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Matija Paunovski's Employee Profile

International Development Director

Matija Paunovski - Regional Recruitment Director-International for Rustic Pathways

How long have you been working for Rustic Pathways?

I have been working for Rustic Pathways for close to 10 years. I started working as a manager trainee, traveling around the world and being involved in various projects that Rustic Pathways has been involved in; from managing our community service programs in Fiji and Thailand to speaking with families about our educational experiences in South Africa, Canada, and parts of Asia. During my time managing our programs in Thailand and Fiji, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the most powerful locals who have taught me a lot about their cultures and costumes to inspiring me to become a world citizen. While traveling and talking to educators around the world about our programs, I had a pleasure meeting some of the most inspiring educators and students who changed my life.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

The most fulfilling aspect of my job is working with educators around the world on customizing school group trips to fit learning goals and objectives set by their schools. The entire process from start to finish is a wonderful partnership between Rustic Pathways, a school teacher or designated team of individuals who, together, work on creating and executing experiences for students that they will remember for their lifetime. Students often write and/or come back and talk about their school trips or even their school trips service as a thesis for their college papers.

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

I am a strong believer that travel is an essential part of every education. Without traveling we can only conceptually understand what we read in books, watch on TV or in media. When traveling we understand and experience the culture of the country we visit through working and spending time with locals, eating local food and learning about their costumes and culture. Traveling, not touring!, is equipping students to be more successful and ready for 21st century challenges.

What do you like most about Rustic Pathways?

I love everything about Rustic Pathways, from students and teachers that I interact with on a daily basis, to my colleagues that I work with. Working for Rustic Pathways does not feel like work. There is one mission that we are all aligned with and a set of values that we work towards as a team to achieve our mission. As the icing on the cake, there is nothing more rewarding than working with educators towards inspiring students to become global leaders/citizens!

What makes Rustic Pathways different from other international program providers?

Rustic Pathways is different from other intentional program providers as our approach to operating programs on the ground is different; we invest in long lasting relationships with our local, in-country staff members. We invest and work on long term service projects and have a 2-5 year plan for each assuring local needs are met. Further, we don’t mandate service projects, rather we work with locals on identifying projects in need, the timeline of the project and next steps ensuring their needs are met within the timeline desired.