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
Click here to jump down to the most recent posts!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 25, 2021
This is Andrea Gallegos and James Tuttle the International Directors for the 1st session of the Global Health Initiative program in the Dominican Republic.
Today we are excited to have our students arriving for the first day on their two-week adventure here with us. Students in our group arrived at all three of the country’s airports, Santiago, Puerto Plata, and Santo Domingo. My team and I divided up early this morning and traveled across the country to greet the students and bring them back to our Home Base where they were able to eat, shower, decompress, and get acclimated to their new home.
Students were getting to know each other while enjoying playing games, chatting, and walking on the slackline. We are so excited about this amazing group of students, their interactions, and their energy.
Per our focus on leadership curriculum, students will be assigned as ‘Leaders of the Day (LOD)’ throughout the program. Our LOD will help support us in contributing to our blog posts so we can keep all those back home up to date on their days here. Our leaders tomorrow will be Sofia, Adam, and Aiden!
Here is a picture of very happy and very tired campers!
(Laurelle and Mateo are arriving later tonight – we are looking forward to having them join the group.)
-Andrea, James, Jenny, Julianna & Enrique
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 26, 2021
It was the first full day of our GLA experience, and volunteers and young community workers from Los Angeles to Madrid came together to meet as a group for the first time.
For some, this was 4am, and for others this was 1pm, given all our native time zones! After eating a nutritious and healthy breakfast of local cuisine, we began orientation, in which we went over the day’s plan. Following breakfast, we engaged in several group bonding activities, where participants made new friends with their peers.
Prior to eating lunch, students took swim tests and the Mentors and Directors ensured that we were healthy. Shortly after, we headed to the community in which we would be providing support for the next few days.
As we walked up the rocky dirt road, we saw the local community’s water supply, which primarily consisted of a contaminated vat of filthy water. Surrounding these bags was a haphazard collection of degrading, and broken-down shacks and eroding dirt paths. This was our first exposure to this impoverished world, and it made us extremely thankful for our developed, wealthy, fortunate, and privileged bubble.
After our short hike up the hill, we were greeted by a conglomeration of locals. Despite the significant language barrier, some volunteers put their school and self-taught Spanish skills to use, and successfully instructed the locals on how to build a water filter, using only a bucket and a ceramic membrane.
Additionally, we were able to snag a glimpse of the stove and house that we will be transforming the next day, where we will be making them more environmentally friendly.
When we ran out of time we returned to Home Base, marking the completion of our first of many service adventures. We then headed to the beach, in which students participated in an intense soccer match, making elegant drip castles, or simply enjoying the scenic environment, which many people are not used to.
After rinsing off and playing a few card games, the group came together for dinner, where the day’s leaders presented their interviewees and ate yet another delicious meal.
Local director, doctor, and beach soccer superstar – Enrique Blanco – then gave an informative lecture regarding all aspects of global health, and its many causes and effects. James then shared an activity with the students, in which we broke up into groups and discussed the intricacies and conflicts of Global Health.
In the simplest terms, or in the most convenient definition, today was an amazing first experience of what life would be like in the Dominican Republic for the next two weeks!
-Aiden Jaskolka-Brown, Adam Marshall, Sofia Escontrias and the GLA Team
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 27, 2021
Our group took COVID-19 tests. Fortunately, all of our tests came back negative so we no longer have to wear masks with each other!
After our tests were finished, we headed to La Colonia, which is the service site we visited yesterday. Our group made a lot of progress with making installation with empty water bottles and mesh/wires as well as laying concrete for a house at the service. After about 5 hours of work, some of our group played soccer with the kids at La Colonia.
Our bus ride back to home base was full of childhood throwback songs and singing. After we arrived, we hopped in the pool and relaxed after a long day. Dinner was delicious, of course and then we headed to the beach for some group activities. We played a fun group game, then a name game. Then we headed back to base camp for a lecture on Planetary Health.
-Auden, Brooke, Dylan and the GLA Team
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 28, 2021
Hello, we miss all of you. Today was an emotional rollercoaster. In the beginning of the day, we did not know what to expect but we stayed open minded and learned about the conditions people live in here. We began a sleepy ride by taking a 2 hour bus ride to our destination, La Grua. When getting off the bus we were greeted by the locals of La Grua with open arms. We began interacting with the locals and got to meet one of our counselor’s mom who has lived there her whole life. We got straight to work and started making concrete.
