Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

About

With a history and heritage in global education, Global Leadership Adventures packs our itineraries with leadership development, volunteering 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.

GLA provides high school students the opportunity to authentically discover another culture, safely engage in high adventure and above all, participate in grassroots service projects that directly impact the families and communities they become close with while abroad.

The long-term partnerships our global staff have developed with local individuals, community leadership and action-oriented organizations around the world continue to be the backbone of our programs. Helping them deliver sustainable impact while transforming the way we look at the world and ourselves is what gets us fired up every day at GLA.

Founded
2004
Headquarters

10509 San Diego Mission Road
Suite A-1
San Diego, CA 92108
United States

Program Highlight!

The ancient Inca Empire is yours to discover while making a difference in the lives of rural families on our Peru: Service in the Sacred Valley™ program.

Reviews

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karen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My daughter returned from Costa Rica saying it was the best experience ever. She had to travel out of the country on her own and handled flight delays coming back. She built strong friendships with all the other attendees and they are already planning reunions. They helped out with children in the community but also learned many new activities including surfing, zip lining, white water rafting. They did cooking lessons, dancing lessons. The facilities were also reported to me as being very nice and there was a special cook who offered a wide range of food. We ran into no problems except the reto4 hour flight delay but that worked out fine in the end. I would highly recommend this program and we already told our younger son that he can go somewhere through GLA when he is the same age.

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Amanda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved GLA program and I loved Thailand. I went two years ago and on another program now because I’m not in high school anymore and I wish GLA wasn’t only to high schoolers because it was the best two weeks. They had a schedule and followed it, you were never bored although there was designated down time to relax and chat. It is expensive yes, but 100% worth it for what it provides. I liked how it was both touristy but we did volunteering like it wasn’t just one or another. If you went on this trip, you will be able to explore Thailand. They make sure you can. With volunteering, it was fun and educating and hard but worth the trouble. I made friends for life that I still speak to today, two years later. I wish I did the three weeks but I got so much out even just two weeks.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The fruits they have in Thailand, they were spikey on the outside and looked like a clear egg.
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Isabela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Since I was young, I've always loved to travel and do volunteer work. When I found GLA online I was ecstatic to complete both of the things I love to do at once, the only problem was picking a country (because of the variety of countries they offer, which I LOVED) and the price. The great thing was GLA offered grants and scholarships that enabled me to travel to Ghana, so don't let the price stop you from enrolling all you have to do is talk to a GLA representative. I picked Ghana the 21 day Children of Africa trip because of the motive of education and cultural immersion. Once I enrolled GLA had helpful tips on packing and what to expect which really prepared me for my journey, even a webinar to further prepare the students and parents. Throughout the whole process GLA was available to answer questions and keep both me and my mother informed. Once we arrived in Ghana the staff was outside the airport waiting for our arrival to welcome us to the country, all the students checked in with the staff and were given a way to communicate with there parents that they made it safely. From that point till the very last day the staff was hands down AMAZING. The trip was everything I ever hoped for: culturally immersing, exploring the sites, interacting with the locals, playing and teaching kids, etc. The trip exceeded my expectations, it was truly life changing being able to share a passion of travel and service with people from all over the world your age. I will never forget this experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would advice travelers to follow GLA updates and travel portal online to be the best prepared for the trip. I would also advice to soak the trip in its entirety, no regrets. Have an open mind about everything: the culture, people, FOOD, etc. Also don't forget your camera, its beautiful in the Volta region. Be open to the students on the trip as well, you can also learn from them and their lives; I would contact them before the trip to introduce yourself through whatsapps or facebook (one of my peers created a group chat). Lastly, just treasure every single moment of this trip and that the smallest of change can be the biggest to someone else.
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Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had the best 10 days of my life on this trip! It was not nearly long enough and I'm going back with GLA for 21 days this year. Costa Rica is a beautiful country that GLA does an amazing job of showing to it's students. We learned so much about the culture and how to respect the way of life while there. One of my favorite lessons learned was responsible voluntourism. My service project was to help a local elementary school with a garden and murals. We cleaned out a patch in their back yard area then built garden beds. We also talked to the students about what they wanted on their walls then painted sustainability themed murals. My personal favorite activity was playing soccer with the most beautiful backdrop with local kids. Back at home base after long service days we learned lessons about leadership and service. Meals were eaten outside under the stars or on the balcony overlooking the beach. The nightly "taste of Costa Rica" dish allowed us to sample the local cuisine. Though I was there for just 10 days I made amazing friends and memories to last a lifetime.

What was your funniest moment?
One day at my service site while painting we heard a swell of noise from the tree behind the school. The child next to me said "monos". I was on my feet running for the tree before I could think. Within the limited Spanish I could remember from school the word for monkey was still in my vocabulary. My friends rushed around me and we stared at about 15 monkeys in the tree. There was even a baby clinging to its mother. I was speechless. Though the moment was more amazing than funny to us GLA students the students at escuela paraiso though it was funny. The monkeys was a weekly occurrence for them whereas all i get to see at school is birds and the occasional squirrel. With the children laughing around me and the monkeys screeching above me I realized how amazing it was that I was able to experience this different life in another country.
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Claire
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had an incredible experience serving at a local school, bonding with my fellow participants, taking the opportunity to practice my Spanish, as well as learning about the history and culture of Guatemala. This program has helped to shape the person I am. It was the perfect balance between service, cultural activities, and forming what have become lasting friendships with my peers and mentors. I would highly recommend entering the program with an open mind. It may seem overwhelming at first but that will quickly grow into excitement. GLA does an amazing job of reminding you to take a breath then giving you nudge outside of your comfort level to the place where you will grow, learn, and enjoy yourself the most.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Keep a journal! You will definetly want to be able to look back on your trip once you return home and it’s a great way to reflect on your experience as you go.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 20

Alumni Interviews

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

Kylie Nuccitelli

Kylie was a high school student from Upstate New York at the time of her program. She had always loved to meet new people and try new things. Prior to this experience she had been out of the country on vacations but had never experienced a volunteering program abroad.

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.

US visitors, meet us in person!

  1. Sunday 5 January
    West Orange, NJ Gap Year Fair
    JCC Metro West
    Fair:
    1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    Presentation:
    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  2. Monday 6 January
    Scarsdale, NY Gap Year Fair
    Scarsdale High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  3. Tuesday 7 January
    Brooklyn, NY Gap Year Fair
    Brooklyn Friends School - Upper School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM

Professional Associations

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