Natalya Morgan's Employee Profile

Tanzania Country Director

How long have you been working with Rustic Pathways?

I have been working for Rustic Pathways since the summer of 2014. I started as a Program Leader, working in Southeast Asia and India with student travel, school groups, and gap programs. I then worked for Rustic Pathways in a dual-role capacity, splitting my time between visiting schools in the Southwest of the United States, and program management in Tanzania. I now currently have the pleasure of working as Rustic’s Tanzania Country Director. Since then, my Rustic travels have taken me from the sand dunes of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, to the verdant countryside of the Dominican Republic, doing what I consider my dream job.

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

It is certainly hard to pick one, but one of my most recent favorite moments was during Team Tanzania’s most recent spring Program Leader staff training. Every season we hold a week-long staff training, and I get to witness the passion, dedication, and commitment that our Tanzanian team has to welcoming students to their country, and guiding them through a powerfully positive experience on their program. Watching program leaders lead students on programs is a special thing, but something about our team sitting together and discussing Rustic’s mission, vision, and values, sharing our own team philosophy, is always incredibly humbling. The fact that I’m sharing space with people who would go to the moon and back to assure that their students are safe, healthy, inquisitive, and inspired, and that to me is always a top favorite moment.

Part of the “ethos” of Rustic Pathways is to start meaningful dialogues and create real interactions with the local communities. How do you ensure your programs abroad include these immersive aspects?

The combination of Rustic Pathways’ Tanzania programming along with the local culture of hospitality, warmth, and sharing, makes it virtually impossible to not be culturally immersed on a Rustic Pathways program. Whether you are doing something high-adventure like Climbing Kilimanjaro, or exploring local issues with grassroots organizations on African Environmental Conservation, our students are always working and learning alongside local community members and local organizations. Every day, students are invited to experience a glimpse at local life, whether it’s learning from a baba how to milk his cow or take care of his animals, to a cooking class with a mama, who is passing down how she learned how to make traditional Swahili dishes as a girl, or even walking home from school with local children to literally experience a walk in their shoes and see firsthand the challenges of access to education. From eye-opening conversations with village elders, songs sung with community members, and the day to day interactions with the communities and organizations that host our students, students are interacting with real people from their communities throughout their time in Tanzania.

How did you first go about getting a global perspective?

Although I thought that I had a pretty well rounded set of life experiences when I was in college, what with a combination of my education and time studying abroad in Kenya, based at a wildlife research station. However I don’t think that I truly understood what global perspective was until my first year living abroad after university, working as a program leader with Rustic Pathways. I lived in Thailand at the time, and being completely immersed in a culture other than my own, and learning about different perspectives from those who had walked different walks of life than my own, was the true real-world experience of what I thought I had already learned from school.