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 JULY 1
Written By: Caroline Jane Green (International Director)
Sa Waa De Ka (hello) from Thailand!
What a busy 24 hours it’s been! Our feet have barely touched the ground with a full day (and night) of welcoming students, but we couldn’t be happier to finally have the group all together. These amazing individuals have journeyed far and wide to get here – well done, team! We are so impressed already with everyone’s maturity, determination, and sense of adventure. The next 14 days looks set to be a fantastic experience, with young leaders already confident in navigating change (not to mention multiple flights!) and ready to step into their personal power as role models and agents of positive change.
Our first arrival to Thailand in fact came the evening before – Eva flew in late at night and full of smiles, ready to kick off her 3rd (!) program with GLA. The following morning, it was back off to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to collect our first arrival gang. We were so excited to welcome Ashleigh, Olivia L, Zaria, Isabella, Jane and Audrey, who’d all successfully navigated immigration, Thai pass and baggage, to come and find us at the meeting spot. GLA staff took them to the Cottage Hotel, our Bangkok base in the Lat Krabang area of the city, and straight out to their very first authentic Thai lunch.
As our first group finished lunch and went to check in to their rooms, two of our GLA staff zoomed back to the airport, ready to greet next student arrivals Jack and Jordan, and to take them back to the hotel to meet the rest of the group. In the late afternoon, our students did a health check-in, and completed swim tests to ensure that they feel confident and safe during pool time here in Thailand. Later on, embracing the rainy season under the shelter of umbrellas and waterproof jackets, the group made the short walk to the Mall for dinner. At the very same time, GLA staff were stationed at the airport again, this time greeting Jesabel, Hugo, Laura, and Victoria, taking them for dinner downstairs in the food park after long flights to ensure tummies were full before going to the hotel.
With evening upon us, and half of the group now settled into their rooms ready to start sleeping off the jetlag…our late night arrivals began to land! Greeted by staff as they made their way through baggage claim were Olivia N, Riley, Jillian, Scarlett, Lillian, Keria, Joshua, Lance, Dane and Seth. Our team is finally complete!
Tomorrow our program fully kickstarts with an orientation at a local cafe called Baan Mae (Baan means ‘house’ or ‘home’, and ‘Mae’ means Mother in Thai – so at ‘Mom’s House’!), and we’ll be headed back to the airport in the afternoon for our flight to Chiang Mai, in the North of the country.
Parents & families – we feel so lucky to have your students our here in Thailand. Thank-you for entrusting us with these incredible people for the next 14 days; we can’t wait to see them build new friendships (with each other, the local school children, and the elephants!), as well as learn more about the culture, customs, and development efforts here in Thailand.
Fan dii na (goodnight),
BLOG POST FOR JULY 2
Written by: Caroline Jane Green (International Director)
Hello everyone….chan wang wa khun sa bi dee ka (I hope you are doing well!)
The journey continues for our adventures here in Thailand!
Everyone came down for a buffet breakfast this morning, with their bags packed and ready to go. There may have been a few yawns and sleepy faces here and there, but the sense of excitement was palpable, and our students had already begun to mix and build connections with new friends. What a fun and kind team
We checked out of our hotel, and travelled in a convoy of three vans to Baan Mae, for the first part of our orientation. Caroline, Neha and Connor (GLA staff) kicked off the morning’s activities with a round of ‘speed dating’ – an activity for students to switch around seats and get to know their peers, by exchanging their thoughts on what their hopes and expectations are for the program, and what they are most excited for We introduced students to the mission of GLA and vision for building young leadership potential, our steps for keeping healthy and safe on program, and how we’re going to work together for the next 13 days. Our fantastic Thai staff, Kate – Local Director – and Pare, who work with our local partner organisation Friends For Asia, then helped us to begin immersing ourselves in Thai culture and customs. They both have a wealth of experience in guiding international groups throughout the country, and really enjoy sharing the love of their home and how to fit in here. In particular, they helped students to practice doing a Thai greeting called a Wai to other people – with hands together in prayer position and head slightly bowed – and also taught them how to speak some key Thai phrases like hello and thank-you!
