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.
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 throughout the program during designated spaces of time we call ‘tech time’. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location. 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.
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
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 24
Dear families and friends,
We’re so excited to be joined by our students today! They flew from all over the United States for this incredible experience. After everyone was accounted for and settled into our beautiful home base, we did a walk around the center plaza to see the festivities for Inti Raymi (Peru’s national holiday). Our local director, Mateo, explained some of the traditions and history of the architecture. Students have become fast friends and one more addition is on the horizon (our final student will be joining us at the end of the week). While we anticipate her arrival, we’ll begin our public health and medicine journey. Tomorrow will be a super busy day. Stay tuned to hear more about it!
Courtney, Mateo, & Amber
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 25
Written by Anya Berg (Leader of the Day)
Dear families and friends,
Today was the first day we were properly able to explore Cusco and some of its wonders! After a morning reviewing the GLA Code of Conduct in order to ensure our safety during the trip, the local director, Mateo, made an amazing guide; pulling interesting information off the top of his head to enrich our experience. We also had our first visit to a money exchange, a new and interesting experience for many of us. When we got back to our home base, after an opportunity to warm our-freezing-selves, there was a local Chaman who walked us through a “Payment to the Earth” ritual, or as it’s called in Spanish a Tributo a la Tierra. We got to witness firsthand an Incan tradition that, hopefully, brought us all luck for the rest of the trip.
I won’t bore you with details on what we ate, but rest assured, it was delicious!
Tomorrow we will be seeing the difference between the rural and urban parts of Cusco, something we are all super hyped for. It will overall be a super busy day. Stay tuned for more updates from our team leaders tomorrow…
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 26
Dear families and friends,
Today was the second day of activities. After a rough start of the morning due to waking up late (Claire woke us up late), we ate breakfast and left for a reality tour of the areas we will be working in throughout Cusco. On the tour, we learned about how the healthcare and education systems work within Peru. In different regions of Peru, there are typically only a few hospitals with hardly any doctors and nurses, and even less specialists. There are not many resources and these are scarce around rural areas, causing a decrease in the amount of readily available medical attention. This is similar to the Peruvian education system. According to Matteo and Victor from MedLife, students and teachers must travel a great distance in order to learn and teach. Additionally, most teachers live in Cusco, so it takes a great deal of effort for them to get to the schools. The elementary school that we visited was built by the village and has only two classrooms. These two rooms are for the students of the surrounding area. Ultimately, today was a very eye opening experience and hopefully this will help us when we start our service.
Maxwell and Claire
P.S. (from Amber, GLA Mentor) I know families would like to see more photos from home base. Students would like to get a group photo at breakfast tomorrow (with hopes of waking up on time) and maybe some selfies in their rooms.
Also would like to explain some of the attached photos. After the reality tour, students had the opportunity to see some of the regional animals at a wildlife refuge. The Andean bear, parrots, monkeys, condors, and the crowd favorite of course, the llama. After a much needed rest period at home base, Maxwell and Claire lead the group in some fun leadership building activities including “The Human Knot”, “Ha-Ha”, and an attempt at flag football in a small yard. They were creative with their problem solving solution, which made for a good laugh session for me.
This evening, we shared our “Roses, buds, and thorns,” the highs, looking forward to’s, and potentially “could’ve been better” moments of the day, followed by a restful evening watching The Emperor’s New Groove. Students were able to point out some of the Quechua words used throughout and relate to their experience in Peru. Excited for more memories this incredible clan will continue to make together!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 28
Written by Cara and Natalia
Hello loved ones,
Today was a super exciting day, our first day of service!
We began with a 6:30 wake-up call, but some decided to stay in till 7:15 for some extra sleep time (yes, we are looking at you Connor and Max). We ate a delicious breakfast (mostly bread/cheese/ham sandwiches)(thanks Cara and Caroline) and headed out at 7:45 with our new GLA family members, Alejandro and Maya. The bus ride was loooooong and, after many naps (we are looking at you Claire), we arrived in Pisaq. Everyone began the walk to the house, hands full of paint buckets and brushes. After meeting Senora Maria, we got quick to work sanding and painting every wall. By the end of our time in Pisaq, Senora Maria was left with a beautiful new paint job (including a heart-shaped Peru flag and hand-print flowers)(shoutout Emilia and Caroline) and a big smile on her face.
We arrived at home base around 3:00 and quickly got ready to head into town! While walking around Cusco, everyone bought a little somethin’ somethin’ to take home, thus the hat crew was formed! This group ranges from rainbow llama hats to fuzzy wolf heads (see pic below). We also stopped by a cake shop to buy our dear Sofia a birthday cake (HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOFIA!) and some snacks (for our ‘Taste Peru’ vlog segment that is to come).
