Where Are They Now? A Collection of Short Stories Pt. 2

Where Are They Now? A Collection of Short Stories Pt. 2

We caught up with Rustic Pathways alumni to ask what is going on in their lives and if their Rustic experience played a role in their story. Read their stories below!

Allison Luing’s Story

Traveled with Rustic Pathways from 2015-2017 | Costa Rica, Fiji, Southeast Asia

I graduated May 2020 from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina with a Bachelors in Politics and International Affairs, as well as two minors in Middle East Islamic Studies and Latin American Studies.

In September I will be relocating to Japan where I will be working as an Assistant Language Teacher and cultural ambassador with the Japan Exchange and Teaching program for one year before moving to Israel to earn my Masters in Diplomacy and Conflict Studies at IDC Herzilya just outside of Tel Aviv.

Lessons Learned from Rustic Pathways

Rustic Pathways enhanced my global perspective at a young age and pushed me to learn about other cultures and regions by connecting with people and putting ideas into action rather than reading a book.

My experiences with Rustic Pathways introduced me to Latin America and allowed me to find a passion for the language, history, and lived experience of Latin America, leading me to minor in Latin American Studies and study abroad in Cuba.

Having travelled to Costa Rica, Fiji, and Southeast Asia with Rustic, I found that I have a passion for travel and adventure which led me to study abroad three times throughout my college career, including on a program called Semester at Sea during which I lived on the ship taking classes and exploring the world.

I fell in love with the Asian cultures while on the Backroads of Southeast Asia program in 2017 which led me to eventually look at post-graduate programs in Japan.

Overall, Rustic Pathways proved that it is important, and even fun, to step out of my comfort zone. My Rustic friends showed me the significance and value of having and maintaining friends across the globe from Cyprus to Mexico and Myanmar to the United States.

Most importantly, Rustic taught me to ask questions and reflect, to remember that people of all religions and regions have more similarities than differences, and to respect others customs even if I do not understand them.

These lessons are ones I have brought with me throughout my college career and will continue to take with me through my professional career.

Griffin Tidstrom’s Story

Traveled with Rustic Pathways from 2014-2019 | Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, China, Fiji, Mystery Trip

I am planning to go to University of Kansas in the fall and major in marketing. My story is realizing that I love people and love to get to know them and talk to them about anything all the time. This is why I decided on marketing.

It was because of Rustic Pathways that I realized this. I had gone to a very small pre-K through 8th and had known a lot of my friends since I was three. So I wasn’t very good with people, but going on Rustic made me talk to them and make new friends, and really opened me up to who I am today.

Robin Smith’s Story

Traveled with Rustic Pathways from 2013-2016 | Costa Rica, Fiji, Dominican Republic, India

I am currently a 3rd year at UCSC studying marine biology and earth science. When I graduate I hope to work with grassroots organizations bringing environmental education and sustainable practices to developing countries. I want to do this not only for the environment but also for the health of the people living there.

Last summer I got back in contact with Students for a free Tibet (SFT), one of the organizations I worked with when I was on my Rustic trip to India. Through that I was able to travel to India alone for 2 months and I interned with SFT for 6 weeks.

I learned so much more about the struggles of the Tibetan people and their beautiful, welcoming culture. This experience has so far been the highlight of my college experience and helped me to further realize what I want to do when I graduate.

Courage for the Future

I went on Rustic trips for five consecutive years, starting with Young Explorers Costa Rica in 2013 and ending with India in 2016. Between that, I went on marine trips to the Dominican Republic and Fiji. It was on those trips that I decided I wanted to study marine biology, and my recent trip to India was when I decided I also wanted to study earth science.

On each one of my Rustic trips I learned so much about how to be a responsible independent traveler, respect the communities I enter and so much more.

If it wasn’t for my Rustic trips I would not have had the connections or courage to backpack India alone. My travels and experiences have truly shaped me into the person I am today and caused me to realize what I want to do with my life.

Jillian Hausman’s Story

Traveled with Rustic Pathways from 2014-2016 | Costa Rica, Australia, Cuba

I was fortunate enough to travel to Costa Rica, Australia, and Cuba with Rustic when I was in high school. Looking back at my Rustic experience, I can see how it merged with my current pathway today.

I’m a year away from graduation studying organic agriculture and horticulture at Colorado State University. My trip to Cuba was the most reframing for me. Going right when America started to allow travel, it was (and still is) a place so much different from the rest of the world.

Our longest stay was at a restoration site transforming the landscape back to its native forest from a monoculture coffee plantation. Along with our group visiting various homesteads and staying on farms, it was what I called “beyond organic.”

Although I only saw a glimpse of Cuba, it helped me realize my interests and now a commitment to regenerative farming.