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Aimee Gunn's Employee Profile

Fiji Group Travel Coordinator

Aimee Gunn's Headshot

What has been one of your favorite moments at Rustic Pathways?

I am grateful to have experienced several fulfilling and life-changing moments through my tenure with Rustic Pathways. Reflecting on my time with Rustic elicited memories of moments when I’ve been wonderstruck with awe, drawn into fits of uncontrollable laughter or emotional over a selfless act from someone who renews my faith in humanity.

A moment that sticks out most to me is when I had the opportunity to lead a trip in Mongolia and also bring two Fijian staff to lead the trip as well. The Fijian staff had never left their island nation of Fiji or been on an airplane, so this was set up to be an epic adventure to the nomadic, snow-covered, Mongolian countryside.

We were out in Terelj National Park, on our pre-trip site visit orientation and had 12 additional staff with us. We had staff from Australia, Columbia, Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Fiji, America, China, and several locals from Mongolia. As we sat for the evening circled around the stove in our traditional ger, with snow lightly falling outside, the Fijian staff pulled out Kava (traditional drink of Fiji) and a ukulele they had brought from Fiji and performed a traditional Fijian ceremony to share their culture with our Mongolian local staff. As the bowl of Kava was passed around to each individual, we shared stories of each of our cultures over broken English, songs on the ukulele from every culture, and felt the world get a bit smaller in because we were in the truest version of a shared global experience. I reflect back on that time with a smile, as eight different countries were able to share a common space with laughter and culture and feel united through authentic human connection.

Why do you view travel as an essential part of every education?

The definition of education is “the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits” and I believe travel exemplifies education in an experiential context. Travel pushes individuals to step outside their comfort zone and to gain a more well-rounded perspective on themselves, humanity, and the world. Any travel, from walking a new street in your hometown or circumnavigating the world, is an opportunity to connect with your personal values and gain dynamic context on yourself.

What’s the first thing when students arrive in Fiji?

One of the first activities we do when students arrive in Fiji is taking them to a local beach. This beach is the picturesque Fiji of the postcards, with white sands, palm trees, and crystal-clear water. The beach scene is typically what everyone believes is the only thing Fiji has to offer, but soon after, students realize that this “island paradise” is actually deeply rooted in local tradition thousands of years old. The heart of this country is pulsing through its people, their connection with the land, and each other. Our students may come to Fiji believing they’re excited about the beaches but will leave remembering the smiles and warmth of the local people.

Most fulfilling part of your job?

The most fulfilling part of my job has been the opportunity to work directly with the local communities and support our staff to provide life-changing experiences. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on village meetings and drink kava for hours with the communities, support the 5-year plans for those villages with Rustics resources, and to train our local staff to provide programming that is safe and impactful for our students. I’ve been humbled by the generosity of Fiji and New Zealand. I am grateful to have another family where I can invest my heart and passions.

Nomu gauna talei taki duadua ena Rustic Pathways?

Au kalougata niu lako curuma e vica na gauna e va taucoko taki ka veisautaki na noqu bula ena gauna au a lewena tiko kina na Rustic Pathways. Niu raica lesuva na noqu gauna ena kabani, e votu mai vei au na vei gauna niu dau kurabui ka galu, ena veika au raica, na vei lasa kece kei na vei vakaugeti mai vei ira kece au sotava.

E dua na gauna ena sega ni yali rawa mai vei au, oya na gauna au a kacivi kina vakacakacaka ki Moniqolia, meu liutaka e dua na soqosoqo ni gonevuli vata kei rua tale keitou cakacaka vata mai Viti. Orau na gone ni Viti e rau sebera vakadua ni biuta na nodrau vanua se me vodoka na waqavuka. E rairai ni lakolako qo, ena tawa guilecavi veirau ena vanua ni waicevata i Moniqolia.

