Finding Me

Finding Me

Jill Frazo

Peru 2018 | Dominican Republic 2019

Jill is a student at Alfred University, currently studying Political Science. She plans to dedicate her life to the service of others.

All photos have been provided by Jill. Read her story below!

As a kid I wasn’t exactly meek, but I lacked the confidence in myself to project my true identity. Once I started the transition to adulthood, it became clear to me that I couldn’t get anywhere in life without believing in myself. Because if I didn’t, who else would?

Programs through Rustic Pathways presented an opportunity for me to gain what I needed while helping others receive what they needed. Here, I found a purpose. One I hope to pursue everyday in my life. I believe that transformative travel is the only reason I have even a slight idea of what I want to keep pushing towards everyday. I believe that my true fulfillment lies in the fulfillment of others. To realize this, I had to put myself into my “un-comfort” zone. I am all the better for it.

I was scared. After all, the start to any adventure can be scary, not to mention one that begins on the other side of the world. First, I had to realize my privilege and all that comes with it. I am not defensive when it comes to this. I realize that I am in a rather solid and comfortable place, I will face less challenges in my entire life than some encounter every day. That’s ok. What I needed to recognize is that I am in a unique position to use my privilege to help others. I am of able body and able mind to commit to helping others all the while bettering myself.

First I sought this out in Peru. With my group, I traveled to the village of Huilloc Alto to assist in the construction of a school. At first, you don’t quite grasp what being 15,000 feet above sea level does to your body when you are not used to it. I was rudely awakened to find that taking three steps had me winded beyond belief. But it didn’t matter. I was there for a purpose that I was committed to seeing it through.

On this project I pushed myself harder than I ever had before, harder than I believed I could. In exchange for my service, I was welcomed into the village by some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They welcomed strangers into their homes with a kindness and a love I can only hope to replicate. My service in Peru taught me to persevere with a strength I had no idea I possessed. A kind of confidence that would last me for years to come.

My next adventure brought me to the Dominican Republic. Having previously traveled with Rustic Pathways, I assumed that I knew exactly what I would take away from this trip. I believed that I knew what to expect and that I knew how to handle it. But I was wrong.

This project brought with it new personal challenges. Both physical and mental. I was once again ejected from my comfort zone and into a place of true growth. I needed it. A completely different project in a completely different place. And once again I was able to push myself further than I ever thought possible.

During my last trip I was a senior in high school, expected to be able to decide my future with little life experience. That’s a hard thing to ask of a seventeen year old. My time with Rustic Pathways allowed me to gain a new perspective on my life.

Yes I am still unsure about where life will take me, but I have learned enough about myself to put myself into a career where I can work towards the service of others. And I know that I can handle any twists and turns that are thrown at me, with a smile on my face. Without these projects I would have never known what I was capable of. I would have never met the real me.

Learn more about Rustic Pathways programs in Peru and the Dominican Republic, or view more Alumni Stories here