Kelly Moynihan's Employee Profile

Peru Country Director

What have your own international travels entailed?

I did a similar trip to Rustic Pathways in high school, spending three weeks in Australia and New Zealand, and have been traveling ever since. I’ve been to about 40 countries and some of my favorites are Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Tanzania, and obviously Peru. 🙂

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

How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways? I started as a summer staff, working as a program leader in Costa Rica in 2008. I loved it so much I came back the next summer…and the next summer. I did three summers in Costa Rica and then was hired full time in 2011, and I’ve been here ever since.

How long have you been working with Rustic Pathways?

I started as a summer staff in 2008, full-time in 2011.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

I’m more behind the scenes these days, but I really value my small part in showing students a country and a culture completely different than their own. The experiential learning that can take place for a student in 2 weeks is truly limitless and I think that is priceless, not only for that individual student but also for our collective global community.

What makes Rustic Pathways different from other international program providers?

I’ve been on a few organized travel programs and what usually happens is that 80% of the experience happens through the plexiglas of bus windows. Driving around European capitals with a tour conductor reciting a script that after five minutes you don’t even hear anymore. I really appreciate that on a Rustic program, we use transportation as a means to an end, not to kill time. We try to minimize travel so there is more time for magical moments in communities, on incredible hikes, or with your new friends.

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

Getting students to hold tarantulas at a rest stop in Cambodia will always be some of my favorite memories. Watching students go from fear to fascination in the span of five minutes is so fun to watch.

How did you first go about getting a global perspective?

Travel is largely responsible for my global perspective. Travel changes you and has a way of making textbook topics come alive and impact you in a totally different way than in the classroom. I became passionate about conservation while working at a MINAE post in Costa Rica to protect sea turtle nests. Learning about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia from people who lived through it is an incredibly sobering experience. Landing in a city in China which you had never heard of that has a population of 16 million people will definitely make you question what you know about the world. All of these little experiences end up having a big impact on you and your outlook on life and the world. I’m very excited to see what my future travels teach me.

What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways?

The people I work with are truly incredible and the passion and dedication they have to provide students with life-changing and incredible experiences across the globe is what makes me excited to work at Rustic every day. I’m not sure there is another group of kind, passionate and amazing people quite like this one.

What is some of your best advice for incoming participants?

Come with an open mind, try new things even if they scare you, and ask questions. The more you put yourself out there, the more you will reap from the experience.