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.
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 after activities are completed to have with them through the night. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location and time zones. 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.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 17
Our adventure has begun!
After a long day of arrivals, everyone is finally at home base, resting up for our first full day together tomorrow.
Those who arrived early have been getting to know one another, exploring a nearby sites, where we saw some live music then helped to set up room signs for those arriving later in the day.
The later arrivers got to see a little of the city at night on the short drive to Homebase gave us the chance to see a little of the city at night before we had a bite to eat and settled into our rooms.
We’re all excited to experience Ecuador firsthand while learning about nature and building new relationships!
Ben, Sophie, Ligia & Patricia (The team here in Ecuador)
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 18
As a group of eager students from Global Leadership Adventures (GLA), we embarked on an extraordinary journey to the enchanting Galápagos Islands. Our adventure kicked off in Quito, Ecuador’s vibrant capital, where we had the chance to immerse ourselves in the city’s rich history and culture. Our first day was dedicated to exploring Quito’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its colonial architecture and captivating charm. Stepping into the maze-like streets, we were transported back in time, ready to embark on an awe-inspiring adventure.
Quito’s Old Town, also known as the Historic Center, revealed itself as a captivating tapestry of narrow cobblestone streets, colorful colonial buildings, and ornate churches. The atmosphere was alive with energy as locals bustled about their daily lives, and street vendors lined the plazas, offering a glimpse into the city’s vibrant culture. We marveled at the beauty of iconic landmarks such as the Plaza Grande, flanked by the imposing Presidential Palace and the Cathedral. Exploring the La Ronda neighborhood, we were enchanted by its bohemian spirit, filled with art galleries, handicraft shops, and cozy cafes where we indulged in Ecuadorian delights.
As GLA students, we were not mere tourists but adventurers eager to learn and make a positive impact on the places we visited. The Old Town of Quito served as an inspiring starting point for our Galápagos expedition. Through guided tours and meaningful interactions with locals, we gained a deeper understanding of Ecuador’s history and the challenges faced by its communities. It was a humbling experience that set the tone for the days to come, fueling our curiosity and fostering a sense of responsibility towards the environment and the unique ecosystem we were about to explore in the Galápagos Islands.
Embarking on our Galápagos adventure, the memories of our first day in Quito’s Old Town remained etched in our hearts. The beauty, resilience, and cultural richness we encountered were a testament to the wonders that awaited us. Little did we know that this journey would shape us as future leaders, instilling in us a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of all life and the importance of preserving our planet’s treasures for generations to come.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 19
Written by Griffin and Alex
On day 3 of our GLA program, we made a long trip to the Galápagos Islands. At times our travel day seemed hectic, but we pulled through, and all seventeen of us arrived at the hotel safely. We enjoyed a beautiful scenic boat ride and a long bus ride across the exotic island of Santa Cruz. Upon arriving at the hotel, we settled into our rooms and enjoyed a delicious homemade meal prepared by our amazing hotel staff.
We then ventured to the Charles Darwin Center, where on our walk, we encountered a lounge of iguanas, which we later learned were the Galápagos marine Iguanas. Throughout our time at the museum, we were taught about the history of the island, and the different endemic specials native to the island. We also had the privilege of seeing notorious taxidermied lonesome George (a previously famous tortoise) and multiple live tortoises ranging from newborns to elders. We walked back to the hotel under the light of the setting sun. After eating dinner we ended our night with some scoops of ice cream and shopping accompanied by some sea lion friends.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 20
Written by Sonja and Tanay
Today we had our first day of service!
We worked all morning and afternoon on making better habitats for the Galapagos tortoises. We started the day with breakfast and took a pretty drive to the service site. We started work after learning about the tortoises and seeing what it was like to be in a tortoiseshell (see pictures). After two hours of hard work, we took and break and played Mafia. Then we continued work until we had a nice lunch at the reserved restaurant. After we were fueled up, we worked for most of the rest of the afternoon.
When we returned we had a leisurely dinner, followed by a fun debate about animal rights and environmental protection on the islands. Then we walked into town for gelato and a stop at the pier. At the pier, we saw seals and small sharks in the water!
It was a day of hard work, but everyone had a lot of fun. Learning about the tortoises (They walk at 0.1 m/hr!) was very interesting and made me realize why they’re a protected species. By night we were in our rooms getting rest for tomorrow’s spectacular day!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 21
Written by Shannon and Jenna
After breakfast, we went straight to the ranch and continued on our work from yesterday. When we got there, it was down pouring rain, but it ended soon. Even though the work area was extremely muddy, everyone still worked extremely hard on the tortoise pond and clearing away cut trees. In the middle of the service, we had a break that included many songs sung by Ben and our guide Fernando on the guitar.
