Thanks for the checking out the blog for this Global Leadership Adventures program!
Here are a few things you can expect:
- We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week here at GLA Headquarters from our program staff and students, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a blog post daily – that’s totally normal.
- Blog updates sent on weekends may not be posted until Monday.
- Due to many factors, including but not limited to internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes onsite program staff are only able to send text back to Headquarters, where our team updates the blog.
Cell Phone Policy: The GLA cell phone policy is currently in place this summer to help foster meaningful connections between students. This means your student’s phone will be collected every day and returned to them throughout the program during designated spaces of time we call ‘tech time’. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location. During designated ‘tech time’, your student may use their phones as they wish. Please note that your student may not always choose to use this time to get a hold of their parents. If you are not hearing directly from your student each day, you can assume that no news is good news! We strongly recommend you follow the blog to follow your students’ experience without talking to them every day. If you are a parent and would like to get in touch with your student directly, you can call us at +1-619-758-3031 and we can set up a formal time for you to connect with your student.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you enjoy following along on these unforgettable adventures.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
Click here to jump down to the most recent posts!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 20
All students have arrived. Our international director, Gina, and mentor Tef, met them at the airport. It’s been a long day of travel for them but they are already getting acquainted at our first home-base, Hotel Robledal in San Jose. We enjoyed a delicious spaghetti lunch with garlic bread.
After lunch, students were given time to check into their rooms. Then our first group completed their swim test and played several rounds of the pool game, Marco Polo. The test is a GLA safety precaution to see how comfortable they are in water before our aquatic activities. Students then had time to shower and get better acquainted.
We enjoyed a buffet dinner of fish, meat, delicious mashed potatoes, vegetables, and garlic bread. More time was spent talking with our new friends before we were given our phones to call home. Then lights out (curfew) at 9:00. Five students arrived after 10:00 pm and enjoyed a light dinner that was prepared for them. Everyone is looking forward to meeting Audrey, Nina, Anina, Yannay, and Aaditya in the morning.
We are looking forward to sharing our Costa Rica adventures with you. For the next 21 days we will be hiking, ziplining, and rafting. Join us as we immerse in culture and participate in animal rescue projects.
We can’t wait for the service learning and adventure activities to begin. But now it’s time for much needed sleep.
The GLA Team,
Gina, Tef, and JuanK
BLOG POST FOR JULY 21
Hola! We are all finally together and excited to move on to our new homebase. After a delicious breakfast of pancakes, gallo pinto (Costa Rican beans and rice), plantains, fruit, and bread with jam, we boarded our bus for Liberia. A city in northern Costa Rica.
A four-hour road trip was just enough time to take a nap and also enjoy the landscape. Lush hillsides and an occasional glimpse of the beach or a body of water.
Upon arrival, we played icebreaker games and met our new hosts, Jose and Sharon. They served us a delicious lunch of rice, black beans, baked chicken, and many vegetable options, including salad. Then it was time to check into our rooms and get settled in.
The afternoon was filled with more group games and our GLA orientation. We also met the doctors we will work with for our service with Vida. They told us what we needed to be prepared for each day and how important our help is to the community.
The neighbor’s dog, Luna, came to visit us. Even the hotel cats became curious enough to come out and greet our students.
Before dinner we met in “Chow Circle,” it’s a time to give shout outs recognizing each other for an achievement or to express gratitude to a friend. We also play a circle game and choose leaders of the day. Our first leaders are Ben and Alejandra. They will write the blog post tomorrow as part of their leadership honors. There are many more that come with this special role.
After dinner, we finished orientation and met in our mentor groups. We will stay in these same groups for the rest of our trip. Tonight, we asked them to reflect and share what they hoped to achieve while we are here in Costa Rica. This is what our students shared:
“Learn more about Costa Rica and get medical experience.” ~Yannay
“To possibly do surgery on the animals, gain more experience, and to go snorkeling.” ~Audrey
“To make fun memories that can match past summers.”~Zachary
“To learn a lot more about animals and make a lot of memories.” ~Nina
“To obtain more medical knowledge and gain some experience,” ~Andrea
“I want to learn and experience the vet field and work in a shelter.” ~Jackson
“I want to experience new things.” ~Kayla
“To grow as a person, help animals, get better at Spanish, do surgery, and challenge ourselves by testing our brains. We want to move past our comfort zones, and be besties.” ~ Tef’s Mentor Group (Sam, Alejandra, Anina, Aaditya, Alise, Benjamin, & Claire)
We are looking forward to helping your students achieve these goals.
