An open letter to students with cell phones
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An open letter to students with cell phones

Dear Students,

We are going to ask you not to use your cell phones on your Rustic Pathways program. Before anyone panics, we want to explain our reasoning and hope you will commit to going phone-free while traveling with us.

Every minute you are on your phone—texting home, sending Snaps, choosing an Instagram filter—is a minute you are missing out on what is happening around you. You have an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in a new place, culture, and way of life, and you can’t fully be present if technology is holding you back. With your phone away, you are able to bond with your new friends, talk to and learn from the locals you’ll meet, and experience things you wouldn’t otherwise if you were still at home.

Going phone-free will take discipline and self-restraint. Your program leaders will have no problem reminding you to put your phones away, but there will be times that phones are absolutely unacceptable: during meals, activities, group discussions, and service. Yes, you can use your phone as a camera, but remember, cameras don’t send text messages. This approach isn’t meant to be a punishment, but rather an escape from our everyday, technology-driven lives so you can fully immerse yourself in your program. Your Rustic adventure is going to fly by—don’t let it go to waste by being on your phone.

We understand that technology is a part of your life, we just don’t want it to keep you from living your life. Technology will always be available to you, but the opportunity to experience life in Peru, Thailand, or Tanzania might not come around again. So when you get on your plane to start your journey, send one last text to friends and family letting them know you are going on an epic adventure and will tell them all about it when you return. Disconnect from WiFi and cell service so that you can connect with the world and people around you. We promise it will be worth it.

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.