Alumni Spotlight: Chesca Quinlan-Potter


Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because gender equality is a topic that I am very passionate about and I love coming up with solutions to real-world issues. I did Model UN throughout all of high school and I figured that this would be like a real-life version of it.

I love learning about world issues and this program was incredible because I actually got to see and experience them firsthand instead of reading about them online.

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

I traveled with Rustic Pathways and did not have to organize anything on my own. They set me up with everything, including food and flights. If you are planning on getting any immunizations or medicine for the trip, then that is something you must organize on your own and with your doctor. Also, some trips, such as spring break trips, do not set you up with flights and you have to organize that yourself.

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

One piece of advice that I would give is to not overpack because that will make it harder to move around on some programs. We stayed in a village in my program and it was definitely difficult to lug my large suitcase around. I would also suggest to not bring scissors because I had two pairs in my backpack and both were confiscated in Singapore.

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

Every day was different in my program.

In Bangkok, we stayed in a hotel and explored the city during the day and met with professors and leaders of NGO's. In Na Nong Bong Village, the chickens woke us up at around four in the morning and we explored the village and weaved during the day. At the Ricefields base house, we worked on our projects to solve issues that we witnessed during the first week and heard from activists and community leaders.

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 when going abroad is always the question of will I make any friends? It is important to remember that everyone is in the same boat. They are nervous about traveling across the world on their own and fear not having fun because they don't have friends.

My biggest advice is to just be yourself because there will always be someone who connects with you. Rustic trips really helped me go outside of my comfort zone and break out of my shell and allowed me to become more confident and outgoing.

Are the trips worth it?

YES! Rustic Pathways trips have opened my eyes to new cultures and ways of life that I have always been curious about. My two trips have been the best experiences of my life and I would do them over a thousand times. I have made so many incredible friends and memories through Rustic Pathways and I wish that I found out about the organization earlier so that I could go on more trips.