After orientation and a delicious lunch of local dishes and dessert (it’s fruit season, yum!), we headed to the airport, and flew to Chiang Mai. The Independent Kingdom of Lanna until the mid-1550s, Chiang Mai is enveloped by beautiful mountainous ranges, and the Old City was protected by a wall and moat – relics of these still remain today – we are definitely looking forward to exploring over the next coming days.
Our group settled into the peaceful and leafy-green GLA homebase accommodation at Chotana Villa, and then journeyed to have dinner… but first, we had to cook it! Students fully threw themselves into learning about the 5 key taste flavours of cooking here – sweet, salty, sour, spicy and bitter – and how to achieve balance between the flavours for ultimate tastiness. They were guided by Krus (teachers) in how to make a welcome snack, pad thai and hot basil stir fry, green or red curry, and spring rolls – finishing off supper with a treat of mango coconut sticky rice. A real feast – parents and families, definitely ask your new Masterchefs to test out their skills and cook for you at home when they return!
With bellies full and conversation plentiful, it was time to return to Homebase, to fully orientate ourselves to new surroundings, rest, and relax before bedtime.
Day 3 awaits – our Thai immersion continues tomorrow with meeting a senior Monk to learn about Buddhism, followed by visits to Doi Suthep temple and Doi Pui village, and dinner at the Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai. It’ll be time for me to hand over the blog to our students – they’ll be taking the lead on writing to you at home for the rest of the trip. Look out for their amazing stories and tales!
Wai jur gan, (take care)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 3
Hi there! This is Ashleigh, Olivia N, Jordy and Lance. We are today’s Leaders of the Day.
We started our day off with a great breakfast. We all tried mangosteen, which is a fruit in Thailand. We took the buses to the temples where we had Monk Chat. Monk Chat was an amazing opportunity to learn more about Buddhism and daily life of monks. Overall, we must have balance in our lives, treat all living things with respect, take care of ourselves physically and mentally, resist temptations, desires and attachments, and ultimately accept all truths. We ended with a Q&A session and a short meditation.
Afterwards, we drove into the mountains and had lunch and juice at a viewpoint. We then came back to the home base for free time. Soon after we headed to the night market where we ate dinner and shopped. We came back to homebase to use the meditation we learned earlier in the day. Then we were all off to bed!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 4
It’s your Leaders of the Day again: Lance, Ashleigh, Olivia N and Jordy. We kicked off the day with a wonderful breakfast and played games. We then left to visit two separate schools and introduced ourselves to the wonderful Thai youth. They were very excited to see us, as we were.
Then we drove back to home base, refreshed, and went to a beautiful market. This market was a local market which sold things like fish and other clothing items. We split into 2 different groups and tried all sorts of different unique foods. After the market we all met at a wonderful lunch where we indulged in rice with pork and fried egg. Then we returned to home base and began instruction on how to best teach the students.
After this we had a spectacular pizza party to celebrate the 4th of July and worked on our lesson plans for teaching. Then we enjoyed a pool party and wrapped up the night.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 5
Written by: Jillian, Victoria Mu, Scarlett, & Zaria Chamberlain (Leaders of the Day)
Sawadeeka (hello in Thai), GLA friends and family!
Today was another amazing day in Thailand. We woke up bright and early this morning at 6:30. There were two different school drop offs due to our large size group. We split up into our mentor groups. The kids treated us like celebrities and gave us lots of love and appreciation. The children were very happy to learn English from Americans & Canadians and we all had a fantastic time hanging out with the younger students during lunch break. Afterwards, we went straight to Muay Thai and everyone got their anger out, getting really sweaty and aggressive. We got cool and refreshing drinks after our outdoor Muay Thai session. We went back to our home base for the rest of the night. Tonight, we had lots of free time and time to plan our lessons for the next day of school, back at home base. There were a lot of pool games played during our free time tonight. We will talk to you tomorrow! We all miss you and love you guys tons!
-Jill, Victoria, Scarlett, and Zaria
BLOG POST FOR JULY 6
Written by: Riley Miles and the Leaders of the Day
Today was our second day of teaching at the elementary schools!
