What have your own international travels entailed?
I have always enjoyed traveling as a way to share and learn about new cultures and customs. I have been traveling internationally for over 15 years, but I have spent most of that time in southern Peru. It is not unusual for a planned one week visit to turn into a 3 month culture immersion. I am also a lover of the traditional road trip. Whether riding solo on my motorcycle or packed into a Volkswagen van with friends, I have had the privilege to visit all of the Latin countries of South America.
How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways?
While working on the maintenance crew at a language school in Costa Rica in 2006, I had the opportunity to meet a few Rustic Pathways groups and loved what I saw. Students eager to learn and high energy program leaders passionate about sharing inspired me to join the Rustic Pathways family. After two years in Costa Rica, I jumped at the opportunity to help open new programs in Peru. Wide eyed at a whole new side of Latin America, little did I know when I touched down in Lima, that Peru would become my home for the following decade.
What makes Rustic Pathways different from other international program providers?
The impact. Rustic Pathways in Peru is committed to positive impact. Being able to lead the push towards sustainable positive outcomes in rural communities has been one of the greatest honors of my life. In Peru we place equal importance on both student experience and community impact. The projects that we develop have a clear vision and detailed planning to ensure that our contributions are meaningful and enduring.
Have you traveled with other Rustic Pathways employees? What was your experience like?
All the time! Rustic Pathways staff are the best travel companions!! My coworkers at Rustic have joined me on overnight train rides in northern Vietnam, horseback rides on the Mongolian steppe, dirt bikes through the Amazon jungle and multi day treks over high mountain passes in Peru. The positivity, maturity and good nature that is so common among RP staff make for the best travel buddies!
How do you embody Rustic Pathways’ vision and bring it to life?
After 2 years working in the rural communities of the Peruvian Andes, I was inspired to do my small part to address some of the issues that I saw around me. In 2010, I helped to establish a local nonprofit focused on providing access to education for adolescent girls in the region. The NGO (Sacred Valley Project) built and runs two homes for girls from remote mountain communities so that they can attend high school in the larger towns. The project has been my passion for the past 10 years and my work with Rustic Pathways in Peru has allowed me to be there to watch the project and its students grow and inspire.
What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways?
The rich relationships that this job has allowed me to cultivate will last a lifetime. My coworkers are what make this job so special. Not only my fellow Rustic Pathways employees, but all the passionate individuals that we work with everyday in Peru and whom I now consider close friends make me proud.