Get to Know Some of Rustic’s Returning Program Leaders
All Articles

Get to Know Some of Rustic’s Returning Program Leaders

From now until mid-August, more than 300 seasonal staff members will help students get from their homes to 15 different countries where they’ll have a variety of transformative international travel experiences with Rustic Pathways.

Each year, we retain more Program Leaders and our Country Teams get even better at what they do. More than half our Program Leaders have returned to work another Rustic summer this year and our in-country management teams are more experienced than at any point in Rustic’s history.

In addition, we’ve invested more resources in recruiting the most-qualified Program Leaders and continue to expand our training programs making those already skilled leaders that much more prepared to facilitate unforgettable summers for students. So get to know a few of Rustic’s talented Program Leaders and check out which trips they’re currently scheduled to lead this summer.

Please note that these Program Leaders are currently scheduled to lead the programs listed below. However, due to the inherent nature of travel, sometimes Program Leaders’ schedules change throughout the summer.


Rustic Pathways Team Australia Program Leader Mat Millard
Mat Millard | Kulpara, South Australia
Leading: Epic Outback
Mat led our Seven Wonders program until 2011. Since then he’s led programs in numerous other countries, including two of our gap semesters. He’s down to earth with heaps of experience and a huge passion for traveling, specifically learning and exploring while teaching the next generation about different cultures around the world.


Rustic Pathways Team Cambodia Program Leader Yusos Sles Yusos Sles | Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia
Leading: Access to Education: Cambodia
Full of energy and always smiling, Yusos is the first one to the project site and the last one to leave. Born in a small Cham village outside of Kampong Chhnang, he now resides in Phnom Penh where he is a recent graduate of Royal University of Law and Economics. Yusos enjoys traveling, seeing new things, and meeting new people. He has traveled to the United States, Australia, and all around Southeast Asia with Rustic. He especially loves meeting new students and showing them around his country.


Rustic Pathways Team China Program Leader Hailey Savage Hailey Savage | Waitsfield, Vermont
Leading: Panda Conservation and Wild China
Raised in ten locations across the United States and Canada and adopted at a mature age, Hailey Savage grew up curious and able to adapt to new surroundings. A volunteer trip to China to work with giant pandas when she was 12 drove her to learn Chinese and focus on international education. Hailey has led Rustic programs in China and Australia, lived in Shanghai for a year, and backpacked by herself through Europe. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and works as a part-time professional dog walker in New York City.

Costa Rica

Rustic Pathways Team Costa Rica Program Leader Cristian Arce Valverde Cristian Arce Valverde | Cartago, Costa Rica
Leading: Turtle Conservation Project
Cristian has worked with Rustic Pathways since 2015. He has a degree in Ecotourism from the University of Costa Rica. Since he was a child, Cristian has been passionate about nature and ecology. He also enjoys spending time traveling and discovering new places in his own country. As a tourism professional, Cristian is always excited to explore new cultures and meet new people.


Rustic Pathways Team Cuba Program Leader Katie Bailey Katie Bailey | Raleigh, North Carolina
Leading: Intro to Photography in Cuba and Advanced Photography Workshop in Morocco
Katie is a photojournalist who has spent her summers with Rustic Pathways in Costa Rica and across Southeast Asia since 2016. She has a degree in global studies from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Katie is her best self when she is traveling and loves being part of helping students become the best they can be.

Dominican Republic

Rustic Pathways Team Dominican Republic Program Leader Adrian Gonzalez Adrián González Navarro | Cartago, Costa Rica
Leading: Life in the Bateyes
Adrián is a tourist guide from Costa Rica working his fourth summer with Rustic. He has a degree in tourism management and also studied gastronomy, further developing his love of cooking. He is passionate about sustainability and volunteers with animals rescue centers and environmental organizations. During his free time, he loves hiking and enjoying nature. Adrián always has a positive attitude and a big smile on his face.


Rustic Pathways Team Fiji Program Leader Sarunas Genys Sarunas Genys | Panevezys, Lithuania
Leading: Sun, Sand, and International Service
Sarunas has enjoyed participating in experiential education in China, Fiji, and the United States. He’s a believer that intercultural dialogue has the power to bring students and cultures together to solve the most pressing issues of our time. During his downtime, Sarunas likes relaxing in a hammock with a good book.


Rustic Pathways Team Laos Program Leader Olivia Nordling Olivia Nordling | Jörlanda, Sweden
Leading: Wonders of Laos
Olivia is an avid nature and animal lover. She enjoys being around people from different cultures and she loves learning new languages and traveling around the world.


Rustic Pathways Team Mongolia Program Leader Anya Buyan-Erdene Anya Buyan-Erdene | Bayanzurkh, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Leading: Off the Map: Mongolia
An avid learner, Anya believes that every chance to travel and every experience is a vital learning opportunity. In search of learning about the diversity of people, history, culture, and nature, Anya is always on the go.


Rusic Pathways Team Morocco Program Leader Khadija Sadik Khadija Sadik | Marrakesh, Morocco
Leading: Moroccan Wanderer
Khadija is Ph.D. student majoring in mathematics. She has a passion for education and wants to use her skills and knowledge to positively impact future generations. Khadija was born in Casablanca but has lived most of her life in Marrakesh. Rustic Pathways in Morocco was lucky to find her and use her local expertise and knowledge about the Moroccan culture. In her free time, Khadija enjoys learning foreign languages, watching documentaries, and hiking.


Rustic Pathways Team Peru Program Leader Max Carine Max Carine | Killington, Vermont
Leading: Off the Map: Peru and Sacred Valley Service
Eight years ago, Max quit his job as an emergency medical technician to go play outside. He now patrols the slopes of Killington Ski Resort in Vermont all winter and works in outdoor education during the summer. He is an avid skier and cyclist, and loves to play frisbee and disc golf.


Rustic Pathways Team Tanzania Program Leader Emma Ramirez Emma Ramirez | Yosemite, California
Leading: African Wildlife Conservation
A naturalist by nature, Emma is an outdoor educator who loves getting to know new places and people. She’s worked for Rustic the past three summers in different regions. When not hiking, Emma loves sea kayaking, snorkeling, wood burning, and everything spicy.


Rustic Pathways Team Thailand Program Leader Theresa Brecker Theresa Brecker | Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Leading: Ricefields, Monks, and Smiling Children
, Intro to Community Service in Thailand, and Come With Nothing: The Mekong Expedition
United States-born, but Amazon jungle living, Theresa loves dancing, nature, and meeting new people. Between summers leading programs in Costa Rica and now Thailand, Theresa teaches English in Colombia through Fulbright.

United States

Rustic Pathways Team United States Program Leader Malik Blue Malik Blue | Malden, Massachusetts
Leading: Race in America
Malik moved to Maryland for work about two years ago to be a university study abroad advisor, supporting students preparing for international experiences. For fun, Malik loves to travel, play social sports (volleyball and dodgeball), and binge watch shows on Netflix. He is joining Team USA this summer after having lead programs in Cuba and Thailand.

Not sure where to travel? Connect with one of our global program experts to find the right spring break or summer teen travel program for you.

About the Author

Jack Weinstein

Content Production Manager

Jack has spent his professional career as a writer and editor. Before joining Rustic, he worked as a journalist in Kansas and Colorado, taught English in Swaziland, and transitioned to marketing roles in the Boston and New York startup worlds. Jack is excited to channel his love of storytelling and his appreciation for education as Rustic’s Content Production Manager. When not working, Jack is either watching baseball or planning his next adventure. Jack and his wife, Blythe, live in Brooklyn.