Summers packed with sports practices, SAT bootcamp and family vacations are becoming the norm for teens these days—but that doesn't mean there isn't time for a service-learning experience abroad. GLA's shortest programs range from 8 to 10 days in length, with themes of studying wildlife and environmental conservation to improving public health access in developing communities in the Caribbean.
8 DAYS: Dominican Republic: Spring Break Service Adventure - Community Impact Track
8 DAYS: Dominican Republic: Spring Break Service Adventure - Global Health Track
10 DAYS: Costa Rica: Spring Break Sea Turtle Initiative™
10 DAYS: Costa Rica: Beachside Service Adventure
10 DAYS: Costa Rica: Surf & Sports Service Adventure
10 DAYS: Costa Rica: The Sea Turtle Initiative™
10 DAYS: Cuba: Culture in Focus™
10 DAYS: Dominican Republic: Caribbean Service Adventure
10 DAYS: Haiti: Global Health Initiative™
Dominican Republic: Spring Break Service Adventure (8 days)
On this Spring Break program, students have the opportunity to see beyond the Dominican Republic's tourist destinations and work directly with rural communities. Students participate in high-impact service projects while enjoying lively Caribbean culture and stunning natural surroundings, from coral reefs to palm-fringed beaches.
When enrolling for this program, students can choose to focus on one of two tracks: Community Impact or Global Health. The track chosen will determine the focus of the program experience and community service projects.
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Community Impact Track | Work on constructing “bottle buildings,” part of an innovative, ongoing project that provides safer housing options for rural Dominican families. Bottle building construction turns used plastic bottles into a highly insulating, robust, affordable building material, which simultaneously tackles issues of unemployment, waste and lack of housing. You might work on building a family home, school, clinic or other community building.
Global Health Track | Visit a number of community projects that will expose you to healthcare implementation in developing countries. Gain field experience by helping set up a rural pop-up clinic, where community members can go to have various health checkups and assessments done. Shadow members of a medical brigade at a skills training session, and work on a water filter or sanitation project, which target some of the leading causes of poor health.
Costa Rica: Spring Break Sea Turtle Initiative™ (8 days)
Every day, you'll have a chance to make a difference in the lives of sea turtles and their future population. Take to local beaches and participate in clean-up efforts, removing debris that can ensnare young hatchlings making their way to the sea.
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Costa Rica: Beachside Service Adventure (10 days)
You’ll live and work in a small beachside community where the ocean plays a large role in daily life. There are many community service opportunities here, and you’ll be working on a variety of projects depending on the needs of the community.
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Costa Rica: Surf & Sports Service Adventure (10 days)
Living and volunteering in Bahia Ballena will introduce you to the major role the ocean plays in daily life—not only in Costa Rica, but around the world. Your surf instructors will teach more than the basics of this soul sport. You’ll learn about surfing’s origins, observe a sustainability-driven lifestyle, visit a board shaping bay and absorb discussions and documentaries on ocean conservation and climate change.
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Costa Rica: The Sea Turtle Initiative™ (10 days)
Each year, leatherback and green turtles come to Costa Rica’s beaches to lay their eggs. Poachers steal the turtles and their eggs to sell on the black market for profit. Although this practice is illegal in Costa Rica—as it contributes to the depletion of the endangered sea turtle populations—it is hard to enforce without the help of the local community’s participation. You’ll be assisting on night patrols with a local nonprofit and anti-poaching organization started by a Peace Corps volunteer, to protect nesting animals and safeguard their eggs.
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Cuba: Culture in Focus™ (10 days)
Visit Muraleando, a community art organization that, in its two-and-a-half years of existence, has managed to physically transform a struggling barrio into a People’s Art Gallery. The changes are spiritual as well: A sense of belonging has developed where residents now feel empowered to solve problems with their own efforts. In the countryside of Viñales, volunteer at the social enterprise Finca Paraiso, which is part organic farm, part family-run restaurant.
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Dominican Republic: Caribbean Service Adventure (10 days)
Beyond its beach resorts lies a very different Dominican Republic—still beautiful, but full of need. Much of the DR isn’t developed sufficiently, revealing gaps where volunteers are needed to accelerate initiatives for bettering life in underserved neighborhoods. Projects focus on constructing community buildings, safer homes and schools using sustainable building materials and methods.
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Haiti: Global Health Initiative™ (10 days)
A primer for studying public health or medicine, this university-level program is designed to give a progressive experience: You’ll challenge your preconceptions of how public health is implemented, work to help improve access to clean water in schools, assist local doctors and health professionals in the field, and think critically about how to solve crises of health insecurity in both rural and urban communities.
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