Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

Why choose Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)?

With a history and heritage in global education, Global Leadership Adventures packs our itineraries with leadership development, meaningful service projects and the delight of taking learning off the beaten path. Our unique program design produces what many students call a life-changing experience, not just a spring break or summer program.

Through our Service Learning Adventure or Internship Programs, GLA provides high school students the opportunity to authentically discover another culture, safely engage in adventure, learn about global issues in a field of interest, and above all, participate in grassroots service projects that directly impact communities they become close with while abroad. The long-term partnerships our staff have developed with local individuals, community leadership and action-oriented organizations around the world continue to be the backbone of our programs.


GLA IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) Scholarship

The goal of our scholarship is to provide inclusion, diversity, equity and access to GLA programs.


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Yes, I recommend this program

My Costa Rica Adventure

My experience on my GLA program was completely life-changing. I traveled to Costa Rica alone, so I went into it very nervous about being away from home and whether the people would be inviting or not, but all of my nervousness went away when I started my program. I made lasting connections with many of my companions on this trip, and I made so many memories that will last a lifetime! The nighttime turtle walks were such an amazing experience, because on our third night walk, our group found a leatherback sea turtle. I was completely in awe when we discovered it, and it is something I may never would have experienced if not for this program. Also, as someone who is going into the environmental field, the experience that I had on this trip has inspired me more than any other experience in my life to pursue what I am passionate about.
The only downside to my experience is that my group and I were not prepared for their being no airconditioning in the house we stayed at, no WiFi, and only around two hours of electricity each day. I feel like it is not highlighted enough in the program description, for my group and I would have packed our attire differently if we had known. But overall, I would highly recommend this program to everyone!

What was your funniest moment?
Although I have many funny memories from my program, the one that first came to mind was when a few of my friends and I tricked our friend that he had slept all the way until the end of the trip, and he believed it!
  • The staff was very inviting and positive.
  • All of the kids in my program were very nice, which made it a fun atmosphere.
  • We found a sea turtle on one of our night walks!
  • Our group was robbed, and many people had cash and airpods stolen.
  • It was very difficult to be without airconditioning and electricity, which nobody in the program was prepared for.
  • There was a very strict dress code in the packing list, but it was completely irrelevant at camp. This was frustrating because it limited the clothes that I packed.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica

This was my first time going on a trip with other students and with staff and counselors. I was a bit nervous but when I saw the staff at the airport I felt an immediate sense of relief because I knew I was going to be comfortable staying with them for the entirety of my two week trip. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the foods and drinks that I ate and the place I stayed at was beautiful. The activities that we did as a group made us think about our purpose, how we could get the most out of the experience, and was a great way to get to know everyone. Overall, the trip helped me grow as a person, made me understand the importance of community services, and I learned a lot about Costa Rica’s culture.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part about the trip was that I had never travelled outside of the country and I have never done it alone. It was the biggest obstacle I had to overcome the entire trip. Everything else on the trip was incredibly fun and exciting.
  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Friends
  • our shower broke a few times
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Yes, I recommend this program

My amazing time in Belize

I have been on 2 GLA trips, and last summer I went to Belize. I had an amazing time there and the experience was unforgettable. We stayed in the town of Sarteneja, a fishing village. Staying there we developed an awareness of the world around us and knowledge of the sustainable fishing going on there. As a group we got to connect and support the community, we made jewelry with Lionfish fins which are invasive, and got several presentations about the diversity of the animals. While learning was exciting we also got to go on excursions, such as ziplining and cave tubing. My favorite part was when we got to stay on an island for a night called Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, it was such a unique experience to be right on the ocean. Later in the day, we got to snorkel and we ended up seeing a Nurse shark. Overall my program was life-changing and definitely opened my eyes up to the world around me. Would totally recommend it!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Definitely the hour-long boat ride to Bacalar Chico, it was intimidating because I had never been on a boat for that long. But my friends I had made were super nice and it ended up being very enjoyable.
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Yes, I recommend this program

GLA Ghana: Children of Africa

During the summer of 2023, I attended my second GLA program. I went to Ghana where for two weeks, I worked in a school with a group of other like minded youth from around the United States. We worked in a classroom teaching and we helped to build a floor in a building that was to become an office. I loved my experience. It went above and beyond my expectations. My dream is to lead a life of service working in the non-profit sector with feet on the ground. Ghana was a great way to start this. I loved working with the children and other kids on the program and the GLA staff was amazing. This program helped define what I want to do with my life, and, as cliche as it sounds, was truly the experience of a lifetime. The service was fun and rewarding and we were truly immersed in the culture, something I believe that is uniquely GLA. We were able to meet people who hold leadership positions in the village and get hands on cultural activities such as Batik cloth making and bead making. GLA is one of the best experiences I have ever had and I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to go on this trip, to do so.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My biggest piece of advice is to step out of your comfort zone and to volunteer for each and every leadership opportunity that comes your way. The organization is called Global Leadership Adventures, so get out there and lead! If a mentor asks you to do something for them, do it. If you are afraid to speak up or to talk or to lead an activity, recognize it, acknowledge it, and do it anyway. You will get the most out of the trip by doing this and that is how I have grown to be the leader I am today.
  • The cultural immersion is truly something that is unmatched!
  • The service opportunities were incredible and diverse!
  • The food was amazing!
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Yes, I recommend this program

