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 17
Sa Wa Dee Ka (Hello) from Bangkok!
As the sun was just rising this morning, we were on our way to Suvarnabhumi Airport – excited to finally meet our brilliant students! They have already proved themselves to be courageous and intrepid young leaders – travelling all the way around the world to make it to Asia – and we’ve only just begun. We’ve certainly got a brilliant 14 days ahead of us!
First to land was Shayla, bright and early, and followed not long after by Anastasia. Later on in the morning, we were joining by Meredith, Isabel and Tatum – and with the morning group complete, our early arrivals checked into their rooms and headed out to try the local fare in a mall next to our hotel. First authentic Thai food (and yummy Thai tea!) In the afternoon, both Pce and Alexis were dropped off to the hotel by their families, who are travelling in Thailand whilst we are also on our program! This evening, we met Alexa, Serena, Shaina, and Kerri – who were all equally excited to tuck into a tasty Thai supper before bed – and finally, our night owls made it! Maya, Jack, Sam, Margot, Deidra, Courtney, Ellie, Cameron, Isabelle, Bodhi, Aaron, Toby, Chance, Sadie, and Julia, came through after midnight, and were very happy to make the short drive back to the hotel for some much-needed rest!
And with that, our team was complete! We head back to the airport tomorrow morning after breakfast, ready to make the journey to Chiang Mai, in the North of Thailand, where we will spend the next coming days getting to know our peaceful leafy-green surroundings, and importantly each other.
Thank-you, parents and families for entrusting your amazing students with us. We cannot watch to watch them build friendships, grow their leadership potential, and be agents of positive change within Thai communities over the next coming weeks. Stayed tuned!
Khop Khun Ka (Thank-you)
Caroline Jane Green – International Director
BLOG POST FOR JULY 18
Greetings from Chiang Mai,
Sabai Dee Mai? (Hope you are well?)
It’s Day 2, and adventure awaits! Today, we continued our journey, and made our way to the North of the country.
We said goodbye to our Bangkok hotel, and travelled in a convoy of four vans (three for students and staff, one for luggage!) back to the airport. After checking in for our internal flight and heading through security and to the boarding gates, we flew into Chiang Mai, and landed just before lunch. Chiang Mai is famous for its beautiful ancient temples, old walled city and striking mountain ranges that envelope the area. Centuries back, it was part of the Kingdom of Lan Na (which translates as “Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields”) which is now present-day Northern Thailand. We are so excited to be exploring our new surroundings over the next few days!
After a delicious lunch of dim sum buffet (a real brunch favourite across the region), we travelled to our beautiful Homebase to get settled in. The afternoon was spent kicking off icebreakers and group games – helping students to get to know each other and establish friendships, – and running through all of the GLA essentials that will enable our group to stay safe, happy and healthy whilst on program. A fantastic cultural immersion followed, led by our Local Director Natchanan “Kate”, Chanisara “Pare”, and Game “George”. Our brilliant Thai team and mentors guided the students through one of the most interesting and crucial aspects of the day during the orientation – understanding the culture and customs of Thailand. In particular: helping students practise how to do a Thai greeting called a Wai to other people – with hands together in prayer position and head slightly bowed – and also how to speak some key Thai phrases!
Kate, Pare and George took us all to dinner in the evening…and it turned out, students were in charge of cooking their own and the cooking school! After being introduced to the concept of 5 key taste flavours in cooking – sweet, salty, sour, spicy, bitter – and how to achieve balance between all of them for maximum deliciousness, students threw themselves into tasting everything new and mastering their skills in the kitchen. We cooked up a storm, with a welcome snack, spring rolls, sti-fry, Thai curry, and fried banana. Families, definitely get your brand new masterchefs to cook for you when they return home!
With bellies full, we drove the short distance back to the homebase, ready to debrief the day and head to bed, to dream of more delicious Thai snacks!
Day 3 awaits – our dive into the culture continues tomorrow with meeting the schools our students will be teaching English at, along with a market tour, and our education service-learning preparation. Look out for more stories and tales from Thailand!
