What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways?
I’m proud to work at Rustic Pathways because I believe it’s one of the few companies that truly has a positive impact on the lives of kids and the communities we visit. Take a look at our pictures, the smiles on both our students and the people we visit tend to say it all.
I’m always impressed at what students tell us they remember most about their programs. You may expect it to be the days of snorkeling, or hiking or working with animals – but inevitably students say their favorite memories are the new friends they have made. And I can’t think of anything more important than our relationships.
How did you first go about getting a global perspective?
My grandparents were first generation Italian Americans and I remember hearing stories as a very young child about family in Italy. At the time I was too young to fully grasp it, but planted a seed and a curiosity about a world beyond the one I had grown up in.
I really got my first global experience as a junior in college when I traveled to New Zealand for five months. It was about as far around the globe as I could possibly get. It was an amazing experience going to school in another country, meeting new people and exploring a new country.
I wish I had known about the availability of teen travel programs like Rustic Pathways in high school. I would have loved to have this student travel experience earlier in life.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?
The most fulfilling aspect of working at Rustic Pathways is talking to our students and parents. They have so much excitement and curiosity before they travel that the energy is infectious. It’s pretty hard to have a down day when you get to share stories about student travel to Costa Rica or Thailand or France.
In a surprising way, it is even better talking to them after they have traveled and hearing their first-hand stories about their pride in supporting turtle conservation efforts or having traveled to Thailand with nothing but a backpack and come back with new found confidence from having spent weeks exploring and adventuring across Southeast Asia.
What have your own international travels entailed?
Most recently I have traveled to Italy, South Korea and Portugal. I love food, wine and history so Europe tends to be one of my go to destinations – but South Korea was fantastic.
Despite not speaking the language, I’m always surprised at how quickly I manage to find daily patterns and familiarities that I enjoy. I’ve been working on understanding my own travel style for the past few years to understand what things I enjoy and bring me the most happiness – and what aspects of travel I tend to find stressful.
In many ways my personal travel style tends to match what we do at Rustic, either a few days in each spot while exploring or a base house where I can come back to the same spot every day after adventures.
I’m a little jealous of our students going on our brand new France student travel program this year!
What is your favorite project you have worked on and why?
My favorite project so far has been supporting our team on our Hawaii Service Program this past summer. I got to not only work with our students and program leaders, but also the local teams to support their adventures and community service projects working to restore the natural fauna to our base house in the hills above Kailua-Kona (the view of the ocean is amazing).