Gina and Tef
BLOG POST FOR JULY 22
This is Ale and Ben!
Today was our first clinic day! We woke up super early and had a good breakfast before loading supplies into the bus and heading towards the clinic site. It was a 20 minute drive, and by the time we arrived, todays patients were already there. We set up shop in a building within the community and got the supplies ready.
After, we were given an intro to our jobs and did gratitude circle. Then, we split up into groups and got assigned an animal. Both of us were
the surgeon assistants, the other kids being anesthetists and supplies assistants. It was super cool to be part of this experience and it taught us a lot about remote veterinary care.
Then, we took a snack break while the other surgeries finished before heading home.
After showering and having a delicious lunch, it started pouring, so we cancelled our pool party and played Pictionary and cinema.
We did chow circle and had dinner, played cards and caught up on tomorrows plans before lights out! It’s been an amazing trip so far and we’re excited to see what happens next!!!!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 23
Written by Sam and Aaditya
Today was very eventful. It started off with a cold cold morning shower before I partook in eating the delicious scrumptious food the cooks prepared for us. I am very grateful everyone enjoyed my music and allowed me to play music for them on the bus.
Today we were both chosen to be a surgeon assistant and while Sam worked on a sweet, sweet baby doggie, I worked on a baby cat. We both learned so much about surgery, for which we are very grateful to the surgeons :)).
After we finished with all of the animals and sent them home with their owners, we set out to inform the surrounding neighbourhood that we were providing low cost veterinary care, spay, and neutering for their pets.
It was a very enlightening, eye-opening thing to see the conditions in which a lot of the animals and people were in. It was both of our first times truly experiencing the poverty within Costa Rica first-hand, and it was a very very hard thing to see. If anything, I feel so much more compassion for the animals and people that live here, and it makes me so sad that I can only do so much. I am so very lucky I have so much privilege and love in my life and I am so compelled to share the love I have received love with every single one of them.
Later in the day we also partook on another challenging mission: Walmart. Except it’s in Costa Rica. I was a little anxious to checkout because of the communication barrier between me and the employee, but it all turned out to be okay. We all got many items, including bathroom mats, numerous amounts of snacks and some clothes.
The entire time we were there, Sam just couldn’t wrap their head around why they had to make Ohio Walmart stink so much. “If I had a choice, I would choose Costa Rica Walmart over Ohio Walmart any day.”
Overall, today was such an amazing experience and I (Sam)am so grateful for being here. Being leader was super fun. I am going to miss playing the music but I am very much looking forward to hearing other people’s song choices :))
BLOG POST FOR JULY 24
Waking up bright and early to the Costa Rica sun as something that we will never get tired off. Our nice cold showers in the morning waking us up with a fresh start each morning, carried with our classic rice beans with eggs and traditional pancakes. A variety of refreshingly colorful tropical juices to follow our meals. Dancing our way onto the bus listening to some Steve Lacey, Lana del Ray, and of course some of the Mama Mia sound track!
We arrived at the clinic eager to start our challenge day of serving 10 patients ! Your sons and daughters are officially surgical veterinary assistants- be proud. We ended our service accomplished and fulfilled with our duties.
With our worrier attitudes we pushed though a hike through rocky uneven rough roads accompanied with our trusty sidekick/protector Rufo (dog) being educated seeing different trees and plants native to Costa Rica. After about an hour we reached the top to an exquisite view with a breathtaking mountain range even including a volcano!
To keep our muscles strong we fueled back up with first rate pizzas. To cool us off from our hard work we jumped into the pool for a rejuvenating pool party including lights, glow sticks, water toys and games ! After an incredibly rewarding fun filled day our bodies now need a good night sleep in our luxurious beds.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 25
Written by Alise and Yannay
The tough GLA squad woke up with a bright state of mind. 5AM sharp to head out on an exhilarating sea adventure, filled with awkward sea life encounters and awe-inspiring dolphin watching. The close-knit students dived into a majestic underwater world, swimming and snorkeling with the plethora of exotic sea life. The group swam to and explored a private beach. Checked out the tide pools and headed out into the sea once again. We returned to the boat, full of smiles, just in time for an amazing meal prepared by the staff of the catamaran!
A little tanning and napping later, and then we all stopped at a souvenir shop on the bus ride back to the hotel.
Everyone spent the next few hours resting before a delicious dinner of hamburgers, and ice cream or popsicles for dessert.
Before heading to bed, we all sat down in our mentor groups and wrote poems about our identities. Today was a very fun break in between our hard but meaningful clinic days with the animals.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 27
Written by Zachary and Jackson
After Audrey’s emergency from the previous night, we took a well needed rest. I was excited to complete our last day at the clinic, so after showering and eating we headed over to the center. We were down two kids and only had two doctors, so we rearranged groups and managed to complete five patients.
We had some sad cases of animals who lived in very poor conditions. It was also sad to say goodbye to the doctors. But I learned a lot about the different lives people lead and how we can care for animals in poverty.
We headed back and ate lunch, and then had two hours before we were to go shopping downtown. A few kids hung out and napped, while others watched The Dark Knight Rises and braided hair.
When free time was over we all packed in to the bus and took a 20 minute ride to downtown Liberia. Even though it was pouring rain we were able to explore the area and stoped at various farmer’s markets where we got all kinds of fruits.
After walking around in the rain for a while we got hungry so we stopped at a small pizzeria where we all shared two large pizzas. We made our way back to the bus.
When we were back to the hotel we decided to try out all the fruits we got at the farmer’s market before we had chow circle. In the circle we played a game called Tarzan Monkey Man as we waited for our final dinner at Hotel Wilson. It was a very delicious pasta dinner.
During mentor groups. We talked about anger and how you deal with it. After our mentor groups we all packed up for our four hour drive tomorrow to Lands in Love which we are all excited for. Then we all hung around the pool until it was time for us to go to bed.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 29
Written by Nina and Claire
Today we started the day off with animal service including, walking dogs, and cleaning pet’s food bowls. There are over 400 dogs on the property. We also worked on cleaning up some of the camp grounds, as well as working on the social media page to raise donations and awareness about the program.
After our service, from 7 to 11 am, we had an hour of free time. Some people took naps and some played pool. We then enjoyed our delicious lunch, followed by a competitive mentor group activity. We had a pool party and played Marco Polo and chicken fights.
We ended the day with a yoga/meditation activity. Then an amazing dinner with traditional Israeli food.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 30
Written by Aaditya
After a long night’s sleep, I woke up to the sound of my alarm springing me awake. My morning service was dog walking, so I went over to the dog pen’s and started walking. About an hour and a half later, breakfast time arrived and my group and I ate. After eating some delicious French toast, dog walking services had begun once more. In an hour and a half, we all had some free time.
Since the hotel we are staying at has some amazing activities to do, we all played some pool. The challenges had started, and a competition brewed. Some long matches filled with laughter pursued, and soon lunch came to rescue the losing teams. Delicious sandwiches, burgers and more led to free time.
About an hour later, our driver Oscar and Juank, our local director, took us to see a beautiful waterfall, then swimming inside the river next to it. Slipping on rocks and getting pushed into the ice cold water woke us up fully.
After the hike back to the hotel, our mentor Teff had a mysterious activity. She taught us some meditation techniques, but filled with some laughter. A mouthwatering dinner followed, with mentor talks to end our long and adventurous day.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 1
Ben and Alise here giving you an update on our wildlife. We woke up early as usual and walked dogs/ worked with chickens for about three hours. After that we had some tasty French toast which was tasty. Did I mention it was tasty? No? Well, it was. Then we learned karate from Nina and cheerleading from Kyla. Good times!
Next we drew flags of super heroes and did challenges in our two mentor groups. Then we learned some Latin Dance moves, immediately followed by everyone jumping into the pool fully clothed, except for Alise, Ale, and Andrea. Finally, after a few minor mishaps, we all made it to dinner in one piece.
We ended the day with a few games of pool and foosball.
Hope all is well wherever you people are!
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 3
This is Ale and Samrita!
Yesterday was very eventful, to say the least. we woke up and had a delicious vegan breakfast of arroz con leche and toast with fruit. We then headed to our service work, where we either worked in social media, walked dogs, or caught chickens and collected eggs. From there, we had some free time where we played pool or napped in our heated rooms.
