Peace Corps for Teens
I can honestly say going to Ghana was the best experience of my life so far, and Global Leadership Adventures was an excellent company to make arrangements. GLA is unique in that it's a... K_Chh
Experiencing Mayan Culture in Guatemala
Submitted by Caroline Maloney - Colorado Springs Liberty High School | December 26, 2014
This past July, I volunteered in Guatemala for two weeks with Global Leadership Adventures. Let me start by saying that this program is amazing! The process of registering for a program is made very easy and there are always people available to answer questions. GLA provides information about fundraising, travel arrangements, packing lists, possible vaccinations, items participants can bring as donations, and further reading material about each country. Teens can choose from a variety a locations all the way from South America to Africa to Asia. I volunteered in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for two weeks. Quetzaltenango is a rural town located near the mountains in Guatemala. Out hotel was on the side of a mountain and provided modest yet comfortable accommodations. Each room held three-five people and we all shared a few communal bathrooms. Our project consisted of volunteering at a school painting and repairing walls. We were allowed to play with the kids each day for about an hour during their recess. Each afternoon, we participated in different cultural activities. We visited Mayan ruins, learned salsa dancing, visited a weaving shop and a pottery shop, learned how to play the traditional marimba, met a local woman and her family who made chocolate from real cacao beans, and took a quick trip to the hot springs. Almost every minute was planned and we were always busy, however, there was down time each day to take a quick nap or play games. Over the weekend, we visited more towns, took a boat ride over the lake, and shopped at a huge indigenous craft market. I love that GLA focuses not only on volunteering but also on experiencing local cultures. Each participant will walk away with different memories but everyone will walk away a more well-rounded, cultured individual.
Guatemala: Children of the Maya
Submitted by Claire - San Francisco | December 20, 2014
Initially signing up for a trip with Global Leadership Adventures I was kinda hesitant, as traveling to a foreign country on your own can be somewhat nerve-wracking. The whole time, however, from signing up to when I landed back home, the Global Leadership Adventures staff was supportive, organized, and encouraging. I immediately became very close with the other 25 teenagers on my trip and in just the two short weeks I made lifelong friendships. Everyday at service we got to paint and cement a local school then play with the children during their recess and every second of it was extremely valuable. By interacting with the locals, volunteering, and participating in cultural activities, I not only learned so much about them, but also myself. This trip truly planted core values within me, taught me what I wish to do with my life, and ultimately changed me as a person. Seeing, living in, and volunteering in a place very different from what I was used to really opened my mind, and although I went there to help them, they ended up teaching me way more than I could have ever imagined. Everyday I wish I could be back in Guatemala because it was such a great experience. So please, if you are interested in going at all, do it. You'll never regret it.
I would highly reccomend the trip!!
Submitted by Hannah - Boston High school | December 19, 2014
I would recommend Global Leadership Adventures to anyone. I had so much fun and learned a lot of valuable lessons. I would love to volunteer abroad for the rest of my life because of this trip.
This program was the perfect mixture of adventure and service. We spent 2 days building a bottle school in Carabella, 2 days building a bottle school in Las Canas, one day picking up trash in La Grua, and one day hiking Bryson and planting trees near the top. In Carabella, The locals were more distracting us while we were working there and had a big system of dependency because of the other organizations that went there and just handed them items. Here I had learned the true meaning behind the quote, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." We built the bottle school so that the people of that community would be able to use it for a while. I learned another important lesson in La Grua who hadn't been given products by these other organizations. The kids here were obviously sick and had pot bellies because they didn't have clean water. Even after all of this, these kids were so happy. The had almost nothing, but were the most joyful kids I have ever met.
Don't worry, we did have some fun activities too! We ziplined into the lagoons and jumped off cliffs. We also went on a boat and snorkeled there.
We did have some free time back at the home and there we learned plenty of new card games, swam in the pool, visited the beach (which was a minute away) and played odds are.
I made meaningful relationships with the Dominicans and my GLA family. I really had the best time and would highly suggest that if you were thinking on volunteering abroad with Global Leadership Adventures, then you should absolutely do it. It was the best 10 days of my life.
