Upon discovering Rustic Pathways, this program was first on my list. After traveling to Costa Rica, I went on a "reunion" Rustic Pathways trip to Australia with the lifelong friends I made at the ecobase by Arenal Volcano ("Fire into Water"). Rustic Pathways unique "Star Alumni" program enabled us a cost-friendly opportunity to enjoy the service trip in Australia ("You, 'Roo, and Australia Zoo"), followed by a vacation trip in Fiji ("Escape to Fiji Islands")! It was amazing to travel to Australia with three people I met on the Rustic Pathways trip the summer before.
Emily Harney was an amazing and hilarious counselor. I absolutely adored her. I admired her ability to take the volunteer program seriously while having loads of fun. I sat in the front seat of the van next to her the entire week and she let me dj music for the rest of the group. I was a bit shy and older than other people on the group, so it was nice to feel close with the counselor. I was introduce to Tim-Tam Slams and practiced my Australian accent a lot on this trip!
The program itself was incredible. The base house was beautiful, overlooking the Glasshouse Mountains. It was so nice to relax after a hard day of volunteer work at the zoo. Food accommodations were made for those with special diets. I loved driving to and from the zoo every morning and was awe struck by kangaroos crossing the road instead of deer. At the end of the trip we spent a couple nights in a hostel in Brisbane which was a joyous experience. Here, we met Australian teenagers who entertained us with their accents!
Working in the zoo required me to follow strict rules and guidelines to ensure the safety of myself and zoo guests. The Australia Zoo is one of the world's most celebrated wildlife parks and it was important to support their professional image. The zoo works hard to foster people's love for animals in hopes that they will protect them. By being an official part of the Australia Zoo team I contributed to the education and wildlife conservation mission. The job required me to work diligently and cooperatively with others, communicate efficiently, show initiative, behave professionally and take pride in fulfilling the tasks I was given by zoo employees. Tasks included cleaning animal enclosures and working to maintain a clean and welcoming zoo appearance. I was educated on the animals in the zoo and encouraged to assist visitors in whatever way possible. This was a real service trip and more than just "playing with animals"...though of course we got to do that too! :)
On this trip I met my girlfriend who I have since been with for the last three years. She lived in San Francisco and I in Boston when we both travelled to Australia for the "You, a 'Roo, Australia Zoo" program. I had no idea that I would meet the love of my life in another country, and then move across the United States to begin a new life on the West Coast...but it happened! Thank you, "You, a 'Roo, Australia Zoo"!