Mission Statement

Academic Experiences Abroad provides international, educational immersion on a local level to bring people around the world closer to understanding and appreciating one another.  As travelers, we are guests in the communities and homes we visit. AEA encourages respect for and learning from locals, practicing responsible travel and actively increasing our positive impact on people and the planet.


What is AEA doing to be sustainable?

In our effort to be more sustainable in 2020, AEA is applying for B-Corp status and contributing 5% of our net profits to support non-profit organizations worldwide that focus on climate solutions such as methane capture; clean water and nutrition initiatives; vaccinations; and healthcare among the world’s most at risk populations. We highly encourage you to read Peter Singer’s book, The Life You Can Save, which can be downloaded for free, and think more about what you can do to make the world a better place.


How did AEA get started - and Why?

It may be hard to imagine a time when few people from the United States were visiting Asia, but Academic Experiences Abroad (AEA) founder and director, Sam Brier, remembers it well. After spending nearly a decade working with universities and NGOs in Japan, China, Laos, Thailand, and East Timor, he returned to the US in 2003 with a vision of establishing an educational and experiential avenue for cross-cultural exchange and understanding. At the time, China and the US were at odds over the Spy Plane incident, the Bird Flu was all over the news, and very few Americans were traveling to Asia.


In 2005, in an effort to create unique programs and facilitate meaningful connections for university groups traveling to Asia, Academic Experiences Abroad was launched. After just one year of successful programs, university partners began asking us to create programs to Brazil, Ghana, and Europe, so we started exploring those possibilities. As our clients’ needs have evolved, we have grown too, expanding our services while always keeping in mind the original mission. Today, AEA continues to facilitate connections and offer unique, customized, faculty-led programs. And our programs are no longer limited to Asia; they are available throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, the Caribbean, parts of the Middle East, and much of Africa.


Our travels impact people and planet – for better or for worse.

From the resources we consume to the people we meet, the cultures we engage with to the foods we eat. Our travels are not just about us. We want our impact to be “better” rather than “worse.”


  • Prioritize local needs in your program planning. Are they having a drought in the region you want to travel? Should you consider an alternate destinations? Do they want or need support in local schools or clinics? Will you be more of a burden than a blessing? AEA develops and maintains strong relationships with our in-country managers and team. Together we are constantly assessing whether or not our programs are collectively beneficial.

  • Know your role. You are a guest in someone else’s country – and sometimes in their home. Learn about and respect their customs and culture. Be open to discussions about your own.

  • Learn from a local. There’s no better way to learn about a place, culture, challenges, and triumphs than from a local. AEA can arrange special visits and guest lectures with entrepreneurs, experts, artists, and more.

  • Consider your carbon footprint. Carry a reusable bag and water bottle whenever possible. Limit purchases that involve excessive plastic and animal parts. Educate yourself about onsetting, offsetting and the social cost of carbon.

  • Bring needed supplies. There is always a need for more supplies for projects, schools, communities and more. If you are unsure of what is needed, please ask AEA.


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