First time away from home alone

My son attended the Sea Turtle Initiative. It was the first time he had been away completely on his own and it was a wonderful, valuable experience. He learned he can travel on his own, cope in a country where he does not speak the first language, make new friends and his self confidence soared. It's a really nice combination of volunteer work which is great for resume/university application and fun activities. Everything is so well organized, truly felt comfortable with GLA as an organizer. Even called to Costa Rica once and spoke to his team leader as we noticed he had forgotten his cellphone charger and he was flying home by himself.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
He actually ate live crickets! (totally optional)
  • Self-confidence building
  • New friends
  • Totally unique experience
  • Bit homesick by the end
  • No internet access (also a pro)
  • Saying goodbye to new friends


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

After I was doing some research on primarily the safety aspect, GLA caught my eye and became one of my first choices. The safety was clearly demonstrated on their website and after being easily given contact information and talking with some very helpful staff. After looking at the destinations and what the different programs offered between my top choices, it was clear the Fiji at GLA was the perfect mix of volunteering and adventure.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The GLA programs organizes everything that is involved in-country, leaving you to only have to organize the plane ride there. The program did give us a travel agency that they use to help set up your flights if you wanted to, which I did and had a great experience with them. GLA had transportation from the airport to the destinations for everything and there was always a leader from the program with us as well.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be open-minded during this trip. It will bring you out of your comfort zone but you just got to go with the flow and be open to try anything that gets thrown your way. Understand that you are in a foreign country and things may be a little different but learn to be able to adapt. Also know that you will meet people from all over as well its different views, so be able to accept and understand your differences.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

While you are on the island, Monday through Fridays from 8-2 are spent at the village. The group was divided into three different groups that rotate throughout the length of the program. There was construction which build rainwater tanks, teaching in the school, and marine conservation. When in the village we would also have lunch everyday with the women who made us wonderful food while we were able to play with the little children who were too young to attend school.

After spending your days in the village you take a boat back to the home base and have until dinner to do as you please. You could swim, play volleyball with the staff, or enjoy tea time everyday at 4. On the weekends we would do different fun activities such as hiking or visiting a beautiful beach to have a cookout and snorkel with the locals.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest fear was making friends. Not that I am bad at making friends at home but I was still worried that maybe I would fluke and not be able to make any friends. Before I met all my soon to be friends, I gave myself a little pep talk to try and give myself some confidence and be myself.

Once I got to meet all the people I quickly released that all of my worries were wrong and that everyone was in the same boat as me, trying desperately to make friends out of strangers. In the end my fears were overcome by simply being myself and adapting to the new circumstance of meeting strangers who would soon be my family.

What is your favorite memory on this program?

One of my favorite memories would be the sunset hike that my group all took together one day after a hard day of work. The hike wasn't something that was very hard but just being able to enjoy the beautiful scenery around you while you spend time with your friends was so incredible. At the top of the hike was the best part though because after we all finished talking and taking picture, we were told to all sit in silence for a few minutes.

This gave myself and everyone I was with a time to think back to our first week of working in the villages and how truly inspiring and rewarding it is. There was something extraordinary about all sitting in silence and contemplating the same thing. After the brief moment, our mentors talked to us about some points of how important this is and to get the most out of it, and how we must transfer these good deeds to our own community. It was such a tender moment that made you really think deep about yourself that I feel most people don't experience enough.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Tell us a little about GLA and your role at the company.

Bridget volunteering in Guatemala

Bridget: As a Sr. Enrollment Advisor for the organization, my primary responsibility is advising families around the world who are seeking the right volunteer abroad opportunity for their teen. I am also responsible for custom groups and assist with training new Enrollment Advisors who join the team every year. I love visiting a new GLA program each Summer so I can experience it first-hand with our students and be able to offer the best support for our families.

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

Bridget: After returning home from my semester abroad in Australia, I was excited to stumble across a job posting for part time work as an Enrollment Advisor. I had a great experience traveling to another country and experiencing another culture and thought the idea of passing on this amazing gift would be very rewarding. Impressed by everything I read, I contacted the office in hopes of pursuing this position. After the first interview and learning more about the mission of GLA, I knew this is where I wanted to be. During the past three years, I've had the privilege of working with an amazing team of staff around the world and advising hundreds through their students life-changing experience.

What makes GLA unique?

Bridget: GLA is unique for three main reasons:

  1. GLA believes that leaders are made and not born. Leadership Development and Personal Transformation are at the core of every GLA program and interwoven in the service, workshops, and excursions.
  2. GLA operates only in developing countries in cultures significantly different from the West in authentic, non-tourist communities so that students will have a life-changing experience
  3. GLA works only with high school students. Our safety standards (The Five Point Safety System) and curriculum (The Service Learning Adventure) are tailored to the growth and development of teens.

How do you ensure your programs are sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?

Bridget: GLA works directly with the community within the country we are volunteering in. Each program is managed by a local and international director, who have intimate knowledge of the host community and culture and the current and future impact of the volunteer work we will do there. Terra Education is also a Certified B Corportation, a company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

What does the future hold for GLA?

Bridget: Each year GLA sends hundreds of students on life-changing volunteer abroad programs. GLA will continue to be the leader in service-learning abroad education programs.