As part of our summer internship program, seasoned Rustic alum Elizabeth Ronzio joined the team as our Fiji Communications Coordinator! Here’s what she has to say about her summer living and working at our Eco-Lodge.
“Just over three months ago I was at a point in my career where I wasn’t learning enough, there was no time to travel, and I just felt a little stuck in the mud. Luckily, that’s when I got an email about a summer opportunity with Rustic Pathways.
I think one of my biggest take aways of the summer is that the “Rustic Experience” is still the same as when I was a student over six years ago. I have met some of my lifelong friends on Rustic trips, learned more about myself than I ever thought possible, and challenged myself to say “yes” to adventures every day. This is still the way I experienced Rustic this past summer. The company continues to hold the same priorities at the heart of their operations, not only for the students, but also for the staff.
I was very nervous at the start of the summer that my view of Rustic wasn’t going to be the same after being a staff member. I was worried that the organization that made a huge impact on me and my life was going to let me down in some way or change the way I viewed the company. Three months later, I am happy to say I have the highest respect for the people, places, and adventures that make up Rustic Pathways.
I would love to say I taught our students, local staff, and leaders a lot this summer, but in reality I think they taught me more. They taught me how to be myself, how to be a better person, how to actually open my ears and listen, how to not only love, but to show love in return. They taught me how to be truly passionate, how to uncover feelings, how to balance work, how to have fun, and how to laugh harder than ever before. They also taught me traditions, how to speak (very broken) Fijian, how to slow down, how to experience life, how to go with the flow, how to live on “Fiji Time”, the art of patience, how to find an “unconventional” office, and how to trust others. These are just a handful of the things I have learned and remind me of stories that I won’t soon forget.
Right now I’m sitting in my apartment, doing laundry less than 24 hours after arriving to the States and all I can think about is Punam, our house keeper in Fiji, and how every time I did laundry at the Eco-Lodge she would sit and talk with me. Punam is one of the most selfless and kind people I have ever met, and as I throw my laundry into my automatic washer and turn the machine on, I think of the special moments and traits she unknowingly transferred to me. This is just one example of processing my trip and recognizing lessons upon returning home. I still don’t know all of the lessons that I have learned, but I do know that something woke up inside me. The passion that I have for life and people is alive and strong, and I can’t wait to see where my next adventure takes me.”
– Liz Ronzio