We ate lunch at the ranch, which also happens to have a restaurant with great snacks. (I would recommend a blackberry milkshake to anyone). After that, we went swimming in la Playa de Estación. Everyone had to take a swim test and everyone passed! After we ate dinner some people went into town and got ice cream, On our way back from ice cream the boys participated in a game of basketball with locals. They lost a close first game but in an intense rematch game, they won!!!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 22
Written by Ava and Lila
This morning, we split up into two groups to go to las grietas, which is a channel that splits two lava rocks. In these same groups, we did a leadership activity that consisted of a bunch of statements that you choose to agree or disagree with to determine what type of leader you are. After the activity, we had lunch, and shortly after headed to service at the tortoise sanctuary. When we arrived at the work site, we saw a tortoise in the pond. This made us really happy and showed how much work we had gotten done; since that meant it was more accessible to the tortoises after our work.
Today we worked on cutting and moving invasive plants and trees and replanting native ones to help the ecosystem. Then we visited los gemelos, or sinkholes, and learned a lot about how they come to form and how tectonic plates work in Ecuador. We went back to the hotel after that and had chow circle and gave shout-outs, selected tomorrow’s leaders, and reflected on the day. We had dinner, which was fries, which everyone was very excited about. After dinner, we went out to town for ice cream and basketball, even though some people chose to stay in their rooms.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 23
Written by Callie and Natalie
Today we started early and woke up at 6:30 am to eat breakfast before getting ready for the long venture to Tortuga Bay. The hike was around an hour until we saw a beautiful beach with many sharks, sting rays, and marine iguanas. We stayed for about two hours and soaked up as much sun as we could before returning for lunch. Afterward, we headed to the lava tunnels which were surreal. The tunnels were formed by tubes crusting over the lava channels.
Afterward, we tiredly went to service, for our very last day of digging the pond for the tortoises. With many snack breaks and owl sightseeing, we finally saw the progress and hard work we put in for the past couple of days, For dinner we walked to a local market selling all types of empanadas, from categories like chicken to banana Nutella. As we experienced the Ecuadorian culture by watching Intiraymi, the boys headed to the basketball courts to pick up a game with the locals, while the others went shopping and filled up on ice cream. Overall, it was a day filled with many festivities that will have everyone sleeping very well tonight.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 24
Written by Henry and Audrey
We started the long day ahead of us by waking up and eating at 7:30. We left for the port at 8, and took a boat ride where almost everyone had some rest! When we exited the boat, we were pleasantly surprised by sea lions, and one even tried to bite one of us! We had to check in at the hotel and settle in with our new roommates. After a while of unpacking we went to a nearby restaurant and sat down for a pulse check which is basically a mental and physical checkup, and to see what GLA can do better for the kids.
We followed this by eating a filling lunch, and later when we came back, we discussed responsible posting on social media platforms about our experiences here in the Galápagos. We then went to the beach where we saw lots of cute sea lions, and even had a large one come running to us while we were in the ocean! We played drip drip drop, which is duck duck goose, but instead of saying duck, you drip water on someone and when you want to say goose, you drop water on their head. The rest is mostly the same but in the end, we all had a lot of fun playing this game.
Afterward, we walked to the same restaurant as lunch and ate dinner where the shrimp was pretty popular! We took a nice walk back to the hotel we did chow circle, elected our next group leaders, and split into our mentor groups. In our groups, we chose an item that meant something to the student and explained the meaning of it to bond and get to know each other more on a deeper level. Overall, we had a pretty long and fun day, so everyone will definitely be well-rested tonight!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 25
Written by William & Madeleine
Today was our first full day in San Cristobal!
We woke up and enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel. After, we hiked to the information center where Carmen explained the history of the islands to us. We learned how Ecuador took control of the Galapagos and the different European influences which shaped Galapagan culture.
We then hiked to Tijiretas, a gorgeous cove filled with sea lions, turtles, fish, crabs, and other endemic wildlife. Fernando led the pack, keeping everyone safe from the alpha male sea lions. Back in town, we ate lunch and visited a local bakery where we enjoyed fresh bread and empanadas. Madie and Will, the best leaders there were, led an amazing activity of Pictionary on the roof of our hostel.
Later in the afternoon, the group went to Katty’s recycling workshop. We watched a presentation on the preservation of the Galapagos and how people can make a difference by keeping the seas clean. Finally, after a long day of adventure, we had dinner at a restaurant and bonded during mentor groups.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 26
Today we split up into two groups, one early group, and one late group.
The early group got to breakfast a little earlier so they could eat first and get to the boat in time. The boat they got on was heading straight toward Lobos Island. There they got dropped off on the island for a while to explore. Fernando taught them about the different kinds of frigates and what they do. Once the group kept walking, they came along with groups of huge sea lions all resting together. Then came some blue-footed boobies! Fernando said how they mate by dancing together and why they have blue feet. When they reached the end of the island, they called for the boat to pick us up to go snorkeling. Once they got to the spot, they went in and saw sting rays, schools of fish, and of course, sea lions. After snorkeling, they boated to a secret beach where they got to swim around in crystal clear water with sea lions that kept playing with them. When they were done at the beach, they got on the boat back to lunch where they met group two.
