GLA

10 Years with GLA

Executive Director Jessica Miller reflects on her past 10 years of leading GLA teams around the world, and what she wants students to learn this summer

Dear friends,

The countdown has begun! Summer is only two months away and I can hardly wait to meet the students joining us around the world this year (my 11th with GLA!). If you’re still considering a GLA program in 2018, we urge you to submit an application soon—sessions are filling!

Talking to future GLA students and families reminds me that each conversation is attached to dreams, bucket lists and aspirations. I want to share a few of my own:

Students, I wasn’t much older than you when I got my first taste of international service-learning. I was a fresh-faced college graduate whose open door to the world came in the form of a job, at what was then a brand new company called Global Leadership Adventures. Belief in the mission led me to taking on some challenging but exciting new experiences: Opening an office, hiring our first Enrollment Specialist team to help you all find the right program, standing in places around the world I never thought I’d be with local partners that we still work with today.

I found myself in South Africa one night, the country where GLA was founded, and to where scientists have traced humanity’s earliest beginnings. Under a starry night sky, a local resident said to me, “These are your roots, too, sister. We all come from the same earth.” It’s a message that, in the more than a decade I’ve been managing our programs around the world, has been repeated over and over again in a dozen different languages and countless forms. And as the news says, and I can attest—your generation knows this truth better than us all: More connects us than separates us. Now, it’s time to go and see it for yourself.


"Your generation knows this truth better than us all: More connects us than separates us. Now, it’s time to go and see it for yourself."


Parents, I recently became a mom of two, with my oldest now age 3 going on 13. I’m in awe of parents of (actual) teens and of multiple children! Like you, I want my kids to see the world, and to never stop being inquisitive and passionate and kind. Yet, even with the work I do, thinking about being separated from my boys and their safety makes me jittery. As parents, questions swirl in our minds around their safety, and topics such as food allergies, homesickness, acceptance and so on keep us all up at night. I understand, and personally see to it that every GLA program has done due diligence to ensure the safety of all our students, and that we have a plan in place for proactive prevention and response, which our staff prioritizes above all else and practices to perfection. We've implemented our 5-Point Safety System in all locations, which have also been carefully vetted and designed to ensure maximum safety and security.

Let’s give our kids some credit! Part of traveling is learning to manage obstacles and handle things independently. This is how students grow and change, and within our safety framework they are able to grow and be challenged, with a net to catch them and ensure a positive experience.


"I personally see to it that every GLA program has done due diligence to ensure the safety of all our students, and that we have a plan in place for proactive prevention and response, which our staff prioritizes above all else and practices to perfection."


My final reminder to you both: These summers are gold dust. There is no better or more fleeting time than your high school years to start exploring yourself and the world we live in. Humanity stretches across the globe, a deep honeypot of stories, lessons and friendships that you can barely scrape the surface of if you don’t get up out of your seat and pursue it.

If you have any questions for GLA staff or alumni families, please give us a call at +1 858-771-0645 anytime. We hope to have the pleasure of meeting you this summer and to have you join our movement to inspire the next generation to realize their potential to transform the world and their role in it!

With gratitude,

Jessica Miller
Executive Director


Jess's passion for leadership development and initiating personal change was incepted even before she took the reins at GLA over a decade ago. She is proud to be a first-generation college graduate with degrees in history, anthropology and Spanish, and her passion for international education and social entrepreneurship stems from various experiences studying, living and working abroad. Since then, that passion has only grown with years of experience operating and managing international programs in developing countries for GLA. From her first GLA summer—in which just under 150 students traveled to three programs—to her tenth, in which GLA's student community was thousands strong, Jess has maintained the belief that genuine inspiration and transformation of the next generation happen through authentic, international learning experiences abroad.