This article appeared in the school newspaper for Autumn, a GLA Alumnus
Have you ever wanted to travel outside of the country, but found your parents wouldn’t let you go alone? Well, what if you had the opportunity to travel with a group of teens for 8 to 21 days without your parents: would you take it?
This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic for 10 days through an organization called Global Leadership Adventures (GLA). GLA is a service-learning abroad program where students will learn the local culture, history, and language of their destination, serve in the surrounding communities, and explore all that the country has to offer. Potential destinations include Tanzania, Thailand, Fiji, Costa Rica, Guatemala, the Galapagos Islands, Peru, and many more.
One of the greatest aspects of GLA is that within each trip, there is a specific focus. For example, if you love children, you can go on a trip that is centered on the children in their communities, teaching them to read and write English. If you love sports, you can spend all day with the boys and girls playing new games and teaching them some American games. If you love working with your hands like I do, you can go to the Dominican Republic and build schools out of plastic bottles and chicken wire, mix your own cement from the sand beneath your feet, and personally connect with the community.
You will work many hours of service depending on the duration of your trip, but each trip includes some amazing adventures. The Dominican Republic home base, for example, is right on the beach, and it’s great to cool off in the water after a long day of volunteer work. I spent a day snorkeling, shopping at the local stores, and relaxing on the beach. Another day, I went ziplining and cliff jumping from 50 feet up into a lagoon.
Parents need not worry about supervision; there are mentors and supervisors on every trip, and I felt extremely safe everywhere I went. Parents will also appreciate the other great aspect of these trips: affordability. GLA offers need-based scholarships, a guide to fundraising your trip (which is what I did), or payment plans you can work out with your trip advisor. I chose the Dominican Republic because I felt that it would be an eye-opening experience, and that was exactly what it was; I realized I am fortunate to live here in our small rural community. Everyone should travel outside of the country at least once in his or her life, so why not go to a place you never expected to go, have the time of your life, and give back all at once?
Contributed by Autumn E.