Halle Alberto Jackson is originally from Sabana de la Mar, which is a small fishing village in the northeastern part of the Dominican Republic. He led Rustic Pathways programs in his home country and Thailand from 2013-2018. He is returning this summer to lead programs in the Dominican Republic again.
Expertise as a Leader
Halle is certified by the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Tourism and Environment as an expert in ecotourism and as a national tour guide. He specializes in bird and whale watching and is a Wilderness First Responder.
For 17 years Halle has served as a leader for the NGO Brigada Verde or Green Brigade, which provides opportunities for kids to learn about environmental issues. This organization has been supported by the Peace Corps in the United States. Among the projects Halle has led was a mangrove restoration effort in Los Haitises National Park.
Halle is also the president of the Dominican Federation of Ecotourism Associations.
Favorite Part of Being a Program Leader
Halle says he loves showing students his country and giving them an inside look at what it is like to live in the Dominican Republic. He is able to show them things that have improved in the country, which has led to an increase in tourism. He also does not ignore issues that remain as challenges.
His hope is to get students out of their comfort zone and allow them to learn about the history and culture of the Dominican Republic. As an added bonus, he also enjoys the opportunity to explore his own country, including places away from the coast where he was raised.
Halle says the mountainous area where the Mountain Air and Island Living program is held is quite different from other parts of the country. The region that was known by indigenous groups as the Land of Waters ironically has a number of villages without running water. Halle notes that it’s rewarding to help resolve that problem.
“One of my favorite things is to see Rustic students jumping in and helping,” Halle said.
Halle says the best moments come when students realize how a program is impacting them. He says one of the cases he remembers the most was with a 14-year-old traveler who was struggling during a trip.
Halle says the teen was not interacting with other students or paying attention during events. Halle and the other leaders kept trying to pull her into activities. It wasn’t until they had a Rustic Ties group discussion during a bonfire that they realized their efforts had paid off.
“She started crying and she said, ‘Thank you for being patient. I now see the impact this week had on me,’” Halle said. “She mentioned a couple of things she learned, especially about the culture, the places where we were staying, and what we were doing in the community. I think she had a connection with one of the kids in the community where we were digging a trench. In the end, the whole thing turned from what we thought was a bad experience to her saying thank you.”
Plans for this Summer
Mary is the Lead Editor at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.