts in the same fields as the delegates they accompany. As such, one might expect the delegation managers to get bored while accompanying professionals to meetings that they themselves are not experts in. That is not the case according to Jennifer and Rebekah. Jennifer “enjoyed watching the American College of Surgeons delegates absorb information and have meaningful exchanges with their Cuban counterparts.” Rebekah said she felt like she experienced a “more well-rounded view of Cuba compared to those who might come to the country for leisure travel.” Between learning about a profession through the Cuban perspective, observing interactions between professional counterparts, and managing all logistics on the ground, Rebekah, Jennifer, and Dawn can agree that there is never a dull moment as a delegation manager!
Dawn, who has been to Cuba more times than she can count on her fingers, “found it inspiring to travel with such a large group because each individual had a different reaction and view of the experience.” “Traveling with a group is great,” Dawn says, “because participants can have both a shared and personal experience, all wrapped into one.” After so many successful delegations around the world, and the success of a triple delegation in Cuba in April, Dawn and her team at Professionals Abroad “will continue to push for doctors, teachers, nurses, etc. to have opportunities to meet with global counterparts.”