My Rustic Pathways Experience

My Rustic Pathways Experience

Kerem Güra

California Dreaming 2016 | Rebuilding New Orleans 2015

Kerem is an Industrial Engineering and Economics major in Koç University, Turkey. He is also an intern at Procter and Gamble.

Read his story below!

Hello everyone,

My name is Kerem Güra. I am from Turkey and I experienced Rustic Pathways on two consecutive summers in 2015 and 2016, going to New Orleans and California. These trips with Rustic Pathways have had a huge impact on me and I spent one of the best times of my life in these experiences, therefore I would really like to share my thoughts and feelings with you and encourage as many people as I possibly can to participate in this wonderful journey.

First of all, I would like to talk about the content of the programs I joined. Rebuilding New Orleans was a program that focused on helping people who were affected by Hurricane Katrina that occurred in 2005. We did a lot of social work such as designing a school, working at gardens of local people and painting a house from scratch.

The program in California involved less social work, we traveled a lot to different camping sites and stayed in tents during most of the nights. These two experiences were very unique and beneficial in different ways. I can say that I am very glad that I chose two different programs to fully benefit from the Rustic Pathways experience.

My trips with Rustic Pathways have had significant impact on me. The program in New Orleans involved a lot more of social responsibility projects, and helping the people who were affected by the hurricane widened my perspective. In the second week of the program, we worked at a local house and painted the whole thing. We were working hard, but the company of my friends and the satisfaction gained from the job was more than worth the efforts.

In the end of most of the days, the two people living in that house (a man and his daughter) arrived at the house and we could see the gratitude in their eyes. Helping people who needed it made me feel useful, proud and thankful. Even though I stayed there for a short amount of time and we were a small group, we always felt like we were part of something beneficial, something that would make the community better-off.

The other program, “California Dreaming” offered a very different experience. Since this was my second Rustic Pathways trip, I declared to the group from day one, that they had nothing to worry about and this trip would be incredibly fun. We had social service activities; however, they were not at the center of attention.

In the first night that we were camping, I could not find my backpack and my sleeping bag since it was already dark. As you could imagine it was not a pleasant experience, so make sure that you know where your stuff is. Obviously, this experience made me more cautious and I did not make any other mistakes like that.

Camping and traveling with very unique people (people from different ethnic groups of America, a French, a Dutch and me) allowed me to have very unique experiences. Everyone enjoyed the company of very different people, and I believe that made us such a wonderful group.

I believe that one of the greatest opportunities that Rustic Pathways is getting to know very different people. Rustic brings together people from all around the world and despite the enormous differences in terms of culture, language, religion, ethnics and many others, creates a family. In Rustic, there were no differences (only a few funny questions regarding the country I live in, purely a result of curiosity), everyone was included.

I always had the feeling that people around me wanted to learn about me and also wanted to share about themselves. I even managed to teach the simplest sentences in Turkish, which is a difficult language for a foreigner to learn. The opportunity to know different people made me more open-minded and by the end of the trip, I was not eager to return at all.

To sum up, I strongly recommend everyone who has the opportunity to have this experience to try it out. Not only you will have an amazing time but also you will grow as a person and gain a brand-new perspective. I wish I had participated in many more Rustic journeys, and I hope that you can embark on this wonderful journey, with this wonderful staff and the wonderful program.

Thank you, Rustic Pathways!

Learn more about Rustic Pathways programs in the United States, or view more Alumni Stories here