Upon arrival at home base (again) we had a delicious dinner (spaghetti and meatballs (some just noodles…Auden)) and prepared for the birthday celebration. Alejandro and Maya helped carry out the cake while the birthday girl and Angelina (feel better!) watched as we sang. Everyone ate cake and it was a happy rest of the night!
Covid updates: no recent positive tests and everyone is being very diligent with their mask-wearing!
Until tomorrow- yours truly, Cara and Natalia
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 29
Written by Molly Rich and Ellie Bartolino
Today was our second day of service! We started off our morning rough with another positive covid test, but we bounced back quickly and got ourselves ready for the day. We had another delicious breakfast and got to the bus for another day of rewarding work. The bus ride was full of naps and Lil Nas X (thanks Victor!) We arrived in Pisaq and met the family we would be helping out today. Soon we were all busy sanding and painting the walls of the house. We are a quick lunch and got back to decorating the house with our own personal touches. Shoutout to Caroline, Skylar, and Claire for the cute finger painted flowers! By the end of the day the walls were full of color, as well as the crates, thank you Max, Connor, and Cara. After the music filled bus ride we returned safely to home base and took some time to relax after a hard day’s work. Our leaders of the day lead us in a super fun game of word association before participating in a global health debate. After a delicious dinner we reflected on the day in our mentor groups and finished up the day with some quality time with the group. We miss you all and are continuing to be safe and do our best to keep everyone healthy!
P.S. (from Amber, GLA Mentor) This is an exceptional group of young leaders who have taken the challenges we’ve faced at the beginning of this program in stride. Today, they worked especially hard on this project and brought so much joy to this community. Looking forward for more incredible opportunities and memories ahead.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 1
Written by Auden Pelz
Today we went white water rafting in the Andes mountains… We started with a 5:30 am wake up call and 6 am breakfast before leaving for the 2 hour bus ride to the river. When we got to the camp site we were briefed on the day and then suited up in wetsuits, windbreakers, shoes, helmets, and life jackets. When we arrived at the put-in we were told all of the safety instructions and then we started on the river … The water was really cold but we were all having a good time. We rafted class 2 and 3 rapids even though some people fell out.
After we arrived back at the campsite we spent some time in the sauna before rinsing off and changing into something warm for zip lining. For lunch we had chicken, rice, and potatoes. When we finished lunch we were given harnesses and then we went zip lining over the river.
We said goodbye to the river and then traveled back to Cusco. When we arrived, we were given some much needed free time before settling down to watch a movie. The movie was the recent jumanji, not the good one with Robin Williams but the most recent one.
Auden (Leader of the Day)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 2
Written by Skylar
Today was a pretty solid one! We started at our usual time, eating breakfast and heading out to our service site by 7:45(ish). We returned to the house that we started on Thursday, working again with the family and their adorable puppy, Chelsea.
Our work actually ended early, so we decided to walk up a hill and play soccer at a local field. The kids there were a little (read: significantly) better than us, except maybe Emilia, but we all had a good time. Even some local dogs got in the action! Jesse may or may not have kicked the ball over a fence and into a neighboring backyard, but that’s beside the point.
We ate lunch (with another puppy named Lassie), stared at some mountains, and headed home. After a brief break/siesta, we all gathered in the yard for a Quechua Spelling Bee. Quechua is a language indigenous to the Peruvian Andes, and is especially spoken in its more rural communities, so we decided to incorporate some medical terms we might hear later on in the clinics. Shout out to Alejandro for translating all the terms and teaching us how to actually pronounce them ourselves. After an intense battle and a lot of rewriting, Auden won the Bee, with Ellie coming in at a close second.
Afterward, we did a leadership activity with Maya and Courtney, focused around a TEDTalk by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, entitled “The Danger of a Single Story.” Most of us had actually seen the video before, so it became more of a discussion about our preconceived notions of Peru before arriving and how we would be challenging them in our remaining two weeks here.
Then we had dinner, phone time, and a fresh laundry delivery (hooray!). Now all that’s left is to put away our clothes and rest up for our final Healthy Homes visit tomorrow. Hopefully they’ll have puppies!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 3
Written by Caroline
Hi loved ones,
On our official last day of the Healthy Homes Project, we got the privilege of getting to know someone where otherwise our lives would not have intersected. We woke up to an early breakfast and ran out the door to our final project in Pisac. After meeting the family and painting for a few hours, we took a lunch break over the beautiful terraces and agriculture of the sacred valley, and went back to brightening up rooms and also lives. After asking the family their opinions, Auden was the star painter and drew out a boar and mountain range with ease. When we came home, we rested up to be fueled for ice cream and shopping. We saw a marching band and parade that lit up Cusco, following a successful shopping run. Finally, we came home to a delicious dinner and a mentor group where each student was insightful, discussing problems and solutions worldwide.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 4
Written by Chloe
Howdy fellow patriots,
First and foremost… Happy Fourth of July !!!
