What have your own international travels entailed?
My first international experience was when I was a young child. My parents always instilled in me the hunger to learn and curiosity about the world. It continued well into middle and high school, with my first solo international trip when I was in 8th grade. I traveled to Europe without my parents and it gave me the confidence to explore, learn, and use what I had learned to shape my beliefs and character. In high school I found Rustic Pathways. I traveled with Rustic to Costa Rica twice, Hong Kong, Peru, and Thailand as a student. I knew even then that Rustic was a different kind of international experience. The connections we made with the communities were strong. The work we were doing was meaningful. Rustic’s philosophy and execution of travel was unmatched to what I had experienced. My travels have since taken me to 28 different countries on 5 different continents. I take what I learned on those trips into every trip I take even now as an adult. After I graduated University and before joining Rustic Pathways full time, I decided to take the solo trip of a lifetime. I walked across Spain on the Camino De Santiago. After 35 days, I had walked 500 miles, and learned more about myself and the world than I could have ever imagined. Because of my travels, Rustic and the encouragement of my family, I had the confidence to attempt and complete this amazing journey.
How long have you been working with Rustic Pathways?
I have been involved with Rustic Pathways since 2007, but only began working with them in 2011. I started as a program leader. I worked two summers in Costa Rica before joining the team full time a Costa Rican Program Manager, managing the Summer Camp Leadership and Sarapiqui Programs. I then joined the Program Staffing and training team in 2015 and have been working with our Program Leaders internationally ever since.
What makes Rustic Pathways different from other international program providers?
Rustic Pathways is different from other travel programs because of the prep work that goes into every student experience. Before the students even sign up for programs, Program Managers are visiting program sites, meeting with community members, and establishing a multi-year plan with the community. It is incredibly important that we are not telling the community what we think they need. It is a completely collaborative experience.
How did you first go about getting a global perspective?
I believe that a person’s global perspective begins at home. My global perspective started with the books I was reading, the stories my parents would tell me about my ancestors in Mexico and the movies I was watching about different cultures. Once I was old enough to travel, my understanding of culture and place has already started to form a foundation.