Alumni Spotlight | Isabella, Cameron, and Maria
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Alumni Spotlight | Isabella, Cameron, and Maria

This month, we’re featuring Isabella, Cameron, and Maria. These three awesome Rustic alum adventured with us this past summer and shared some thoughts about what it’s like to travel outside their home countries, dive into unfamiliar territory, make friends from around the world, and accomplish their biggest goals.

Read on for their stories and great advice for any student considering a Rustic Pathways program.

  1. What was the biggest lesson you learned from your time in Thailand?

“Going to Thailand was the first time I had ever left the United States, so it was a very new experience. I learned and saw many new things exploring and immersing myself in the country, but one message stood out as important to me.

Don’t be scared to try new foods, activities, and people. This taught me to always be open and accepting to foreign cultures and people, in return allowing me to have a life changing experience. If you are not open to understanding unfamiliar ways of life and people then you will not fully experience the place you are in. I also realized the people of the country make the experience what it is, amazingly eye opening.”

  1. What advice would you give someone that is thinking about going on a Rustic program?

“If someone was considering going on a Rustic trip, I would tell them about my experience hoping it would convince them to go through with a trip. I would say how wonderful it is to not only experience a new area, culture, and people but to do so with a group of people that you will form a unique bond with.

I would also tell them that I was apprehensive about going on a trip alone, but it turned out to be the best decision I could have made. It forced me to put myself out there and make many amazing friends that I’m still in touch with after our trip.”

  1. Is there anything you’re doing now or plan on doing in the future that is a result of your experience in Thailand?

“My experience in Thailand definitely gave me the desire to travel more.  I am interested in doing another rustic trip next year, due to how amazing the one I did this year was.  I also am interested in helping people in foreign countries that are not as privileged as people in the United States.”


After Cameron Hackett traveled with us to Thailand this summer, he received a Gap Year scholarship that he will use in Fall 2016.

“Rustic let me live like a local in a place far different than where I’m from and for that I am grateful. This trip has taught me smiles are a universal language, who I want to be as a person, there are no goodbyes only see you laters, and so much more.

The two times I have left the country it has been with Rustic. I feel paying for this trip myself made the experience so much more rewarding. It took over a year to save and every second was worth it.”


  1. What was the most memorable moment from your time in Peru?

“Peru is an amazing country… and I loved my trip for various things, but my most memorable moment was visiting Machu Picchu. I remember feeling extremely tired after having climbed so many stairs, but when reaching the top, I felt extremely accomplished.”

  1. What advice would you give someone that is thinking about going on a Rustic program?

“The only advice I could possible give to someone is to go on a trip. Of course there are so many things to consider before applying, but it is important to realize that, yes, it is scary to get out of out comfort zone, but at the same time it is so incredible to explore the world.

Personally, I am really happy I travelled to Peru. It was such an eye-opening experience, where I got to meet a lot of new people… It was an adventure impossible to recreate, so my advice to you is to do the trip of your dreams, you won’t regret it.”

  1. Was it different participating as an international student? How was your experience traveling in Peru with both American and other international students?

“Traveling as an International Student was an incredible experience. Firstly, because I not only got to learn about Peru and it’s culture, but also about the other student’s countries.

It was amazing to be able to compare the different lifestyles and traditions from different countries, and as of right now, I am able to say that I have friends from various states in America and other countries spread around the globe.”

About the Author

Scott Ingram

Scott is the Director of Admissions at Rustic Pathways. He has spent the last 15 years in the student travel and experiential education world. Before helping families find the perfect Rustic Pathways program, he led gap year programs that took students around the world and spent three years teaching English in Japan.