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 JULY 2
Written by Catherine Brown, International Director
Hello from sunny and hot Morocco!
I had the pleasure of meeting 11 of the 12 teens today- we have one in the group that had a delay and he will arrive early tomorrow morning. We are excited to have him join the group then.
After airport pickup we went straight to Rabat (many napped on the van ride) where we enjoyed a traditional lunch. We ordered some of everything so the teens could try as many things as possible – meat Tagine with dried plums, a traditional breaded chicken dish, a turmeric lemon chicken dish, and a vegetarian Tagine as well. They also got to feast on three traditional Moroccan hot salads (one of eggplant, one of carrot, and one of roasted tomato and red pepper). Your teens were very curious and polite and tried everything!
We checked into the hotel and they had a chance to rest and shower. We then had an Orientation, a stroll to the ocean for some refreshing breeze
and a fabulous dinner at the hotel where everyone got to know each other a bit more. The group is incredibly inclusive and getting along very well.
Tomorrow we begin the GLA cell phone policy where they turn in their phones at breakfast and receive them at night. Everyone seems very cooperative and understanding, and many have stated they are actually looking forward to a break from screen time. Tomorrow they start Arabic lessons, do some sightseeing in this Royal City, go to the ancient market, enjoy a great dinner out and finish the day with some GLA activities.
I’m so proud of your teens for choosing this journey and grateful to every one of you who supported them to make it happen.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 3
Written by Ryley
What’s up everybody, it’s Ryley (one of the students on the trip). Today was our first full day of being in Morocco and everyone was pretty gassed, but we still enjoyed ourselves.
We started by eating breakfast here at our hotel in Rabat. I was surprised by the Moroccan breakfast as it was all flour-based. We played a game of love it or hate it, and it enlightened us. After breakfast, we went to ILCS for our first Arabic/ Darija instruction where we all learned that Arabic was much harder than any of us could’ve thought. We also learned about the culture, how to introduce ourselves, greetings and things of that nature. After all of the lessons we went and had lunch at an open-air Italian restaurant where the mango smoothies were delicious. We then went and exchanged currencies and added a 12th group member.
We went to the Medina after we all were in possession of some Moroccan Dirhams. The Medina was this huge market full of shops selling everything from spices to Jordans.
Some of us tried our hand at bargaining using our newly learned Arabic. After the Medina, we went sightseeing by the beach where there was a fort and a smaller market.
We then went to dinner at a more traditional Moroccan restaurant where the chicken was 10/10.
Lastly, our International Director Catherine surprised all of us with a gelato outing to celebrate the fact that it was group member Elise’s birthday.
Note from Catherine (International Director): To Ryley’s loved ones – Ryley is such a natural leader and impressively grounded and mature for his age. He has already gained the respect of the entire group, myself included, for his thoughtfulness, composure, self-awareness, kindness and authenticity. He confidently stepped forward to be our very first Leader of the Day and set the standard high. You should be so very proud of him. I know I am!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 4
Written by Elise, our Leader of the Day
Of the itinerary, today was a day that wasn’t too jam packed! That said, our day was mainly filled with conversation to better know those around us. We used the many free times or traveling times, chatting about anything and everything. We made a group Spotify playlist, discussed meaningful high-fives, and debated whether tuna is good.
We began our day with an early breakfast, where many of us enjoyed traditional Moroccan mint tea. This served as fuel for our GLA activity as we discussed leadership: our personal definition, how it manifests in our own life, and who inspired our definition of leadership. For the last question, parents were the common answer.
We transitioned to our Arabic lessons, where we expanded our vocabulary to include words about family and delved into the feminine and masculine articles of Arabic. All while brushing up on our words learned yesterday. For lunch, we experienced the authentic food of Syria. Which was perfect for the later GLA activity where we discussed immigration amongst Syrian refugees in relation to Morocco. We later split into three groups and discussed immigration within Morocco from four different assigned stances.
We visited an ancient wall and structure in Rabat and photographed the beautiful flowers, trees, and birds. We also guessed how ancient the structure was: it was 6th century BC! We closed the night with an arraignment of sushi and Chinese noodle dishes. (May have been the most anticipated meal of the trip!) We spent the remainder of the night watching the sun set while talking about life. Our night concluded with the anticipation of visiting the house base and Casablanca!
