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 17
Written by Megan, Mai, Arul, Tamarah, Pim, and Kat (staff)
Sawadee Kha from a windy and rainy Koh Samui!
Happy arrival day! Our day started early with Shiksha arriving at 8:30am. Throughout the day, we went back and forth to the airport and got everyone settled into their rooms, performed health checks, and did swim tests.
Our group of students have arrived from all over the world: Canada, The United States, Switzerland, India, and England! We are looking forward to an exciting two weeks ahead together!
For lunch, we went out to a restaurant and tried local Thai dishes and for dinner we ate pad thai at the Home Base. After dinner, we took a trip to the local Seven Eleven to stock up on snacks. Our final arrival of the day was Brendan who joined us at 7pm. Most of the students are feeling tired and sleeping well before lights-out as everyone is feeling the jet lag. Tomorrow is a full day of orientation and our first excursion! Talk soon!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 18
Today, we had really nice breakfast buffet style. It was raining very hard so we were worried that our excursion would get postponed. Luckily, we had a three hour orientation to review the Code of Conduct, Thai cultural norms, and discuss the program schedule! We met Todd, the local administrator, and Jim, the owner of the dive shop where we are going. We were joined by our final student, Olivier as well. By the time our orientation finished, the weather cleared up in time for our snorkeling trip and excursion to Pig Island.
For lunch, we went to a local restaurant to eat delicious fried rice.
During snorkeling, we saw a few coral reefs, an eel, angel fish, crabs, parrot fish, yellow and black striped fish, and more!
When we arrived to Pig Island, we had our first experience as Mentor Groups where we had a photo challenge to explore and take group photos around the island. All the groups took their creative spin on the competition!
For dinner, we had a delicious family style meal consisting of many traditional dishes like spring rolls, Tom Yum soup, rice, Thai omelette, and more! We even got to hear some of Todd’s famous Dad Jokes.
“The fish were cute!” – Shiksha
“It was such a beautiful experience” – Vivian
“The pigs were cute” – Zoe
BLOG POST FOR JULY 19
Written by Maddox M
We (the boys) started the day rocky, with some confusion on where to meet for breakfast, however, we eventually settled and ate. Afterwards, we began our day with learning some basic Thai vocabulary and grammar. Then we began our lesson plans for teaching at the primary school later this week. We practiced our “teaching voices” and learned about different approaches to teaching English. Finally, we packed and departed for the ferry to Koh Tao.
Despite the delay due to rain, we embarked on our over two hour ferry ride. Some of us got motion sick but overall it was a nice experience with views of the various islands throughout the trip. When we arrived on Koh Tao, the rain continued as we rode to our hotel. We unpacked, and before ending the day with dinner, we learned about the varying perspectives regarding the conquest to preserve the dying coral reef systems around the island.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 20
Unlike yesterday, we had pleasant winds, clear waters, and a sparkle in our eyes, whereas day 3 (July 19th) aka yesterday we endured harsh winds, treacherous seas, and swarms of tourists on our boat ride to Koh Tao.
After a delicious breakfast we split up into two groups and rode the taxi boats to Nang Yuan island. On the way there, one boat ran low on fuel and was forced to take the long way around the island as it was unable to push through the rough waves. This led to yet another delay, which wasn’t terrible as the group got to enjoy more of the beautiful scenery from Nang Yuan island. Once everyone arrived safe and sound we all snorkeled for the next couple hours finding many fascinating sea creatures. One group even found an octopus.
Afterwards, some people in the group bought chocolate-banana shakes and set off on a short hike to the top of the island. After many stairs, we were greeted by the stunning views of the island from above. We then returned home for some free time where we got to explore some local shops near the hotel as well as enjoy some much needed down time.
We ended our day with dinner at the hotel.
“The octopus was fishing great” – Shiksha
“The nature here is amazing” – Izzy
“Hugs and kisses from us all” – Jae’la
“Effort is a choice, make the right one” – Aiden
“I liked the snorkeling, it was pretty cool” – Luca
“The boat ride was my favorite and I got closer to my friends” – Onyx
“You only get the best view if you see life from the highest peak” – Branden
“Quack, quack, quack” I got soaking wet in a boat today – Henry “The Duck” (Our mascot)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 21
Written by Luca & Alejandra
Today we got to sleep in and started eating at 8:30, just after the “child” circle. We left slightly after 9:30 to Big Blue Diving due to a few people being late, a trend that will seem to repeat itself many times today. At 10, we participated in a talk/Introduction to Big Blue, where we all learned lots about how people track animals, and how coral feeds itself internally.
Following this we had lunch, which was spaghetti with tomato sauce and chicken (delicious). Once done with lunch, we moved on to our beach clean, fully kitted out with shiny orange rubber gloves. When we’d arrived, we played a fun game of zip zap zop, followed by a fun yet very competitive game of tag. Unfortunately, as the clean up was soon to begin, a storm disrupted our schedule. We all ran back to the Big Blue Diving area to watch a documentary about our coral reefs all across the globe. The recent tragedy of corals dying in mass numbers was devastating to learn about though through the documentary we learned about amazing marine biologist that contributed so much help to learning more about what was happening and how, we, can help.
