Did you know Rustic alumni are continuing to create real impact, even after their program ends? They are unstoppable forces who are raising awareness and funds for community projects around the world.
We refer to these change makers as Impact Ambassadors.
Impact Ambassadors are Rustic students and alumni who feel passionate about staying involved after they travel and continue to create impact through the Rustic Pathways Foundation. They work individually or in groups to provide support to a community project they feel connected to.
These students know that small efforts lead to big change.
“The thing that I have enjoyed most about being an Impact Ambassador is knowing that I am part of a bigger organization that is trying to improve the world,” said Alexa Iglesias, of Arlington, VA. “To me, it’s so rewarding knowing that I am a small part in all the wonderful things that Rustic Pathways does!”
From organizing 5Ks and bake sales in their communities to writing heartfelt letters and starting fundraising clubs at their school, this group of change makers is doing their part and having a lot of fun along the way!
Allow us to introduce you to a few of the amazing Impact Ambassadors who inspire us about the future generation of leaders.
Helen Ross from Berkeley, California, traveled with Rustic in 2018 and has since used her storytelling skills to share her transformative experience on Culture and the Crater in Tanzania with her community. With more than 60 people contributing to Helen’s campaign, she raised $3,800 of her $5,000 goal for the Tanzania Education Fund.
Sisters Beatriz and Julia Bechara decided to start a service organization at their high school in Houston after traveling to Fiji in 2018. With help from friends, the group has more than 15 members (with more wanting to join!). So far they’ve raised more than $1,000 to support research and conservation in the Peruvian Amazon. They’ve hosted activities at their school’s festival (called Vikingpalozza) and have plans for an after school yoga event with food trucks. Count us in!
Cami Brechot from Puerto Rico loved her experience on Sacred Valley Service in Peru in 2018. She was inspired to do more for indigenous girls education through the Sacred Valley Project, so she baked cookies every night and sold them at school the next day during lunch. Beyond her school cafeteria, Cami went to craft shows and bazaars, educating donors with pamphlets about the project that supports access to secondary education for indigenous girls in the Sacred Valley. Cami raised more than $1,400!
After traveling to Fiji in 2018, Alexa Iglesias from Arlington, Virginia, was eager to continue making an impact. She returned home passionate about supporting education in Fiji, and educating her community about what she learned.
“I think the most successful thing to do when fundraising is sharing your story!” she said. “I have shared my experiences with almost everyone I have met. We live in an age where almost everyone is on social media, so I found it really useful when fundraising. But the best advice I can give is to educate people on your topic, show then why they should care!”
One group of students were strangers before traveling on Floating Village Service Expedition in Cambodia last summer. They left Cambodia as a close-knit group of friends ready to take action for the sinking school in Prek Toal floating village. Six months after their program, they raised nearly $12,000 in one week to help the Rustic Pathways Foundation in our final fundraising push to rebuild the school. What rockstars!
Daniel Chan traveled to Costa Rica in 2016 and was inspired to raise money for an aqueduct the Foundation was building in a rural community called Yorkin. When he returned home to Beijing, Daniel worked with local businesses to organize events where they would donate a portion of their profits to his campaign. Within six months, Daniel raised $17,000, which was 60% of the entire project cost!
Anna Peyton traveled to Peru with Rustic in 2017 and, upon her return, was determined to raise support for girls education. Anna organized a city-wide 5k race in her hometown of Culver City, California. She donated 70% of the proceeds to the Sacred Valley Project and 30% to a local nonprofit in Culver City.
Charlotte Maracina is a Girl Scout and after her trip to Fiji she decided to apply for the highest award possible—the Gold Award! She worked closely with the Rustic team to design a sustainable project that would create meaningful impact. She raised enough money to build a cafe at the Rustic base house in Fiji, where all proceeds go directly to Foundation projects in Fiji. She even returned to Fiji in 2018 with her family to help design and build the cafe!
The Dana Hills High School Travel Club went to Thailand in 2017. When they returned home, they were determined to find a way to stay engaged with the Thai students they met at our Hill Tribe Service Base. They designed a t-shirt and sold them to friends and family, with 100% of profits going to their Thailand campaign. In four months they raised $1,200, which is enough to provide support for a Thai student for six months!
Mary Bragg Burmeister, of Mobile, Alabama, raised more than $1,000 for the Thailand Education Fund by gathering support as she ran multiple half marathons! She sent an email to friends, family, and teachers letting them know why she was inspired to support the students she had met in Thailand and how grateful she was for their support. More than 20 people showed their support by donating to her campaign!
Interested in Becoming an Impact Ambassador? Learn how you can make an impact!
Alex is a proud native of Ohio and graduate of The Ohio State University with degrees in international relations and Spanish. Through many trips to Latin America and as an exchange student in Spain, Alex speaks Spanish fluently. Alex joined Rustic in 2015 as a Program Leader in the Dominican Republic where she later managed programs. She's also led programs in Vietnam and Peru. Alex now uses her passion for experiential learning, endless optimism, and creativity on marketing initiatives for the Rustic Pathways Foundation. She also owns a small jewelry business, where she crafts bracelets with vintage sewing buttons.