Our Team

Our programs are only as inspiring as the people that lead them. Without the care and attention of passionate, highly-qualified and dedicated program guides, our programs would never be the amazing, defining experiences that they are.

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jesse friedman, co-director

Jesse possesses a distinct passion for sharing the life lessons he has learned through years of travel and volunteering to future generations. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College, Jesse taught English in southern Thailand for three years and traveled extensively in southeast Asia, surfing some of the world’s best breaks and making lifelong friends along the way. After returning to the United States, Jesse earned his Master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island while laying the groundwork for Student Cultural Exchange. Working his “dream job,” Jesse acts as the lead guide on SCE’s Costa Rica “Surf and Service” program every summer, while continuing to add to SCE’s program base every year with new and inspiring program options. Student Cultural Exchange is the continuation of a career dedicated to helping expand high school students’ world view and global education.

peter friedman, c0-director 

Peter Friedman has always had a love for traveling, playing sports and the outdoors. After attending school and playing lacrosse at The Peddie School and Bates College, Peter packed a few bags and moved to southern France to teach English and explore Europe and northern Africa. After stints in Marseille, Tunisia, and Rome, Peter returned to the U.S to work for the New York City Department of Education as a family advocate for the Chancellor’s Office, helping foreign and low-income families navigate the complexities of the NYC Department of Education. During his time in New York, Peter worked for and alongside countless talented educators and policy-makers. While working for the Department of Education, Peter simultaneously helped build Student Cultural Exchange into a thriving company that works with hundreds of students in various program locations every year.

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Yofreth "Gato" Rodriguez,

Manager of Costa Rica Partnerships 

Born and raised in Playa Samara, Costa Rica “Gato” is a living embodiment of the warmth and generosity of the entire Playa Samara community. Gato is happiest when he’s with people and when he’s expertly riding Samara’s beautiful waves; thus the job of guide on Student Cultural Exchange’s Costa Rica programs isn’t much of a job at all for Gato. He prides himself on making every member of our groups feel connected to Playa Samara and is always eager to show our students a side of the community that tourists passing through will never experience.


previous program guides 

Below, please find a sample of our previous program guides, the exceptional leaders who bring SCE programs to life.   


Mitch Smith

Mitch received his Bachelors degree in English in 2014 and is now pursuing his Masters degree in Writing with a prospective graduation date in 2019. He has always been passionate about education, and has served in various leadership roles within the educational field since graduating from university. Mitch has been working school break trips and educational programs with Student Cultural Exchange since November of 2015 and is excited to continue working with SCE while he completes his Masters. He is an internationally certified ESL teacher and a welcoming presence for international students studying abroad in the US. Mitch is an avid outdoorsman and loves sharing his passion for nature with his students.


Alfredo Jimenez

Alfredo was born and raised in beautiful Samara, Costa Rica.  As a lifelong resident and community member, Alfredo takes great pride in introducing the culture, people and places of his beloved Samara to SCE group members.  Following high school at the Lice de Nicoya, Alfredo studied tourism at the Universidad Autonomy de Centroamerica.  When not helping to lead SCE groups, Alfredo owns and operates Samara Sea Tours.


Lancy Downs


Lancy attended the Hotchkiss School and Tufts University, graduating summa cum laude in 2016. As an undergraduate, she served as a managing editor for The Tufts Daily. She has enjoyed spending her summers working in academic settings with domestic and international students. Lancy taught English at the Great Books Summer Program at both Stanford University and Oxford University for three years before moving on to Salisbury Summer School teaching ESL and creative writing and serving as a coach and dorm parent.


Sarah Coulter

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Sarah grew up on Lake Winnipesaukee in the heart of New Hampshire. She graduated from the George Washington University in 2015 where she majored in American Studies. During college, she lived and studied in Vienna, Austria where she picked up German and traveled throughout Europe. Sarah lives in Boston where she works at the Children's Museum and studies at Tuft's University for a masters in Museum Education. She looks forward to a career in museums where she can immerse others and share her love for culture and history. 


Eric Ginter

Eric Ginter is a 2016 graduate from Castleton University where he earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Global Studies. Passionate about traveling, learning languages, and experiencing new cultures, Eric has spent time living in Costa Rica and China. His first trip to China was in 2012 where he fell in love the Chinese culture. He returned to China in 2015 where he studied at Sichuan University learning Mandarin, Chinese history and Chinese religions. Eric has returned to China for the third time where he is currently teaching English and continuing his study of both Mandarin and the local Sichuanese dialect.


Duncan Nelson

Duncan graduated from UNH in 2013 after majoring in geography and international affairs and minoring in Spanish. Having studied abroad in India in high school and Chile in university, he has a passion for international education and language learning and always enjoys  an adventure. After university, Duncan took the chance to travel through south and central America, before starting a summer teaching position at Brewster Academy. He has been with SCE since 2015 working as a guide for the Costa Rica and Boston programs and is currently pursuing an M.Sc. in International Development at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.