Wai jur gan, (take care)
Caroline Jane Green – International Director
BLOG POST FOR JULY 19
It’s Day 3 – but it feels like we’ve been here for weeks already!
Feeling refreshed after a proper night’s sleep, students were up early this morning, ready to learn more about what’s in store for education – and elephants! – on our program!
We kicked the day off with activities for students to 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, and the importance of service work within the communities we are lucky enough to be guests of.
Later we were greeted by Todd Cikraji. Todd came to Northern Thailand as a US Peace Corp volunteer, and loved his time here so much that he never quite left! Todd is deeply rooted in Chiang Mai, fluent in Thai, and works as a teacher at an International School. Todd is also the founder of friends for Asia, an organisation that specializes in ethical service learning and volunteering opportunities for foreign volunteers – he and his team are instrumental in facilitating our cultural activities and enriching connections with the local communities. Todd gave our students a deep dive into the world of teaching – helping students understand the skills needed to educate others in a foreign language (as well as how to tackle challenges of classroom management!)
Next up, it was off to Warorot Market, a famous morning market in Chiang Mai filled with delicious food (of course), herbs, spices, and flowers! Students toured around in groups, sampling new tastes, textures, and flavours – whilst flexing their newly-acquired language skills to buy souvenirs and presents.
This afternoon, we dressed in our finest attire (to make a great first impression!), and visited the local public primary schools that our students will be teaching at over the next three days. Taking time to tour the campuses, meet educators, and understand the curriculum the Thai children are currently learning was incredibly helpful to put everything into context.
It was back to Homebase in the afternoon for rest and relaxation – including, after our swim tests, a much-needed rejuvenating pool dip. After dipping into a delicious buffet of Northern Thai food for dinner, students continued to plan for their upcoming lessons; prepping resources, and practising their activities and lessons. All in all, another busy and enriching day.
We’ll officially be handing over to the Leaders of the Day from tomorrow! They’ll be taking charge of coordinating and motivating fellow peers, as well as writing back home to you all. We are looking forward to them sharing their stories about life in Thailand!
Laew jer gan (see you soon)
GLA Thailand Team
BLOG POST FOR JULY 20
Written by Shaina Belle (one of the Leaders of The Day)
Hello families! We had an eventful day today. First, we went to a local primary school where we taught the kids different things such as colours, clothes, and animals! The kids were very happy to have us and so full of energy! We got to play with them for a bit during recess before going to our next destination.
Our next destination was a Thai international school. They performed a traditional Thai dance for us and we performed a short dance to the song; “Party In The USA”. We got to make different traditional Thai crafts out of banana leaves, dress in traditional Thai clothing, try different Thai food and even learned a traditional Thai dance. The students at the schools were so very kind and fun and showed excellent hospitality towards us. We made a lot of new friends at the school and had an awesome time!
Afterward, we headed back to the home base and did a group activity to discover what type of leader we were. After that, we did a few more group activities and prepared ourselves for teaching the next morning. This was definitely a fun and interesting day and we all learnt a lot.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 21
Written by Alexa Scarlett (one of the Leaders of the Day)
Another great day spent in Chiang Mai here with GLA! Today, we had an early morning spent back at our designated schools where we taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. After a well-spent morning, we had the chance to head back to home base where we got ready for Muay Thai boxing. The class was a great energizer that left us ready for a calm evening spent back at home. After plenty of swimming, planning for the next school day, and relaxing, we had a chance to reflect on our day as a whole before some last-minute planning and downtime. Overall, it was another wonderful day here in Thailand and we hope you have a chance to look at some pictures!
(note from GLA staff team – our final arrival Carson Rein also made it out to join the team, a few days later than planned but exciting nonetheless. Welcome, Carson!)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 22
What a wonderful day today in Chiang Mai! After an early start and a delicious breakfast, the team split in two and headed off in the rain to our respective schools. There, in groups of 3 or 4, we created different stations for groups of the students to attend. In these stations the students played various games like Red Light Green Light, and Duck Duck Goose with an educational twist, while also connecting and bonding with our GLA students.
