Childlike curiosity still drives Rabil

Published 9:00 pm Friday, November 7, 2008

FRANKLIN—Growing up in Southampton County, Marshall Rabil often pondered what the world outside of Virginia was like.

“I always had a curiosity about how things were in other places. I wondered why I was born here and not in a small village in Africa,” said Rabil, the 27-year-old son of Franklin residents Frank and Lynne Rabil.

So, when Rabil later had the opportunity to travel to Japan for educational enrichment, that same curiosity pushed him to take the chance. Since going to Japan, Rabil has traveled extensively around the world learning new languages and different cultures.

In 2007, Rabil joined Carpe Diem International Education group, an international academic program that takes college-age students to faraway places like East Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, the South Pacific, India and South America.

According to its Web site, the program’s goal is to push the comfort zones of students by immersing them in the cultures of the places they visit through volunteerism.

As a group leader, Rabil has been putting his travel history to good use by leading students in these excursions. Each trip has two mentors, one male and one female, who supervise and facilitate the students’ experiences.

So far, he has led a group to Central America and India. This spring he will take a group to East Africa.

Rabil enjoys watching as the students come into a greater understanding of what people all over the world are truly like. One of his fondest memories is a scavenger hunt in New Delhi, India.

“We challenged the students to use three forms of transportation, and one of them chose a rickshaw as one of his three — only he didn’t ride on the back; he asked the driver if he could switch places with him so that he (the student) could get a feel for what the driver must experience every day.”

Rabil’s boss and Carpe Diem founder Ethan Knight said in a telephone interview that Rabil’s relationship with the students is exactly why Knight is glad Rabil is on his team.

“Marshall has a rare quality that helps him get really in tune and in touch with our students. He can sense just when they need assistance but knows how to back off as well.”

Knight said Rabil also has been helpful in the development of new programs and marketing.

“He was instrumental in creating our newest program that will be sending students to Japan. He thinks way outside the box, so we usually use any idea he comes up with.”

Rabil thinks he eventually will settle back in his native Western Tidewater.

“I feel like right now I’m traveling and gathering knowledge and information that I can use in the future to really benefit Southampton.”

For now, Rabil plans to tour area high schools and speak to students about how they too can travel.

“I just want our kids to know that if anyone has the desire to travel outside the country, there are a number of ways they can do so. They shouldn’t let fear of the unknown hold them back. The world is wide open.”

For more information about Carpe Diem International, call 877-285-1808, e-mail or visit