Alumni Spotlight: Alexa Namestnik

Alexa Namestnik,17, went to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador August 4-17 2012 with GLA. She lives in Pittsburgh PA, and attends Oakland Catholic High School. She is a competitive swimmer and her favorite place is the beach! Alexa enjoys music, surfing, photography, and spending time with her friends and family.

Group of high school kids in Ecuador

Why did you decide to volunteer with GLA in Ecuador & the Galapagos?

Alexa: I decided to volunteer abroad with GLA because I had heard amazing things about the program, and now with my great experience I can add to the tremendous reviews GLA gets! For high school students I’d definitely recommend their program because it’s not only focused on benefiting other through the service, but GLA truly strives to help its students grow as independent young adults! I picked the Galapagos and Ecuador because it’s a once in a life time trip! The location is so exclusive it’s an honor to be able to say that I have traveled there! For anyone who loves nature, the ocean, and animals I’d advise going there to do service work because it is truly so amazing!

What advice do you have for future volunteers?

Alexa: For future volunteers my biggest piece of advise is to be outgoing! Seriously, don’t be shy even if you don’t know anyone else you’re with! I had such an amazing time just being bold and adventurous on my trip! Also, do it for the right reasons! I know right now, a lot of high school students think abroad service trips benefit your college applications, and the reality is that they do! However, that should not be someone’s reasoning for serving abroad! Make sure you have genuine desire to go on the trip to learn so much about yourself and another culture; the college application points you’ll get are just an awesome bonus!

What made this experience unique and special?

Alexa: Honestly, the people I met on my trip really made my experience as amazing as it was! I feel so blessed to have gotten to know and work with so many amazing people! It an excellent way to make new life-long friends. Also, the location was beautiful and so inspiring!

How has this experience impacted your future?

Alexa: My experience definitely helped me mature! Even though it was just two weeks, I learned so much about myself. I became more confident, independent, educated about the world and I was inspired to make a change! I realized how blessed I am to have such amazing experiences, people, and memories not only through this trip but in my life as a whole! It opened my eyes to how lucky I am, and how important and satisfying it is to help others.