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Our Team

Sonia Ortega

Founder and Chief Executive Officer 

Sonia and her husband Luis brought their two young children to Australia from Argentina in 1979. When she arrived, she didn’t speak any English. Determined to build a better life for her family, she quickly adapted to the Australian life and learned a new language.

She could empathise with newcomers to Australia, knowing both the difficult and joyous moments that migrants face. With an entrepreneurial mindset backed by her personal experience, Sonia created Global experience in 1999. She wanted to provide the right support for students to help them settle in and enjoy the beautiful country that Sonia had come to love. Before she embarked on the adventure that is now Global experience, she and her husband hosted international students in their own home as well.

Now, after 40 years in Australia, Sonia is both a businesswoman and proud grandmother. She’s even completed health and wellbeing courses in hypnosis, integrative nutrition, mind-body eating, and neuro-linguistic programming (the language of one’s own mind). She also mentors and inspires young women and migrants who want to open their own businesses.

In her spare time, Sonia enjoys travelling the globe, arts, writing, and spending time with her family, including 6 beautiful grandchildren.

Sonia’s favourite thing about Australia: The freedom to be oneself.

Luis Ortega

Business Development Manager 

Luis, Sonia’s husband of over 44 years, has supported Sonia and her dream since the beginning. After moving to Australia with Sonia in 1979, Luis sought his own business path. He came Australia as a pastry chef, and within two days of arriving, he started working at a well-known French patisserie in the CBD. After learning English and trading in his baker’s hat for a hard hat, he successfully ran several businesses, mostly in the building industry.

In 2012, Luis suffered an unexpected illness which caused him to reassess and change his life dramatically. He ended his current business ventures and joined the Global experience team. With a new perspective, he enjoyed more relaxation and better health. Luis brings his own business acumen and wisdom to the Global experience team. He currently assists with visiting homes in the Sydney area.

When he’s not at work, he is on the hunt for the best coffee in Sydney and Melbourne, and the sweets to eat alongside. He also plays competitive golf twice a week, and stays on top of politics in Australia and around the world. He says his grey hair brings a lot of wisdom, and his 6 grandchildren think he is very funny.

Luis’ favourite thing about Australia: The outdoor life.

Agnes Ong

Chief Operating Officer 

Agnes came from Indonesia in 1996 to complete high school, followed by a Bachelor of Commerce at University of Wollongong and a Master’s degree from University of New South Wales. Although she didn’t do a homestay when she first arrived in Australia, she stayed with relatives she had only met a few times. She knows how unfamiliar students can feel when meeting their new hosts. Agnes would love to be a homestay host someday.

She speaks both Indonesian and English. Agnes has been with Global experience since 2007, and she is so glad she crossed paths with Sonia to know how it feels to “work for a family”.Agnes’ many hobbies include cooking (she loves Marion Grasby), playing with her niece, make-up artistry (she’s a qualified make-up artist, too!) and travelling. Some of her favourite cities are New York, Dubai and Singapore. 

 

Agnes’ favourite thing about Australia: It’s a safe and multicultural country, and you can’t beat the beaches!

Stone Du

Chief Financial Controller 

Stone is from Harbin City in northeast China. He’s been in Australia since 2005. He has a beautiful family with his wife Amelia and their two darling children Han and Abby. He originally studied Animal Science, but came to Australia to complete two master’s degrees in business and accounting. When Stone first arrived in Australia, he stayed in a homestay, and unfortunately, his experience wasn’t that great. Stone speaks Mandarin and English.

Now, he’s one of Global experience’s veteran employees; he’s been with us since 2009. When he’s not managing the accounts for students, hosts, and clients, he enjoys playing video games, outdoor activities with his wife and children, and watching movies.

Stone’s favourite thing about Australia: There are so many cultures living together and the great weather.

Nicolas Duran

Liaison Officer 

Nicolas was born in Colombia and came to Australia with his beautiful wife and baby boy in 2016. Since arriving in Australia, they’ve added another baby boy to the family in late 2018. He joined Global experience in 2017 because of his interest in human rights, development, and education. With a degree in Finance and International Relations and two Master’s degrees in Human Rights & International Law and International Cooperation & Development, Nicolas uses his Spanish, French, and English skills while placing students, liaising with hosts, and doing homestay inspections.

Nicolas is a beach lover and his favourite beach in Sydney is Balmoral. He also enjoys travelling and discovering new cultures, going to concerts, dancing, and trying international cuisines. Nicolas is our office DJ and always has great music playing. His favourites are rock, electronic and Latin music.

Nicolas’ favourite thing about Australia: He loves the people, the diversity, and the great variety of landscapes. 


Pui Ling Bon

Liaison Officer 

Pui Ling Bon, or “Bon” as we know her at Global experience, moved from Malaysia to Perth in 2010 to complete her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. In 2014, she moved to Sydney where she commenced her career in the international student education industry. After her own yearlong homestay experience with an Italian/Macedonian family, she connected with the students she was helping and enjoyed learning new things from their culture and stories. Now with Global experience, she uses her skills in Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay and English to place students and liaise with families. 

