As we get to know you through the application process to intern abroad, it’s only fair that you know a bit about us too! Read on to learn more about the folks behind all the emails and phone calls. And, of course, feel free to contact us anytime if you have questions!

Xena Profile Picture

Xena Pulliam

Program Manager

Hailing from Knox, NY, Xena earned her BA in media and society from Hobart & William Smith Colleges where she also completed programs in English, aesthetics, environmental studies and leadership. During her junior year, she studied abroad in London and fell in love with the history, culture and countries she explored throughout Europe. She vowed to never stop traveling the world and has since lived on three different continents. Now based in Melbourne, Xena loves helping students discover the magic that she feels when exploring a new country. Xena has been on the internship team for just over a year now, and is having the time of her life finding the perfect role for each and every one of you. She loves the challenge of finding your dream placement and can’t wait to meet you all on the ground when you arrive!


What sparked your interest in studying abroad as an undergraduate?
My university was ranked as having the #1 study abroad program in the country by the Princeton Review for several years in a row so I don’t think there was ever any question on if I was going but where! I was most interested in hybrid programs that had an internship component since I knew that having an internship abroad would give me an advantage once I graduated and was applying for jobs.

What was the transition like moving from the U.S. to Australia?
Easier than you would think! I often think that living in Melbourne is like having the best parts of America and England (where I studied abroad) in one place. The people are lovely, the food is amazing, the weather is great and the accents are always a plus. I did find it a bit difficult to meet people at first, but once I started using things like Facebook Groups, apps and going to various meet-ups, it was like I couldn’t stop meeting people! Now I have a good group of people who I’ve surrounded myself with and Australia feels like a home away from home.

What advice would you give someone who is considering going abroad, but is apprehensive?
Our staff on the ground can help you with literally any situation you could possibly encounter and are happy to do so. There’s nothing that I enjoy more than helping students through the transition of living in Australia since it’s something I went through myself. We want you to love the country and cities as much as we do, so will go above and beyond to make sure that you’re safe, comfortable and having the time of your life!

What kind of value does having an international internship add to your resume?
Having an international internship gives you an advantage over other applicants when you’re applying for a job as you already have extensive experience working with people from different cultures who maybe speak different languages and who think differently than you do. Whatever company you apply with afterward then knows you like a good challenge since you went outside your comfort zone and moved to a new country all by yourself to gain professional experience. To this day, whenever I’ve had an employer look at my resume, my internship abroad is the first thing they ask about.

What one song belongs on your ‘study abroad soundtrack’ and why?
Over and Over by Ben Rector
TEAN Australia Internship Alum Anna Groom showed me the song before she left Australia and, I’m not going to lie, it made me extremely emotional that she was saying she would choose TEAN and Melbourne “over and over again.” I can’t hear that song without thinking about studying abroad and all the amazing students I’ve been able to help now because I would choose them over and over again too.

Leslie Johnson

Program Manager

Leslie’s first experience living overseas was interning with a film company in London during a study abroad program. Her favorite part of her internship experience was meeting local Londoners and learning about the city’s business culture (including making a proper cup of tea!). She decided to continue her international adventure after college by living in New Zealand for a year and then teaching English in Japan. She has her Masters in International Education from SIT Graduate Institute and worked at University of Florida’s study abroad office before moving back to the midwest to help students from all around the U.S. study and intern abroad with TEAN!


What makes TEAN unique in your opinion?
All of the staff are so passionate about their work and everyone has either traveled, lived, worked or studied in our locations, so everyone brings so much personal experience and knowledge to the table.

What is the best part of your job?
I’ve always enjoyed working with students! A lot of the students I work with are much more confident and resourceful than I was in college. Studying abroad made a huge impact on my life and I love having the opportunity to help students make their dreams realities. It’s also wonderful to hear from students when they return!

What should be on the bucket list for those traveling to New Zealand?
I love adventure activities, so I was super excited to try skydiving, bungee jumping and zorbing (you roll down a hill in a big hamster ball!). I understand that it might not be for everyone, but hiking around the area alone is still an amazing experience. Everywhere you go is beautiful!

What is your advice to those nervous to travel abroad?
I had never been out of the country before I studied abroad, so I was definitely very nervous before going. I was also much more reserved and shy than I am now. I made it a goal to talk to a new person or try a new thing everyday and that slowly helped push me out of my comfort zone and helped me become a more confident person.

If you could participate in any one of TEAN’s programs tomorrow, where would you go?
I’ve still never been to Thailand and I think our Tourism, Ethnic Identity and Heritage in Thailand program sounds like a really interesting topic, so that’s where I’d go!

