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Kayla Anzalone's Employee Profile

Director, Special Projects

What is your favorite project you have worked on and why?

At Rustic Pathways I’ve gotten to work on exciting projects like gathering our Alumni Stories and Rustic Spirit features.

In connecting with Rustic Pathways Alumni, I hear their travel stories and how their educational travel experience has personally impacted their lives and how they view the world. Each student I connect with has incredible, powerful stories to share.

I collect stories where students share how their service travel experience caused them to grow as a person, how they discovered a new passion or gained self-confidence. They share that they now have a completely new view of the world and gained a global perspective.

I believe that understanding we all live in an interconnected world makes us all better individuals. Once you encounter new people, unfamiliar situations and different cultures out in the world, it strengthens the ability to empathize with others – Alumni Stories are a testament to that.

For Rustic Spirit features, I find teens that are doing incredible work in their communities. It has been very inspiring to interview these young individuals that are working so hard to make a positive impact on the world. It has shown me that age is truly just a number and anyone can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

For both these projects I feel so lucky that I’m connecting with young changemakers who really care about others and our planet.

What have your own international travels entailed?

Growing up I had the privilege to travel to Mexico and the Bahamas with my family. On these trips I had some introductions to getting out of my comfort zone.

I was very young in Mexico but vividly remember the excitement of swinging on a trapeze. I’ll never forget eating fresh conch salad made right on the beach in the Bahamas. It was scary but exciting to try and tasted so good.

My first “big” international travel experience was going to China with my sister and a group of other college students in 2015. We traveled to Beijing and Shanghai, saw incredible sights and ate amazing food.

Some highlights were walking on the Great Wall of China, attending a US-China Student Summit and going out to eat with new local friends.

At the summit we got to connect with other young adults at Fudan University. It was incredible to learn about how different people live and make friends around the world. We still see one of our friends we met in China when he visits family in California every year!

After that I was hooked. I have since traveled to Europe twice, going to Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Croatia, and the Netherlands. I’ve gone to Asia twice since then too, visiting Thailand, Cambodia, South Korea and Japan. I’ve gone back to Mexico a few times and traveled to Puerto Rico for my birthday in 2019!

I aspire to travel to many more countries, including all the countries Rustic students travel to!

What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways?

Striving for positive impact is at the core of Rustic Pathways’ values, and responsible, sustainable travel practices are a first priority. I’m proud to work here because I’ve witnessed the positive impact our programs have on both students who travel and the communities where students travel.

Students come back from the programs more self-aware and reflect on their own values after they connect with locals in another country.

Long-term service projects are developed from the local communities’ needs and Rustic works with local partners. I’m proud to work for a company that contributes to providing safe housing for families, improving access to education for students, rescuing and rehabilitating animals, and conservation.

Read more about the Rustic Pathways team. Learn about Rustic Pathways programs.