On the weekends, Bon uses her incredibly friendly and patient personality to teach ballet to preschool children, as she has been a ballet dancer since she was 5. She also enjoys arranging flowers and travelling. She’s a “fur mum” to three adorable bunnies. 

Bon’s favourite thing about Australia: It’s a multicultural country. 

 

Nora Maher

Liaison Officer 

Nora moved to Australia from the US in 2019. After falling in love with an Australian in 2015, she made the permanent move to be with her husband in his home country. As a Certified Health Education Specialist with a degree in health education, she worked in cancer patient education before joining Global experience. Using her education program management background, Nora places students and assists Global experience with various projects like host trainings and document review

Her best friend in high school was an exchange student from Taiwan, so she knows the impact of the relationships students build while studying overseas. Although Nora only speaks English, she uses her native English skills to help her colleagues, and they help her learn Spanish and Chinese in return. 

She loves hosting dinner parties and the occasional tea party. She crochets scarves in the winter, even though they aren’t needed in Sydney like they are in Seattle. 

Nora’s favourite thing about Australia: She can garden year-round and the amazing hidden gem of the Australian West Coast for bushwalking and camping. 

Lucy Lu

Liaison Officer 

Lucy came to Australia from China in 2011.  She received a Master of Translation and Interpreting at UNSW, followed by a Master of Professional Accounting. Before coming to Australia, Lucy studied television production and screenwriting. She’s also worked in property management and property development before joining Ge.

When Lucy was 12, she stayed with a host family in Queensland on a short study tour, but she didn’t have the best experience. Because of this, she knows how important and meaningful it is to find students a nice host family. 

Lucy has a deep understanding of cultural differences, and she uses her bilingual skills to help her colleagues have a better understanding of Chinese students’ needs while they are in Australia. Lucy speaks Mandarin and English.

During her spare time, she loves watching movies, reading and going for walks. 

Lucy ’s favourite thing about Australia: The weather. She enjoys the sunshine in Australia, which makes her day. 

Nicola Szylobryt

Melbourne Homestay Coordinator 

Nicola runs our Melbourne office, and she helps out in Sydney when we are extra busy. She came to Australia in February 2018 from Germany, and speaks German, Polish, English, and some Italian. Since joining our team, she has stayed with host families three times (while helping at the Sydney office), and she always feels like part of the family. She recommends homestay to everyone!

After studying business administration with a focus on trade and industry, she planned to visit Australia for just a few months to fulfil a lifelong dream. She fell in love with the country and has now been here for almost 2 years. When she isn’t placing students and doing homestay inspections in Melbourne, she stays active by jogging, going for walks, and spending time in the beautiful scenery of Victoria. She can’t get enough of the coffee in Melbourne. 

Nicola’s favourite thing about Australia: Everything! Beautiful beaches, snow, the outback, and Tim Tams. 

Ai Fujii

Sydney Homestay Coordinator 

Ai is from Sendai in Northern Japan and has been in Australia for almost 20 years. When she first came to Australia, she stayed with a South American family for 18 months, and to this day, they still keep in touch. She learned so much from her homestay family, and she sees them as her Australian parents. Her homestay’s grandchildren and her own children are now good friends!

Ai juggles her life with her husband and two kids and always has a smile, even when life gets hectic. When she is not doing home inspections for Ge host families, she can be found out in nature where there is no mobile phone reception. She loves escaping the city to ground herself through bush walking, camping, and other outdoor activities. Ai also enjoys cooking, baking, and art. Ai speaks both Japanese and English.

Ai’s favourite thing about Australia: From beaches to mountains, NSW to Northern Territory, every landscape in Australia is beautiful and unique.

Nadia Diaz

Caregiving Coordinator 

Global experience is lucky to have had Nadia on the team since 2004. Nadia came to Australia from Chile in 1970, and she hosted students on the Gold Coast in the 1990s. Nadia is proud of her experience with Ge and has held many roles throughout her time with the company. She feels blessed to have been a home inspection coordinator and now a guardian/caregiver for our U18 students. Nadia speaks both Spanish and English.

She has two beautiful grandchildren and loves spending time with her friends and family. She also enjoys opera and classical music, and she seeks opportunities to grow through self-development and spirituality.

“Life is beautiful if we know how to live it.”

Nadia’s favourite thing about Australia: The freedom you feel in every aspect of the Australian life.

Rosa Pabon

Administrative Assistant 

Rosa has been hosting international students since 2000, so she really connects with our students and hosts from her own experience. After coming to Australia in 1987 from Argentina with her husband and 4 children, her life changed completely. As our rock star administrative coordinator, Rosa takes over 50 phone calls a day to help triage student placements, host availability, and general questions. She speaks both Spanish and English.

Now, with 4 (soon to be 5) grandchildren, Rosa loves spending time with her family, keeping up on social media, travelling, and watching Argentinian TV, especially for politics. Her hidden talents are playing poker and canasta online.

Rosa’s favourite thing about Australia: The beautiful scenery and the opportunity to work and travel in a great country.