How has your international experience evolved to make you an even more valuable addition to the Rustic Pathways team?
Living in Manchester, England from 2016 to 2021 was a life-changing experience, especially by offering me the opportunity to learn first-hand about another culture. I welcomed the initial culture shock and viewed it as an opportunity to learn more about a beautiful country and people, and to grow personally. Wherever I go in life, my experience living in the UK and its impact on my life will always be with me.
Residing in England afforded me many opportunities to travel around Europe as well. Just after living in Manchester for several months, I had become confident in my abilities to plan and to navigate trips around Europe. Aside from traveling around the UK and Ireland, I spent time in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, and Czech Republic.
With every new adventure traveling internationally, I’ve observed similarities and differences between cultures. Still, I’ve learned to set aside presumptions and expectations while remaining open to learning from new experiences.
Traveling has given me a deep appreciation for meeting new people, trying new things (and foods!), and participating in new customs. My international experience has equipped me in these ways to be an even more valuable member of the Rustic Pathways team.
Why do you view travel as an essential part of every education?
I’m convinced that traveling is the best way to experience cultures and customs other than one’s own. Viewing images or videos of other parts of the world is informative, but limiting. Nothing can replace a truly immersive experience of being in another part of the world.
Learning through first-hand experience about a particular place, culture, language, and people is irreplaceable and indispensable; there simply is no substitute for travel or the experiences it offers!
Since the experiences and opportunities of travel—including serving alongside local communities—allow us to grow in many ways, socially and culturally, I understand travel to be essential to human learning. Education without travel simply is limited.
Therefore, at Rustic Pathways I aim to help more students have opportunities to learn outside of the classroom and through travel.
How do you stay focused on Rustic’s mission to positively impact lives and communities around the world?
By helping educators every day with planning group travel for their students, my endeavors move us all one step closer to making Rustic’s mission a reality once again.
It’s my daily goal to help educators and their students participate in our mission of positively impacting lives and communities around the world by helping them discover and determine the most ideal service-learning programs.
I’m continually inspired by the fact that the lives of students on our programs are also changed forever and that they return home to share their life-changing experiences with their own communities, continuing their positive impact in the world.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?
When I speak with educators who are eager to organize group travel with their students and are grateful for all I do to help with their planning, I’m reassured that I’m accomplishing Rustic’s mission.
Knowing that I played a significant role in helping educators turn initial planning ideas into a reality, thus allowing students to travel and serve alongside others, is indeed the most fulfilling aspect of my job.
Having lived abroad and traveled extensively myself, I understand the importance of travel as an essential part of education and personal growth. It’s rewarding for me to know that my efforts result in so many changed lives of students, educators, and the communities they meet and serve.