Alumni Reflections on the Life-Changing Impact of GLA

There are many things that drive teens to want to do a GLA program, and every teen is different when it comes to their “Why?” Of course, the volunteer and community service elements are usually at the heart of the decision, but every student has those secondary reasons for joining a program.

For example, experiencing life in another country, building your resume for college applications, developing leadership skills, getting out of your comfort zone, cultural immersion, improving your language skills, making new friends, eating delicious food, going on epic adventures...the list goes on! But no matter how many wonderful things students look forward to going into their program, the list pales in comparison to what they get out of the program and how they feel looking back on their experience.

We put together a collection of testimonials, stories, and reflections from GLA alumni about the life-changing impact of their programs. Read all about their experiences below!

I have never participated in a program that put me in contact with so many amazing and inspiring people. No matter where you go, the project GLA sets up makes a very real difference in the community you live in and beyond. After working for a few hours in the morning, the groups usually take a day trip, do leadership activities, or listen to a guest speaker to learn more about the village. Words do not do justice to how much I'd like to live through this experience again. -John, Ghana: Building Healthy Villages

My experience in Guatemala was absolutely amazing & without a doubt life changing. I learned so much about myself as well as people of a very different, but very beautiful culture. Initially, I was really nervous because I didn't know a single person going on this trip. I was quickly comforted; the GLA mentors as well as the other kids with me welcomed me with arms wide open & eyes filled with excitement. We formed a little family- full of love. We loved what we were doing as well as each other; we were sharing an experience that would turn into a story to tell for the rest of our lives.

Going into this, I thought that the trip would consist of a lot of volunteer work, which I of course was ready for. However, I was pleasantly surprised when we took tours around places like Quetzaltenango, and went to Lake Atitlán. My favorite part though was working with the kids and learning all about them despite the language barrier. I learned teachers inspiring stories, and how less fortunate the kids there were. It was weird though because the kids seemed like they were overflowing with happiness- regardless of misery they might've been living with.

It just amazes me that some people who are so fortunate are unhappy with not having enough but these kids constantly had smiles on their faces & were wearing the same clothes they did yesterday as well as the day before. This trip was a blessing to me; I plan on going on more trips with GLA in the future, I would totally recommend it to whoever is reading. GLA gives opportunities to be inspired by beautiful people you'd never meet if you didn't travel, so do it. -Sydney, Guatemala: Children of the Maya

This is my second trip with GLA and I didn't think it was possible, but it was even better than my first. The service you do, the people you meet, and the adventures you experience are absolutely unforgettable. One moment you're singing camp songs with the local children and the next you're snorkeling with sharks. You then end the day sitting at a bonfire with your new friends coming from all over the world just to do one thing; be the change. -Farah, Belize: The Initiative for Children

Witnessing the change we were making in the community by building a bridge to help the locals get to and from work and school made me feel very fortunate. The community had been waiting years for a new bridge that would help to benefit all of their lives. Something that we take for granted in the United States is something that was life changing for those in Costa Rica. Working so closely with the locals was my favorite part of the trip since we were able to experience their culture first-hand. -Erika, Costa Rica: Beachside Service Adventure

The GLA India program seemed to capture the essence of the country: wild, zany, peaceful, colorful, loving. I met so many different people: not only my fellow volunteers from around the world but also the staff that was always accommodating and courteous and the children we got to teach. GLA India has opened my mind to become more aware of global issues and conflicts, and the program has deepened my love for embracing new cultures, learning new knowledge, and meeting new people. -Cameron, India: The Initiative for Children (formerly called Service in the Himalayas)

Being able to see the faces of the young schoolchildren when we played soccer with them, or gazing at the Milky Way at our campsite on our way to Machu Picchu, I could not have been more overwhelmed with joy. I still tell my friends every day about Peru. Global Leadership Adventures has completely turned my life around - I'm no longer obsessed with success or achievement, but obsessed with passion and wonder for the world. -Amy, Peru: Service in the Sacred Valley

My GLA experience has changed me in so many ways. First off, I am now so open-minded about the entire world. I loved seeing how other people in other countries live compared to ours. I am now so much more grateful for the things that not everybody has. I will no longer take for granted the things in my everyday life. Also this trip taught me to be more confident. In our mentor sessions, I was so outgoing and always participated.

This is something I never used to do in school, but after the trip, it was like a new me! I started participating in every class and it was all thanks to this trip. This trip showed me the benefits of being outgoing and confident. This trip also turned me into a social butterfly. Before the trip I was shy and would always hang out with the same friend group, but on this trip I made friends with everybody and we all have a group chat that we text in every single day. This showed me that I should make an effort to make new friends because you never know how it’s going to go until you try.

The last major thing I learned from this trip that I would like to share with you is the ability to work with others. We were assigned group tasks everyday and this taught me the skills I need to listen and be patient with others. I also learned to have an open mind and communicate with everyone in order to get a task done. This has definitely helped me with group projects in school! Overall, I had an amazing trip and I have no regrets. -Madison, Costa Rica: Animal Rescue Project

On my trip to Bali during the summer of 2017, I was introduced to a beautiful country filled with the kindest people. This trip named Bali: Global Health Initiative, helped me affirm my aspirations of being involved with medicine in my future. We were encouraged to involve ourselves and perform the necessary tasks, rather than sitting around watching the professionals. The patients and the mentors put their faith in us, and we were able to test the patients' blood sugar and check their blood pressure. I was thrilled to be taking action and helping.

The volunteer aspect of this trip is so unique, due to our focus on individuals’ health, because we were able to introduce the patients to any medical conditions they were not aware of. Many Balinese people do not have access to a doctor, but our free health checks gave them the chance to make sure everything was alright. As a result of this trip, I have become inspired to learn more about global health, and hopefully one day I will be able to have a career in the field. Bali: Global Health Initiative changed me into someone who pays more attention to global health issues and has sparked a passion in me to help everyone have access to the healthcare they deserve. -Sophia, Bali: Global Health Initiative

Thanks for reading! Keep an eye out for more inspirational reflections from our GLA alumni - coming soon!