Considering a trip to Europe this summer? If so, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options out there. Typing “Europe for teens” into Google will yield countless results, from gap years to homestays to standard sight-seeing tours. How do you know what you’re really getting yourself into?
While GLA has been a leader in the education abroad world for over a decade now, this year we’ve joined the throngs of options for Europe travel. We’re fond of saying, “We’re not just another teen tour”–and it’s true! We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but our programs are a far cry from a typical sightseeing tour…in all the best ways.
#1: Specific, Integrated Learning Objectives
While we would certainly be remiss to skip out on iconic monuments and sights like the Eiffel Tower or the Sistine Chapel, our programs aren’t built around bit-ticket Instagram opportunities. Instead, these bucket list items are integrated into a meaningful, cohesive experience, where every activity has a purpose. Each stop along the way ties into higher learning objectives and answers key questions about the history, culture, and present-day status of our area of exploration. Country Discovery programs aim to dive deep into regional identities and histories, culture, and where the country fits into the grand scheme of things. Special Themed programs hone in on a singular theme which we explore through various sites across Europe, such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the European Union, or the formation of Europe itself.
#2: Community Service Component
We’ve created our Europe Discovery programs using same philosophy that governs our approach to Service Learning programs. We believe that in giving time and energy to grass-roots projects, we not only make an impact in the community but are also able to more fully understand and form connections with local people. Each Europe Discovery program includes roughly five hours, or an afternoon, of community service. This could mean spending a day assisting with community garden initiatives in Italy or helping at a low-income daycare in Greece. While our specific projects won’t be finalized until closer to summer, all of our projects partner with local, community-led organizations; our helping hands go to whichever project is most needed at the time of our arrival.
#3: Leadership Curriculum
At GLA, we’re all about leadership. (It’s in our name, after all!) Our leadership curriculum is infused into all components of our programs. A good leader is someone who positively affects change. A great leader maintains a global perspective, open-mind and caring outlook while impacting others. Unlike some summer leadership camps for high school students, GLA provides life-changing experiences that will cultivate these characteristics, inspiring students to be great leaders. Travel presents so many opportunities for our future leaders to explore their styles, regardless of whether it is to rural Ghana or in the heart of Paris. Learn about what effective leadership looks like through guest speakers, workshops, and thoughfully-led discussions.
#4: Local Perspectives & Community Connection
We’re on the move, but we’re still taking the time to forge the connections that make travel so magical. Some are guest speakers who are experts in their field; others are local residents who are eager to give visitors a peek into what life looks like in his or her hometown. Through activities like cooking classes, guest lecturers, visits to local high schools, and informal, off-the-cuff conversations, we foster these valuable relationships. Most travelers would agree that while exposure to new landscapes, foods, and languages is a treat, the people they meet along the way are what truly makes a lasting impact.