What position do you hold at Rustic Pathways? What has been your career path so far?
I currently serve as Ghana Country Director for Rustic Pathways. Seasonal program leading opportunities were an amazing way to bridge a variety of great career and academic experiences after college. I lead program in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Ghana before eventually becoming Ghana Country Director. Before and after my stints as a program leader, I interned in U.S. House of Representatives, worked as a staffer on a political campaign, worked for nonprofit and went to graduate school. Somehow, my Rustic family always brings me back!
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the Rustic Pathways team.
We often hear stories from students about how our programs fundamentally changed them or influenced the direction of their life. I think my most proud moments as a member of the Rustic Pathways team are when I hear new stories like these. Sometimes I will chat with parents on the phone about something simple like a packing list or a visa application, but before we hang up they will want to tell me how much their child's life was impacted by their travel experience with Rustic Pathways, or how they found a new sense of direction in life as a result of their experience. It is rewarding to be able to facilitate such growth in young people.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Cultural immersion is hugely important to me. To walk in someone else's shoes or live someone else's life for even a few days can fundamentally change the lens through which we view the world for the rest of our lives. From the bottom of my heart , I believe that cultural immersion creates easy-going, adaptable world citizens who make this world a better place to live in. Immersion facilitates such rapid growth in people. I love to see the "before and after" of students who stay in our home stay village in Ghana. Fear gives way to confidence as students slowly learn that yes indeed, they can live just like a local.
What is your travel memory?
It's nearly impossible to pick my favorite travel experience, but there are some that stand out. Road-tripping from Cape Town through Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia was an amazing experience that affirmed my love for the continent of Africa. A short trip through the Altiplano region of Bolivia exposed me to some of the most memorable landscapes I have ever seen while also exposing me to genuine high-Andean culture. My first trips into Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica fundamentally changed the way I look at the natural world.