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Kelli Crooks' Employee Profile

School Partnership Manager, Southeast Asia

What have your own international travels entailed? 

My first international travel outside of the North American continent (I loved traveling to Canada and Mexico as a child) was my senior trip to Europe.  I had an amazing opportunity to travel with my AP European History class to London, Paris and Rome. From there, I couldn’t wait to travel some more!  Since then, I have been to Thailand, France several times, Italy several times, Greece, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tanzania and Fiji!

How has your international experience evolved to make you an even more valuable addition to the Rustic Pathways team?

I truly believe that you gain so much from travel – to the country you visit, the people you meet and the value of what it does to make you a better person, there is a new-found respect built upon it.  I find so much passion in these experiences and one of the very favorite parts of my job is seeing the love and value teachers and students place on travel and the positive changes it brings each and every one!

Kelli Crooks photos

How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways?

Since I graduated from college, I have been involved in the student travel industry.  I found Rustic Pathways in 2015 when I wanted to do more for the industry.  There is so much value in international travel in any capacity but add in the fact that Rustic takes you to places beyond the typical reach of where a standard “trip” can take you, the local staff that supports every location we travel to and the feeling of being a part of a community of like-minded and incredibly passionate people made Rustic Pathways home!

How long have you been working with Rustic Pathways?

I have been with Rustic Pathways for 6 years.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job? 

My job is to work with international teachers and administrators in some of the top schools in Southeast Asia.  These individuals are equally as passionate about international travel, about expanding the reach of where their students can travel with their families and providing an education outside of the classroom and into the world.  I love working with them to plan their programs to include the perfect amount of education, adventure and meaningful service to coincide with their curriculum and watch it all come together for the perfect week for their students!

What do you like most about Rustic Pathways? / What makes Rustic Pathways different from other international program providers?

Rustic Pathways is far more than just a trip or a tour.  We create a program that will push you to think critically about the people you are working with in the local community and the impact that you have.  The programs are intentionally designed to be able to immerse yourself in the day to day activities and include a wide range of activities centered around education, service and adventure.  Students and teachers who are a part of the programs will forever be changed from the cultural immersion that takes place and will come home wanting to do more to share their experiences with others and continue to make a difference in this world.

Kelli Crooks photos

Have you traveled with other Rustic Pathways employees? What was your experience like?

One of my all-time favorite experiences is being able to travel with my colleagues.  It is almost like traveling on our Group or Student Programs in the summer where you find yourself living and working with so many different personalities, people who may have different beliefs or values than you do yet coming together on common ground and finding you can be best friends at the same time!  Without a doubt, traveling with the women on my team in Fiji will always remain a core memory for me.  Each of us brought our own strengths and challenges yet we came together everyday as one unit and learned so much from each other.  I wish that everyone could have this experience!

What has been one of your favorite moments at Rustic Pathways?

One of my favorite moments with Rustic came in my first year of working with the company.  We had an all-company retreat in Ohio and just about everyone in the company from all over the world was there.  I met with people I only was able to talk to and see virtually in person for the first time and was able to learn and grow from every conversation.  The amount of travel experience each person has is incredible and I found myself admiring the work that these extraordinary people have done in their young lives.  The passion for what we do at Rustic Pathways is contagious and I went home after three days a better person with more drive to do build upon the mission at Rustic Pathways!

How do you embody Rustic Pathways’ vision and bring it to life?

You have to GET CURIOUS!  Look around you – what makes some of our most influential people in our lives the way that they are?  What inspires you and how can you do more to give back? When you think about traveling to other countries, what are the reasons you want to be there?  Is there a chance to make connections and make a difference for the local people and bring that back home?  Before you travel, ask yourself some tough questions and dig in. Travel is an essential part of every education at any age.  When done right, it will change you for the better!

Kelli Crooks photos

What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways?

There are not enough ways to explain the caliber of people on the front lines and behind the scenes making each and every program the most unforgettable fulfilling experience for our students and teachers.  Each one of us gets so much joy out of seeing the students give back to the communities they are working with and hearing the stories of impact when they return home.  Parents tell us every day how much change they see in their child after one of our programs. I get to be a small part of all of this and I don’t take that for granted ever!

Kelli Crooks photos