Gaining the Understanding of Others

Gaining the Understanding of Others

Ryan Barish

Thailand and Laos | Southeast Asian Adventurer 2019
Fiji | Big Fiji Explorer 2018
Costa Rica | Heart of the Jungle 2017

My name is Ryan Barish, a high school senior who resides in Henderson, Nevada. I’ve had the good fortune of traveling on three Rustic Pathways trips. Currently, I’m applying to universities worldwide, but not certain which school I will be attending. I have participated in various clubs and have many extracurricular activities throughout high school, but Rustic Pathways was my favorite.

All photos have been provided by Ryan. Read his story below!

My Rustic journey began after 8th grade. By this time I had been a veteran of sleep-away camp since the age of seven.  During those years, I developed a close friendship with two other boys. We were getting ready to sign up for another camp season when my friend’s mother suggested that we skip camp and pursue a trip with an organization called Rustic Pathways. At first, I was hesitant because I was so invested in this summer camp, and I enjoyed seeing the same people every summer. It took some convincing from my parents, but after hearing about the community service and awesome activities we got to do, I was in.

In 2017, my two friends and I signed up to go to Heart of the Jungle in Costa Rica. We had no idea how it would go. We were very small, innocent 14-year-olds who had not traveled many places without our parents, nonetheless out of the country. I could write thousands of words about that trip and still would not cover it all.

That first journey was terrific so in turn, I quickly signed up for another one the following year. Along with my good friend Dean, we signed up to do Big Fiji Explorer in Fiji (2018). The places we traveled and the service we performed in several villages was simply incredible. From the beaches to the mountains and through the jungles, the Southeast Pacific Ocean was life-changing. I learned so much from the trip to Costa Rica, but this trip changed who I am. We got to witness villages firsthand and see how people lived. I grew up in a very healthy and stable home, so I never fathomed the type of struggle that people experience. The trip was so memorable because Dean and I met a guy who would become a close friend. We went into the trip thinking we would meet new people that we would enjoy being around, but we met someone more than that who shared so many interests and made us laugh like never before.

The following year, 2019, I signed up for yet another Rustic Pathways, this time to Southeast Asia. Like the other two trips, this one was nothing short of spectacular. There was no community service involved this time, but we got to see the incredible traditions of Thailand and Laos. I was 16 at the time and still wanted to meet more people. This trip was so special to me due to the bonds I developed with fellow participants. It was certainly because I was a little older and our group was more mature. The journey to those countries opened my eyes to activities I never imagined I would do. We had only backpacks to stay at places for a few nights, did rock climbing on actual boulders, and learned Muay Thai. I was always the person who was afraid of heights and was not open to trying new things, but this trip indeed changed my outlook on life.

The Rustic Pathways trips have positively impacted my young life in many ways. The best part was that through traveling, meeting, and living with new folks I’ve developed friendships for life. These privileged groups got to collectively learn about other societies and also provide assistance to those in need. Memories and personal fulfillment to last a lifetime.

Learn more about Rustic Pathways programs in Costa Rica, Fiji and Thailand, or view more Alumni Stories here