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From Tentmates in Peru to Roommates at Tufts University
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From Tentmates in Peru to Roommates at Tufts University

Rustic Pathways’ service trips for high school students don’t end when the program finishes. In fact, for most students, their Rustic trip is just the beginning of lifelong friendships. Take Rustic alumni Bridget Moynihan, from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Olivia Halstead, from London. These two met in Peru on Rustic’s Sacred Valley Service program in 2015. At the time they didn’t know their paths would cross again a few years later! Here’s their story:

Why did you choose to travel to Peru?

Olivia: I had really fallen in love with the service aspect of Rustic Pathways trips, and the Sacred Valley Service program had a large amount of service hours. I also chose Peru over the other programs because one of my life goals is to travel to all seven continents before I die, and South America was one of the last two continents that I had not been to. (I haven’t been to Antarctica either and am still hoping to find someone who will go with me!).

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Bridget and Olivia in the Sacred Valley in 2015.

Bridget: When I was choosing a place to go I had just finished studying ancient Latin America, and I loved that we would be going to Machu Picchu. Since it was my first trip abroad without my family , my family and I liked that it had a shorter flight. When choosing a trip, I was looking for one with a lot of service, and a lot of cultural immersion. I loved the Sacred Valley Service trip because we spent a lot of time doing service and getting to know the community we were staying in.

Olivia, what was your favorite part of your time in Peru?

Olivia: I loved my leaders and my group. They were all amazing and I have never had such an amazing experience with a bunch of “strangers” since. I also loved being able to work alongside the Peruvian locals because I actually got to meet the people that I was digging the pipeline for and that just made the experience even more worthwhile and amazing.

Bridget, you’re from Minnesota, and Olivia, you’re from London. How did you stay in touch after your trip?

Olivia: We stayed in touch through Facebook, Snapchat, texts—pretty much any form of social media. We hadn’t seen each other for over two years until we ended up going to the same college and decided to be roommates at Tufts University!

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Olivia and Bridget on the Tufts campus this year.

How did you decide to room together?

Bridget: Olivia asked me initially, and I’m really glad she did. From our Rustic trip we knew we got along really well. Rustic trips can be intense and you get to know everyone very well in a very short period of time. I knew we’d still get along, but at the same time, since we had not seen each other since our trip, we weren’t so close that I thought rooming together would be any sort of issue (we wouldn’t cling to each other and not make other friends).

How is your Rustic friendship different from all your other friendships?

Bridget: It has been really nice to go into college with Olivia because if we can get along as well as we did on an intense, jam-packed trip where we were pushing our comfort zones, I think we can get along in any setting, which I’ve found we really can. The kids I’ve met on Rustic trips are some of the best people I’ve ever met, and I’ve loved doing these trips with very like-minded kids, it makes the experience so much better.

Olivia: I think the best part about becoming friends in another country and keeping that friendship strong is having someone with similar interests. Not everyone is willing to go on a Rustic trip, as it may be too outside their comfort zones, let alone go on multiple Rustic trips like Bridget and I did.

Bridget, Olivia, thanks so much for sharing your Rustic story with us. Good luck with your first year at Tufts! Rustic alumni—what’s your #sorustic friendship story? Reach out to me at alumni@rusticpathways.com for a chance to be featured on the blog and in our Alumni Association Newsletter!


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About the Author

Rachel Levin

Brand Engagement Manager

Rachel joined Rustic in 2013 and led programs for three summers in Costa Rica, Peru, and Ghana. She’s also led programs in Fiji and Tanzania. A graduate of the University of Vermont with degrees in sociology and Spanish, Rachel focuses her love for travel, writing, and her unquenchable curiosity of our natural world as Rustic’s Brand Engagement Manager. Based in Tahoe, CA, Rachel is a talented ceramicist and lover of the outdoors.