Global Youth Climate Summit - A Collaboration with Stanford Center for Deliberative Democracy Starts July 12

Zoila Blackson's Employee Profile

Global Program Advisor


Zoila BlacksonWhat have your own international travels entailed? 

I grew up as a small child in the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo with my siblings and parents, as well as my gram.  That has been the extent of my international travels, thus far but won’t be the last.

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

While I am newer to the company, it gives me great pleasure to know that I am helping parents set up trips for their child to further educate them as well as allowing them to trust us so they can have a good time.  I have gained the ability to work successfully in the diverse workplace to be more valuable. Working with Rustic, I am more knowledgeable about other cultures and lifestyles as well as having greater sympathy for the struggles of international students.  I understand and appreciate how much educational systems can differ across cultures.

How long have you been working with Rustic Pathways?

I have only been working with the company for about three months now.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job? 

Being able to meet the needs of the parents who are looking to send their child to another country is fulfilling to me. My purpose and guiding principles align with my values and make this job fulfilling. I care about what Rustic does and offers, and it feels great to give back in some way by making a difference in the lives of the kids. At Rustic, I am encouraged to positively impact the lives of others and that is what is most fulfilling.

What do you like most about Rustic Pathways?

What I like most about Rustic is everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission.  It’s such a family environment at Rustic and everyone has a genuine spirit of cooperation. I also like that I get to have a voice and my boss listens to my ideas.

What makes Rustic Pathways different from other international program providers?

Rustic has been in business for 36 years and is still going. It provides programs in 20 different countries. We offer programs for middle, high school and college students. Over 10,000 students travel with us every year. We create lasting impact on our students and in our partner communities. The families love the Rustic experience and the referrals make up 80% of our students each year. We have full-time year round local staff in every country where we operate.

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

I have not traveled but would love to do so.  I would use the experience while talking to parents and students about the different programs.

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

One of my favorite moments was talking to a mom who had similar experiences with her kid that I did with my mom being from the same background. We were the same nationality and talked about what it was like to grow up being from where we were. She gave me a little bit of her background and her life and she welcomed me to her home if ever I was in the area.

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

One of the projects I enjoyed working on had to do with the Pandemic that went on in 2020 with COVID-19. Reaching out to and talking to different families to get their feel for things and where they stood with Rustic was absolutely amazing. It felt so good to know that families were willing to keep their investment with us and believe in what we do.

How did you first go about getting a global perspective? 

Listening to international music and being a part of a culture that is from Santo Domingo and Haiti.

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

I bring the vision to life by connecting all people together for travel no matter what gender or race. Also by connecting them to a shared humanity.

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

Focusing on connecting people and doing the right thing.

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

It gives people an experience of a lifetime and helps them to grow as a person because of it. Traveling helps you to see who you really are and your potential as a person. Travel will never fail you and will always be a teacher. It gives you the opportunity to learn different languages, cultures and history. More importantly, you learn about the world today.

What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways?

I am new here and I am excited to learn all things about traveling that I did not know. I am proud to work for a company that cares about the employees as well as the students and what it stands for.