Note to Elise’s loved ones from Catherine, the International Director: Elise has such a curious, dive-right-in zest for life. It’s inspiring and elevates the energy of the entire group! She jumps right into conversation, makes everyone feel included, and has such a consistently positive attitude. She is a natural traveler and the world is definitely a better place with her out in it!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 5
Written by Eleo, our Leader of the Day
Hey guys, it’s Eleo!! Today we woke up bright and early because our day was full of adventures. After a brief breakfast we filled up the van and made our way to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.
In the van we all took turns listening to each others music. By exploring each other’s taste in music, we quickly learned that we have much more in common. Once we arrived at the Mosque we did a quick outside tour and took many pictures of the tiles typical Moroccan patterns. The inside of the Mosque was modern and displayed the culture of Morocco using only Moroccan materials.
We enjoyed lunch at a Moroccan restaurant with the company of the lovely Ihssane, a close friend of our International Director, who taught us about the religion of Islam and current events in the country. We hopped on the bus and made our way to hot Marrakech where we visited the Yves Saint Laurent’s botanical garden.
Our eyes were immediately blessed by the myriad of bright colors. After gaazing around the serene scenery we got on the bus once more to make our way to home base.
After settling into home base in the Atlas Mountains and hanging out by the pool, we made our way to dinner where we enjoyed squash soup and chicken. We had a lot of fun together and we are excited to go the village tomorrow.
Note to Eleo’s loved ones from international director Catherine: Eleo brings such a calm and grounded energy to the group – she definitely helps to anchor us! She is inquisitive, curious, thoughtful and respectful. She has been so open to every new experience here and is very present and observant.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 6
Written by Alex
We are settling in to our new home base in the beautiful Atlas Mountains, and preparing for service work in the village to begin tomorrow. We visited the village school where we will be helping young students learn the English language, as well as honing our Arabic skills. We then took a drive up to a scenic view of the valley, and returned home to dinner and small group GLA activity. We are excited to begin our work in the village, meet some kids and help the local community!
Note to Alex’s loved ones from International Director Catherine: Alex was our leader of the day and some group members expressed at the end of the day that they’d love to have them repeat as their leader! What Alex failed to mention in the blog was sharing their musical talents with the group on a djembe drum where all of us were left in total admiration. Alex is rising up to every challenge here like a champ, connecting deeply with others and really coming into their own. It’s been a genuine pleasure to observe and accompany.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 7
Written by Olivia
It’s surprising we’re already on our 6th day! Time has been flying by it seems. We’ve done a lot of sightseeing and activities so far, as my peers have explained, but our service work has now begun. This morning we met the kids in the village and were able to teach them colors, how to introduce themselves, and played lots of games using Arabic, French, and English words. They are very bright and excited to learn, just as much as we are to learn from them. They taught us colors in Arabic and we learned more Arabic words while playing games with them.
We all enjoyed the village and wanted to stay the entire day, even with the many hours we spent with them in the morning. We returned after lunch and some free time, to then return to the village and continue working with them. They showed us their talents through drawing, play-doh creations, and fantastic paper airplanes. They also taught us how to count to ten in Darija (Moroccan Arabic) and they surprised us with already knowing how to count to ten in English as well as French!
We are very excited to continue to learn from them as well as help them learn more from us. I truly feel we’ll be making an impact here and I’m sure many of us can say this will be our favorite part of the trip. These kids have already impacted us greatly and I’m sure we’ll return home changed for the better.
Note to Olivia’s loved ones from International Director Catherine: Olivia brings such a calm, grounded, energy to the group. She is incredibly observant and I can tell she is absorbing so much of this experience here! She has shown a lot of respect for local culture and is a great example of a global citizen.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 8
Written by Kayla
This morning we woke up and went to breakfast at 8 am. There was typical breakfast of yogurt and oats followed by a pancake bread with honey and some melon.
Right after breakfast we started our community service by splitting into two groups to collect trash along the river. Both group were able to collect a lot of trash; with one group collecting 26 bags of trash and the other doing two trips. Once everyone got back we had some lunch and free time where many people chose to go into the pool.
Due to a lack of internet here in the Atlas Mountains, we had Arabic Lessons with Soukaina in person instead. During the Arabic Lessons all of us were able to learn a larger variety of words to say to the kids and use in the Souk later this week.
To end the day we had cooking lessons where we learned how to make the traditional Moroccan dish Tajine, we made our own dinner. Finally, we spent an hour to ourselves to reflect on the day and end on a peaceful note.