Exploring into a New Culture
Submitted by Molly T. - Florida The Bolles School | November 26, 2014
Global Leadership Adventures is a wonderful program that allows high school students to travel abroad and experience a new culture. Through GLA, I was able to travel to Cuzco, Peru for two weeks. Our service project while in Cuzco was to help create a greenhouse for a local school. During our service days, the children would sometimes even dance and put on a show for us to express their gratitude toward us. It was very heartwarming to know that just by helping create this greenhouse, you were helping all of these children's lives. Also at the hotel we were staying was introduced with new culture. It was not a brand new and fancy hotel, but it was traditional and normal to be located in Cuzco. GLA had personally had the entire hotel just for GLA programs. It was a nice touch to the trip. Besides service, we were taken on many adventures. We were given the opportunity to see a llama farm, take a tour of downtown Cuzco, and even hike to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is wonderful. It should definitely be on everyone's bucket list. The best part of traveling to Machu Picchu was the hike. The hike allowed you to see some breathtaking views. We even got to sleep under the stars. Don't worry we didn't have to carry tents and food. When we arrived at our destined stop there were men there ready to serve us. The entire trip was amazing. I honestly would recommend it to anyone interested in volunteering abroad. GLA makes it all very possible for you to have a great experience.
Learning New Culture
Submitted by Molly T. - Bolles High School | November 26, 2014
My trip through Global Leadership Adventures was overall an amazing experience. Peru itself is beautiful. We were lucky enough to experience a breath taking hike to Machu Picchu. Also while we were building greenhouses for a local school, during we would get to play soccer with the children during our break times. The hotel we were living in was amazing. We had the entire hotel just for everyone part of the program. The staff was also great. They were very welcoming and made a great effort to get to know everyone better. I felt completely safe and had tons of fun. It was a great experience to see different parts of the world and to be able to help others.
Amazing Opportunity for High School Students
Submitted by Lily - | November 22, 2014
This past summer, I went on a service trip to the Dominican Republic through Global Leadership Adventures. It was, to say the least, life-changing. I've always had a passion for helping those in need, and this trip solidified that desire even further. It was definitely a change in the kind of service work I'd been doing. This goes way beyond food drives or any other community work. It's a hands-on, interactive experience that clearly made a lasting impact on the villages. Over the course of my ten days in the Dominican, I helped to build a bottle school, participated in trash cleanups and reforestation projects, and learned how to live with less. The bottle school was such a unique project. The structure has 6 rooms, and the walls are filled with plastic bottles to promote sustainability. Once it's finished, it'll be the largest one in the world. Part of it will be used as a medical clinic, while the other part will be used as a school. We got to work side by side with the villagers, which shows Global Leadership Adventures' true passion in helping out the right way. Instead of directly giving food and clothes, which causes dependency, I learned that teaching a man how to fish is helping him to help himself. Upon arriving back home from the Dominican, I was inspired to immediately start service again and continue making a difference.
When I say that I learned to live with less, I mean the living conditions helped me to realize how privileged I am. One of the program's directors believes that living like the locals is the only way to understand them. Despite the basic dorms we lived in, with their mosquito nets and open windows, we were still one step above the locals, as we had running water and toilets. Even though it took a day or two to get used to base camp, it made the experience so much more genuine.
I highly recommend travelling with Global Leadership Adventures. Stepping outside of your comfort zone could not be more worth it.
Like No Other
Submitted by Amy Liu - Gilbert | November 06, 2014
I came into the program at Peru believing I would spend time volunteering abroad, meeting locals, and hiking a trail to Machu Picchu. Well, I was correct. But to state that those actions were the bulk of my adventure would be an insult to how much Global Leadership Adventures has impacted my life. We did build a greenhouse for a local school, we did visit an orphanage and help locals sort quinoa, we did hike a 15-mile trail full of wonder, only to see more wonder at the place of the ancient Incan civilization. However, I came back home with so much more than an experience to culture and beauty. Global Leadership Adventures has completely turned my life around- no longer obsessed with success or achievement, but obsessed with passion and wonder for the world. Being able to see the faces of the young schoolchildren when we played soccer with them, or gazing at the Milky Way at our campsite to Machu Picchu, I could not have been more overwhelmed with joy. I still tell my friends every day about Peru, and it has been 4 months since the program ended. I still read the 50 pages of my GLA journal full of scribbles and crude sketches, I still talk to the wonderful people I have met in the journey, I still can't stop thinking of my experience everyday. GLA made sure we were safe; they take a lot of precaution and stick to their 5-Point Safety System. I am a vegetarian, but the food at home base could accommodate my needs perfectly. This really is the program that changed my life, and I will never forget it. I am forever thankful to Global Leadership Adventures, my mentors, and all the people I have met along the way.
