What have your own international travels entailed?
I’ve travelled to over twenty countries and worked in many different countries around the world.
How has your international experience evolved to make you an even more valuable addition to the Rustic Pathways team?
My international experience has allowed me to grow and have a different perspective for what is truly important. It has allowed me to meet people and help those less fortunate in ways I wouldn’t have had the opportunity too. It’s allowed me the opportunity to collect data for foreign governments to help protect coral reefs, sharks and ocean ecosystems around the world.
How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways and how long have you been with Rustic?
I was asked in early 2019 to run marine programs in Fiji and while there, fell in love with Rustic Pathway’s mission around the world. I continued leading in Fiji for the remainder of 2019. In 2020, I was asked to come on full-time and lead student outreach in the Midwest, US. I am currently working to help pair students with the program best suited for them. I continue to love the work I am doing here at Rustic and am extremely grateful to be working for such an amazing organization.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?
The most fulfilling part of my job is that I am a part of something much bigger than myself. The best way to explain it is through a quote I love, that states “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro
What do you like most about Rustic Pathways?
I like what we are able to accomplish as an organization, which allows us to make the world a better place.
What makes Rustic Pathways different from other international program providers?
The many amazing, local community-partners in each country we work sets Rustic Pathways apart from other international program providers. The immersion with local communities brings so much more value to every program.
What is your favorite project you have worked on and why?
One of my favorite projects I worked on was the coral reef research in Somosomo, Fiji on an island in the Yasawa Island Chain. We provide data to the government of Fiji and share it with other NGO’s. That data can be used to help create better political policy to protect these coral reefs from being destroyed.
How did you first go about getting a global perspective?
I grew up in a small beach town in San Diego, which was less than an hour drive to Mexico. As a kid, I’d go to Mexico once a month to go surfing and camping, and to experience a completely different language and culture. When I was in high school, my family went to Indonesia for a little over a month. That was an experience that truly gave me a global perspective. In Indonesia I learned how to SCUBA dive and was able to see a totally different marine ecosystem on my first dive. It happened to be a shipwreck dive with octopus and one of the most gorgeous coral reefs in the world.
How do you stay focused on Rustic’s mission to positively impact lives and communities around the world?
It’s easy to stay focused on what I am passionate about. I’ve wanted to make the world a better place since I was five, so I am extremely grateful Rustic Pathways has given me the outlet to positively impact the ocean, environment, and many different people and communities around the world.
Why do you view travel as an essential part of every education?
I believe that travel not only makes you more cultured as an individual, but it makes you a more empathetic and compassionate person. The more cultures and communities you not only see, but you live with, the more you realize that human connection and helping others is much more important and valuable than anything you could ever buy. The memories and connections you make with amazing human beings around the world are priceless.
What is the most important thing participants bring home with them?
The most important thing that participants bring home with them is a new perspective. Meaning, the students go home a much more compassionate and empathetic individual. They bring with them a global perspective and the knowledge of how important human connection truly is.
What is some of your best advice for incoming participants?
To live in the moment and find the beauty in every second of your program, because it’s a life changing experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Part of the “ethos” of Rustic Pathways is to start meaningful dialogues and create real interactions with the local communities. How do you ensure your programs abroad include these immersive aspects?
In Rustic, we have a saying, “disconnect to connect”, which means to put your phone and technology away and live in the moment. Get to know the people around you, from the local community members, to all the other participants in your program, to all the amazing Rustic Pathways program leaders who’ve been all over the world. Your experience will be amazing no matter what, but it will be even more memorable and life changing if you “disconnect to connect” and take in every moment while on program.