Five Rustic Trips Later

Five Rustic Trips Later

Megan Kahrs

Rebuilding New Orleans 2015 | Good Works and the Grand Canyon 2016 | Island Living and Eco Service, Dominican Republic 2017 | Wonders of Laos, 2018 | Culture and the Crater, Tanzania 2019

Megan is currently a Senior in High School in Atlanta, Georgia, and has not decided where she will attend college in the fall. She plays basketball and has held internships with the Marine Biology program at her school and with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) as well as being a lifeguard for the past 3 summers. She plans to pursue a career in Medicine.

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

I was introduced to Rustic Pathways in 6th grade when my school offered Spring Break mission trips through their programs. I did “Rebuilding New Orleans” in 2015, “Good Works and the Grand Canyon” in 2016, and “Island Living and Eco Service” in 2017.

I was so thankful to be exposed to the Rustic Pathways programs in middle school because I knew I had the opportunity and time to try and travel the world which is exactly what I did in the years following.

The summer after my Freshman year in high school, I went to Laos on the “Wonders of Laos” program and had the chance to explore Southeast Asia and volunteer at an elephant sanctuary, which was a once in a lifetime experience.

On my most recent trip, during my summer after my Sophomore year in high school, I traveled to Tanzania on the “Culture and the Crater” program and had the time of my life. While I enjoyed all of my Rustic trips, my trip to Africa was the one that had the biggest impact on my life.

All of my travels with Rustic have taught me so much about myself, but also about the community I was staying in. I had never traveled by myself or with a group where I didn’t know anybody, but taking that leap of faith forced me out of my comfort zone and to make friends with the people I was with. Also, through the Rustic trips, I was able to discover my passion for service and for traveling but was able to create bonds with members of the community and make a difference in somebody’s life.

In Tanzania, I helped build a house that would benefit the teachers of the local school in the village. The bonds I made with the students, the teachers themselves, and the workers who helped us build still live with me today and affect how I act.

I was also humbled by my trip to Tanzania because we were sleeping under poor conditions and had no access to a proper bathroom, shower, or toilet, and were working in the sun and harsh wind, blowing sand all over our faces. So, by the end of a day of hard work, we were all covered from head to toe in dirt and sand and had some pretty bad B.O. We would go back to our tents and wipe ourselves down with wet wipes to try and clean up as best as possible.

This experience really gave me perspective on the area that we were staying in, considering we were 2-4 hours away from town. Many of the school kids would spend up to 5 hours walking, round trip, to get to school and back home and didn’t have access to a shower or clean clothes. That was their daily routine and it quickly became ours too.

From this, I learned so much that made me respect their culture. Education was so important to the families of Hayedesh that they would send their young, unsupervised children walking for hours in the dark, on dirt roads just to get to school and learn.

I was so fortunate to experience the different cultures of each community through all of my Rustic trips, but especially my trip to Africa. I was able to partake in activities that would not have been available to me otherwise if I had traveled on my own or with my family, but it was these experiences that taught me so much. I got to see how people in third-world countries live and was living under the same conditions. After 16 days in Africa of not being able to shower, I felt gross but realized that this feeling was the reality for the community of Hayedesh village.

Never would I have thought that I would be telling people about how meaningful my two weeks in the middle of Tanzania were, living a simpler life without running water, cell service, or a European toilet. But I also would not have been able to experience what all of that felt like without the help of Rustic Pathways, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Through the help of Rustic Pathways, I was able to travel the world and learn lessons about life, living, and privilege that make me reflect on where I am today. I have become more self-confident in myself by going on these trips and making new friends with people from all over the world, I have also learned to persevere through intense conditions knowing that the end goal would be rewarding, and I learned about a world outside of the one I was living in which gave me a new point of view on conditions that I was so accustomed to having.

Rustic Pathways has given me life-changing and eye-opening opportunities and I am so thankful that I signed up for that first spring break trip in 6th grade or else I would not be sitting where I am today, having traveled to five out of the seven continents by the age of 17, with a different more appreciative perspective about life as a global citizen.

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