Riding the Rails + Learning the Tourism Trade in Coastal Rhode Island

Ishwar Pathak riding the rails in Portsmouth, RI.

The seemingly sleepy coastal town of Portsmouth, RI, might seem like a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Ishwar Pathak’s hometown of Mumbai, India, but — as he discovered during his summer internship at Rail Explorers USA — it’s a crossroads for world travelers.

Rail Explorers runs two 6-mile rail-bike tours along the historic railway that hugs the Western side of Aquidneck Island. (Newport is to the south.)

Pathak, a Tourism & Hospitality Management major who also serves as national treasurer for the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH), spent the summer rotating through just about every job on site — tour guide, front-desk agent, even occasional dog-wrangler. (See below.) Here’s what he had to say about his experience:

"The most exciting thing about the internship is meeting people who come from all over the world."

“The most exciting thing about the internship is meeting new people who come from all over the world and share their experiences and ideas. I especially love it when they reserve their rail bike with a tour guide, which allows me to sit with them and get to know them even better during the tour. The workplace is dog-friendly — often people bring their dogs along on the tour and I get to play with them!

“On the job, I’m learning impromptu decision-making and how to actively respond to real-life situations. If there is a problem, we have to solve it by ourselves while on the clock.

“At the same time, we have to interact with up to 38 tourists at a time — they usually have lots of questions. I am learning soft skills such as being approachable, courteous, friendly and speaking in front of a crowd. It’s an eye-opening experience to meet a wide range of tourists belonging to different countries, races, religions, ethnic groups and socio-economic status. This job has helped me learn to be open-minded and accommodating to any and all guest requests.

“Be open to opportunities, to people and to the world. By letting others in, you expand your own knowledge and understanding of the world which helps you become not only a better student but also a better person!”


Tour group getting ready to ride the rails under the Pell Newport Bridge.

Internship at Rail Explorers in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.