Education. Travel. Philanthropy.

At Rustic Pathways, we work at the intersection of education, travel, and philanthropy. Through our programs we facilitate life-changing educational experiences for students and use travel and philanthropy as a means to achieve sustainable development in the places we visit. We believe that by maintaining clear focus on each of these goals we are not only able to provide the most transformative experience for our students, but are also able to make a positive impact on the communities in which we work.

Rustic Pathways is committed to creating a world where…

  • Travel is accepted as an essential part of every education
  • Travel is a model of sustainable development
  • All people are connected by a shared humanity and all decisions are made with a global perspective
Each year we publish a summary of our community service initiatives and their impacts around the globe.
To view our 2016 Impact Report, click here.

Education 

At Rustic Pathways, we believe travel provides a unique environment for learning. Our programs are designed to encourage critical thinking; learning moments and opportunities for growth are intentionally built into our programs. Leaders facilitate meaningful discussion and reflection, supporting student learning and amplifying the impact of our travel experiences.

We believe in a key set of characteristics and capacities that enable students to achieve personal growth and make a positive contribution to our world. We refer to these as our Student Learning Outcomes. The outcomes we aim to foster in students that travel with us are:

  • Openness to new ideas and experiences: Eagerness and curiosity to learn from the perspectives of others and the ability to incorporate one’s own experiences into a lifelong quest for knowledge and growth.
  • Sense of wonderment: The ability to be amazed and inspired by the world, from the small and seemingly mundane to the powerful and seemingly impossible to understand; recognizing beauty in the unknown, while letting the world’s mysteries stir thoughtful questions and give rise to new meanings and understandings; a sense of awe as a driver of one’s passion and achievement.
  • A belief that all people are connected by a shared humanity: Recognizing the innate value of any human being; embracing diversity, and believing that what unites us is stronger than what divides us; understanding the interconnectedness of one’s actions and the notion that individual actions can have global impact; the ability to connect local stories, struggles, and successes to larger structural and systemic issues facing the world.
  • A desire to positively impact the lives of others: A drive to use one’s talents as a force for good in local and global communities; recognizing the power of a series of small actions towards a larger goal and contributing personal effort towards creating change.
  • Empathy: The ability to not just “feel someone else’s pain,” but rather to walk in their shoes and see the world through their eyes; a more profound ability to switch perspectives and recognize dual viewpoints. Empathy, rather than sympathy or pity, is a precursor to affecting change.
  • Self-Awareness: The ability to define values, motivations, and passions, and to identify how those values are shaped; the ability to assess one’s own strengths and weaknesses, analyze where and how to improve, and to reflect on and re-evaluate previous opinions or decisions; the desire to use an understanding of self to better relate to and communicate with others.
  • Humility: An ability to understand one’s place and importance, to deeply respect others, to recognize others’ talents without comparison to one’s own; to possess a grounded understanding of one’s limitations; to provide service to others without question of their position in society.
  • Grit: Intrinsic determination to persevere through challenges and setbacks without complaint and defer instant gratification in order to reach a set goal.
  • Independence: The ability to think and act for oneself; to take responsibility for and stand behind one’s beliefs and actions; to explore the world confidently and carefully and to find support when necessary.
  • Intercultural Competence: The desire and ability to behave and communicate effectively within and across cultures, to view issues from other perspectives, and to collaborate and engage in decision-making processes with diverse groups.

Travel

We are committed to supporting local economies and minimizing our environmental footprint as we travel. We work with locally owned tourism ventures off the beaten path, buy goods from local businesses, employ a wide range of staff from our destinations. We seek to educate our students on how to travel responsibly and actively support community initiatives in the places we visit.

Our Global Team

Rustic Pathways is a global team. We employ staff from our destinations in a range of positions and invest in professional development to support all team members in achieving their goals and building skills to take on leaderships roles.

Local Suppliers

We believe that use of locally owned businesses provide important benefits to communities where we travel as well as enhances the quality of our programs, especially when those businesses have a demonstrated commitment to risk management and sustainability best practices. We prioritize use of these vendors whenever possible. We also endeavor to purchase local products when possible, recognizing this is better for the environment and the communities we visit and enhances the experience of our students.

The Environment

We strive to minimize the environmental impact of our programs in realistic and practical ways. We incorporate discussion of sustainability and environmental impact with our students and encourage simple actions to reduce the footprint of our groups as we travel. We regularly monitor waste, water and energy use across our base houses so that we can establish targets to reduce use on an ongoing basis. We evaluate potential impacts with our community partners and develop plans to minimize our footprint where needed.  

Sustainable Travel International

We partner with Sustainable Travel International, to evaluate our ongoing impact and to help us operate in the most responsible manner possible. We have pledged our  support to Sustainable Travel International’s 10 Million Better campaign. The goal is to improve the lives of 10 million people over the next ten years through tourism, ensuring local communities and economies benefit and the culture, history and environments of destinations are protected.

Program Scholarships

Rustic Pathways is committed to making life-changing opportunities possible for students worldwide. We offer over 100 scholarships annually including our Service Scholarship based on financial need, our By Invitation Only program, and merit based Gap Year Ambassador Scholarships.

Philanthropy

We believe it is our responsibility to actively contribute to the communities where we travel. We build partnerships with community associations, schools and NGOs to support local development goals aimed at reducing poverty, protecting the environment, and making communities better places to live.

Community Service 

Though our programs, we fund community projects across five core areas: Education, Infrastructure, Economic Development, Environment, Community Health and Social Services. Rustic Pathways students play an active role in implementing projects with community members through our community service programs. Projects are developed through extensive collaboration with local partners and in accordance with best practice guidelines to support effective outcomes.

The Rustic Pathways Foundation

The Rustic Pathways Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that supports communities in their efforts to implement locally driven, sustainable solutions to development challenges. The Foundation enables students and alumni to support communities around the world through fundraising and direct donations. It works with local partners to identify community-prioritized development initiatives, and leverage the passion and generosity of the Rustic Pathways community to support the projects. Rustic Pathways supports the administrative costs of the Foundation, enabling one hundred percent of donations to go directly to projects on the ground.