Guatemala Children of the Maya
Submitted by Nikki Prager - New Jersey Hunterdon Central | November 06, 2014
Over this summer I traveled to Guatemala with the program Children of the Maya. My experience was one of the best I have ever had! Between the Guatemalan children, adventuring experiences, and meeting the other volunteers, my trip was filled with fun. We hiked a mountain, learned to make chocolate, and created unbreakable e bonds with each other. I suggest traveling with GLA to any teens who want to make a change in the world. This experience is worth every penny and will stay with you forever.
Galapagos and Tanzania
Submitted by Caitlin Laidlaw - Toronto Lorne Park Secondary School | March 07, 2014
At the age of 15, sitting in my basement, hot chocolate in hand happy to be isolated from the frigid Canadian winters, I came across Global Leadership Adventures. I secretly had the desire to travel to the Galapagos islands, and presenting the trip to my parents was a decision that changed my life.
I remember leaving the Airport in Quito, is was dark and raining, and I was walking with 17 strangers towards a bus. It was the start of an amazing adventure. My Galapagos most certainly pushed my far outside my comfort zone, but that was why I was there. Volunteering abroad with people you've never met was intimidating, as a Canadian who had never traveled internationally. But in no time the Galapagos Islands felt like home.
On the islands we volunteered pulling invasive species that were choking out the land tortoises natural food. It was hard work and my hands grew tired, but being able to look back over the wilderness we helped clear was a rewarding feeling. We also volunteered painting a local primary school. There were very few students, but once in a while we got a peak of the smiling faces.
The adventures we had on the islands I will never forget. Hiking up a volcano, snorkelling with huge sea turtles, travelling to isolated beaches with sea lions resting feet away, the whole place felt magical. My favourite part was swimming with sharks. Two large peaks rose high from the water creating a large passage between, which we floated down. Shadowy figures slithered below, and a brave few people dove down to get a closer look.
If you are looking for a program with just the right mixture of volunteering and adventure, this is the program for you!
Because I had such an amazing time in the Galapagos, I knew I needed to sign up for another trip. This time I wanted a volunteer trip that was more community, culture, and people based. The Tanzania: Heart and Soul of Africa fit perfectly.
We volunteered at the Himo-Korona Primary School in the mornings, teaching english and planting fruit trees. It is hard to explain all the emotions that swirled inside me when I saw the school for the first time. Despite their lack of resources, the kids i taught were the happiest bunch I have ever met. It was empowering seeing how grateful these students are for an education, something we take for granted in the Western World.
We also did some amazing activities like batik art, danced with a local dancing crew, wandered the village with our host families, bargained for fabric, and visited a local orphanage. As a nature lover, I will never forget the safari weekend, especially the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater teemed with wildlife who weren't afraid of coming close, like elephants, zebra, wildebeest, hyena, ostriches, and of course lions.
I would recommend this trip to anyone who wants to experience a new culture, and take part in meaningful service work.
Overall my two trips with Global Leadership Adventures were life-altering. I think every high-school student should take part in volunteering abroad, because you can learn so much about both the world and your self. I know I will never look at the world the same. Anyone considering either of these trips, do it, I can guarantee you won't regret it.
Galapagos and Tanzania Experience!
Submitted by Caitlin Laidlaw - Toronto Lorne Park Secondary School | March 07, 2014
If someone had of told me next summer I would be sitting on a beach under the stars in the Galapagos islands I would not have believed them. I remember watching a documentary about the Galapagos one day in my basement, hot chocolate in hand and grateful to be hidden away from the Canadian winters when I came across Global Leadership Adventures. Showing the trip to my parents was a decision that changed my life.
My Galapagos volunteer trip was amazing. As a kid from Toronto who had never traveled internationally, Global Leadership Adventures was extremely helpful for me (and I suppose even more so for my parents) in walking me through every step of the process until I found myself standing in the Galapagos with 17 strangers (who soon because close friends). On the islands we helped pull invasive plant species that were choking out the land tortoises natural food. We also helped sand and paint a local primary school. The service was very rewarding, being able to look back at the area of wilderness in which the invasive plants no longer grew, or seeing the school with a fresh new paint job and smiling children brings a certain satisfaction, that you know you played a small part in making the world a better place.
Even though this trip was two years ago, I can still vividly remember the adventures we had. We hiked a volcano, snorkelled multiple times with huge sea turtles, sea lions, fish or every colour, and even saw a massive sting ray, or simply got to explore the tiny town on Isabella island. But I must say the best part was when we snorkelled with sharks. Two large rocks jutted out of the water forming a massive passage between, and as we floated on the surface shadowy figures slithered below us. The ability to come in such close proximity with the wildlife on the Galapagos islands is like no other. It you love nature and wildlife, volunteering, and adventure, this is the program for you!
