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An open letter to parents about cell phones
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An open letter to parents about cell phones

Dear Parents and Family Members,

Most of us working at Rustic remember traveling before smart phones and WiFi hotspots. We packed our bags, said our goodbyes, and disconnected from friends and family as we embarked on our own adventures. We returned home inspired and transformed from our time abroad, ready to take on bigger challenges and already planning our next trip. Travel truly is transformational, especially when you can disconnect from your everyday routine and step outside of your comfort zone. We want that for our students, and to achieve this, we ask that you limit the calls and texts to your child while they are away.

Our students learn and grow from their programs when they are fully present and actively engaged, and they can’t do this if they are always drawn to their phone. Technology keeps students from spending time with their new friends around a bonfire, or participating in a group discussion after a day of service. We have incredible activities and experiences planned for them, but if they are distracted by texts and emails—as well-intentioned as they may be—it does them a disservice. They become more engaged with what is going on back home than with what is happening in their lives at that moment. If you are unable to resist the urge to send a text or email for the entire trip, try to do so early in the morning or later in the evening as to not distract them from the day’s activities.

Since we now live in a hyper-connected world, we understand that little to zero communication can be a bit unnerving and frustrating. In an effort to keep families informed, we will be sending safe arrival and mid-trip update emails to all our families, so that texting your student isn’t the only way you get news about how they are doing. Should anything come up while your child is away, we will be in touch as quickly as possible, and will keep communication lines open until the issue is resolved. Please feel free to reach out to your Personal Travel Advisor first so that your child can focus on their program.

We hope you understand our stance on technology, and we highly encourage you to talk with your child about communication expectations before they depart for their program. With your support, we can help your child focus on the world around them—not their phone.

About the Author

Kevin Porter

Global Program Operations Director

Kevin has been  directing our global program operations since 2014, after serving as Ghana Country Director for three years. Now based in Boston, he manages our team of diverse country directors and ensures the quality of the programs we deliver on the ground. Prior to joining us, Kevin worked with development organizations in East Africa, completed research for the United Nations in South Korea, and oversaw wilderness leadership programs while attending Harvard University.