After a much appreciated later breakfast for some needed sleep, we started the day with pancakes (with chocolate syrup no less !)We then headed to our Medlife orientation where we learned about the clinics and how to conduct the different workshops. As practice, we put up the clinic tents, took note of our guinea pig’s vitals (Natalia) who ended up being diagnosed with not one but two brain tumors from another student (eek!) Fear not, everyone is healthy and was excited to eat lunch after the workshop. We then headed to another workshop where this time we practiced our Quechuan and Spanish in order to be able to communicate with the patients at the clinic. Then it was…. you guessed it, shopping and snack scavenging time.
After coming back with bags full of chips and little souvenirs, we engaged in a very funny and entertaining storytelling activity where we discovered the gruesome death of certain hamsters and a cacti incident… After having dinner (not rice but lasagna this time!!), we hiked up the steep, steep streets of Cusco until we reached a mirador. Here we celebrated the fourth with some ginger ale and some confetti pops ( sadly some didn’t work rip) but all in all it was a great way to celebrate whilst admiring the view and the stars. We are all so excited to start working in the clinics and will keep you all updated!!
Alrighty, Chloe out!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 5
Written by Sofia and Connor
Dear loved ones,
Today we explored Maras and Moray, which are salt mines, an archeological site, and the crop acclimation system of the Incas. The first thing we did was visit the salt mines, which was impressive in size and varied in shape, color, and texture. They were all created by a small stream of water coming from a spring inside a cave and leading into the Amazonian river. It shows that little things can create big things. Local salt miners collect the salt and use it for various items such as chocolate, seasoning, and food preservation. We stopped at a local store and preceded to buy chocolate and salt of different grains. After spending a lot of money, we went to the Inca ruins which were shaped like an avocado. The Incas used the avocado ruins to acclimate crops such as corn and potatoes to the dry climate due to the altitude. With this system, they were able to grow their crops effectively.
After a little detour with Anya, we visited The Andean Colors, an organization of weavers dedicated to helping single mothers. The founder was in a domestic abuse situation, an event common in rural Peru, and got hit by a car. She now lives to tell the story and support single mothers and the community with her weaving and alpaca wool harvesting. While we were there, they served us lunch and we got to try a local delicacy, Guinea pig. Most of us were apprehensive, but we tried it. Molly and Caroline says that it tasted like burnt bacon forgotten about on a couch, sat on, and reheated. Others really enjoyed it though. We also got to feed and pet the alpacas, visit a guinea pig farm and learned to make yarn bracelets. We learned how to clean, spin, and dye the yarn and the materials required to do so. We ended the experience by purchasing crafts made by the weavers. Once we got to home base, we learned about the health crisis in Peru and how covid affected the already difficult status of the health care system. Overall, very eventful and fun day!
Hope you had a good day too,
Sofia and Connor
BLOG POST FOR JULY 6
Written by Gia
Hello friends and families!
We are continuing to work with Medlife to better Cusco and its local communities. Today was our first day at our medical clinics in the local community of Ccorao. All of the GLA students participated in the rotations: toothbrushing, vital signs, education, medical diagnostics, the pharmacy, and more. Today we were able to see and help 83 people and give them the medical attention they needed. Some of the people came with their sick kids, with long unattended medical issues or accidents, or just a regular check-up. We worked with the local nurses to provide people with the proper dosages of medications to help them in the long term. People were overjoyed to finally have solutions to health issues they or their loved ones have struggled with. My only hope for tomorrow is that we are able to help more people and their families. When we returned to home base after our medical clinics, we got a surprise dance lesson! We learned the basic traditional dances from all the regions in Peru: the coast, the jungle, and the Andes. One of the dances involved these colorful props used to swing around during the dancing. I am so glad we are learning the culture and traditions in Peru such as the dances, the different foods, the healthcare in Peru, and the native language Quechua.
Paqarinkama (“Until tomorrow” in Quechua)!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 7
Written by Anya
Dear friends and family,
Today was our first day as a whole group again! We started off the early (some could say TOO early) morning with our now established routine of people waking up and dragging three feet to breakfast at different times. After another twisty ride through the mountains, during which some of us managed to catch a little extra sleep, we arrived at the same location as yesterday. When we had finished playing with a kitten Mateo had pulled out of thin air, we set up; Turning the putting up of tents into an unspoken competition again.
We got the opportunity to work in different stations and learn new skills (including, but not limited to, making bad tongue jokes using the fake rubber tongue from the toothbrushing station *cough*… Anya). There was a lot of station hopping and covering “shifts” for each other, like in medical shows! But, overall, it was a less hectic and very fun day since we have settled a bit more into our roles.
Then the afternoon was very relaxed, with a bit more shopping (sorry wallets) and then a documentary.