I had such an amazing experience with Global Leadership Adventures that I had to go on another trip. But this time I wanted a program which was more community, culture, and people based. Tanzania: Hear and Soul of Africa was the perfect fit. Once again the local and international staff were amazing, and I felt right at home from the minute I was greeted by smiling faces at the airport. All the students and mentors lived in a gated in compound, 6 to a room and with a common eating area, were all our delicious meals were home cooked.
We volunteered at the Himo-Korona Primary School, teaching english and planting fruit trees. I can't explain how I felt the first time when our bus pulled up to the school. Kids rushed out of their classrooms with smiling faces peering over each other to get a look at us. The school itself lacked the resources us in the western world take for granted. Desk and benches were old and worn down, paper and pencils were scarce, not to mention they had no electricity. Nonetheless the kids I had the pleasure of teaching were the happiest bunch of students I have ever met. Everyone developed such strong relationships with their students in such a short time that tears filled everyones eyes when it came time to leave.
We also did some activities such as batik art, danced with a dancing crew, walked through the village with our host families, hiked to a waterfall, and my personal favourite, the safari weekend. Visiting the Ngorongoro is something I will cherish forever. We got up-close encounters amazing wildlife like elephants, zebras, wildebeest, buffalo, and of course lions!
Overall my experience with Global Leadership Adventures has been a life-altering adventure. Volunteering abroad is something I think every high-shoold student should do. "The best way to find yourself is to loose yourself in the service of others" -Gandhi. I think this quote says it all, volunteering abroad with like-minded students opens up your outlook on life in so many ways, and you can learn amazing things about not only the world, but yourself.
To anyone reading this, just do it, I can guarantee you won't regret it.
Costa Rica and Peru
Submitted by Alexis - Los Angeles | March 01, 2014
In spring of 2012, one of my close friends suggested that I travel to Costa Rica with her through a GLA program. Although I hadn't heard much about it, I took her advice and we embarked on our 10-day adventure together. Needless to say, it was incredible. We met up with other students in their GLA t-shirts as we ventured from airport to airport and were able to bond over our fear/excitement. By the end of a week and a half trip, we had become a family. Through our community service, eating every meal together, adventurous trips, and leadership activities, we grew as a team and helped each other out whenever we could. I ended up learning more about myself than I thought possible.
The following summer my friends and I were dying to plan our next GLA trip. We decided to be a little more adventurous and signed up for the three week Service in the Sacred Valley trip to Peru. It was nice to have a previous GLA trip under my belt, but each trip is extremely unique. The weather was different, the housing was different, the service was different. This was the trip that pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to grow even more. Our community service project was to build a greenhouse and each day we worked our bodies as hard as we could to get that project done. In the end, it was so rewarding to see our hard work come together. We went on so many incredible adventures from whitewater rafting to camping to hiking to visiting Machu Picchu. Some of the sights we saw were so amazing I couldn't believe my eyes.
I would highly recommend GLA to prospective volunteers that want to get to know another country. My sister has been looking at what trip she wants to go on and I always tell her friends to get involved. On my second trip I traveled with a friend who had never done GLA before and now she says her biggest regret is that she didn't start earlier so she could go on multiple programs. These trips teach you important life skills and allow you to see the countries through the eyes of the locals, not just as a tourist. My trip to Peru made me realize the importance of language and I am now working on becoming fluent in Spanish. Additionally, my experiences allowed me to write fantastic essays for college applications.
GLA Ghana: Building Healthy Villages
Submitted by K_Chh - Lake Forest Academy | January 12, 2014
I can honestly say going to Ghana was the best experience of my life so far, and Global Leadership Adventures was an excellent company to make arrangements. GLA is unique in that it's a "three-in-one" program. You get to learn crucial leadership skills, volunteer abroad, and live in a village while experiencing culture in an irreplaceable way - it truly changes your outlook so that when you return home, you become more aware of your presence as well as your surroundings. As far as logistics go, GLA provides families with a travel agency and a recommended flight to take. From the second we arrived in the Accra airport, we were warmly welcomed by our mentors and our in-country host, who also owned the lodge we stayed at. I have never participated in a program that put me in contact with so many amazing and inspiring people. Accommodations were perfect, had all the necessary safety measures, and even had plenty of ways to relax with your group mates or perhaps the new people you met after a fulfilling day at the work site. No matter where you go, the project GLA sets up makes a very real difference in the community you live in and beyond. Almost everyone in my group agreed that one day, he/she would like to do similar work or even make the same trip back to Ghana. After working for a few hours in the morning, the groups usually take a day trip, do leadership activities, or listen to a guest speaker to learn more about the village or the country of the program. At night, after some free time, our mentors encouraged us to reflect or to ask questions about the day's events. Everyone in my group made good use of the journal GLA provides, trying to capture as many details as possible to bring back home. Words do not do justice to how much I'd like to live through this experience again. I encourage you to think about applying for a GLA program - it will be well worth it!