Photo of TEAN staff Trisha Turner

Trisha Turner

Program Manager

Trisha is the point of contact in our Chicago office for TEAN internships, advising students every step of the way through the application and pre-departure process. Prior to graduating from Indiana University, Trisha had the opportunity for her own life-changing internship when she participated in the Disney College Program. She continued to work for Disney upon returning to IU, promoting internships and helping other college students achieve their dreams working for Disney. After graduation, Trisha returned to Florida for a Professional Internship with Disney Campus Recruitment, helping to recruit and support the Disney Internships program nationwide. After three years with the company, the travel bug bit hard and Trisha traded Epcot for Europe, working at a resort in Bavaria, Germany then spending two years, traveling extensively across Europe and North Africa. Trisha believes wholeheartedly in chasing dreams and loves having a hand in helping others travel abroad for their own transformative journeys. Trisha remembers well what it felt like to move abroad with no idea of what to expect, so always works to make the process as simple as possible for prospective interns! Connect with Trisha on LinkedIn.


What led you to your current role at TEAN?
While in school, I participated in an internship with the Walt Disney Company. Based off that experience, I was able to return to Disney after graduation and joined their recruitment team for Internships & Programs. It was there that I realized my passion for advising and helping students make their professional dreams a reality. After various roles with the company, I accepted an opportunity to work at a resort in southern Germany and spent almost two years in Germany, traveling across Europe extensively. Upon returning to the States, I knew I wanted to combine my love for career advising with my passion for travel, and focused my career search on international education. This field continues to inspire me every day and I enjoy my interactions with students who dream of that life-changing experience of going abroad.

Why would you encourage a student to pursue an internship abroad?
An internship is crucial for professional success after graduation. Knowing how much my own internship benefitted me professionally, while also knowing how much living abroad encourages personal growth, I think it’s an incredible combination for a student. TEAN’s internships are totally hands-on and interns get the rare experience of receiving close mentorship from experts in the field. If an international internship sounds at all intimidating, I think that’s all the more reason to do it! Our internship program is designed to not only challenge a student, but support them at the same time. Students return home with a sense of confidence and tangible achievements that will stand out on job or graduate school applications.

If you were going to study on a TEAN program tomorrow, where would you go?
It’s hard to choose but New Zealand is toward the top of my list of places I haven’t been yet, so I think I’d have to choose the University of Otago. I love the idea of living on the South Island and seeing all that beautiful New Zealand has to offer. I’m also partial to old, sprawling university campuses and quintessential college towns. I think life in Dunedin would suit me well!

What is your favorite travel quote?
My all-time favorite line that I’ve always applied to my travel adventures is “and I will learn to love the skies I’m under,” from the Mumford and Sons song, Hopeless Wanderer. I mentally reference this line every time I find myself in a new place, because it’s such a great reminder that traveling isn’t always sunshine and roses — it can be tough. Maybe it takes a day or two to adjust to new surroundings, maybe months, and that’s okay! Choosing to love the skies I’m under and remembering why I made the decision to leave my comfort zone in the first place, helps me see the beauty of reveling in my current surroundings.

Photo of TEAN Staff Dharma Bendersky

Dharma Bendersky

Director of Operations - Australia

Born in Sydney, Dharma studied Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong where he lived with many study abroad students and formed life-long friendships. This led to a career in international education and travel, where he has worked for over 20 years at Australian universities, study abroad companies, and leading educational tours around Australia and Asia Pacific. A dual Australian/American citizen, he has lived in and traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, and is a keen surf and landscape photographer. Dharma has a passion for adventure and new experiences, and enjoys working for TEAN to help others have life-changing intercultural experiences that encourage personal and professional growth.


What is your role at TEAN?
Director of Operations in Australia. I oversee all the programs and in-country staff.

What are some must-do activities for a first-time visitor to Sydney?
Doing the Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk, visiting the Blue Mountains, taking a ferry on the harbor and simply enjoying a day spent at any of the city’s amazing beaches.

What is unique about an educational experience in Asia Pacific?
There’s a wide variety of locations and something for everyone. Want a big city? Sydney and Melbourne have you covered. Want to live near the beach? The Gold Coast, Newcastle or Wollongong are for you. Want to try something off the beaten path? Townsville or Perth are amazing. Want to live in paradise? Nothing beats Fiji. Want somewhere laid back and beautiful that has a lot to offer? Anywhere in New Zealand is a great idea. Want to experience Asian culture? Thailand or Singapore offer unique settings and experiences you can’t find anywhere else. TEAN’s partner universities in Asia Pacific also each have excellent education systems with world class academics and facilities, plus a wide variety of institutions and subjects to choose from.

What advice would you give a hesitant, nervous future traveler?
While it can be hard to leave your comfort zone, spending time abroad (regardless of if it’s just one week or an entire year) will change your life for the better. No one ever regrets spending time in another country and culture. As they say, travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer!

You mentioned that you have a passion for photography. What is the most photogenic city you’ve been to?
With its harbor and beaches, Sydney has lots of amazing opportunities to capture great scenic images. I also love Paris for its architecture and style.