How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways?
In 2015, I was working as an art teacher in Baltimore, Maryland when my friend from University posted the Program Leader application on Facebook. She helped me with the application and before I knew it, I was headed to Thailand to run what is now the Intro to Community Service program. I was so overwhelmed by the powerful combination of student and community impact. The students on that program grew more in the two weeks I spent with them than my students in the classroom accomplished in years. It was like magic! Plus, completing 39 hours of community service in 2 weeks showed me a side of the world that I didn’t even know to miss.
Fast forward a year and I left the classroom to lead programs in Fiji for a year and a half. I had so many beautiful experiences in Fiji- sky diving three times in one day, learning to surf, endless Kava sessions with people I now consider family. The students continued to blow me away and the more I learned about our community service impact, the more passionate I became about Rustic.
All good things must come to an end, though, and my time came to return home to Ohio. I wasn’t sure what the future held in the fall of 2017, but I was hopeful that the road would somehow lead back to Rustic Pathways. Fortunately, the same friend who helped me start out with Rustic Pathways was able to hook me up once again and I started in the Personal Travel Advisor position soon after I returned to Ohio. This position has allowed me to learn about our operations throughout the world, interact with parents and families who share our passion and vision, and grow in personal and professional ways that I never could have predicted.
Why do you view travel as an essential part of every education?
An incomparable shift occurs when people realize how big the world truly is. When you’re young, it’s easy to get caught up in your direct surroundings- drama at school, sports, grades… it can get overwhelming and it’s easy to have a narrow scope of what’s important. When you go outside of your comfort zone, your priorities can change in a massive way. Rustic Pathways opens up that opportunity for high school students and watching the shift in students’ perspective is something I could never get enough of. If EVERY student had the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and grow in the way that only traveling to another place and experiencing a different culture can provide, the impact on the world would be monumental.
What have your own international travels entailed?
I would like to think that the beautiful aspects of each location I’ve visited make me who I am, as much as they make up the Rustic Pathways vision and mission. The resilience and grit of Cambodia, the warmth and laughter of Fiji, the smiles and deep consideration of Thailand, the fun and adventurous spirit of Australia, and the beauty and wonder of Costa Rica. The stamps in our passports represent the most incredible moments of our lives and to be a part of that for Rustic Pathways students drives my passion for this company.
How do you embody Rustic Pathways’ vision and bring it to life?
I try to carry the philanthropic spirit of Rustic Pathways into my everyday life. Every action can have a massive impact on the world around you, so I try to make mine positive. Being mindful of the privilege that traveling has provided and trying to pour those joys back into my everyday life is how I carry out our vision.