What have your own international travels entailed?
I have been fortunate enough to travel to 23 countries across six continents and 40 US states! I have to credit my parents for planting the travel bug in me at a young age – growing up, they both traveled often for their jobs and were always ready to pull my sister and I out of school and take us with them.
So far, my favorite countries I’ve been to are Thailand, Mexico, and Italy. To check off more US states, I would highly recommend driving across the country a few times as this approach has worked for me! My dream trip would have to be some sort of epic hiking expedition like El Camino de Santiago in Spain or the Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps.
How has your international experience evolved to make you an even more valuable addition to the Rustic Pathways team?
Recounting on my experiences traveling to places where Rustic runs programs is one of my favorite parts of my job. Not only is it fun for me to speak about these adventures, but it also is immensely helpful for parents to hear deeper insights about places that go beyond the information they can find from browsing an itinerary or researching online.
Traveling has also enabled me to not only see new and exciting places but learn new skills and become more independent. Being able to share these benefits with families is immensely important and makes me an even more valuable addition to the Rustic Pathways team.
How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways?
I got involved with Rustic Pathways because I traveled with Rustic Pathways to Peru, Ghana, Fiji, and Thailand as a high school student. I remember always admiring my program leaders and the other staff members we interacted with and thinking how cool it would be to have a job like that one day.
Since traveling with Rustic Pathways, I’ve stayed connected with the company and working here feels very full circle!
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?
The most fulfilling part of my job is helping students attain experiences that they could have never imagined themselves embarking on. The prospect of traveling somewhere far away can seem daunting but I know my students have so much gain from it so making the process more manageable and less daunting is what I aspire to deliver.
What do you like most about Rustic Pathways?
I like the emphasis Rustic Pathways places on strengthening our students’ global perspectives. We go about this by taking our students off-the-beaten-path and exposing them to people and places that they would otherwise not encounter on a typical vacation.
Furthermore, I like how Rustic intentionally builds reflection into all programs. While visiting these sorts of sights and meeting these people is amazing in itself, understanding why these experiences matter is even more important.
By prioritizing such discussions, I like how Rustic takes an active role in reshaping opinions and ensuring our students come out of their programs with more than just cool photos and new friends. I think that this opportunity to reconsider previously held conceptions and re-orient your viewpoints is one of the most valuable aspects of traveling and I’m proud to work at a company that holds these same values.
How do you embody Rustic Pathways’ vision and bring it to life?
The concept “think global act local” is something that I try to actively apply to my life. To me, this idea of being aware of the interconnectedness of the world and using that awareness to achieve attainable yet meaningful change in the community around you in an attempt to shift larger patterns applies directly to the work Rustic Pathways is committed to.
While working in the communities we have established relationships with, our students have the chance to contribute to change on a localized level. While these endeavors are community-specific, they create building blocks that amount to increased levels of sustainable development over time, therefore acting as a catalyst for change on a magnified level.
Why do you view travel as an essential part of every education?
I view travel as an essential part of every education because there is only so much you can learn by staying in the same place and interacting with the same people everyday.
When we go somewhere new, we automatically expand our worldview through the people we come across. I am always surprised how much these moments stay with me and how often they apply to situations I find myself in long after I’ve returned from a trip. Without challenging ourselves to get out and explore the world, it is impossible to gain these perspectives.
What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways?
I am proud to work for a company that has such long-standing relationships with the communities around the world it works with. When I traveled with Rustic, I was always amazed how the communities we visited welcomed essential strangers into their homes with such warmth and excitement.
Looking back, I see this as a testament to the trust such people have in Rustic Pathways and the students that choose to travel on our programs. While there are many companies offering opportunities to “experience different cultures” and “interact with local people”, I am hesitant to believe that all have the same types of deep connections to the people and places that Rustic Pathways works with.
These sorts of relationships ensure that what we contribute to these communities matters and actually makes a difference in the everyday lives of our community partners which is of the utmost importance.