At about 11:30 we stopped for lunch because we ran into a problem dealing with the water being turned off to the city. As we were eating in their beautiful church one of the counselors went around offering locals money for some of their stored water. We got back to work and finished around 3. As we were leaving the local kids excitedly waved goodbye and blew kisses and even braided some of the camper’s hair. We got to learn about the internalized racism in the country against the Haitians.
(Pictures taken and today’s blog post written through the combined efforts of Clarissa, Charlotte, and Cayden.)
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 29
The day began with a refreshing breakfast which brought a sense of tranquility after an emotionally tolling day yesterday. After many incredible days of hard work and determination, we were excited with the chance to get away and relax. By 8:00 A.M we were on our way to Laguna Dudú.
After the 1.5 hour drive, our breaths were taken away by the unique beauty of Dudú Lagoon. The lagoon was breathtaking-striking teal water surrounded by jagged cliffs and vivid greenery. But the most beautiful thing about our time at la laguna was not the scenery but rather the opportunity we got to get to know each other as a GLA family. We spent around 1.5 hours bonding, jumping, and swimming at Laguna Dudú before our stomachs were cuing us to eat.
We hopped on the bus and drove a whopping two minutes to the restaurant. This was the first time we’ve eaten outside of the lodge together. There, we met a friendly spotted cat, who we affectionately named Señor Meow Meow. The food was delicious: beans and rice and, of course, fresh tropical fruit.
Afterward, everyone boarded the bus for a trip to a beautiful beach called Playa Precioso (?) where we were able to enjoy crashing waves on the shore. This was the most idyllic beach many of us have ever seen. The water almost glowed in the sun and the sand was a sunscreen-commercial yellow. Many of us also had fun buying jewelry from the vendors who set up shop on the beach. Souvenirs!!
We ended the day with a medical brigade training from a special guest. He taught us how to take blood pressure and how to properly record patient information. We also had the opportunity to whack a counselor with a reflex hammer. Now we’re ready for what lies ahead!
Katelyn, Gisella, and Jessica
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 30
Today was yet another amazing day under the Dominican sun. We traveled far and wide—twenty minutes away to Islabon. 28 of us, now known as medical students, helped set up our first medical brigade in a local church. Most of us got to use our Spanish skills to speak to the locals about their medical issues. To top it all off, as “medics”, we decided to wear more professional attire… aka scrubs. Working as a team, we were divided into 6 groups.
We greeted the patients, took vitals, shadowed doctors + dentists, ran a pharmacy, created nutritional charts, and taught sanitary guidelines. Ironically, it was “taco Wednesday”, as we all wrapped our burritos, piling them with beans, cheese, and guac (no extra charge included). After 6 hard working hours, we managed to treat over 75 patients— when originally we planned to see 30! A great day to say the least, mucho amor to all of our families. <3 Laurel, Laura, and Maddy
BLOG POST FOR JULY 1
Not only does today mark the first day of July, but it also marks the halfway point of our Dominican Republic GLA experience. The morning was rather haphazard, with many students disappointed with the cancellation of 6:00 am yoga, resulting from the rain. Due to the fact that the service site was a two-minute walk (or a 30 second sprint, depending on how determined you are), we enjoyed a late breakfast and a chill morning. We then headed to Ricky’s house. Who Ricky is, we do not know, but regardless of his unknown identity, students were still motivated to help him out after hearing his tragic story. Once we arrived at the work site, we were divided into three separate groups; cement mixing, wall building, and hole digging.
After three hours of hard labor we then enjoyed a nutritious and delicious lunch back at home-base, and then resumed our work at Ricky’s. Dr. Enrique Blanco, whom we are still trying to sign up for a TED Talk, surprised us with an early finish to our hard work, and rewarded us with local ice cream and a trip to the beach. Dinner followed shortly after, of which the Alfredo pasta was the absolute highlight. After taking a short survey about our GLA experience thus far, Dr. Enrique Blanco gave yet another stellar presentation, this time regarding Healthcare and Forced Migration.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 2
Today we split into two groups and half went to an amazing chocolate factory made by only women. The other half went to work at a medical brigade and at lunch time the people from the chocolate factory came to work at the medical clinic. It was an amazing day we filed through 80 patients all helping them with their specific needs. Then we went to the beach during sunset to enjoy the amazing views and hang out with our friends.
