We often mention here at GLA that our programs are very much like abridged versions of Peace Corps experiences, except for two things: that instead of being for college graduates, they're for current high school students, and instead of lasting for a couple years, they run for a couple weeks.
But there's more to the similarities between the two than just that!
Here are three ways GLA programs and experiences in the Peace Corps are similar:
A lasting impact is more important than a quick fix
One of the reasons the Peace Corps has been so effective at their efforts in overseas communities has been their commitment to those communities over a long period of time. Volunteers don't just show up, pick a problem they think they can fix, make do and then leave. They stay, and contribute to causes that are relevant to the community where they are located.
GLA operates in a similar fashion. Even though your program with GLA might only last 2-3 weeks, GLA returns to the same communities repeatedly, and contributes to projects with community buy-in over many years. That way, even though our student volunteers rotate, the end goal is always in sight, and it's shared between GLA, our local partners, and the students who come in to help.
We operate only in communities with a signficant need
The Peace Corps doesn't run a program down the block from your house because it focuses on countries and communities with large, pervasive issues that require a serious, sustained effort to overcome. That's not to belittle local problems; rather, it is designed to address the issues that affect the poorest and most remote communities around the world.
GLA runs programs primarily in developing countries, in communities our staff have spent years building relationships and identifying issues that can be improved upon with concerted efforts on the part of our staff, our local partners, and our student volunteers. Even when GLA runs programs in developed countries, such as our programs in Europe, we do so in communities that may not have the same access to resources or benefits wealthier parts of those nations may have.
The end of the term isn't the end of our work
Volunteers don't typically return home from their Peace Corps experience and say "well, I did my part already and now I'm done for good."
Similarly, GLA alumni come back home with a mission to bring change and new ideas to the places where they live, and to underserved communities nearby that need ambitious, committed young people to make the effort to make an impact.
So while you may not be old enough yet to volunteer with the Peace Corps, if you're committed to making change, GLA may be a good first step into the wider world of making things better for others in-need.