After nearly 3 hours of this (plus a break for lunch and AC) we demonstrated how to make sandwiches for the school, and taught them some sandwich-making vocabulary. Then it was time for a heartbreaking goodbye (with more than a few tears shed from myself and others), and we were yet again shocked with all the love and positivity the kids brought to our interactions.
We arrived back at home base for an afternoon of relaxation and fun, swimming and chilling, and lots more. After dinner we reflected on the part 3 days of teaching and the incredible impact we had on the childrens’ lives.
Later, our INCREDIBLE leaders of the day (Toby, Deidra and I) organized Toby’s amazing idea of a name game to make sure we’re all connected and know each other’s names. Then it was tech time and lights out to the end of the day. See you next time!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 23
Written by Cameron Epps, Sadie Smith, and Margot Hartley, (Leaders of the Day)
Today everyone awoke to their shoes scattered around home base and an enthusiastic musical wake up call. Breakfast was served and we headed out to see some elephants for the first time! We met with a vet and learned about Mosha the elephant (she’s famous!). Then we went to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center and visited their museum where we did a fun “scavenger hunt.”
Lunch was next! We had Khao Soi and Italian Soda. After that we went to the elephant parade and painted our own elephant sculptures. From there we went straight to the WuaLai Walking Street market. We could buy our own dinner as well as some great souvenirs. But, surprise! It started pouring rain. Everyone had to take immediate shelter and throw on their raincoats. We all made it back to the vans and made our way to home base for the night.
Tonight, we have to pack to go to the Karen Eco Lodge in the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. Miss you all but not really because we are having SO much fun!
Goodnight. Sleep tight. Don’t let the mosquitos bite 😉
BLOG POST FOR JULY 24
Written by Maya Bateman and Julia Cohen (Leaders of the Day)
Today we left homebase and drove to the elephant sanctuary in Mai Wang. We stopped at 7/11 on the way. Once we arrived at Karen Eco Lodge we unpacked into our new rooms. We proceeded to a delicious lunch with a beautiful view of elephants. Afterwards we took an offr-oad ride to the elephant sanctuary. We had fun blasting music in the trucks. At the sanctuary we learned all about different species of elephants. We got to interact and measure the elephants. We then created posters and presented what we learned. Before leaving we got to feed bananas to the elephants. So fun!!
Once back at Eco Lodge, we got some free time to explore the area before dinner. Dinner was a mix of rice, chicken, pork, assorted vegetables, watermelon, and fried bananas. After dinner we did some leadership activities. We took initiative and created a trio acro yoga challenge. Everyone enjoyed attempting to recreate the moves. We ended our night excited for another day with the elephants!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 25
Written by Courtney Urbanek, Pace Jenkins, and Ellie Viemont (Leaders of the Day)
At 6:30am some of us kicked off the day with a morning run. Then we all met for breakfast before we left for the elephant jungle sanctuary. Once we arrived, we walked with the elephants around the large grounds of the sanctuary. Afterwards, we did a short hike to a waterfall and then headed to lunch.
After lunch we crossed the river and split up into small groups to plant Napier grass for the elephants. One person on a team dug a hole, another planted the grass stalk and another buried. We did this for a couple hours before trying some fresh star fruit and heading back to homebase.
We finished up the night with team building games, free time, an elephant documentary, and some of the group went on a walk to look at the stars before turning in for an early night.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 26
Written by Anastasia Wood (one of the Leaders of the Day)
Today was a more relaxed day with the elephants. After having breakfast, we walked down to the nearby area where elephants live. We were given wool shirts, and fed the elephants with three big baskets of bananas. Once the baskets were emptied, we spent a while walking around with the elephants, watching them eat and taking pictures. Once lunchtime came around, we had spaghetti, fries, and fruit, many of the students were very happy with the choice of food.