Dinner tonight was declared by Max to be the almost best on the trip and seconded by everyone.
Now, while writing this, I’ve overheard snippets of conversations like, “Who has tiny tiny fingers?!”, that make me want to run upstairs and join the fun, so …
Anya B (Leader of the Day… again)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 8
Hello from Peru!
I am writing to you all with this update as the remainder of the group huddles around the TV to watch Jumanji 2. This bit of down time was much needed given that today was a wonderful yet tiring day. We spent the bulk of our time in Quillahuata, which is a local town of a few hundred people. Students supported MEDLIFE’s mobile clinics in a variety of ways. Leaders of the Day have covered this extensively in the last few blog posts so I won’t get too in the weeds on it. Just know it was amazing!
It dawned on the staff team earlier that we only have a few days left together. It’s already starting to feel bittersweet for us. With that being said you may be wondering, what’s next? Tomorrow is the final day of mobile clinics, which means that we will be wrapping up the service components of our trip. After that, we journey to Lares and Machu Picchu for a fun-filled adventure. It won’t be long until students reunite with families and friends. So much will be happening over the course of the next few days. I’m so excited for our LODs to fill you in on it 🙂
Courtney (International Director)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 9-13
Hola GLA friends and families,
Students are currently packing up their bags in preparation for their departures home tomorrow after a very eventful last few days. After a bittersweet last day of Medlife clinic on July 9th, students prepped their Cusi duffle bags with warm clothes, snacks, and whatever Machu Picchu picture attire they needed before heading to bed early in anticipation for a 04:00 am breakfast (They really love if you wake them up with an obnoxious song blasting on a JBL speaker;)). They all were ready in time for the 6 am bus departure to the start of the Lares trek.
The 3 hour bus ride had a halfway stop in which students picked up little goodies and snacks from the local market for any farmers and little kids we would see on the hike. Everyone napped for the final hour and a half and then was eager to hit the trail. The elevation definitely took a toll, but thankfully our porters and horses carried most of our heavy gear. The students and staff encouraged each other despite some of the challenges on the trail, and everyone was able to make it to the halfway point day one in Wacawasi. The elevation is no joke out here. At 13,000ft some students and staff made the safe decision to meet the rest of the group in Ollantaytambo the next afternoon after camping. They had their own fun adventure:)
In the mean time, the other students and staff embarked on a difficult but beautiful trek to our camping stop at 14,000 ft. We enjoyed a dinner buffet and lots of warm tea to help with digestion in the higher elevation. The temperature dropped dramatically, so students slept 3 to a tent or had double sleeping bags to stay warm. This didn’t discourage them at all though:) Lots of singing and laughing throughout the night with the occasional visit to the poop shack and pee palace (tents dedicated for these special occasions). SOme students were able to see the southern cross as well.
Another early morning with a 06:00 wake up call with complimentary hot coca tea brought to each person tent door. Students enjoyed some pancakes before packing up their duffels and heading out for the steepest part of the trek. No one gave up, and they pushed through that extra 800 ft elevation to achieve their sought after goal! 14,800ft! So proud of these guys! They felt on top of the world:)
The rest of the hike was a traverse through the Ipsayjasa pass, past some farming communities, and a descent into the town of Patacancha where we were hosted for lunch by one of the horseman. (We learned that some children make that 2 hours tre 2x a day to go to school and back). Humbled and bellies full, we embarked on the next step in our journey. An hour bus ride into the town of Ollantaytambo for some shopping and a big, fancy dinner! Students enjoyed options like Alpaca skewers or fried trout along with some of their favorite appetizers. At 7:00pm, we all caught a train to Aguas Calientes (a town at the base of Machu Picchu) to finally catch a good night’s rest in our hostel (No one could figure out how to get the hot water to work unfortunately, but showering really wasn’t an option at this point. We were a stinky, sunburnt crew).
Finally, what we have all been waiting for, MACHU PICCHU! A quick 35 min bus ride brought us up from 7000 ft to 9000 ft where we enjoyed the 2 hour tour of the incredible Incan ruins. Students asked very impressive questions and took many a great photos:) (Would like to go ahead and apologize for doing the worm on site as apparently “exercise” is not allowed. Whoops, looks like they’ll be adding a new sign at Machu Picchu soon..). Please ask your student what they learned on this impactful excursion.
Lunch was delicious in Agua Calientes, and then, students had a couple hours to explore and shop around before we caught our evening 4 hours train ride back to Cusco. What an incredible last few days we all had! These students are an extra special bunch and truly made each others experience (and mine) that much more wonderful!
Tonight, we will be going out to eat in town after packing, and rumor has it, there will be a karaoke night hosted by the students! The final hours are flying by, and things are getting pretty bitter sweet.
Thanks for tuning in to today’s episode:)
– Amber (mentor)