We hope that students get a lot out of their Rustic Pathways experience—that the impact of our programs is long lasting and far reaching. We want students to gain appreciation for a new culture, venture outside of their comfort zones and try new things, and return home with a love of learning and travel. This month’s alumni, Caroline Cone, Molly Eanniello, and Natalie Harrah, embody this #sorustic spirit and we’re excited to share their experiences with you.
Our first alum, Caroline, had the opportunity to travel with us two summers in a row. First to Spain and then to Australia on the Seven Wonders of Australia program. She is now in her freshman year at the College of Charleston in South Carolina studying Marine Biology. We asked Caroline a few questions and this is what she had to say:
How did you change during or after your program?
“I felt like I was a part of the world more, as cliché as that sounds. Traveling to these places opened up a place in my heart and I finally felt a deep connection to somewhere and that is an unbelievable experience, to feel a longing in your heart when you leave that country because you know it will always be a part of you.”
What goals have you created for yourself as a result of your Rustic Pathways experience?
“To put myself out there more and to become involved with life around me. I met some of the most incredible people when I was traveling with Rustic Pathways, between the leaders I had and the people that joined me on my adventures, they created life-changing experiences.”
What advice would you give to someone going on a Rustic program for the first time?
“My advice would be to just open yourself up to the country you travel to, to let those experiences happen because you never know how something will affect you. Don’t be afraid to open up to the people you travel with, because the friendships that you make on these trips are real and have bonds that can’t be broken.”
Molly, who most recently traveled with us on our Moroccan Wanderer program, shared this with us when we asked about her experience with Rustic:
“For the past three summers I have traveled with Rustic Pathways programs and it has positively affected my life in countless ways. I met my best friends, saw breathtaking places, and learned more about myself than I thought was possible. As I have begun my first semester of college I am growing melancholy knowing that I don’t have another amazing trip to look forward to this summer, but I like to think of Rustic as a part of me. It’s a part of me that I am desperate to keep because it has brought more adventure, fun, and knowledge to my life than anything else…Thank you for providing me with the best memories I could ever ask for, I hope for many more in the future.”
Natalie traveled with us in 2013 on the Soccer and Service in La Paz and Bribri Village Service Experience in Costa Rica, and is currently on a Gap year in Ireland. This is what she had to say about her experience:
“…I went to Costa Rica with [Rustic] in 2013 on the Soccer in La Paz and The Bribri village program. I just wanted to say I still think about it all the time and really had an absolute amazing time…Thank you for all that this organization does…[Rustic] really has a passion for exposing the world to young people and the needs of the people on this Earth. This organization plants roots in people to start being active, start thinking, and start doing.”
Thanks to Caroline, Molly, and Natalie for sharing with us! Look out for more Alumni Spotlights here on the blog and on social media. If you’re an alum with a story to share, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren joined Rustic Pathways in 2008 after graduating from Emory University. She spent her first six years in Costa Rica overseeing our operations and seasonal staff. Lauren then formed our Alumni Association where she developed programs for continuing student involvement. She now uses her extensive skill set to continue to improve the hiring and training of all program leaders across the globe. Lauren lives in Chicago, travels often, and enjoys maintaining her Spanish fluency.