Afterwards, we mashed up fruits, salt, and leaves into balls full of nutrients for the elephants. Everyone took one of the balls and fed them to the elephants. Then, it was time for the elephants to go into the river. Everyone (including the elephants) went into the nearby river, and the students were given buckets to throw water on the elephants. It ended up in everyone getting splashed. To our surprise, we then had to go into the mud pit with the elephants to toss mud on them. It was pretty gross. Everyone washed the mud off in the river first, and then we went to the showers to better clean ourselves. Sadly, this was the last time we’d be at that elephant camp, so we walked back to homebase.
We had free time for a while before we were called. We watched an informative video on captive elephants, and later we started doing more research in preparation for the debate that would come after dinner. The debate was on what the best solution to the current issue of how we should treat captive elephants, and everyone was assigned a different position to argue for. The debate lasted over an hour, and many good points were raised. After that, the day was over.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 27
Written By Izzy Linder, Bodhi Nelson, and Alexis Walker (Leaders of the day)
Today we woke up at the Karen Ecolodge and packed our bags to head back to Chiang Mai. After feeding the elephants for a final time, we drove to 7/11 for a much-needed snack run!
We visited two temples and learned about Buddhism. A bunch of group photos later, we travelled back to our original homebase (Chotana Villa), got new rooms, and settled in for the next few days. Dinner was pizza which everyone went feral for and may have been the highlight of the day. Finally, we played “finish the song lyric” and had some free time before bed. We’re looking forward to the final memories on our trip. See you soon!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 28
Written by Serena Belle, Kerri Campbell, and Carson Rein
Our final day in Chiang Mai was definitely one to remember. Everyone awoke to the sound of Christmas carols in the middle of summer!
After a typical breakfast we filled into vans and headed to an intuitive and insightful conversation with a Buddhist Monk at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University. Following that, students embarked on a riveting adventure to Doi Pui Village where students were given the best lunch ever; Khao Soi, and provided time to do some last-minute shopping at a local market. Then the students got their steps in… quite literally because they walked up a whooping 306 flight of stairs. At the top they were rewarded with a magnificent view of Chiang Mai and the stunning sight of Doi Suthep. After that they simultaneously stumbled down the steps (not literally) and proceeded to do more shopping before climbing back into the vans and heading back to home base.
They went in the pool, played games, had a coordinated dance party, and then participated in an appreciation circle. In the circle the young leaders were able to reflect and thank their peers for their existence. What a wonderful day that was.
Your finale leaders of the day,
Carson, Serena, and Kerri
BLOG POST FOR JULY 29
Written by GLA Team
After a big day of sightseeing in Chiang Mai, students said goodbye to this wonderful city and their homebase of Chotana Villa. They boarded a flight to Bangkok for the last leg of their journey. Once they were settled in the hotel, students got lunch at the Robinson Lifestyle mall and got some last minute souvenirs. They then traveled to the heart of Bangkok while admiring the skyline along the way.
Students explored the magnificent Grand Palace while learning about it’s storied history. Afterwards, they visited the wondrous Wat Pho and it’s incredibly large lying Buddha. The night ended with a rooftop dinner overlooking the Bangkok skyline as the sunset on another great day!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 30
Written by GLA Staff Team
It’s departure day…. we can’t quite believe it! The Land of Smiles is certainly feeling bittersweet. We are smiling from time spent with these wonderful students, sad to see them go, and excited for their incredible next steps in the world.
From 3am starts, to parents collecting students in Bangkok,all the way into the evening with our last airport trips at 8pm, it’s certainly been a busy day of meals, check-ins (and some mega long baggage queues!), not to mention high fives & hugs goodbye. Safe and smooth travels, everyone!
14 days ago, our students arrived…excited, nervous, tired, perhaps a little apprehensive, and maybe even unsure of themselves. Today, our young Leaders are forever changed by the incredible experiences they have had, and the positive impact they’ve made within communities here in Thailand. It may have only been two weeks – but they’ve made memories that will last a lifetime. Thank-you for bringing your full selves to this experience – as well as your dedication towards service projects, and not to mention so much laughter and joy. The best of luck for your next steps, everyone…. we can’t wait to see you BE THE CHANGE!
From Caroline, Kate, Neha, Pare, George, Connor, Margardia, & Matt