Ruby, Maera, and Mateo
BLOG POST FOR JULY 3
Hello everyone. Today was another day of fun in La Republica Dominicana. This morning, we had breakfast at home base. It was mashed potatoes, eggs, cocoa puffs, watermelon, pineapple, and juice. Then, we walked over to Ricky’s house, across the street, and painted the walls inside of his house. We also made cement for the floors. We went back to home base and had lunch. We had rice, beans, fish, and the usual fruits. Then, we got ready for a surprise adventure later today.
We went to the beach, but the waves were too rough to swim in so we played in the sand and hungout. There was a car that had a huge speaker system in the trunk and played loud music. Enrique convinced them to play his favorite song. Then, we had dinner at home base. We had pasta with chicken.
We listened to another one of Enrique’s fascinating ted talks about waterborne diseases. We had mentor groups and did an activity about the 25 aspects of life that we think are most important. We had to choose only one at the end. That was deep. Peace, love, and ciao.
-Molly, Raphaelle, and Clarissa
BLOG POST FOR JULY 4
Today we had a late start, we got to sleep in until 8 and had breakfast while it was pouring around us. After that we had a group clean up competition. Congratulations to Gigi, Clarissa, and Laura for winning. Then we started a project on Malaria on a Proximal, Intermediate, and Distal level. We had a delicious lunch then hit the beach for a 30 minute beach clean up. After that we had a sand sculpture contest (results to be determined). We washed the sand off in the pool then had dinner. After dinner we had an interesting lecture on malnutrition and diabetes. To finish the night off we played a round of capture the flag and headed to bed. It was a relaxing day and we were glad we could recuperate after our days of service.
Mia, Auden, and Merrill
BLOG POST FOR JULY 5
Nearing the last day of the trip, we ventured to Sosúa for a snorkeling excursion. We spent some time on a boat, switching between diving into the water and exploring the reefs and watching the tropical schools of fish. After a while on the boat, we spent some time on the shore enjoying the sun and some cool lemonade. Eventually, our 16 boxes of pizzas arrived. Our efforts to consume all of the pizzas were unsuccessful. After lunch we headed to Puerto Plata for our next adventure.
We went on a tour of an amber mine museum. We learned about the creation of amber and had the chance to purchase various souvenirs. We took a break at a local coffee shop and then explored the town a little further. We returned to home base for a delicious dinner. Finally, we watched the sunset on a nearby beach and then listened to one of Enrique’s Ted Talks.
Shalini, Ruby, and Maera
BLOG POST FOR JULY 7
The last day!
The day began bright and early at 6:30 am when we woke up to get ready for our excursion. After breakfast, we left for our two hour drive to 27 charcos. The group split up between the van and the bus. The people on the bus got to listen to Mateo’s Spanish songs one last time (bittersweet). Enrique introduced the van to his favorite songs (Ed Sheeran was in the mix, and so was Eminem.)
We arrived at the destination and got ready with our life vests and jackets.
Once everyone was suited up, we walked about 30 minutes up a mountain and through a vibrant forest before arriving at the first waterfall. This first descent was the most intimidating: each of us had to jump seven meters into the ice blue water below. We had a few other jumps and natural water slides after that and had a blast.
We then headed out for lunch. After lunch, we drove 40 minutes to a grocery store for one last stop, many stocked up on candy and snacks to share that night. We started to pack a bit when we got back and then ate dinner and had a surprise cake for Zoë’s 16th birthday and watched some videos from James’s GoPro refecting on our time. We all got little papers and signed everyone’s with notes and memories. We then went to the beach for what we thought was going to be watching the stars, but ended up being a little party! There was music and dancing and balloons and a fire and everyone had so much fun spending our last night together.
After the party, some of us looked at the stars for 10 minutes before heading back and going to bed.
It was an amazing last day and we had so much fun together throughout this trip.
– Sydney, Zoë, Will (with the help of Gigi )
**We all had so much fun on this program with this wonderful group of students, you will all be missed ! So much hard work was put in to help improve the lives of others, and we learned so much from you all. We wish everyone safe flights home and a great rest of the summer! – The staff team – Andrea, James, Jenny, Julianne, and Enrique