After the documentary we threw on some gloves, got a big trash bag and headed off to go do our part and clean up our local beach. We were split up into teams, of 4 students to 1 diver master and walked along the beach of Koh Tao cleaning and learning about the different trash. We learned so much about how long it takes for trash to decompose over time and how trash ends up here on beaches, we started heading back to the meeting area and sorted out our trash and disposed of it in the proper places.
Everyone was so tired from picking up a great amount of trash we all headed back to our home base to relax, the girls all went shopping and spent some wonderful bonding time together. While the boys came back and jumped straight into the ocean and swam with their beloved Arul. We did have one surprise up our sleeve, while the birthday boy (Luca) was sleeping, some of us went to the local 7-11 and got him a couple of birthday presents while Mai had gotten him a wonderful birthday cake. He woke up around our “Child” circle time and we did a fun game of group 2 truths 1 lie and at the end surprised him with his birthday presents!
Following this amazing celebration, we had pizza for dinner, and it was delicious! For desert, we ate this yummy cake, as well as quickly devouring some ice cream. To finish off, we had some interesting discussions with our mentor groups focused on all we’d learned today.
Quotes of the day!
“Keep our environment clean ” Jae’la
“Work hard now so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor” Branden
“Helping the environment sparks joy. The cockroach in the middle of the night did not” Zoe
BLOG POST FOR JULY 22
Written by Braden and Shiksha
Hello friends and family from everywhere! This morning, we woke up bright and early and met up at 8:15 (although- some of us were late!) for some delicious breakfast. We then played one of Menace Megs games of ice breaker to pass some of the time. We also discussed some of the day’s announcements, and prepared for the next part of the day. Today was not like any ordinary day as we were split into two groups for the Big Blue Diving Excursion. As the day progressed group one went Scuba diving in the South of the island while our friends in group two went snorkelling and free diving on the East side of the island.
Group 1 (Isabella, Glam, Aiden, Brandon, Oliver, Nathan, Shiksha, Onyx, Zoe)
Similar to group two we started off with a meeting with our Scuba instructors and talked about some of the safety regulations and learned some different things about scuba diving. At about 11:30-12:00 we headed for lunch and then set off on our journey to Aow Leuk and Shark Bay. Before we started we had a short introduction and orientation for Scuba diving with our amazing Scuba teachers. We then had two dives and some some really cool fish species and got a chance to see some of the artificial reefs. We were also lucky enough to spot a turtle!
Group 2 (Rylan, Julian, Maddox, Cody, Luca, Vivian, and Ja’ela)
Started off with a meeting on how to equalize the pressure in our ears for freediving. We proceeded down to the pool where we put our new found techniques into practice. During the time Maddox and Rylan and Maddox had a competition to see who could hold their breath the longest. After the pool we were all pretty starved and tired, so we grabbed food from a local coffee shop before heading to the area where we eventually free dived in. Once we arrived on the beach we were split into pairs and headed into the water. Me and Julian went exploring caves, while others like Ja’ela pushed themselves to be more comfortable in the water. On the way out of the water we couldn’t find Rylan, he tends to get lost looking into the vastness of the ocean, but once he was out we went home to meet with the other group.
After a long and tiring (but amazing) day, the both of the groups headed back to home base where we all came together for our “chow” circle and then had dinner. We then got together in our mentor groups and discussed and shared the day’s experiences.
Quote of the day: “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
BLOG POST FOR JULY 23
Written by Julian A & Branden M
Today, the group began with excitement unlike any other day. Whether it was the extra sleep from the night before or the eagerness to go scuba diving and freediving, I’m not sure. The day started at 8:15 where we had “chow circle” a common ritual that we have every morning 15 minutes before breakfast to discuss our plans for the day and make sure everyone eats as a group helping build a more tight-knit community. Later on, we traveled back to Big Blue Diving for the third time, where we were briefed about our upcoming activities for the day.
The divers had an informational session on the essential skills to dive, from hand-signals to how to identify the possible species of marine life. For example, the vibrant schools of fish and the lush, colorful, types of coral. Not only was there natural coral, but we also got to see the different variations of artificial coral, showing immense efforts of divers in Koh Tao to preserve our beautiful underwater haven.
On the other hand, the free divers were briefed with the art of breathing and scientific explanation of how atmospheric pressure affects your body while freediving. After completing the introduction to free diving, we were challenged with the first task of controlling our rate of breathing, which enables us to hold our breath underwater for extended periods of time. All divers were astonished how they had exceeded their expectations and went beyond what they thought they were capable of, with some people reaching times over 2 minutes. After completion, the group brought their newly found skills to Ao Leuk, a common, favorite diver destination in Koh Tao, with marine life ranging from the juvenile Blacktip sharks to the prismatic Parrotfish.