My Incredible Journey to Costa Rica
Submitted by Dylan Sanders - New York City High School of American Studies at Lehman College | December 30, 2013
Hello everyone, my name is Dylan Sanders, and I hail from New York City. Last summer, I attended a Global Leadership Adventures program entitled Costa Rica: Nature's Kaleidoscope, now renamed Empowering Rainforest Communities. At the time, I was coming out of freshman year in high school, and all traveling I had ever done was with family or friends, never alone. Over the course of that year, now disillusioned with sumer camp, I had been searching for something new and exciting to do, and GLA fit the bill perfectly. Upon discovering the organization, doing loads of research, and talking to many a contact over the phone, I decided to enter into a program, and I was not disappointed. The staff at GLA are great people, they're extremely helpful, almost always reachable, and really kind. They made preparation really easy, and had loads of useful materials to help me learn about my destination, as well as prepare for journeying alone, living without family, etc.
When in Costa Rica, I can most certainly say that I had just about the best two weeks of my entire life. After recovering from the initial shock of living in the middle of the rainforest, in extremely rustic living conditions very different from my New York City, I came to love the place, and quickly grew to think of it as my home. This was the first time I had traveled alone, and more importantly lived with complete and total strangers for any period of time, and so I had no clue what to expect. By the second day, however, we had already developed strong bonds, and a great game of soccer in the pouring rain only helped to strengthen them. Over the course of the trip, these bonds between all of the students as well as the mentors only got stronger, and by the end of the program we had come to resemble a massive family, all of whom loved one another. The service we did was incredible as well. We first worked planting trees in deforested areas to support the green tunnel project, a project that worked to build and expand on the lush rainforest so as to grant many animals their homes once again. Along with this, we also did service at a local school, installing signs and playing with the local children. In the second location we stayed, we worked to clear and build trails in the dense cloud forest, to serve explorers and scientists to come after us. Although hard, our service was extremely rewarding, and also extremely fun. Along with service, the program was full of amazing activities and excursions. We hiked through the forests, swam in waterfalls, climbed an active volcano, and ziplined through the canopy, along with many other amazing experiences.
On the topic of safety, I have never been in more capable and safe hands as GLA. The organization as a whole has developed a 5-point safety plan, and works to uphold it's values constantly, making sure that every part of the journey is as safe as it is fun. On my program specifically, there were two extremely capable and amazing mentors who helped to make the program as safe as it could possibly be, while keeping it exciting and amazing.
All in all, if you want to experience something unlike any other, something amazing and exciting and fun, I advise that you make sure to do a GLA program. No matter where you choose to go, you will not be disappointed, and I assure you that you will have the time of your life!
Its been 4 onths and i still think about Peru every day .....
Submitted by R_Maxwell_Bone - Oakland Christian School | November 27, 2013
Hello Everyone !
I am Max Bone. I'm a high school sophomore from Detroit, Michigan. Last summer I had the amazing, life changing experience to travel to and live in Cuzco, Peru for three weeks with Global Leadership Adventures. Those three weeks changed my life and my views forever. For parents who are reading this, trying to decide whether to send your child on a program to a foreign country, all I can say is you won’t regret it! I understand it is a scary thought, sending them off to a foreign country for an extended amount of time. I can assure you, you will be glad you did when your child returns a few weeks later tired, but smiling, excited to talk about the amazing experience they just had.
GLA provides these experiences through three main ways: Community Service, Leadership Activities, and Cultural Exchange Activities. The community service changes from country to country, but I have talked to who kids who have been on 10 different Global Leadership Adventures programs in 8 different countries. They have all loved the work that they were doing, felt a strong connection to the work they were doing, and felt like they were making a HUGE difference in their host community.
