These five GLA alumni embody the best of our Global Ambassador program. By committing to spreading the word about volunteering abroad, and opportunities for other high school students to have life-changing experiences through community service overseas, these finalists each made an incredible case to be Ambassador of the Year for 2017.
While not everyone could win the coveted prize, we wanted to highlight all of our finalists' stories. Each finalist made the Ambassador program more successful, and meaningful, because of their committment and participation.
Announcing Our 2017 Ambassador of the Year
"I plan to be an active voice in my community and to raise awareness of the injustices around the world."
GLA is thrilled to announce Teah Serani as our 2017 Ambassador of the Year. Teah grew up in an Albanian family in the United States, and her desire to explore new cultures, and share what she's learned about them, began by growing up with two unique cultures from an early age. After traveling to the Dominican Republic with GLA, Teah has "found a new passion for international service." She plans on a career in the medical field, and hopes to continue community service and advocacy throughout her life.
Teah is an alum of GLA's Dominican Republic: Spring Break Service Adventure program and is enrolled in Belize: The Initiative for Children™ and South Africa: Social Entrepreneurship Initiative™ this summer.
Our Finalists - Four GLA Global Ambassadors Earn Honorable Mentions
"I have developed the characteristics it takes to be a team player and hear everyone out, even the smallest of voices."
Atoosa has been to an astonishing five continents so far, and at only 18, she's reached them far sooner than most. After witnessing health care issues in Ghana on her GLA program, Atoosa realized her calling - going to medical school. She hopes to join Doctors Without Borders one day, in order to help prevent and treat maladies that afflict many people in underserved communities.
Atoosa is an alum of GLA's Ghana: Children of Africa™ program and is enrolled in Peru: Service in the Sacred Valley this summer.
"The future belongs to those who take it and by participating, and always keeping an open mind on GLA trips and beyond, you shape your imprint on the world by the opportunities realized through participation."
Bella took some much needed creative inspiration from her time with GLA in Thailand. Thinking back to a conversation she had with a woman shop owner in Chiang Mai, Bella was inspired join the newly formed Global Service club at her high school. From there, she led the effort to create a fundraiser to provide microloans to women entrepreneurs. As Bella says it, "GLA empowered me to be the change, which has enabled others to do the same."
Bella is an alum of GLA's Thailand: The Elephant Village Initiative™ program and is enrolled in Galapagos: Preserving Nature's Wonders™ this summer.
"I feel as though the best way to help the world is to get hands-on experience, and then come back to community and explain to teens how fortunate they are, and the steps they must take to better our world."
Drawing from her time with GLA in the Galapagos, Carolyn has been spreading the word about her experiences and sharing her learnings. After taking notice of her hometown's lack of awareness toward underdeveloped communities abroad, she co-founded a club to help raise awareness of prevalent issues facing developing countries. Carolyn's goal is to use her experience as a stepping stone for others to reach out and make a difference, both close to home and abroad.
Carolyn is an alum of GLA's Galapagos: Preserving Nature's Wonders™ program and is enrolled in Tanzania: Heart and Soul of Africa this summer.
"The way I live embodies the GLA mission. Not a day goes by where I do not share my personal, life-changing experiences with someone new. Whether it’s in my classes, with my friends, with the teams and clubs I’m a part of, or with adults who ask me what I am up to. I always light up when I am able to share my heart."
Grace exemplifies the core tenets of being a Global Ambassador; namely, she seeks out others who are open to experiences abroad, and shares the story about how her travel made a lasting impact on her. Having hosted an open house and encouraged a new friend to enroll, Grace has successfully brought others into the fold of young leaders looking to make a difference in another country. She is now learning Spanish and dedicates her time to service in her community, two things she plans to continue throughout her life.
Grace is an alum of GLA's Dominican Republic: Beachside Service Adventure program and is enrolled in Guatemala: Children of the Maya™ this summer.