The Power of Volunteering

Today is International Volunteer Day! A reminder to all about the power and potential of volunteers.

Happy International Volunteer Day! Check out the stories of GLA volunteers past and present, who went from volunteering for a few weeks of their summer break on a Global Leadership Adventures program, to making giving back a central part of their lives.

Sorangel Liriano - Building Schools in Developing Countries

GLA alum Sorangel Liriano, now attending Columbia University, was a student on Costa Rica: Empowering Rainforest Communities before going on to become co-president of Columbia University's buildOn chapter, a student organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.

CU buildOn focuses on raising awareness of critical issues affecting the developing world, and to empower university students to take active steps toward improving access to education for students everywhere. Each year, the group fundraises to build a school in a developing country, and sends a team of representatives to help build the foundations of this school while engaging in engaged scholarship and cultural exchange. CU buildOn has successfully constructed 5 schools, one each in Nicaragua, Malawi, Senegal, Haiti, and Nepal.

Sorangel says, "When I first walked into a buildOn school that had completed construction only a year prior, I was met with a procession of schoolchildren singing a welcome song. Then I was led to a colorful classroom. There, my team expected to see children at their desks, learning their lesson, but instead we were met with an adult literacy class for women. BuildOn schools also give adult members of the community a chance to receive an education. It was a beautiful scene; one I will never forget." 

Look for the full interview with Sorangel in our December newsletter, coming out on December 21.

Emma Oriol - Using Engineering to Create Social Impact

GLA alum Emma Oriol was a student on Guatemala: Children of the Maya and currently studies at the University of Washington. As a member of the University of Washington's Engineers Without Borders chapter, Emma is part of a comunity of students and professional mentors who have made it their mission to achieve community development through engineering and cultural exchange.

Currently, Emma's chapter of Engineers Without Borders is working with a community in the town of La Vega del Volcan, Guatemala. This community applied for assistance through Engineers Without Borders, and has since worked closely with the organization to outline their needs and create goals for EWB to address. Designing and building fish hatcheries to create a steady protein supply for the community was one of the early projects. Now, Engineers Without Borders is working on a community center, which will supply the community with a covered market space that can also act as a multi-purpose gathering spot and play area for local children.

Emma says, "We have worked tirelessly to design the structure, and construction is planned to start this January. Following this, we are working to improve the fish hatcheries and install a drainage system for the local soccer field."

Look for the full interview with Emma in our December newsletter, coming out on December 21.

Holiday Promotion | The Gift of Volunteering Abroad

To reward students who choose to volunteer abroad for their next summer break, we're including holiday gifts from GoPro and The North Face with qualifying enrollments through December 17. The real gift is the life-changing experience of going on program, but these travel accessories are fun to unwrap in the meantime!

Learn more about how to redeem a holiday gift with enrollment in one of our 2018 programs.