Are You Ready to Change the World?

Are You Ready to Change the World?

Sarah Altieri

Good Works and the Grand Canyon 2015 | Beyond Capitol Hill: Refugee Youth Tutoring in Baltimore 2016 | Rebuilding New Orleans 2017 | Marine Life and Coastal Restoration, Dominican Republic 2018

My name is Sarah Altieri and I am a sophomore in college studying communications! I graduated high school in 2019. Due to the pandemic, I am currently living at home with my family, but I hope to be able to get out and explore the world when it is fully safe to do so! Happy travels!

It was just a normal spring day at my high school, when I was wandering across my school and stumbled upon a brightly colored table that said “Rustic Pathways” on it. Not knowing what it was, or if I would be interested, I sauntered over as a lady said, “Hi! Are you interested in summer travel?” I said excitedly, “Yes! I am!”

After perusing the options and looking through everything, I decided to take a one-week trip to Arizona and help underserved populations in a food kitchen. Little did I know that this one experience would have changed my life forever. I quickly realized that Rustic meant more to me than I could have imagined. It was more than the service aspect. It was the long car rides laughing until my stomach hurt with my newfound friends, it was the sunset chasing, chocolate covered ice cream runs, and the late nights playing cards.

In the years that followed, I took more and more opportunities to explore not only the company itself, but also my natural curiosities towards service and adventure. From Arizona, to New Orleans, Baltimore, and the Dominican Republic, I have learned that Rustic Pathways to me means family. Some of my closest friends I still have to this day have come from the memories and experiences we shared together on those trips, and it makes me proud knowing that not only did I make a difference in communities across the world, but that Rustic had an impact on me as well.

Since the trips have passed, I have realized that my passion for service was sparked during my trips with Rustic. I remember specifically, when I was in Baltimore, I was asked to co-teach a STEAM class. I was terrified. Since math and science are not my strong subjects in school, I had no idea how I was going to make it through this in one piece. The first day of class comes, and I begin to shake. The assignment the kids needed to follow was a simple one: build a car using certain materials we would provide. It needed to move as well. I was paired up with one girl, and when she asked for my help, I froze.

“Can you help me glue this onto my car?” she asked as she handed me a brightly colored piece of pink paper.

I let out a huge sigh of relief knowing this was the hardest thing she needed to help me. Once I showed her how to glue on her paper, she was gluing everything in sight to her car, and even made it move by herself. I was so impressed, not only with myself, but her confidence as well. This moment made me realize that it’s usually the little things in life that we don’t think about that give us such an impact. A smile from a stranger. A wave from a distance. A hug. The simple act of helping others. For me, it was the simple act of helping others that pushed me to do more.

Since my trips with Rustic, I have used this newfound sense of service to help in other ways. Most notably, I have sent postcards to Georgians for the recent 2021 Senate runoff elections to help Get Out The Vote efforts. Knowing that my little action of sending a small postcard potentially got one more person out to vote inspires me everyday. Similarly, knowing that my one action on a trip with Rustic impacted one person to change their lives or the lives of others, is truly inspiring to me. It makes me want to continue to lift up the voices of those who don’t or can’t share their truth.

Ultimately, if I had to sum this up, or provide my thesis statement if you will, I would say this: Although I initially did not think that my experiences with Rustic would have transcended beyond the duration of my trip, I now know that Rustic Pathways has inspired me to continue to do what I love and lend a helping hand to those in need. After all, the world could use a little more kindness these days, and I am happy to be someone who can provide just a little spark of hope.

So, what are you waiting for? Are you ready to change the world? Rustic Pathways will help you realize your dreams and then some. Get packing, your plane leaves soon.

Learn more about Rustic Pathways programs in the United States, or view more Alumni Stories here