WHB Around the World


Lizzie Knieriemen, Staff Writer

Rustic Pathways, a volunteer organization that many WHBHS students have taken part in, is the perfect way for students to experience new cultures and make an impact on communities across the globe. Offering trips to 20+ different countries, Rustic provides students with a way to adventure abroad and have the experience of a lifetime.

Rustic’s mission is to “facilitate positive impact through transformative student travel experiences that prioritize meaningful community engagement around the world.” Students contribute to community projects with local organizations and partners that align with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, including infrastructure projects, small-scale agricultural development, and language exchange.

Rustic’s programs are designed to develop important skill sets that help students succeed academically, professionally, and interpersonally. In addition to the various service opportunities, these trips include adventure activities such as skydiving, ziplining, white-water rafting, and bungee jumping.

Senior Ella Donneson has traveled with Rustic to both Costa Rica and Fiji. In Costa Rica, she spent seven days on the beach, participating in the Turtle Conservation Project.

“My group and I built safe nests for baby turtles, studied mother turtles and guided them safely at night. We also participated in local beach clean ups.” Through this unique experience, she learned that “there is so much more to the world than just the place we live in. There are endless opportunities and there are always places to help our neighbors wherever you might be.”

Senior Jake Mecca traveled to Costa Rica on the Intro to Community Service trip. He spent nine days in the heart of the rainforest, in a town called La Fortuna. “We helped to build a daycare center and a classroom for the local children.”

After a week of service, he had the opportunity to zipline through the rainforest. “It was amazing! We were 500 feet above the ground and we could see the jungle below us. The experience was mind-blowing.”

Senior Ellie Floegel traveled to Fiji in 2019 on the Highlands and Islands Service Immersion trip. She and her group spent 10 days in the mountainous region of Fiji. Her favorite part of the trip was “the homestays where we lived with a local Fijian family.” She was able to live alongside a native family and take part in their traditions.

Her group “planted cassava (a Fijian root crop), painted a local school, and built a footpath and fence for the village.” She “admired the ways the local Fijians always seemed to be happy despite the little that they had. Not only that, but we were nothing but welcomed into their village through the admirable traditions and good-willed spirit of both the kids and adults.”

Whether you are a first-time traveler, thrill-seeker, or service buff, Rustic has a program perfect for you! For more information visit www.rusticpathways.com.


Ella’s trip:


Jake’s Trip:


Ellie’s trip: