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.
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
BLOG POST FOR JULY 10
Hello from the Dominican Republic!
Our staff (pictured, left to right-Mentor Ferney, International Director Brittany, Local Director Nilsa & Mentor Jesus) greeted students as they trickled in throughout the day. Sadly, we will not be a complete group until tomorrow, as some delays put a hiccup in connections and arrivals.
With our partial group in tow, we arrived to the lodge, where students were greeted with fresh tropical fruit and ice water to snack on until dinner. In the meantime, students had the opportunity to unpack, freshen up, and most importantly, connect with each other. It was a joy to see students phone free and engaging as they settled into their new Dominican Republic home base.
After a hearty dinner, Local Director Nilsa gave a wonderful presentation to acquaint students with the “Do’s & Don’ts” of the community, which paired perfectly with GLA orientation. We had plenty of time for name games and icebreakers, and the staff was so impressed that students were on a first name basis after just a few hours.
After a day of travel, it was a bit of an early night. Some stayed up to chat with their roommates, others hit the hay right away. Rest is the name of the game, as tomorrow we will visit our first service site and begin working on a house built of recycled and sustainable materials.
Our group will be complete tomorrow, so stay tuned for a full group photo and blog post from a student Leader of the Day!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 11
Written by Bailey Cunningham
Hola familia internacional!
After enjoying a delicious breakfast in the early morning, we took a bus through beautiful scenery to a Dominican neighborhood called La Maranata. We assisted our directors and local community members in constructing a sustainable home, making insulation out of plastic bottles collected from the community. Global Leadership Adventures students collaborated to sort, cut, stack, and fill the walls of the house with columns of recycled plastic bottles while other students secured them with wire and nails. We met the family who will live in the home we are helping to construct. After hours of service work and a hearty lunch, we headed back through the vibrant community, where locals were eating and listening to Bachata music.
Upon arriving at home base, we quickly jumped into the pool, where we listened to music and played games. We found coconuts in the area surrounding the pool and split them open ourselves to try the coconut meat. After drying off we had free time and we congregated in the dining area to play card games and talk while enjoying from tropical fruit and bananas fresh off the bunch.
After dinner we listened to a presentation about political security in the Dominican Republic by Local Director Nilsa. We learned about the political conflict between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and the struggles that Haitians living in the DR face due to xenophobic citizenship laws. We discussed how the political and human rights issues in the Dominican Republic parallel those in our home countries and came to a new sense of gratitude for our own opportunities such as education, healthcare, and food and housing security.
We played a get-to-know-you game called hot seat, where one student sits in front of the group and answers rapid fire questions from their peers, ranging from their hometown to their favorite musician. Even Director Nilsa had a turn in the hot seat after students insisted that she participate!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 12
Our day started early when some of us – young leaders – went for a run on the beach before breakfast. With the arrival of the two friends we had missing to complete our crew, mentors administrated Covid-19 tests, when all came back negative students were able to roam mask free among one another.
Despite setbacks because of the previous nights rain, we drove back to La Maranata to continue insulating the home we started working on yesterday. Assembly lines formed to sort, cut, stack and place bottles within the walls. Cooler weather and rain throughout the day made our working conditions easier. Soon, entire walls were filled with stacked bottles and we could see all the progress made.
After a bus ride back to the home base, we enjoyed a dip in the pool playing games, listening to music, and socializing.
Following a delicious dinner, Junior Moire, a local director, presented a lecture on economic security. We learned about issues in the Dominican Republic including poverty and social classes.
To end our great day, our team split into two mentor groups where we began a simulated structured debate between four major Dominican parties of interest.
Looking forward for more service work tomorrow in La Grua.
Written by Jack Collins – Leader of the day
BLOG POST FOR JULY 13
The students got an extra early start to their day today because of a longer than usual drive to a new worksite. Instead of working at La Marinata with the bottles, today we worked at a bateay, which is a poor Haitian community originally designed for the Haitian sugarcane workers.
The work today was much more grueling than what we had previously done. We carried many wheelbarrows full of sand and rocks from the bus to the worksite, made a concrete mixture using these resources, and ultimately finished two concrete floors. The two hour bus ride back was definitely a smelly one, but we passed time by playing games and telling stories.
After we arrived back at home base, koopwe went down to the ocean for the first time, where we swam and played a game of beach soccer. Following the beach we came back for a nice dinner in which we capped off with some ice cream.
The lecture tonight was a very moving one about health security and it was delivered by Enrique Blanco Joachim. He is a doctor that was born in the bateay that we visited today, and was able to give us his story about the struggles of being a Haitian-Dominican trying to get higher education. This was the perfect way to end the day and we can’t wait for the adventures that await us tomorrow.
Written by Pierce Chaseley – Leader of the day
BLOG POST FOR JULY 14
We started the day with an amazing breakfast which included pancakes oatmeal and eggs, and hopped on the bus to enjoy our first day of travel adventures!!
After three long days of service we were able to relax and enjoy our time at Laguna Dudu! The Lagoon was very blue and clear. We all jumped in right away and swam to the center where there was a dock to stand on. Five minutes after we got there it started to rain and it looked BEAUTIFUL on the water.
A group of students went to use the beach volleyball court provided at the lagoon. It was a close game between the snapping turtles and panthers but the snapping turtles pulled thru and won the game by two points.
After the lagoon we stopped for lunch at the Laguna Dudu Restaurant. It was a great taste of the cultural food outside the lodge and the local community.
We then visited Playa Grande, a beach near the lagoon and spent a couple hours with the huge waves. We enjoyed pina coladas which we drank out of real pineapples and got the opportunity to buy small trinkets from beach vendors.
When we got back to the lodge we had a bit of free time, then enjoyed a lovely dinner and moved on to our third activity of the day. We had a student-run-debate about the possibility of building a sports center on top of a Haitian community. We used our knowledge that we gathered from the nightly lectures to form our arguments. Although we didn’t come to a conclusion, it was very successful since we learned a lot about leadership and how official debates work.
We are looking forward to a great service day tomorrow in Caña Dulce building bee boxes!
Written by Abby Beauregard – Leader of the day
BLOG POST FOR JULY 15
Today started off with another delicious breakfast before we headed out for our service of the day: building and painting bee boxes. Once we arrived, everyone was ready to get to work putting together the frames that go inside the bee boxes. Everyone finished faster than expected so we took a quick trip off the beaten path to see where the bee keeper keeps his bees (no pun intended). This involved crossing a stream on a suspended cable bridge. It was a rewarding trek as everyone got a chance to try fresh honey straight from the honey comb as well as cacao right from the tree. After that we returned to his house and painted some other boxes he had ready. Finally we hopped back on the bus back to home base.
Back at home base everyone had time to chill out before enjoying lunch which had an array of food items which of course included some tasty tropical fruit. After lunch the original plan was to head to the beach but the weather interrupted that plan. So instead we all got on the bus for a trip to the store for a chance to buy some snacks before coming back to the pool.
Joined by intermittent rain showers, everyone enjoyed some time spent by the pool. Volleyball and baseball were included in our pool sesh. Plenty of sun screen was worn judging by the large amounts of unrubbed sunscreen on all the boys backs.
Finally we ended the night with dinner and a lecture on food security. The presentation was engaging and interactive with everyone participating and sharing their thoughts and personal experiences. Along with discussing the effects of over population and climate change we also brought up the importantance of education. The last item on the agenda was an intense game of Pictionary.
-Written by Leader of the Day: Cameron
BLOG POST FOR JULY 16
Blog by: Jackson Boltax
Today was a very eventful bus ride and a great trip to the second biggest city in the Dominican Republic. We started by waking up at 6:00, ate a delicious breakfast (of course) and then headed up to Santiago. We arrived in Santiago after a fun but long bus ride.
We first hit the museum which was actually one of the most interesting m museums that I’ve ever been to. We started with looking at the history of the Caribbean and Dominicans with many very different and important artifacts. We had a guide who was giving us background information on the artifacts. The funny thing was she only spoke Spanish so we had Mia do a great job for us of translating the information. After the artifacts we hit the art museum which had some beautiful and deep paintings.
After looking through the art we had an hour back In the United States where we decided to go get some fried chicken at a fast food restaurant. After grubbing we hopped back on the bus and went up to the restoration war monument which had some cool views a few amazing statues and we took plenty of photos. We decided that some frozen yogurt would hit the spot to finish the trip so we found the nearest frozen yogurt place and cooled off to some nice sweets. We prepared for another interesting bus ride and indeed it was. We drove through traffic hour in the city and that was insane.
We finally cleared the city and it was a beautiful ride, we gained a ton of elevation and we’re even up in the clouds at one point. The long journey ended and we made it to home base and finished up the day with dinner and free time before lights out at 10pm.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 17
The day started when some students went for an early morning run along the beach and enjoyed the sunrise. We then had a delicious breakfast at 7:00 and headed back to La Maranata, our community service worksite. We arrived at 8:00 and made our way up to the house. The group worked hard for 3 hours cutting, stacking, while others put the bottles into the walls and sealed them in with chicken wire.
We took a short break for lunch and indulged in chicken, rice beans and fruit. After our delicious meal we continued work until 3:30 and the headed back to home base.
We all changed into swimwear and went to the beach for a late afternoon swim. Some swam while others made a mermaid out of sand.
Dinner was followed by a lecture about Divided Island and we then worked in groups to brainstorm solutions to the problems we think are the prevalent in the Dominican Republic.
Written by Willa Moskowitc
Leader of the day
BLOG POST FOR JULY 18
We began today Sunday July 18th with a hearty breakfast of pancakes eggs and other goodies. As usual a small group of students woke up earlier to run and work out on the beach. At eighth O’clock on the dot we departed on the bus for another day of work at La Maranata.
The bus ride out was uneventful and as the one week mark passes everything has become quite routine. At la Maranata we finished cutting and placing the remaining bottles that we had but we still require bunch more. We also started the messy job of concreting the walls. Besides a short break for lunch, we labored non stop until 3:30. As of leaving we had fully finished around a third of the walls and everyone was thoroughly covered in concrete.
When we arrived back at home base we were eager to jump into the pool to rinse off the grime. As usual dinner was at 6:00 but at 7:00 we partook in cultural night. Local director Nilsa instructed us in bachata and merengue dancing. At one point a very bold large crab strolled by. Ferney let us try a Colombian specialty called “big booty ants”; reactions were mixed.
The moon was shining brightly through a foggy haze as we retired to our rooms, tired from another day of service.
Written by Leader of the day, Rocky Slaymaker.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 19
This morning, we started the day earlier than usual with breakfast at 6:30. We had eggs oatmeal and delicious fruit. We departed around 7:30 for Mt. Brison. We were sad to leave one community member behind whilst he spent his time on a slack line. After the 2 hour bus ride to Brison, we began the trek.
Overall, it was about a 2 hour uphill hike to the top. There was a cute dog that we met at the base of the mountain who made it all the way up with us. We named the dog Pepita! At the peak, we ate lunch and bought ice cream to enjoy. On the journey down, we played “guess my animal” games and enjoyed the picturesque view. When we returned to home base, we played games in the pool to cool down after the exhausting hike. Then, we went to play basketball before dinner. Dinner was a delicious meal of beans rice pork and vegetables.
After dinner, we had a movie night where we watched “The Time of the Butterflies”. During free time, we played cards and journaled about the day.We are excited to visit a new work site, La Colonia tomorrow.
Written by Lauren Courtney
Leader of the day
BLOG POST FOR JULY 20
Blog by Ava Moyle
We woke up to an overcast morning and were welcomed by delicious hot chocolate that was served with breakfast. After eating, we hopped onto the bus and headed to build a shade house at the village of La Colonia. Once we arrived we were greeted by swarms of clingy mosquitoes but they were nothing we couldn’t handle. We all immediately applied bug spray and walked to the service site where we began working.
We split into two groups of people who sewed pieces of cloth together for the greenhouse walls and people who created poles for the greenhouse base. After a few hours, we were basically finished and ready to eat.
After lunch we sat down and had an insightful group discussion about the poverty that we had witnessed thus far on the trip and what we had learned from it. We reflected on our lives back at home and how different they were from the lives of the children who lived in the villages we had seen. Although some of the sights were painful to see, it seemed that they brought the group a sense of understanding that we wouldn’t have been able to gain any other way.
We then returned back at home base to rest. We channeled our inner mermaids as usual, and played in the ocean waves, which were particularly choppy. We also picked flowers for our hair and swam around a bit in the pool. Today was also laundry day, so we had fun searching through a sea of clean clothes searching for our items. We love laundry!
After a long and busy day we sat down for a delicious dinner followed by a lecture on global citizenship where we learned some very important tips on how to better our world. We each then packed up a few outfits for our overnight trip that we will be leaving for tomorrow! We have all been looking forward to it and excited energy is bubbling throughout home base. See you tomorrow!!!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 21
Written by Lucas Rode
The day started off with an early morning waking up for breakfast with eggs, toast, oatmeal, and fresh fruit. It took a minute for everyone to fully wake up, but by the end of breakfast we were ready. We made sure to have our bags packed for Santa Domingo and we started to head out.
We departed at 7:00 for a long 6 hour drive to Santa Domingo. It may have bean a long drive but everyone made it by playing games and taking naps. We drove through the mountains for a while seeing all of the amazing views from the top. While driving through the small towns and neighborhoods we saw a new way of living.
Once we arrived we stop for lunch at a Chinese-Dominican restaurant and we got our food. Once we finished our food we made it back onto the bus and went and checked into the hotel. We separated into our rooms to get settled in. After we got settled into the rooms we made our way to the front and got ready to really start our day.
Once we left the hotel we found our tour guide and made are way into Santo Domingo. The first place we visited was the first cathedral made in the americas. After we finished the tour we made our way to a fort and the last house that Christopher Columbus lived in in the Americas.
On are way back we walk through the down town shopping area where we stopped at a bunch of small shops and stalls. We saw a bunch of things like some amazing art and a crazy game of chess. After all of the shopping we made are way back to the hotel where we had dinner and a debrief of the day. Once that was all over we had some free time where we made are ways back to our rooms where we ended our days.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 22
Written by: Rory Gershen-Lewis
Today began quite differently than its predecessors, as we all woke up in a hotel and had breakfast at 8:00 am as opposed to the standard 7 o’clock meal time. We had a tasty delivered breakfast and returned to our rooms to get packed for the bus ride to the waterfall. We packed into the car and departed on a 2 hour bus ride leaving the packed and busy city of Santo Domingo to the more familiar setting of the tropical rainforest of Jarabacoa. On the way, we stopped at a rest stop and enjoyed a lunch with various different Dominican foods.
Once we arrived, we took a short walk down a scenic path to the waterfall. We crossed a little river and prepared to swim. The water cascaded down the rocks, splashing in the small lake. We swam around, and hung out along the rocks at the base. Students then made their way down a short stream along the rocks and took pictures and videos of the beautiful scenery.
After around 2 hours basking in the sun and chillin in the water we returned to the bus and made our way to Rancho Ruisejor. This beautiful remote lodgings in the countryside was a change of pace from our previous hotel. Students played cards, tag, soccer and baseball for a few hours, while others talked with one another.
Before dinner, we met with our mentor groups and had a discussion about a multitude of different topics regarding life in the DR and relating it to our personal lives at home. We had a late BBQ dinner with hamburgers, hot dogs and plenty of roasted veggies.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 23
After a good night’s rest, most of our group woke up later than usual and dressed in clothes suitable for white water rafting. We went down to the communal area where we hung out while waiting for breakfast. A few of our community members even helped prepare the ingredients for some delicious breakfast tacos!
At 9:50, we headed out to the river in open-roofed trucks. After getting on our helmets and life jackets, we split into groups, met our guides, and carried our rafts to the water. Our groups spent a beautiful hour and a half on the rapids. Together, we paddled through waterfalls and swam in the cool water. Later, we went back to the hotel to gather our things.
After we triple-checked that we hadn’t forgotten anything, we piled onto the bus. We took a quick stop at a restaurant for a healthy meal of fried chicken and rice, then continued our 3-hour bus ride back to home base. Along the way, students slept, watched movies, and played a Colombian children’s game called Dingo Tango (Which could be described as mix between Hot Potato and Truth or Dare).
When we arrived, we immediately ate dinner and went off to enjoy our free time. Many students played games in the pool while others journaled nearby. At the end of the day, we all came together to play one giant game of Pictionary. Tomorrow we are going back to La Maranata to finish the house, and after this break we’re ready to work harder than ever!
Written by Josephine Alessi
BLOG POST FOR JULY 24
Written by Mia Fierro-Vega
We woke up today to a beautiful sunrise on the beach where some students ran and did yoga. We ate a filling and nutritious breakfast of toast, oatmeal, and lots of fruit. We waited upon the arrival of some needed supplies for our service work at La Maranata. We departed after some delays but were finally on our way.
We put in a full day of work despite the heat and laid concrete on the walls of the sustainable home we are building. At the site we ate a delicious lunch while conversing with one another. We continued our hard work and finished strong, only leaving a few rooms left to finish.
After the bus ride home we had some some fun by heading over to a basketball court down the street from home base and finished with a score of 15-11, while others stayed behind at the pool. We took a short walk back to home base and ate some dinner cooked by our wonderful kitchen staff. Afterward, we played a game designed by a student and had some needed free time before bed.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 25
Hola! Today was another busy day for us down in Las Canas. A few of our community members woke up bright and early for a morning beach run. The sunrise was particularly gorgeous this morning while they ran through the surf. Like yesterday, we started the day off with a delicious breakfast; however, today, our amazing cooks whipped up a special treat of pancakes. After breakfast, we took off on the bus to do our second to last day of service at La Maranata. As a group, we have seen La Maranata grow from a framework of a house into a reality. As we reach the home stretch, everyone is feeling a sense of pride at our accomplishments.
At the site, we divided into teams of some mixing and laying cement on the walls, some stacking bottles, and a few people wiring the last bits of unfilled wall. Our experience at this point is obvious as teams efficiently worked together to get the job done. The heavy rain and thunderstorms that came through were nothing we couldn’t take, traversing the steep hill on our way down from La Maranata.
When we returned to the lodge, many of our young leaders played underwater games while taking a dip in the pool. For dinner, we ate garlic pasta, veggies, and meatballs.
After dinner, our local director, Nilsa, presented an engaging lecture on NGOs and wind and solar energy in the DR. Following the lecture, we met in our mentor groups, sealing the day off with an in-depth personal reflection.
Unfortunately, before bed, we also received the sad news that, Ferney, one of our mentors, will have to depart early. We will miss you so much, Ferney!
Written by Lillian Holmes
BLOG POST FOR JULY 26
We started off the day with a nice breakfast that was proceeded by a mentor making an early departure from the trip. Although we were all very sad we still had a full day ahead of us.
Our first stop of the day was Chojoba, a local female owned chocolate factory that started in 2014. First we took part in a tour that showed the process of chocolate and wine making. We were even given the opportunity to wrap and box chocolates. Lastly, we were taken to the shop where we all bought chocolate for ourselves and many of you.
Following the chocolate factory we came back to the lodge for lunch but only stayed for a moment because we had a grocery run to make. This didn’t take long which left us with a few hours of free time before dinner. We decided on splitting this time between the beach and the pool in order to make everyone happy.
After dinner we began a very moving activity called Visionquest in which tears were shed. This was concluded by us throwing our negativity into a fire which gave some inner peace but also unlocked many new emotions for others. As a result of this, the rest of the night’s plans were canceled to give us time to process our feelings. Many small group talks took place which brought us even closer. Everyone will definitely sleep well tonight and be ready for our big day tomorrow.
Written by Kennedy Bethea- Leader of the day
BLOG POST FOR JULY 27
Written by Caleb Hecht
Today we started our day with breakfast around 6:30, and departed to the 27 charcos of Puerto Plata, a set of 27 beautiful pools of water in the jungle which we jumped into from platforms at various heights. The water was opal blue and the walls of the ravine we walked through reflected the color of the water; it truly felt as if we were in paradise. Unfortunately, we could only jump into 7 of the 27 because the other pools were dried up.
On the way to the 27 charcos, we had a quick detour when both of our back wheels on the bus popped, but our day resumed shortly.
We went to a restaurant for lunch where we had a classic Dominican meal which consisted of chicken and rice with fruit. We had a long bus ride home, and when we arrived back at home base we rewarded ourselves with some pool time plus ice cream.
We then had a few hours to rest up which was followed by a walk on the beach at night where many little crabs scuttled around. We went back to the lodge and went to bed!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 28
Oh how the trip is coming to an end! After a hearty breakfast of fresh fruit, eggs, and spiced oatmeal, we all went to La Maranata for the last time of the trip. Though it was bittersweet, everyone headed into the project with a mindset of determination where we split into two groups.
One group spearheaded the bottle cutting, stacking, and stuffing while the other focused on applying chicken wire to the house frame. Once both groups made some headway, the concrete-mixing process started. About halfway in between our day of service, we feasted a lunch of cabbage salad, pork, rice, and fresh fruit. In the spirit of finishing strong, the we all decided to stay longer in order to mix and apply one final batch of concrete. Considering that we had spent 7 days on the La Maranata project over the course of the entire trip, everyone was pretty proud of the work we completed during that amount of time.
After leaving La Maranata for the last time, we took some time to clean up, go to the pool, and relax before dinner. We feasted on salad, chicken, French fries, and fruit. We then sat down for a lecture. We learned about the concept of community security, its role in society, and its impact in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Following the lecture, we had an open Q & A with a returning volunteer from the Peace Corps. We learned how the Peace Corps process takes place and various potential drawbacks and benefits by listening to the experiences of our guest.
Overall, today was absolutely wonderful since we had the opportunity to both give part of ourselves to others and learn from another’s journey doing the same. As leader of the day, one of the responsibilities is to come up with a Spanish word of the day for us all to learn. I chose oportunindad – opportunity because in life we must make the best of every opportunity presented to us or any opportunity we create for ourselves….and what an amazing opportunity this GLA experience has been for each and every one of us.
Leader of the day
28 July 2021
BLOG POST FOR JULY 29
Written by Jackson Boltax
For our final day we finished on a bang. It started with a delicious breakfast (of course) then we got a covid test where. They rammed The freaking stick up our nose. After we gathered ourself from the test we hopped on the bus and headed to Sosua for some snorkeling. We explored the reefs and saw some beautiful fish. We had a great time and afterwards and enjoyed some pizza on the beach. We bought gifts for loved ones then went swimming in the clear blue ocean. We all proved Brie wrong by not getting sunburned.
We got back on the bus and headed home at 3:30. Students had down time and finished up packing before we eat out final dinner together. We went to the beach and had a huge bonfire where some students roasted marshmallows and others laid in the sand and enjoyed the peaceful night looking at the stars. When we go back to home base, we did an activity called appreciation circle where we reflected on our experiences and friendships made during our time in the Dominican Republic.