How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways?
I have been working with Rustic Pathways since October 2018 in both Sales and Operations. I am currently working as a Global Program Advisor, helping families find the perfect program for them. Prior to Rustic I worked at the SeriousFun Network, a network of camps providing free summer camp for kids with serious illnesses. This experience gave me a passion for working with young people and after a backpacking trip sparked a curiosity in exploring new places and meeting new people, I found Rustic Pathways in Outside Magazine’s Top 100 places to work. It turned out to be a perfect fit.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?
The most fulfilling aspect of my job is knowing that we are challenging young people by placing them outside their comfort zones, but at the same time providing the necessary support for them to grow as individuals. I also really enjoy getting to know families and recommending programs that fit their goals and interests.
What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways?
What makes me the most proud to work at Rustic is the commitment to the local communities which we visit. This commitment combined with the guidance of our local staff members provide both our students and international staff with a feeling of being visiting friends rather than unwelcome strangers.
Why do you view travel as an essential part of every education?
I view travel as an essential part of education because of the perspective it allows people, especially adolescents, to gain. High school is a crucial time where kids build the foundation for who they will be as individuals. Being exposed to a new culture, meeting local community members, and forming relationships with kids who have different world views can provide the perfect nudge for kids to become more empathetic and self-aware.
How has your international experience evolved to make you an even more valuable addition to the Rustic Pathways team?
My international experience helped me learn the importance of investing time and resources into people rather than things. I also learned the value of a diverse set of opinions and world views. To me, taking the time to ensure decisions both large and small are being made with a global perspective is important to creating as much positive impact as possible.
What has been one of your favorite moments at Rustic Pathways?
One of my favorite Rustic moments was getting the chance to snorkel with manta rays in the Yasawa island chain in Fiji. I grew up in Cleveland on Lake Erie where the water is so murky you can’t see your hand in front of your face. So going from that to swimming alongside these gentle giants in the crystal clear waters of Fiji gave me a new outlook on marine life and the ocean.
How do you embody Rustic Pathways’ vision and bring it to life?
I try to embody Rustic’s vision by sharing my passion for responsible travel with families. This helps to educate and normalize the positive impact the experience can have. It is difficult to explain the intricacies of what makes Rustic programs so special because most of the learned skills are intangibles. But the more students that travel with us, the more people that grow up to view responsible travel as essential to their development and education.
Have you traveled with other Rustic Pathways employees? What was your experience like?
What I appreciated the most about traveling with fellow Rustic employees to Vietnam was the flexibility they showcased. One of my favorite things about traveling is allowing yourself to be pulled in interesting directions rather than rigidly planning your itinerary. Highlights included: motorbike trips over mountain passes, hikes along rice paddies, and awesome street food.