What have your own international travels entailed?
Travel played a pivotal role in my self discovery and learning as a young adult. My first trip abroad was right after college graduation. I traveled through Peru and Bolivia with a friend. It broke me open, traveling the terrain as a backpacker and witnessing a completely different lifestyle while meeting people from around the world with similar likemindedness. The initial passport stamp paved my path for future trips; solo and with others. I sought out Ghana, West Africa, my first solo travel adventure. At 23, without social media or a cell phone, I found a local organization to place me with a host family outside of the capital, Accra and volunteered in a school for two weeks. With a small dose of confidence, I felt ready to explore on my own and traveled by local bus around the country. I hiked mountains led by local boys in exchange for a coca cola, paid honor to the slave fort in Cape Coast and met the market with color, smells, and sounds of hard working women.
I have had the privilege and priority of making travel a part of my life: bridging my passion for dance to the hard floors of folkloric workshops in Havana, Cuba and Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Digging deep to my familial roots of Italy and spiritual curiosity through Kerala and Madurai in southern India. One of my most beloved experiences was leading a program for gap year students through East Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda) and SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam).
These experiences have cultivated a depth and knowledge to what travel as an education can play in one’s personal transformation.
What has been one of your favorite moments at Rustic Pathways?
A valued aspect at Rustic Pathways is the relationship our (Personal Travel Advisors) team seeks to build and nurture, while also choosing to rally in support, encouragement, and share in the responsibility of making each day and client facing encounter meaningful and purposeful. We are a unified front who care about how each of each others wellbeing affects the whole community and how that behavior modeled naturally extends to benefit our customer success. This shows up in our daily communication, our team meetings, and in-person conferences / training; reiterating an environment of heart-led individuals.
How do you stay focused on Rustic’s mission to positively impact lives and communities around the world?
From personal experience I can reflect the mission with integrity, seeking to support and strive towards experiences that foster learning that only global travel can provide. Textbooks and classroom activities are supplement to in field learning; you get the pulse of the community. Client communication helps bring into perspective opportunities to support Rustic’s mission. When concerned parents call, afraid to send their child abroad, this is the moment that can change a mind; sharing personal stories that shaped me as a young adult. As well, being a parent myself I can extend an arm of compassion to their valid concern with reassurance that their eager child is in the best hands that will foster learning, personal growth and empathy for others and the new environments they find themselves in.
Why do you view travel as an essential part of every education?
From first hand experience, travel has been one of the most informative teachers by the essence of it being experiential. Travel as an education ignites (cross cultural) relationship building, cultural understanding and breaks down stereotypes while simultaneously challenges personal belief systems and social structures for awareness and inclusivity. Travel ignites confidence in places within that were untapped prior and offers critical thinking to local and global issues.