This past summer, I went to Costa Rica with Global Leadership Adventures. My program was called Beachside Service Adventure and consisted of 10 days in Parrita. There were about 60 people in my group (mostly girls only like 10 boys) and we were split up into mentor groups of like 8-10 ish.
M y group worked with a startup plant nursery which was amazing. We worked with two locals, Nicholas and Mau who's nursery it was, and spent our service time basically hardcore gardening in the rainforest. One day we were clearing the land for the nursery and we got to be super cool with machetes and hack through the jungle brush which was awesome. Other groups did stuff like paint a mural at a school, build a tire playground, plant trees at a farm, build a garden at a school, etc.
One of my favorite parts was our nightly mentor group talks. Since gla does focus a lot on leadership we did discussion groups about leadership in our lives and how we can be a leader in our community and we talked about globalization and the relationship between developed/developing countries and some economics so it was really cool to get kinda a crash course foreign policy and how it applies to us kinda thing. And we totally had to open our minds to new ideas which was cool
Honestly the best part was just being immersed in the culture like eating rice and beans and drinking pineapple juice we ate SO MUCH fruit it was amazing
I thought the GLA people were really cool like every program has to have a native who works as an advisor so we actually had two: one woman who has just finished up in the peace corps and one woman who was from Parrita. They were really organized like being at the airport was stressful at first but once you find the GLA people they take care of you the whole time which was great and my parents weren't stressed at all
I would recommend on program length so I did a 10 day but I would recommend the 14 day ones just cause I really started to form close bonds right as we left and didn't really get the chance to develop those friendships. If you have any interest in the peace corps or mission work it's so great cause a lot of the staff did the peace corps or at least extensive volunteering so you get tons of cool people to ask lots of questions.
If you're nervous about doing GLA I'd definitely recommend the programs in Latin America/Caribbean. I know my parents were a lot happier knowing I was in the same time zone and it was easy to call me and my flight wasn't too bad. Plus it's less of a culture shock than, say, Thailand. I would definitely say whatever program you do, find someone who did that one before because there were a lot of confusing things just cause they can only fit so much in a brochure.
One of the lasting effects of GLA on my life is I feel a lot more down to earth and focused on nature and being in the present and I worry way less about social media or texting or television now which is nice.
-Miranda Wilson, GLA Ambassador