Wonderful Little Moments

Wonderful Little Moments

Rachel Judson

Dominican Republic 2015 | New Orleans, Louisiana 2016

Rachel is a Pre-Law and Social Policy Student at Brandeis University

Read her story below.

Hi everyone! My name is Rachel and I am a two time Rustic Pathways alumna! I went to the Dominican Republic in 2015, and then traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2016.

Both of my trips have largely shaped my character and career interests, and I am grateful that I can share all my wonderful little moments with the entire Rustic Pathways community.

I went to the Dominican Republic the summer before my freshman year of high school and was the youngest person in our group. I was excited to meet everyone because Rustic Pathways trips bring people together — from all different backgrounds having all different kinds of skills.

The trip focused on installing underground water aqueducts in lower income communities who didn’t have clean or frequently flowing water. Before this trip, I didn’t understand how water aqueducts operated, and it was also hard for me to conceptualize a community living and thriving without water.

Our group spent two or three days finishing the aqueduct installation, and the community was so thankful for our efforts, they started cheering when we finished. I admired the community so much because despite what they didn’t have, their zest for life never seemed to disappear.

Thinking about my first trip with Rustic made me excited to take more. The summer going into sophomore year of high school I went to New Orleans, Louisiana. This trip focused on helping paint, sand, and hammer, parts of houses that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Nearly a decade later, there was still a lot of work to be done in some communities where the hurricane hit the hardest. To paint and sand one wall of a house took multiple paint coats and more hours than I imagined.

It definitely made everyone in the group consider how much time it would take to rebuild these communities, but it also made me feel grateful that Rustic creates these programs so students can be exposed to these real world issues.

I came into my second Rustic trip with more confidence and more eagerness to appreciate every moment of the trip. By the time I fell in love with the atmosphere and culture of New Orleans, it was already time to go home.

Both Rustic Pathways trips allowed me to meet students from all over the country who all have different goals and interests in mind, and to this day, I see updates and posts from everyone over social media. Rustic trips are about helping communities all over the world, but they’re also about creating a community within everyone’s little group as well.

I’m thankful that I went on these trips because the experiences that I got from these programs became the root of my interest in sociology and social class. In high school, I couldn’t take classes on these topics, but when I got to college, I was excited to see what majors my school had to offer.

I was excited to study sociology because oftentimes, I find myself thinking of the communities I came across from both of my Rustic trips, and how interesting it is to study, analyze, and discuss, the value of learning about — and from — different cultures.

My advice to anyone who is thinking about going on a Rustic Pathways Program — do it!! Traveling and experiencing all my incredible adventures — from mini cliff jumping over a waterfall, to holding a baby shark — these moments are irreplaceable, and I have the entire Rustic team to thank for that.

It’s exciting to see how the world will shape you, and I know that through Rustic programs, everyone will be able to appreciate all of their own wonderful little moments.

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