I am going to use my program to illustrate this. My group was building a green house out of adobe bricks in a small mountain community to help combat the increasing malnutrition rate among the youth of the Cusco region of Peru. It was amazing knowing that the work that I was doing would make a huge impact on this community for years to come. Seeing all of the hard work that we were putting in pay off and finishing 70% more than we were expected to felt so good! It helped me realize how important hard work is and how much it pays off. The gratitude that the community expressed for our hard work cannot be explained in words.
The second way that Global Leadership Adventures does this is through leadership sessions and mentor groups. This is something unique to Global Leadership Adventures that no other organization I have seen does. These sessions focus on taking all that you are learning and experiencing and applying it to your life, and asking what you will do with it when you return home. These sessions also include talking about important qualities of leaders and aspects of life such as empathy, humility, service, communication and decision making. These sessions take place in both large group settings and small group settings. I truly miss these sessions, and they are one of the things I look forward to most when I return to Global Leadership Adventures next summer.
The staff that Global Leadership Adventures has put together is also fantastic. They are all amazing, talented, smart, and inspiring individuals. I was able to get to know all of the staff really well; from the cooks at home base, to my personal mentor. There is also a large aspect placed on local cultural activities and fun. These included everything from getting my fortune told by a traditional practicing, Inca shawman, to hiking and camping the Inca trail, to visiting Machu Picchu to learning about traditional Inca medicine, to getting to dress up in Andean attire and performing a traditional dance ! These activities really gave me a better understanding and made me feel connected to the Inca culture, instead of just having knowledge of it.
Global Leadership Adventures also does an amazing job with safety. There was not a single time during my program when I did not feel safe. GLA has a five point safety system that is followed. This system includes safe and secure lodging ( the home base is ONLY used by GLA students and staff ) , caring supervision, healthy meals and pure water, expert local knowledge, and safe and comfortable transportation.
My trip to Peru last summer was a fantastic, life changing experience. All I can say to you is GO,GO,GO,GO! You will come home changed. If you have any questions about Global Leadership Adventures or the Peru program, please let me know via email at email@example.com . If you would like to see photos from my trip, please email me and I can share with you my Facebook page where you can view them. Parents, if you would like to hear from a parent whose child has gone on a GLA trip, and who is trusting them again with the safety of their kid (this time in Africa) please email and I will be more than happy to put you in contact with my parents.
Thank You for your interest in Global Leadership Adventures. I am so excited for you to embark on a life changing journey !
Global Leadership; Two Summers
Submitted by Gillian Gleizer - Marlboro Academy of Allied Health and Science | November 05, 2013
For the past two summers I have went on trips with GLA. Both my family and I are extremely happy with this program and all it provides. My first summer I took a trip to the Galapagos. Our whole family was nervous that I would be going away for two weeks in a foreign country. I went on the trip and had the best experience I could have imagined. The mentors were extremely nice and welcoming. Some of our staff even lived in the Galapagos and had great knowledge of the area and answered all of my questions. I was able to call my parents at any time I wanted, something that my parents found amazing and extremely beneficial. The volunteer work was difficult yet rewarding, as we spend a lot of time cutting down tall elephant grass (an invasive species in the area). In addition to volunteering, the GLA program provided a way for us students to experience the galapagos in a way a normal visitor would not. Of course we did a lot of the tourist excursions and visited tourist locations, but we were also able to do things such as play soccer with a champion team of kids from that area. From amazing food to kayaking to swimming with sharks and sea lions, those two weeks I spent in Ecuador made me grow as a person. My parents remarked that I had not only changed my views as a global citizen, but matured as an independent teenager after the trip. The following year, after a lot of begging, I convinced my parents to help pay for another trip. This summer I went to Thailand for three weeks. It was an experience very different from my mule ridding and snorkeling in the Galapagos yet it was amazing no matter how different. In Thailand most of our time was spent in Chiang Mai, a province of Thailand. We stayed in a gorgeous hostel-like hotel that was exclusively used for GLA. We spent our time volunteering at orphanages for children with HIV or those who had been trafficked and group homes for pregnant mothers and women who have young children. The volunteer work affected me a lot as I love children and has encouraged me to do more in my community today. In addition to volunteer work we had opportunities to try exotic (spicy!) food, ride elephants, visit street markets, and even zip line through beautiful forests. My experiences on both trips were very different, yet I would strongly recommend either one of them for a high school student who wants to step out of their comfort zone and see the world. GLA gives an opportunity to see the world in a way that is often unaccessible to the typical tourist. It is an experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the culture around you and take in all that it has to offer.