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Theresa Brecker's Employee Profile

Global Programs Advisor

Theresa Brecker

What have your own international travels entailed?

My experiences abroad to date have been expansive, challenging, and incredibly rewarding. I have led programs for Rustic in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Laos and Thailand and have visited over 45 countries.

How has your international experience evolved to make you an even more valuable addition to the Rustic Pathways team?

The best part of working at Rustic is the diversity of countries within our team and our students. However, working with people from all over the world requires intercultural competence and empathy, all things best learned by leaving your comfort zone and visiting a new part of the world!

How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways?

I started as a program leader in Costa Rica in 2017 because I wanted to travel, work with young people, and feel good about the work my company does when I went to sleep at night.

How long have you been working with Rustic Pathways?

I started in 2017, so just over 3 years now!

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

I love getting messages from my students and their parents six months later telling me how much their program impacted them (especially when they tell me about all the money they have raised for the foundation!) and I love working with people who are so knowledgeable, adventurous and open,

What do you like most about Rustic Pathways?

I like working with co-workers and clients who are committed to making the world a more open, kind, and better place for all humans to live.

What makes Rustic Pathways different from other international program providers?

Rustic Pathways is different because of our highly trained, highly knowledgeable, and extremely cool staff, both local and international.

Have you traveled with other Rustic Pathways employees? What was your experience like?

Yes! The last trip I took with a fellow Rustic person was amazing because we understand the importance of making local connections, by the end of our time in Indonesia we had been invited to stay with a local family and had given a few performances with our half American/ half Indonesian band at coffee shops and parks (none paid, YET). 

What has been one of your favorite moments at Rustic Pathways?

Once on a trip with students in Udon Thani Thailand, we were driving in songthaews waving to locals working in the rice fields. One of the Thai program leaders happened to know the elderly woman and so we decided to stop and chat. She took us out into the rice field, we tried baby rice, caught crickets, and watched one of the most beautiful sunsets of my life. A moment I would have never been able to facilitate without P’Tee.

What is your favorite project you have worked on and why?

I have loved working on the school and the floating houses in Prek Toal. It is one of the most unique places I have ever visited, and I feel so lucky to have experienced their lifestyle and to have contributed to the education of their youth.

How did you first go about getting a global perspective?

Curiosity! The only way to learn to think globally is to care about what is happening globally.

How do you embody Rustic Pathways’ vision and bring it to life?

When I travel, I like to still live the Rustic life. I shop local, support local guides, and make connections with everyone I can.

How do you stay focused on Rustic’s mission to positively impact lives and communities around the world?

I volunteer locally when I am not leading programs, and I always try to get involved when I travel.

Why do you view travel as an essential part of every education?

I always want my students to understand that there is no right or wrong way to do something, there is only different. I want my students to be open to their surroundings and embrace feeling out of place. When you let go of your comfort zone and the snap judgments that come with it, you make room for multiple perspectives, cross-cultural understanding, and true self-efficacy.