Alumni Spotlight: Josh Hardman

Josh Hardman is a student at Northgate Sixth Form in Ipswich, England. He enjoys traveling, history and photography - all of which he got experienced on his GLA trip to Ghana.

Boy in Ghana pointing

Highlights: The highlight of my volunteering experience was by far the brick-making at our local school. I feel this way because it really brought me and my fellow students closer as we were forced to work as a team in order to get the hard work done. On the first day there were a small group of us that had blisters and cuts on our hands from overworking ourselves, and so it was impressive to see that by the end of the three weeks everyone was 'pulling their own weight' and had worked effectively as a team. Perhaps the results of our brick-making was not seen at the time of our program, as they were used at a later date, but it was rewarding for me to see a group of teenagers really pull together and get a job done without the guidance of adults.

Morning: In the mornings, we woke up reasonably early in order to make the most of each day (around 7am) and to keep with the local custom of early rising. We were supplied with a filling and healthy breakfast, which included Western options such as toast, eggs, cereals etc. but also some local specialities. Once we then headed off to our service sites, in this case it was mostly schools, and did a morning that was half brick-making and half teaching a lesson that we prepared ourselves. This was the most rewarding aspect of the trip, and indeed the most challenging.

Afternoon: After our morning of service, we usually headed back to our home base for a big lunch in order to see us through to dinner time. As with breakfast, this included filling and healthy dishes such as pasta, rice and meat along with local options. Fresh fruit and snacks were also available, and lunch was as good time to grab some more water bottles before the afternoon activity. After lunch, we headed out to an activity or experience, which ranged from educational talks from locals to hiking to waterfalls and visiting craft markets. All of the activities offered an insight into Ghanaian culture and history and were always fun and engaging.

Group of kids in Ghana

Evening: Upon returning home from an afternoon activity we usually had free time until we sat down for dinner. Card games proved very popular on our program, where we got the whole group involved, and we also very often went out onto the beach to play soccer and volleyball with the local children. Dinner was again very hearty, offering a wide variety of dishes and fresh desserts such as mangos and pineapple. After dinner, the 'Leaders of the Day' would be responsible for an activity, which could be something as small as hide-and-seek, or something more adventurous. There was also time set aside for journalling in the evening, and some students went back to their rooms to find the time to do so.