Discovering a Love for Giving Back

Discovering a Love for Giving Back

Ella Richter

Aloha Service in Hawaii, 2019 | Heart of the Jungle in Costa Rica, 2021

Read our interview with Ella below!

Tell us your story, Ella.

My name is Ella Richter and I am a junior in high school. New Jersey has forever been my home, but when traveling with Rustic, I have never felt more at home–surrounded by new friends and immersing myself in new cultures while having the opportunity to give back.

In the two Rustic Pathways trips I have been on, I have been able to take away that when traveling there is a multitude of ways I can leave a positive impact on our earth.

Starting my 8th grade year, Rustic Pathways was an eye-opener to the loads of different ways I could leave the environment better than I found it.

After my first trip to Hawaii, I have taken steps to give back to my hometown by volunteering in school and social activities.

The community service that was most impactful to me was the service I partook in during the Heart of the Jungle trip to Costa Rica. We were working alongside locals to help build and refurbish a library to secure the safety of their community center.

While working with my friends to clean up the property’s landscape, we were able to see a family play soccer across the street. Watching the kids be so happy to play a game, brought me an abundance of joy. This encouraged me to want to provide a safe space where these children can further their education, followed by everyone playing a fun game of soccer.

The hours we spent with our peers and local members of the community have left a positive impact that I know will benefit those children.The work we did at the library will always have a special place in my heart.

Forever I will be grateful for the enlightenment of my abilities that Rustic Pathways have brought me. I now can say that no matter my location I know there is a way I can better our planet.

Did your travel experience help you grow as a person?

The trips I have taken with Rustic helped me grow as a person is an understatement. Getting outside of my normal environment and traveling has made me learn where I can thrive and succeed.

An insight I developed when on a Rustic Pathways trip was; what you have and own doesn’t define you. Watching all the members of the trip coming from different areas and lifestyles blend to form a bond that isn’t defined by material objects is a life-changing experience.

We are in a society that is so materialistic and dependent on the newest technology and objects that we forget about discovering the world. Being capable of detaching myself from the internet and mainstream society, I was able to form friendships and discover the amazing planet we live on. In the position to disregard a lot of standards and in some ways reality, I discovered a deep love for giving back to the community.

Do you have a special memory to share?

During our second week of the trip, we just finished the last of our community service and made our way to our next hotel to stay.

We walked alongside the ocean while cleaning up the beach. We arrived at an amazing location that was in the jungle, along with a view of the ocean. The peacefulness of this location radiated when we arrived, it was a surreal experience. It was a place where everyone was able to enjoy the quiet while still in each other’s company.

During the three days we spent at the beach, we were taking moments for ourselves and truly appreciating the beauty of the world. The three nights were spent having endless conversations under the stars.

One night we ran to the ocean to experience the fluorescent water. Watching the waves leave blue trails as the ocean drew back and our footprints leaving a highlighted imprint in the sand. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This beach had my group voluntarily waking up at five in the morning to sit and watch the waves roll to the sand to create an enrapturing sound. Coming to the conclusion that the trip was about to end was unsettling, so we spent our time together to end the trip right.

Each and every one of us took these three days to reflect on the two weeks we spent together. Reflection was a key point in our trip. We can recall the struggles, and endeavors accompanied by the blissful and joyous moments. Forever I will remember the awakening effect this beach brought me.

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