The kids were eager to learn just as much as we were to teach. Despite the language barriers we were still able to connect with the students After teaching we got the chance to visit Dara Academy, an International school in Chiang Mai. We were each paired with a current high school student to show us around the school. After touring the large campus, we got to play in a basketball game. GLA faced the Thai basketball team and was able to pull off a win. Then we performed a well-prepared dance of the Cha Cha slide.
After an exhausting day, we returned to home base for some free time before planning for our third & final day of teaching. Another amazing day, looking forward to the rest!!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 7
Written by Olivia Love, Jane Outlaw, Eva Bifone & Audrey Jonas
Hello those reading our beautiful words. Today we spent the majority of the day at School. We made an amazing itinerary for English Camp. English Camp is basically a series of stations in which we took the subjects we taught the students during class and turned them into fantabulouse activities. This really made the learning memorable. We instructed the children on how to make delicious sandwiches with condensed milk and sprinkles, a Thai delicacy. It also poured with rain outside, a normal experience for us as it is currently the rainy season in Thailand!
As common Americans do, we had a dance party. Here is where the students learned the macarena, the cotton eyed joe, the cha cha slide, the cupid shuffle, and Baby Shark. As our education service comes to a close, the children proclaimed their love through joyous hugs and smiles. We felt full of affection as we departed and headed home. Upon our arrival we travelled deep into the land of emotions during a leadership activity led by those writing you this lovely blog. Shortly before we filled our bellies with an array of Thai curry, soup, and stir-fry. We are closing off this blog because we’ve reached our 8.30pm tech time and you will probably receive texts from you shortly!
Olivia, Audrey, Jane and Eva
BLOG POST FOR JULY 8
Written by Keira Honig & Lily Abbett (Leaders of the Day)
Our elephant journey began today! First, we went on a long drive into nature to visit the FAE (Friends of Asian Elephants). We enjoyed some Thai music on the drive with and got to bond with out new “wan” groups. At the elephant hospital, we took a tour around the premises, which included a prosthetic leg factory and we saw the famous elephant, Mosha, from a far. We learned all about the process of making prosthetic legs and the history of the elephant hospital and how they have helped over one thousand elephants recover from sickness and injury.
After that, we visited the Elephant Museum, which included the lengthy history of Thailand elephants. As our journey into the world of elephants continued, we had the chance of a lifetime to pet and feed sugar cane and pumpkin to adorable elephants. We then struggled to pull everybody away from our newfound friends before having delicious Pad Thai for lunch.
Following another long drive, we visited the 700-year-old Chiang Man Temple. We were taught how to pay our respects to Buddha and walked around the temple premises. The ancient rules of the temple remain, such as women are forbidden from entering the ordination building due to a woman’s menstrual blood being considered sacred and powerful. The combined power would be too overwhelming for the space. Then we unleashed our creativity at the Elephant Parade, where we painted designs onto miniature elephant sculptures based on whatever our tender hearts desired. This ranged from flower designs to deep representations of elephant suffering.
Once we arrived back at home base, our dinner was interrupted by sudden pouring rain. Many of us were inclined to leave our delicious food and jump in the pool and play in the muddy rain, whether in swimsuits or our full day outfits. Once the lightning hit, our craziness ended, as we resumed our dinner. The fun-filled day came to an end with an exciting game of mafia, led by our leaders. Our constantly charged crew played ping pong into the night and celebrated the generosity of our mentors who provided us with extended tech time. Overall, we are all extremely excited to continue our elephant journey.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 9
Written by Laura Egan, Jesabel Seguin, Eva Bifone and Joshua Loehr
Hello from the jaw dropping jungle of the Karen tribe!
This is your LOTD’s (Leaders of the day) Laura, Jesabel, Eva, and Joshua. Today was a day filled with smiles, love, and rice!!!
We started off the day with a wonderful and filling breakfast of authentic Thai food. Thereafter, we loaded into the choppa and skeeted our way to the infamous Karen Eco lodge. After unloading our precious valuables, we marched with passion (in single file) all the way to the world-famous Elephant Jungle Sanctorum. We had the opportunity to interact and feed the amazing creatures that some call… elephants. A veterinarian came to speak with us on the incredible complexities of the Loxadonta (Elephants). As a group, we split into smaller groups and each group was assigned an elephant buddy. From there, each group got up close and personal and gave the elephants a physical examination.
