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Why Peace Corps and AmeriCorps Alumni Make Great Leaders of Teen Travel Programs
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Why Peace Corps and AmeriCorps Alumni Make Great Leaders of Teen Travel Programs

When I joined Rustic Pathways after graduating from the University of Michigan in 2013, I was in a good position to lead teen travel programs. I had a degree in Culture, Health, and the Environment, and had worked as an outdoor adventure leader, tutor, camp counselor, and park ranger. But serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer starting the next year turned out to be the best training for my future roles with Rustic.

Fast forward and I’m now part of Rustic’s Program Staffing and Training Team, working to find the best, most-qualified Program Leaders to facilitate safe, fun, life-changing summer travel programs for high school students.

Employers of National Service logo

As part of that commitment, I’m excited to announce that Rustic has become a member of the Employers of National Service list, an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service to connect Peace Corps and AmeriCorps alumni with job opportunities in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

“National service develops essential skills that make AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni high-quality employees for any organizations or company,” according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. “National service alumni are strong leaders who are motivated, flexible, innovative, and outcome-oriented. They learn quickly, work well on diverse teams, and know how to mobilize others to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation and our world.”

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in northwestern Ethiopia for two years (that’s me pictured above), I worked with local high school students, leading after-school clubs and summer camps focused on teaching English or environmental issues while empowering them to become leaders in their community. Those two years challenged me in ways I never expected—experiencing loneliness, isolation, cultural misunderstandings, language barriers, and lots of gastrointestinal infections. I grew more than I could have imagined.

After returning to Rustic in 2016 just 10 days after leaving Ethiopia, I was in a much better position to lead teen travel programs. (It also helped lead to my current full-time role.)

I was far better equipped to keep students safe and healthy; to respond to health issues; to help students immerse in local communities in meaningful, respectful ways; and to facilitate discussions about the ethics of travel, tourism, and volunteer work. I was in a better position to embrace diversity and recognize the power a series of small actions could have on a larger goal. And I returned with more grit, humility, and empathy.

My experience isn’t unique. In addition to having experience with many of the topics our programs delve into, national service alumni are well trained on safety and security as well as medical issues where they serve. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, I received three months of on-the-ground training, including sessions run by the U.S. State Department on how to respond to political unrest and natural disasters and sessions run by doctors on how to prevent, recognize, and treat common tropical diseases.

National service alumni join Rustic (14 staff members to date) with an incredible foundation for the additional training they receive before leading programs to help ensure they’re helping students have as safe and impactful travel experiences as they had during Peace Corps or AmeriCorps.

Applications for summer Program Leaders have closed, but there are many available full-time and seasonal positions at Rustic Pathways. Click here for more information

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.