This month’s spotlights are shining on three awesome girls whose programs in Morocco, India, and Thailand far exceeded their expectations. Hear about their eye-opening experiences and the connections Nabilla, Sarah, and Maggie discovered within their new environments.
Nabilla traveled to Morocco with Souqs and Service as an Ambassador scholarship recipient. She had the unique experience of being an international student from Indonesia, so she discovered both American and Moroccan culture on her program. She has great advice for anyone considering a going on a Rustic program without a friend or sibling—which is most students!
“I was slightly daunted before I went to this trip because I didn’t know anybody. I was worried that I might not be able to make friends, or I don’t connect to their culture, but it turned out all wrong. I wouldn’t lie that there were some moments when you may feel disconnected or unfamiliar because you are in a completely different situation than your convenient zone, however that is the merit in participating in any Rustic Pathways program. It is a one-time chance to be able to stay in local’s houses or staying up late talking about Moroccan culture and values, so go for it. I am a firm believer that life begins beyond your comfort zone, and Rustic Pathways has proved that to me. Think about your life as a bubble, you have been seeing things online, but once you get out of your bubble these things that you see online will appeal to all of your senses. Touch, feel, smell, and hear. And don’t forget to always be open-minded, they may be unfamiliar and they’re different, but as you talk to the people and understand the values behind all of the different things, that is when you start learning. Go for it and be open-minded.”
“My trip to India was the most eye-opening experience of my life. India is the most beautiful place I have ever traveled to. I met the happiest people there and it was so amazing to me because the happiest people were the ones who didn’t have much. Before I went to Surman House, the orphanage that we were all volunteering in, I thought it was going to be sad, but it was the complete opposite. The children were so happy and grateful for all that they had and the family that they had formed. If anyone is considering going to India, I would say go! It will open your eyes to different cultures and people. It will teach you how to be happy and grateful for all that you have. You will also meet the most amazing people from counselors, to the people in the town, to the kids on your trip. Not to mention they have the best food in the whole world! If I had to describe my experience in one word it would be ‘life-changing’!”
Maggie joined us this summer in Thailand for back-to-back adventures on The Thai Elephant Conservation Project and The Hill Tribe Support and Refugee Camp Experience! She wrote to us about overcoming her fears and how her time in Thailand has impacted the way she’ll look at her future opportunities.
“I am a senior this fall, and up until now I have been terrified about leaving high school. I have a deep passion for travel and global welfare, and aspire for a career that will allow me to help people in different places around the world, but the prospect of living hundreds and hundreds of miles away from my family and friends scared me immensely. Upon returning from my 3-week-long trip, I found myself eager for college and the opportunities every day of my future will bring. I am more comfortable with myself, and more confident in my old and new passions, though I have no idea where they might take me. Whatever I choose to do, I now feel ready to develop and utilize my abilities to explore and serve my world with a positive impact, and I have Rustic to thank for that.”
Emily is a Phoenix-area native with a journalism and photography degree from Northern Arizona University. Prior to joining Rustic Pathways in 2015, Emily lived in Tel Aviv as a journalist for Time Out Israel magazine. Her passion for creative writing and travel drives the editorial content she produces for the creative team. During her spare time, you will find her hiking camera-in-hand, eating Mexican food, exploring San Francisco, and writing for Time Out San Francisco online.