Just Jump

Just Jump

Kelly Kane

Costa Rica | Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica 2017

My name is Kelly Kane! I am from Newburyport, Massachusetts, and I am graduating high school in June 2021. I went on Rustic’s Turtle Conservation trip in Costa Rica in 2017, the summer before my freshman year. I love hanging out with my friends and dog. You can usually find me reading or listening to music, or outside with my dog.

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

Rustic Pathways opened the door to an adventure I never expected I wanted. My trip to Costa Rica was one of the first experiences I ever had outside of my hometown. I badgered my mom for months to let me go on a trip abroad. I was looking for a short term trip for high schoolers that was similar to the Peace Corps. I had a family friend that went on one, and I wanted to make a difference just like she did.

Rustic Pathways brought me to Costa Rica, over 4000 miles from my home. It was farther than I had ever traveled in my life, and I didn’t know anyone. There was immense excitement bubbling, but I also felt strong anxiety. I had no idea what my time abroad would be like. While I still felt homesick, the people I met, and the work I did filled me with hope and joy that I would have never expected.

My trip leaders were some of the kindest and most down to earth people I have ever met. All three of them were so passionate about the environment and teaching others to do the same. I still keep up with almost everyone I met on the trip. They would exude happiness and support wherever they went. I loved having deep conversations on long bus rides or late night beach walks.

Being abroad was a new experience that I was not prepared for. I jumped in without looking, and I’m forever grateful that I did. Rustic Pathways helped teach me what the wider world had to offer. Growing up in a fairly sheltered community, I could only imagine what lay outside its borders. Because of my trip I learned how there’s an entire world out there that I could explore.

One of the most memorable parts of the trip was one of the last nights we were all together. We got to sit around in a big circle and talk about our experiences and compliment one another. That night Jen, one of the leaders, told me, “you weren’t afraid to jump in and help.” I think that advice will follow me throughout the rest of my life. I knew so little compared to some of the other people in the group that entire trip, but I was ready to help and learn which made so much difference. Even if you might not be the best at something, being willing to try your best and do the work makes such a big difference.

Because of Rustic Pathways, I was able to travel several other times throughout high school. I’ve spent time in Kenya and on a Native American Reservation. After COVID-19, I am eager to spend my time outside of Massachusetts and explore the world. My trips have also pointed me to a career path. I know that I want to improve the way of life for people around the world, but I want to protect the environment. Because of the lessons and experiences I’ve had abroad, I will be entering college next year as a biomedical engineering major with a minor in environmental studies. I could never express the absolute gratitude I have for Rustic Pathways because I know without them, I would not be where I am today.

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