Keitou a sikova e dua na vanua maroroi ko Terelji, me keitou lai sarasara keina tini-ka-rua tale na tamata cakacaka. Ko ira era lako mai vei yasai vuravura, mai Ositerelia, Kolomibia, Ripapiliki kei Dominikani, Nuisiladi, Viti, Amerika, Jaina keina so tale na gone ni Moniqolia. Ena gauna keimamisa dabe rauni taka tu na matadravu ena loma ni vale vaka Moniqolia, lutu malua tu na waicevata i tuba, e rau qai dreta mai na nodrau i noke na gone ni Viti na yaqona keina na ukalele, me sa cabori na nodrau sevusevu vei iratou na taukeni vanua. Sa cabori oti, sa qai mai cawiri toka yani na bilo ni yaqona vei kemami kece, wasei tale tokaga kina na vei tovo keina dui vakabauta ni kawa tamata ka sa dabe tu. Lagati na sere eso ka mai caka jiko yani na veidredrevaki kei na talanoa cacavukavuka, kau mai via vakila ni via lailai vakasauri na vuravura ena veika e kauta mai na marau ena loma ni vale koya. Au dredre lo niu raica lesuva ni walu na mata tamata e rawa ni ra mai dabe ka vei wasei ka vei dredrevaki ena veitalanoa eso, ka rawa talega me keimami duavata vaka kawa tamata.

Na cava e vakakina na nomu rai ni gade ki vanua tani e bibi vena vuli?

Na i balebale ni Vuli sai koya oya na kena vakarautaki vakavinaka se kilakasamitaki na vulici ni vei lesoni, kena kena mai rawati na yalomatua kei na gugumatua ni cakacaka eso. Au vakabauta ni da dau gade ki na vei vanua tani, na veika eda raica keina veika eda vulica mai veira na taukeni vanua ena dolava vakararaba na noda rai. E vakauqeti keda talega me da tovolea e so na veika vovou ka vakavuna na noda vulica kina e so na ka baleti keda. Na veika kece oqo ena vukei keda vakatabakidua ena noda tubu vaka vuku kei na yalo, ka me rawa talega kina ni veisautaka na noda rai me baleta na kawa tamata.

Na cava nai matai ni tuvatuva ni gonevuli ni ra yaci ki Viti?

Dua vei ira nai matai ni porokaramu era vakaitavi kina na gonevuli ni ra yaci ki Viti, oya mera lai gade ki matasawa. Na matasawa qo, sai koya oya ka dau tabaki tu ena na vei taba eso ki vuravura taucoko. Na taba ni nuku vula, vuaniniu sua malua tu ena matasawa keina wasaliwa cacalivaliva ni dau siga vinaka tu. Nai taba vakaoqo, oya sai koya na Viti kadau kila tu veira na veisaravanua ka dau ro mai ena vanua ko Viti, ia era na vulica na neimami gone ni sega ni Viti dina koya. Na uto ni vanua oqo, oya sai ko ira na kena taukeni vanua, nodra vakarau ni bula ena veisiga keina sema e tiko vei na vanua kei na kena kawa tamata. Era dau vakanamata o ira na gone ni ra dau vei siko mai vei ira na vei matasawa, ai nira dau lesu tale ki nodra vanua, era dau tawaguilecava na yalo ni veiqaravi, veiciqomi kei na mamarau ni kai Viti.

Na gauna mosimosi se marautaki ena na nomu dau qaravi tavi?

Na gauana mosimosi se marautaki ena veigauna ni noqu qaravi tavi, oya ni dau cakacaka vatabaki dua kei ira na lewe ni vei tikotioko keina na leweni vei koro keitou veivuke kina, vakatalega kina na vakasala au dau vukei ira na gone ni vit ka keimami cakacaka vata i Viti. Au sa bau dau sureti ena na bose ni koro, veitalano ena bati ni tanoa ka biuta vata eso nai tuvatuva ni veivuke, tereni taki ni gone i taukei ena veiqaravi karana mai qaravi kina na gonevuli mai veiyasai vuravura. Au sa mai vakayalomalumalutaki ena loloma mai vei ira mai Viti kei Niusiladi. Au kalougata ni tiko tale edua na noqu matavuvale mena rawa ni ciqomi ka lomani kina.