Alumni Spotlight: Liz Weinstein

Liz Weinstein is 16 years young and attends high school in Corning, NY: her hometown since birth. She enjoys soccer, traveling (she's been to every continent but Antarctica), and experiencing new things.

Why did you decide to travel abroad with Rustic Pathways in Fiji?

Liz and one of the boys from Bavu

Liz: I decided to travel with rustic pathways because I knew that I wanted to do an overseas service trip that wasn't anything through my local churches or anything religious in general. I did my own research and I couldn't really find many other programs that were as highly recommended and fun-sounding as Rustic.

I knew that Rustic was for me when I read the descriptions of the many programs that they offered; it was exactly what I was looking for. I also had a friend who's cousin did a program in Costa Rica and she loved it.

What was the best moment of the entire trip?

Liz: One of the best moments of my trip was when we were volunteering in Bavu Village and we got to take out our phones and our cameras and let the kids use them. It was insane for me to see how wild the kids went at the sight of something that I see and use everyday without any thought.

It really put a lot of my trip in perspective, and it made me appreciate all that I have.

One of my other favorite moments was when we went Island Hopping for the day and we got to eat at Cloud9, a floating restaurant in the middle of the South Pacific. It was a really unique experience that I don't think I would have gotten through any other program, or even if I went on a vacation with my family there.

Tell me about one person you met.

Liz and Hannah

Liz: One person that I met through Rustic was a girl named Hannah. She was a participant but she was in a different group than I was. She and I bonded almost immediately after meeting in the airport.

Throughout the whole program she became one of the best friend's I've ever met, and we laughed and cried and talked about everything. We felt really comfortable with each other from the get-go, and she was so honest with me. I've never had that with anyone else.

I usually have to warm up to people before we become friends. But with her it was different. We plan on visiting each other now that our programs are over and I hope we are life long friends. She is one of the most unique and amazing people I've ever met and I'm so glad that I met her through this program.

What do you miss most about your time in Fiji?

Liz: What I miss most about Fiji was the eco-lodge. At first glance, I thought I would be miserable there. However, I've come to realize that I will miss the lack of technology, the people, and the cold showers.

I liked being excited over a semi-warm shower instead of instagram. I like seeing the people that I became so close with every day all the time. I also liked the weather and feeling like I was doing something that mattered. There aren't many opportunities to get community service in my town so I will miss that feeling of satisfaction that I got after every project that we completed.

To what can someone considering this program most look forward?

Liz: Someone considering doing the trip Intro to Community service should look forward to seeing the kids faces light up when the Rustic van pulls up to the village or the school. The kids absolutely love to see us everywhere we go.

They should also look forward to meeting some of the most amazing people ever, whether it's locals, counselors, or other participants. It seems like Rustic is a magnet for amazing people, everyone I met was awesome and so easy going.