After lunch, we drove for an hour to a nearby town where we attended a cooking class to learn how to make tortillas and bean and cheese empanadas. I (Ale) translated for everybody since the locals there didn’t speak ingles.
We saw some sloths and an armadillo on the ride home, which was pretty cool. It rained for quite some time, so we then headed to the hotel to go to mentor groups and ate a delicious dinner.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 4
Written by Audrey and Claire
Thursday we woke up and had a tasty breakfast as usual before loading the bus to start our adventure for the day! First stop was ziplining, we suited up and got ready to fly over the jungle. We had a blast doing eight different ziplines, finishing with repelling down a wall to the river below.
Following, we went to Los Lagos Hotel Spa and Resort where we enjoyed a scrumptious, flavorful three course lunch.
We then headed to the hot springs where we soaked up the warmth from the volcano and of course enjoyed some non-alcoholic piña coladas! Yum! After that sweet treat and fun, we headed home for a well deserved dinner after a long but adventure filled day.
Although we started off yesterday with rain, we were happily surprised to hear one of our service groups was asked to work with the
horses today! Breakfast and lunch were delicious as usual, and our morning was filled with lots of fun service activities!
Following lunch we were ready to relax and watch Pirates of the Caribbean after our long day. We also relaxed our minds with some meditation/yoga while listening to the Costa Rican rain, in the rainforest of course.
Later on, we spent some quality time in our mentor groups doing various activities.
After that we had dinner, featuring a new meal which was a Mediterranean platter.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 6
Happy 15th Birthday Nina!!! We had a great time celebrating it.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 8
Written by Zach and Yannay
Today was a bittersweet day, as it was the last activity our group would do. There was no service anymore, so we were able to sleep in before our white water rafting. At the river, they split us into three groups. The river had class 3 and 4 rapids, and was especially bumpy during the first half. Between the splashes of water and exciting rapid sequences, we saw sloths, took pictures, and swam in the calm sections. After we were finished rafting, we had fresh fruit cut up for the entire group to eat before heading back to base for lunch.
The lunch trend for today was a homey Israeli meal, and around 10 of us in the group ordered it. Between lunch and mentor groups, we had around 2hours of free time. Each student spent this time wisely either by napping, playing 8-Ball, or chatting. Then, during mentor groups, we took a dive into the usage and gain of knowledge. We also talked about what knowledge we gained from this trip and what we are going to do with it. Then we all came to a single consensus: that each individual will use this gained knowledge to inform their friends around them and to volunteer for the community, more specifically for animal shelters and clinics!
After dinner; Yannay, Zach, Claire, and Audrey participated in a small yoga session, Aaditya, Nina, Anina, and Jackson were playing pool, Ben and Alise played chess, Ale and Andrea read from their Kindles, while Kyla and Sam chilled in their rooms. Lights out came late at 22:30.
Since this is the last blog post, we (Yannay and Zach) are going to go over our highlights of the trip! We believe that the third day at the clinic was an impactful one for all of us. We had to operate on 10 patients. Everyone worked really hard, so hard that the snack time was barely used!
Another highlight would be the Catamaran snorkeling and boat ride. We enjoyed exploring the marine wildlife while snorkeling, trying to catch crabs and admiring the plethora of fish! The local waterfall hike was another amazing adventure, even with the freezing river water. Also, the hike to the sunset was an insanely beautiful experience! Both were led by our bus driver, Oscar, who is a highlight by himself. We loved to learn and laugh with him.
The group of students that came on this trip is also a highlight. We feel so lucky to have such a diverse spread of people that we are still able to connect with. Especially in the first hotel with VIDA, we were always congregated in the outside dining room and either chatting, playing cards, or swimming. I am going to miss the atmosphere of this group and the level of comfort we achieved with all this trip’s ups and downs.
We are returning home with a deeper understanding of Costa Rica’s culture and the complexity of the world, with experiences that have matured us through both difficulty and achievement.
I am so thankful that I chose this three week experience and got to see and meet so many beautiful things. Thank you to everyone who has been reading these blogs, and we are excited (but very, very sad) to come home.
P.S. We want to thank Gina and Teff for every time they’ve helped and guided us, and we want to acknowledge their positive presence and thoughtful leadership during this trip.