Alumni Spotlight: Grey Gondella

Grey Gondella is a 16 - almost 17-year old homeschooler from Bluemont, Virginia currently working at an after-school program helping with homework and caring for the children. Grey has a passion for Africa and working with children. She will be traveling back to Ghana this summer with a different program and cannot wait to add more amazing experiences to her life. She also enjoys riding her horse and spending time with friends.

Why did you decide to volunteer with GLA in Ghana?

Ghana children and volunteer

Grey: I was always inspired to volunteer in Africa because my mom was a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso many years ago. When I found Global Leadership Adventures it seemed like the perfect opportunity and an amazing program. I chose Ghana because I love children, and this trip was the most focused on and constantly working with children.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Grey: On weekdays during my trip we would head to our worksites (two different schools) at around 8:30 in the morning, and build bricks for two hours, until recess. For the half-hour or so of recess we would get to spend time and play with the children, and then after recess we would choose a class to teach. We would come back to our home base in time for lunch (around 12:30), and then do a variety of different things.

Sometimes we would have people visit us to speak about the culture of Ghana, give us dance lessons, or even braid our hair, and other days we would travel to someones house, or a small orphanage to learn more. Over the weekends we took trips, which usually consisted of three to six hours in the bus before arriving at a hotel. Over the weekends we got to visit the tallest waterfall in West Africa, Wli Falls, some orphanages, a couple of NGOS (non-governmental organizations), and micro-finance projects.

What made this experience unique and special?

Ghana school kids

Grey: I think what made my experience special was the bonds we formed over the course of three weeks. The students in my group were from France, England, and the United States, and along with our leaders - Ghanaian and American - we formed a family that was very comfortable. I never felt like I couldn't talk to someone about something or share my feelings about an experience, because there was always someone who felt the same way. I also loved the relationships we were able to build with the local Ghanaians, especially the children we saw everyday at our schools. I will never forget the people I met over my three weeks in Ghana.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Grey: I'm personally more aware now of the real problems going on in rural parts of Africa, but also that not everyone in Africa is starving, an orphan, poor, or needs help. I've always known that I want to work with children when I grow up, but now I am even more sure of myself and what I can do. I gained a lot of confidence over the course of my trip, and have experiences that I will never forget. I cannot wait to go back to Ghana - I am going back with a different program for a month in July - to explore my possibilities of future jobs and opportunities even more. The experience helped me realize my true potential to become a leader and help change the world.