By Brielle Friedman, former Key Clubber
I first traveled with Rustic Pathways after my freshman year of high school. At 15, I was eager to explore the world, step outside the comfort of my hometown and experience a different way of life. As a Key Clubber, I wanted to put the idea of “global citizenship” into practice, broaden my perspective and better understand a culture different from my small town in southwest Florida.
Eight years later, my first summer with Rustic Pathways in Fiji remains one of the most formative experiences of my life. I was astounded by the way my Fijian host family welcomed me and made me feel like part of the family. They spoke little English, but we found a common language in hand gestures and smiles. I realized that although we came from different backgrounds and lived drastically different daily lives, we shared the same hopes, dreams and desires.
When I first arrived in Fiji, I believed I was there to give back and serve. Instead I found myself not as a volunteer, but as another one of the village’s members. I was in awe of the way members of the community cared for one another and treated each other with respect and love.
I traveled with Rustic Pathways again as a junior and senior in high school—this time to Thailand and New Orleans. These experiences inspired me to become more involved with service initiatives in my community and abroad. I became president of my school’s Key Club and, after graduation, studied international relations at Brown University. I studied abroad in Paris, worked with a non-governmental organization in Guatemala that supports women’s rights and lived with an indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
After college I combined my love for dance, education, service and travel as a program leader for Rustic Pathways in the Dominican Republic. Today, as Rustic Pathways’ public engagement coordinator, I encourage students to travel, learn and grow. I hope to motivate and encourage students to connect with people from around the world, explore the definition of service and experience what it means to work with—not for—another community.
As former president of my high school’s Key Club, I am incredibly excited about Rustic Pathways’ new partnership with Key Club International and the wonderful programs we are offering exclusively to Key Clubbers in 2014. Check out the 10 Rustic Pathways programs for Key Club members by visiting rusticpathways.com/keyclub. Then get in touch with us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media.
Let’s see what Key Clubbers like you can accomplish!