After a few wonderful hours there, we headed back to base camp, where we ate, sang, played, and played games. After a long day of bonding, bamboozling, and banter we headed to our boulder beds and bucket baths and began to ball out.
Thank you for your time!
Shout out to everyone reading this… we love you all!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 10
Written by Jill Siener, Riley Miles, Scarlett Walker & Ashleigh Restivo
Hi from Karen Eco Lodge,
Today we continued our exploration with the Asian elephants, starting bright and early with a jungle walk with the elephants of elephant jungle sanctuary. After our walk we headed over to our next stop! We made elephant-poo paper cards (!) before our delicious lunch of pad thai.
To continue our day, we gathered our gardening materials. Fun Fact! Elephants need to eat 30% of their body weight each day. To help with the daily feeding we planted a field of grass, which required us to dig over 500 holes and plant over 1000 shoots of grass.
Tired and exhausted, we headed back to the home base to get cleaned up and ready for dinner. Before dinner, we had a couple of hours to chill and get to know our group mates even better. We played a game after dinner and discussed the day’s plan. Then we had daily tech time and lights out at 10!
See you tomorrow!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 11
Written by Keira Honig & Lillian Abbett
Hello readers. Today, as we neared the end of our journey, we had one final day with the elephants. First, we fed them buckets full of bananas “Bon Bon!” (how to get an elephant to open their mouth). Then, before we enjoyed a lunch consisting of American food (a first on the trip), the elephants started rolling around like pigs in a giant pool of mud. We quickly sprinted out in the rain to witness this great occasion.
Lunch for the elephants came next, for which we made medicine balls out of bananas, rice, salt, probiotics, tamarind, and grass (these are to help with their digestion). Throughout the day, the restless two-month-old baby elephant came to try and play with our group! We followed the baby and the adult elephants to the river, where we splashed them (and each other) with murky water. After cleaning the elephants off in the water, we undid our hard work by dowsing the elephants with a mixture of poop and mud. As we watched the elephants roll around in the mud, we were already covered, and began a mud-ball fight amongst ourselves. Once we were covered head to toe in what smelled of poop, we sprinted to the river once again. We helped each other rinse off the mud, and went on to say our final goodbyes to our elephant friends in camp one.
Later, back at home base, we were so exhausted from our tiring day, that some took naps, and others became restless themselves. The day ended with a few of us braiding each others’ hair together and an intense debate about elephant rights and tourism in Thailand.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 12
Written by Olivia & Victoria
Good day family, friends, and fellow people! Today, we had quite an eventful day featuring a 306-step staircase and a 75-year-old elephant. We continued on a walk following elephants, embracing the very last day of the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary while we endured a broiling heat. As a solution, we placed giant leaves on our heads as umbrellas to block the sun and for the very final time, we said goodbye to the lovely mahouts and elephants. Lunch and dinner were absolutely exceptional as always and we remain forever grateful to the staff that help prepare and maintain our homebases.
Then, we endured a long curvy, windy, and nauseating van ride that consisted of a brief but exciting 7/11 stop where everyone picked up handfuls of snacks. For our last stop, we visited the breathtakingly beautiful Dui Suthep temple on top of a mountain. There, we made wishes, found fortunes, we were also blessed by a monk with holy water, and received bracelets of rope. Thereafter we escaped a rain storm at the temple and hurried back home to well missed air-conditioning. Shortly we enjoyed a scrumptious meal of Khao Soi and ice cream. We previously enjoyed Khao Soi atop a mountain and continuously requested it again until our lovely caretakers complied.
Our leaders of the day, who are updating you now, planned a teambuilding pool party/volleyball tournament. This however went off course as we were having too much fun messing around in the pool. We are beginning to pack our bags and say our last goodbyes to Chiang Mai from which we will depart tomorrow to travel back to Bangkok. Everyone of us is feeling the sad emotions that are coming with the separation of our group as we prepare to head back home. We are soaking up the last of each other’s company. We are continuing to bond over pool time and jam sessions where we will end our night. So long for now. We all wish you the best of times as we experience ours.