Earlier that day, group two had played a modified version of speed dating as the leadership activity. Everyone was given one question on a sheet of paper, each person would answer respectively, and then we would pass our question to the right and repeat. After lunch, group two left for their boat ride. The events of the second trip very much resembled those of the first, seeing and learning all about the blue-footed boobies and frigates. They spotted a marine iguana actually in the water. On the beach, a specific alpha male sea lion did not enjoy their company very much, barking and chasing them! A fellow baby sea lion was willing to play around with the group. Everyone finished the night with a game of hot seat, dinner, and writing letters to the wonderful local directors, Fernando and Carmen!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 27
Written by Shannon and Cole
Day 11: The day started with a long cloudy walk to school, but this time we weren’t going to class. We had a painting job to do. When we arrived at the school we were confronted by the school children during their recess. We quickly got to work painting their only basketball court. While we were painting we heard a bell that signaled the end of class, soon after dozens of kids poured out of their classrooms and went to the courts. They instantly went over to check out what we were doing to their school and courtyard. They then challenged us to one of their p.e. games of tic-tac-toe. At first, we didn’t know what we were doing so we lost a couple of times but then we got the hang of it and beat them in their own game. When the bell rang again we were missing their presence and got back to work painting.
At the end of our job, the court looked better than ever and it was so pleasing to their faces light up looking at their new basketball court. We stopped back at the hotel to wash all of the paint off before going to lunch. After that, we went to a beach called Loberia, meaning “many sea lions.” While there were some sea lions there, their spotlight was stolen by the 4 sea turtles we swam with while snorkeling. They were surprisingly unafraid and let us swim directly over them. We finished our time at the beach with some activities in the sand. We buried Tanay up to his head and played a racing game.
After a short bus ride back to the hotel our day was still far from over. We walked across town to a soccer stadium and had the opportunity to play a game with local kids. Even though we ended up losing, we still put up a fight and scored a few goals. At this point, we were all looking forward to dinner and the karaoke that we had after it at the restaurant. It was a great final day in San Cristóbal.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 28
Written by Reese and Natalie
Today, we started out with a fresh plate of pancakes and bananas. Although not all of us woke up feeling our best, by the end of the day we persevered and made it back to Quito. Before leaving for the airport, we stacked up on snacks at the market. By ten, we started our journey toward the airplane housing facility. A quick pit stop was made at the panaderia, where GLA generously paid for our incredibly fresh 75-cent bread. Although the walk was long, the leaders pushed and inspired the group to continue the mission through the scorching streets.
After walking nearly an ENTIRE mile, we gracefully arrived at our destination. Before we checked in, we had an epiphany from completing our efforts to transport ourselves; Life isn’t about the destination, but about the journey, It was a very long airport day filled with stress and boredom. However, our amazing group leaders facilitated and aided a more exhilarating expedition through the airport. They did this by playing a game called Wavelength, created by none other than one of our leaders, Reese. The game is when one person closes their eyes, and the other people silently choose a number between 1-10. The whole group then decides on something in a category that is the number selected out of ten and the person who did not know the number would try to guess it based on the answers of the others. Once we boarded, we had a three-hour flight, an hour layover, and then thirty more minutes to Quito. Once we landed in Quito, we took an hour’s bus ride to the hotel. We were incredibly famished, however, our hunger was fulfilled due to the flavorful chicken noodle soup, watermelon juice, rice, and even more chicken (sorry to those who identify as vegetarian).
After dinner, we picked a meaningful goal for the group as a whole that we can strive for after the trip. Unanimously, we all agreed on being more independent and more reliant on ourselves. We signed the contract where we wrote the goal down and discussed how to enact it, took a photo, and called it a day. Then, the inspiring group leaders took willing time to declare the next leaders of the day: Ava and Jenna. Although it was very hard then for them to abdicate their position, they built up the will to be humble and pass on the spotlight to someone else. They then continued the tiring, three-floor trek up the stairs to write this very blog that you’re reading with your very own eyes. It was a beautiful day, and we’re ready for a beautiful tomorrow. And we will end this blog with a quote from Reese “Be who you should be, not who you want to be”. And to all, we wish you goodnight.
From the powerful, awe-inspiring, dedicated, loving leaders:
Natalie and Reese
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 29
Written by Jenna and Ava
We started the morning with breakfast at 7:15. Then we headed off to salsa lessons and learned the salsa and bachata. We partnered off, and an instructor guided us through the dance. Everyone had a blast! Next, we went to the equator line where there was a museum. We learned about the indigenous people and their of life in the Amazon of Ecuador. We stepped on the northern and southern hemispheres. We did a bunch of tests proving the balance on the equator. We took some group photos on the equator.
Then we went off to the market to get souvenirs! Then we made a quick stop at the local grocery store to buy our favorite Ecuadoran candies to bring home. Then we came back to the hotel to have our final dinner and mentor group. In our mentor group, we wrote farewell letters to everyone. We ended off the day with an apparition circle which is a GLA tradition.
Here are the highlights of the trip: snorkeling with sea lions and sea turtles. The sea lions were very playful and fun to swim with. Another highlight was the service with tortious and restoring a pond for them. We also did service at the school in San Cristóbal where we painted a basketball court. We were able to speak to the children there and practice Spanish skills.