Note to Kayla’s loved ones from International Director Catherine: I wish you could see Kayla with the village kids! They adore her and she is such a natural teacher. She was also one of the most positive, focused and dedicated workers on the river clean-up project. We could barely get her to stop working! She is a bright ray of sunshine who is warm, kind and inclusive to everyone in the group.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 9 (see July 10 blog below)
Written by Adam
Today was an early start for some of our GLA travelers. Last night’s mandatory social isolation (inserted note from Catherine: it was one hour of quiet time haha) sparked a few individuals to start a puzzle to pass the time, for it was an activity that could be done silently. It consisted of 1500 pieces that, when put together, depicted 99 different cats doing 99 different things. Their eagerness to continue prompted a voluntary 6:30 am wake-up to continue before breakfast. Very little progress was made 😔.
Catherine shared her personal stash of amlou (almond butter, honey, and argon oil) and cashew butter with us to try for breakfast, adding an extra aspect to our first meal of the day. We then took the van to a hotel located in the Atlas Mountains called Au Rocher. We enjoyed lemon cake and freshly squeezed orange juice, and then made our way through the complex and to the pottery-making station. Adlouini, our instructor for the morning, talked to us about us the process of clay making and it’s applications to decoration and construction. We then took turns at the spinning wheel and worked on our clay creations.
Now pottery connoisseurs, we drove back to the home base, picking up some more water on the way.
For lunch we feasted on eggplant baba ganoush, trout, rice, and fries, and later consumed half of Miles’ 30 pound watermelon that was purchased on day 4.
Later we gathered in the meditation room for an exercise that Jose had planned out for us. We drew six boxes: 2 yellow, 2 orange, and 2 red, with 1 of each color being dedicated to either school or home. In the yellow boxes we wrote things that annoy or bother us in the aforementioned places. The orange boxes we did the same except instead for things that irritate us, and the red was for things that make us mad. After everyone was done we shared our results with the rest of the group and reflected on how we could take responsibility for our reactions to stressors.
Later in the day in 3 separate groups, we took turns using the hammam that was located in the home base. Hammams are a type of steam room used for cleansing in the culture of the Muslim world. While their peers took turns using the hammam, others worked on their skits that used words they had learned in Arabic to tell a story that we would act out the next morning.
The chef continued to impress us with his culinary skills, because for dinner we had an amazing soup and pasta dish.
Following dinner we listened to a speaker. Khalid, the owner and visionary behind our home base hotel, talked to us about his journey through life as he followed his dreams and investigated the question “who am I?”
To end the day, Catherine presented us with an exercise where we explored our own goals and dreams by writing down what we wanted to be doing ten years from now. After that we came up with things that would stop us from achieving those dreams, and subsequently burned those obstructions in a bowl.
Note from Catherine to Adam’s loved ones: Adam is so observant and always picks up on way more tiny details than many might think. He is self-aware, open to reflection and asks great questions. He has been a shining example of kindness and inclusivity here and I also appreciate that he knows and respects his own limits for when he needs some down time alone to recharge. You’ll get the update on their Arabic skits tomorrow, but I’ll give you a teaser and let you know that his made me giggle so hard, it was really (intentionally) funny.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 10
Written by Miles
Some of us woke up early to do more puzzle. We ate breakfast, then went to the local market, where we were harassed by people selling geodes, where Elise bought a geode for far too much, some of us bought orange juice and other goods, and we went home. After that, we went to teach the kids at the village colors, and in the end they taught us more. After this, we returned to the hotel and had some fun pool time to get out of the heat.
Note to Miles’ loved ones from International Director Catherine: Miles is so positive and always has something nice and uplifting to say. He participates fully within the group dynamic and is the first to offer to share his snacks (much appreciated by me, because we share the exact same taste in healthy treats!).
BLOG POST FOR JULY 11
Written By Gloria:
To begin the day some people woke up at 6:00 and worked on the aforementioned puzzle. The saner members of our party, however, woke up at 7:00, and we all went for a hike in the mountains to a remote village. After the strenuous activity of reaching our destination we meditated by a water fall. The meditation was led by Fatima, one of our lovely hosts from our home base retreat, and it enabled us better resonate with the intricate nature around us. After the serenity of the meditation we were ready to continue with our quest at the village near the waterfall. At the village we gave the children fun toys and school supplies that were generously donated by fellow student Olivia. As a thank you we were served tea, cookies, bread, and oil to dip it in. Fatima acted as translator informing us about the village, she explained that many people could no longer afford to work in agriculture, instead turning towards tourism as a source of income. The children don’t have a school in their village, making it so they have to walk miles along the mountain to get educated at another school. We finished our tea, said goodbye and thank you to the villagers and were on our way back down the mountain towards home base. At around 2pm after some relaxation and food we continued our day at the other village’s school. We split the kids into different groups loosely based on age then taught the kids how to talk about weather, shapes, conversation, and animals in English. A meeting or two, and some relax time later we ate couscous for supper and prepared for my favorite part of the day – Henna! Fatima’s sister Rabiaa did henna and was gracious enough to teach me. It was a wonderful experience, especially when some of my fellow students agreed to be my henna guinea pigs. And that was our day salam alaykum.
