Your student’s flights are booked, passport renewed, and bags are packed! Now for the actual hard part.
Logically, you know that your teen is in professional hands (GLA’s 5-Point Safety System, program design and expert staff are second to none), but let’s face it—your baby bird is about to fly the nest, and for the first time ever, you’re no longer in control. Trust us, the thought makes us want to hug and kiss our own, too!
We understand that parents can feel stress and anxiety during and leading up to programs, so we collected some insider tips from our team and from past GLA parents on how to cope this summer.
Tip #1: Take a deep breath
Your student is in the hands of travel and education professionals. Our advice is to check their session’s program blogs regularly (updated weekly or more often by students themselves), and take comfort in the fact that GLA has led life-changing trips effectively for thousands of teens over the last decade.
Tip #2: Find community with other parents
Join the GLA Parent Facebook Group, which is an exclusive resource for current and prospective parents of GLA teens. We’re all moms and dads who want the best for our kids. Hearing from other parents who also have a student abroad can help make the waiting more bearable!
Tip #3: To call or not to call
While throughout the year, we as parents are used to communicating with our kids periodically each day, try to avoid setting a call time schedule or suggesting a daily check-in. Students are there to immerse themselves in their program, and often have long days packed with community service, cultural excursions and leadership activities. Let them have this chance to enjoy their experience and be really present.
Tip #4: No news is good news
Becky, mom of Serena, who traveled with GLA to the Dominican Republic, shares that throughout her daughter’s trip she decided to try to live by this mantra. “If I hadn’t heard anything negative (or anything at all), she must be too busy having too good a time to call me—which is the reason I sent her in the first place. When she comes home, she will have plenty of time to tell me all about her adventure.”
Tip #5: Be prepared for your child to return more grown up
“GLA programs offer kids a chance of a lifetime to experience another culture, interact with the people, and better their communities in a fun and safe environment,” says mom of Nikky, who traveled with GLA to Guatemala.
“Like most American children, my daughter left home agonizing over if she would have good cell phone reception. She returned with new friends from across the country, incredible stories, fantastic photographs, a desire to make a difference, and an overall newfound maturity that I hadn’t expected. She is a better person for having been a part of the program.”
Contributed by Margaret Chiu