Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Strauss

Rachel is a second-year alumnus with Rustic Pathways. So far, she has traveled to Fiji, Thailand, and Laos and has hopes to continue her travels in the coming years.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I knew I wanted to get involved in a community abroad. I wanted to leave there knowing I'd made a difference in someone's life.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program provider assisted me with most things throughout the trip. There is a part of the program where our group teaches to children at a school and we have to organize a lesson plan.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

One piece of advice I would give someone thinking about going on my program would be to make sure to disconnect completely while you are there because you are only there probably once in your life and there is so much to take in and learn from an experience like this.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

During this program, in a crunch, during the weekdays, in the mornings we work on a community service project and in the afternoon we would explore. On the weekends, we had options for trips - some options were island hopping, skydiving, a trip to the highlands, and more.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was meeting new people and finding someone I would get along well with. I overcame this fear by being myself and just reaching out to everyone until I found the people I connected best with. My views on this issue changed because I now know that I am able to make friends wherever I travel.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have made more of an effort to connect more with the locals and their culture.