Note to Gloria’s loved ones from International Director Catherine: Gloria impresses me by knowing very well her likes and dislikes and having the integrity to spend her time in alignment with what most supports her well being. Some might think she’s quiet, but when she needs to speak her mind on something she feels passionate about she definitely does so! She is a fantastic artist and such a creative soul. The henna work she did last night was so talented.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 12
Written by Andaya
Hi everyone! Today we got to visit a women’s cooperative that makes argan oil. After having tea in their picturesque little garden, we learned about argan oil’s many benefits and the significance of the women’s cooperative. They had a variety of products, such as skincare, makeup, and food. Naturally, we had do our part to help the local economy by purchasing some for ourselves or for others at home. We then enjoyed juice or soft drinks by, and in, a river. Following a short break at home base, we headed to the village to work more with the children. Today’s topics included greetings, colors, the weather, nature, shapes, or just running around outside. Back at home base we had a quick arabic lesson by the pool to prepare for dinner, when we tried to communicate in only arabic. Finally, a GLA activity related to future goals closed out the day and it seems it is going to be a very rainy (maybe even stormy?) night. Bye!
Note from Catherine: it indeed was a stormy night where we got to witness the power of nature! The creek bed at the bottom of home base valley, which has been mostly dry except for a trickle, got flooded with gushing water! Our local host Fatema brought us to a safe spot where we got to watch from afar but still feel and hear the intensity of the water. Fatema told us it can happen once or twice a year, so we feel lucky to have been here to witness it.
And as a note for Andaya’s loved ones – she is such a sweet, grounded presence. She has never for one second been anything less than respectful and kind to both her peers and hosts. She has handled every new experience here with much grace and I’m very proud watching her work outside of her comfort zone!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 13
Written by Enzi
As one of our last days in Morocco, it was certainly one of the most exhausting. After our usual 8am breakfast, five of us loaded trees into the van and set off for the village where we would then spend the next 3.5 hours digging holes and shoveling dirt by the villages local mosque in order to ensure that the olive trees that we had bought were brought into a good environment for them to grow in. While we were digging our holes, another group was by the river doing something similar, but planting things that could be of other use to the village in the future. Things like fig, almond, lemon, apricot and apple trees, and more herbs that have a variety of uses for both cooking and to be used medicinally. While we were planting, another group was hard at work with teaching the kids. Today was especially hard on them because of the lack of extra staff, but they did a great job in handling and teaching the little bundles of energy. Once we were done with our backbreaking work in the hot Moroccan climate, we went back to the hotel for some refreshing juice and a delicious lunch. After our eating break, we went back to the village and spent our last hours with the kids playing games and teaching English. As each of us had formed a bond with the kids, the goodbye was quite heartbreaking for some of us.
After parting with the kids, we had some free time. As it was really hot all day, a lot of us went to the pool to cool off. After yet another delicious meal, we ended the day by gathering to do an activity that consisted of writing down songs that we thought would suit each person in the room. It was quite an enjoyable experience, as we had the opportunity to share what we thought of each other through music.
Note to Enzi’s loved one from International Director Catherine: Enzi shows a self-awareness that is rare even in adults, so to have it at his age is so admirable! He can connect easily with anyone he comes into contact with and is a natural peacekeeper and diplomat. He’s observant, questions himself and his surroundings, and knows when to just go with the flow. He’s quickly become a friend to everyone here.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 14 (New blog for July 12th also added above)
Written by Caden
We went to Marrakech a new city. We went to the Market for hours and got juice. We did a final gla activity and ate pizza.
To Caden’s loved ones from International Director Catherine: Caden has kept the whole group real. He calls it like he sees it, is refreshingly honest and forthright, and brings joy and laughter wherever he goes. I told him a million times how much he reminds me of my own son Noah and that’s the best compliment I could give. You should’ve seen him with Arabic – he learned and retained probably more than anyone and used it everywhere he went, at the schools and markets, on the streets. The young school kids absolutely flocked to him and they ended up learning so much from him. Caden, I’m gonna miss you!