To wrap up the day, we returned to a banquet of Thai cuisine where we got to experience a common Thai delicacy, Tom Kha Soup and Ginger Chicken and rice, a meal which was enjoyed by all.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 24
We began our day with the common tradition of a chow circle, which helped us to greater our connection with our peers. This meeting was a fantastic beginning to an incredible day! The chow circle was followed up with a delicious breakfast consisting of our favorite breakfast items. After breakfast, we were given free time until our next activity at nine o’clock. The next activity that we had was a lively hike to see enchanting views and increase our knowledge about the local environment of Koh Tao. In order to get to our starting location, our group gathered in our common meeting area and boarded a truck that took us to the starting location for our hike.There we were met by Jake, our scuba instructor from the previous days, and Simon, accompanied by his dog Daisy. From that point, we began our hike!
Throughout our hike, we got to see the native wildlife in Koh Tao from an up close and interactive perspective. We also stopped at many different points throughout the hike to see the beautiful scenery and to swim in the crystal clear waters along the way. As a mindful ending to our hike, we walked along the beach and picked up trash before going to lunch at 12:00. When we finished eating, we went back to home base where many of the students took the opportunity to swim more in the beach or begin packing their bags for the day to come.
After this relaxing break in the day, we recommenced our activities with a shark tank style activity. This activity helped all members of our group form opinions and develop their problem solving skills by inventing a solution to a problem that affects their community or the community in Koh Tao. This activity was fun for everyone and helped to introduce more creative thinking and leadership skills. Directly after the activity we departed to Big Blue Diving for the last time to watch a video that encapsulated our experiences over the last few days. We also had a contest to determine the best social media post about Koh Tao and our experience with Big Blue. From this contest the winner and all participants were graciously given big blue shirts for our time with them and our effort in all of our posts. To complete a fantastic day, we walked from big blue to a restaurant beside the beach where we ate delicious western inspired meals and socialized with our group and the scuba staff. We bid them farewell and took a peaceful walk along the beach back to home base where we all went to bed for the night.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 25
Written by Isabella Faris & Oliver
Today we started off with an early breakfast at 7:15 as today was a travelling day. We were so sad to say goodbye to Koh Tao where we had been staying for the past 6 nights, and we had actually become comfortable there. While we were upset to go, we’re excited to continue our journey here at the Ibis hotel in Koh Samui. We had an early ferry ride back to Samui and after napping and relaxing on the boat, we took a taxi back to the hotel, and set off for lunch.
After having delicious noodles, we had some free time where students either chose to nap (most of us) or go to the pool. After reacquainting with the hotel, we had a meeting to discuss tomorrow’s cultural exchange activity at the local school (stay tuned) where we not only planned our performance for local students but also our lesson plans for the upcoming english class. We then walked to dinner where we had delicious fried rice with fried chicken, some mango sticky rice, veggies, and fruits. After dinner, we quickly stopped to get snacks at 7/11 and some roti at the stand. Back at the hotel, we spent some time finalizing our dance for tomorrow which is Cotton Eye Joe, while sharing laughs. Then some free time and off to bed.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 26
Today was another early morning. We started with dressing up in our finest to go to the local highschool for our cultural exchange day at Theeparatpittaya School. We watched a cultural dance performed by one of their students and then we performed cotton eye joe. We even got the students to dance with us! After the dance we got divided into groups where we were given a topic that we had present on a poster. We then got to share lunch with the students at the local canteen. The food was scrumptious. The students were very excited but also nervous to host us, we felt famous! We said farewell and received awards and gifts, and took many many pictures.
After leaving the school we went to see a mummified monk at a temple, and get our fortunes told. Then we got to see Grandma and Grandpa rock where many great photos were taken. We then had to prep for another school day tomorrow where we practiced our teaching skills.
For dinner we headed to a night market where we got to pick our own food, and a few people tried bugs!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 27
Once upon a time there were 17 late students to chow circle as usual. we started off our day by eating a very traditional thai breakfast (french toast and pancakes). Then we hopped on the busses for a short ride to the local primary school. While at the school everybody had the opportunity to teach multiple groups of thai students. Teaching them short and fun english lessons. after our lessons we headed into their canteen for lunch where we got to know these local students better.
We then all joined the kids to play some football and take some pictures. We then left the school to go to the “summer house” for our Thai cooking lesson. We learned how to cook Pad thai, make papaya salad and a desert known as the “floating lotus.” we all took turns changing between stations to cook and make these dishes (they were delicious, because we are great chefs). We then chilled for a bit and left to our home base. We arrived with a lot of free time in our hands so some of us decided to go for a swim and others took some time for themselves. At 6 45 we met up for our “chow circle” and left for dinner. After dinner we all took part in a GLA activity and went to sleep. Caio.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 29
Written by Jae’la and Maddox
Today was our final day together! We finally got to sleep in for once. We spent the day city hopping to a few different temples, ate lunch at a local restaurant, and then made some final purchases in the afternoon. Together, we came up with our OMG: To become environmentally conscious and open-minded by meeting new people and being aware of our waste consumption. Afterwards, we got ready for our farewell dinner on the beach! We ate a heaping amount of food and celebrated our final night together. Finally, we did an appreciation circle activity to close the evening.