When my son first approached me about volunteering in Africa, I was both proud and nervous. I was proud that my son had absorbed the values I tried to teach him as a child. I was nervous that my baby (he was 17, but he’ll always be my baby) wanted to travel to a region of the world that I knew very little about. My husband was even more reluctant than I, but we agreed to get the facts before deciding.
We started by reading some articles about Tanzania, and Africa in general. It turns out that both GLA destinations in Africa are stable, safe countries with a rich culture and a tradition of welcoming Western visitors. When we spoke to alumni students and parents, they confirmed this. It was so reassuring to hear directly from actual parents and students who had traveled to these places. Suddenly, I could imagine my own son being there.
What finally tipped our decision in favor of my son’s trip was learning about Global Leadership Adventure’s unique program model. Unlike other organizations, GLA actually operates their own “home bases” in Africa. These are lodging facilities controlled and supervised by GLA, exclusively used by its students and staff. This level of control over the environment gave me great comfort.
Eventually we agreed to the trip, and l was able to witness the entire GLA 5-Point Safety System in action. The lodging was secure, the staff were inspiring, the meals were a culinary adventure, the locals were welcoming, and my son was always transported safely.
Most importantly, when our son returned from his trip, we were so impressed by how much he had matured over the course of just one summer! His perspective had broadened and his understanding of global issues had deepened. The growth he experienced was perceptible to the whole family. Now, we’re just waiting for our younger daughter to be old enough to do a GLA program.
Enrollment Advisor-Global Leadership Adventures
About the author: Sue Cuthbert is the mother of two teenagers. Her son Matthew participated in the Global Leadership Adventures program in Tanzania. Sue was so impressed by the impact the program made on her son that she came to work for GLA. She continues to volunteer in her community and is waiting for her younger daughter to finish her freshman year of high school before she goes on her GLA program.
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