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Mary O'Connor Brunsing's Employee Profile

Group Travel Account Executive

Mary O'Connor Brunsing - School Partnerships Manager

What have your own international travels entailed?

I’ve had the privilege to lead and photograph Rustic Pathways programs in Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Tanzania, Morocco, Nepal, the United States, and Peru. I’ve traveled to 30 countries.

How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways?

I learned about Rustic Pathways while living and working for an international volunteer organization in Peru two years after graduating college. I applied to be a Program Leader/Photographer Guide, and spent the summer of 2013 leading and photographing our programs in Costa Rica (where I had lived and worked my first year after college). I joined Rustic Pathways full time the following winter. I worked as an Outreach Coordinator in Northern California and  the Pacific Northwest during the school years, and led and photographed our programs in Southeast Asia, and then Peru, during the summer months. I transitioned to a role as a Program Manager in Peru, and in 2016, transitioned again to managing school partnerships and supporting our Group Travel families and educators in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

Mary O'Connor Brunsing - School Partnerships Manager

How long have you been working with Rustic Pathways? 

I have been working with Rustic Pathways for 7 years- since 2013.

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

There are so many! One of them would be summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro with my entire group of 16 students in 2017. It was such a challenging experience, and so rewarding to reach the summit as a team.

Also, all of the quieter moments of cross cultural connection and kindness that I’ve experienced leading our Sacred Valley Service program in Peru. Rustic students live in homestays with local families, and watching them build relationships, play soccer, help with cooking, help their homestay siblings with homework, and learn from the local community there is amazing.

Mary O'Connor Brunsing - School Partnerships Manager

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

Yes, I’ve loved every experience that I’ve had traveling with the Rustic family over these past 7 years. From exploring the Peruvian Amazon, to sleeping under the stars in Fiji, to sharing an amazing home cooked dinner and staying overnight with my co-leader’s family in Marrakech, to hosting team members at my home in San Francisco and in Bend, Oregon, it’s always such a wonderful time.

Mary O'Connor Brunsing - School Partnerships Manager

What is some of your best advice for incoming participants? 

Disconnect from technology, leave behind any preconceived notions of where you are traveling, and be as openhearted and engaging as possible with every individual that you meet. You will get out what you put into this experience, so challenge yourself to try new foods and activities, get to know your bus driver, homestay family, Program leaders, fellow students, and the local mason at your community service site…. there is so much to learn from every person that you have the opportunity to meet during your program!

What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways? 

I’m proud to be part of a team of highly mission driven people. I’m proud of the sustainable development work that we do in partnership with local communities, and I’m proud of the impact that our programs have on our students, educators, and communities around the world.

Mary O'Connor Brunsing - School Partnerships Manager