Where are the best places to volunteer for teenagers through GLA?

Can’t decide where you want to volunteer this summer? Too busy with your classes to read in depth on any single one? Global Leadership Adventures has an incredible team that builds programs and relationships in every country in which we operate, so any choice can be the right one. Here’s an easy cheat-sheet that can make picking the right GLA country as easy as catching the school bus in the morning. Two sentences per country, so it’s quick reading in-between your classes:


If you’re big on epic landscapes mixed with ancient cultural opportunities, Peru’s the place for you. Whether you’re going to Machu Picchu, learning Spanish from locals, or getting your first peek at a South American mountain range, you can’t go wrong with Peru.

Ecuador (Galápagos)

Ecuador is right on the equator, and is a great first-country-abroad selection for a teenager who has always wanted to see the richness of South America. The Galápagos Islands in particular are famous for Darwin’s studies, so if you’re passionate about wildlife, the environment, or just science in general, this is the place to choose.


Ghana is called the heart and soul of West Africa, and is not only culturally rich, but it’s one of the most stable countries on the entire continent. With opportunities to volunteer with children or build a project from start-to-finish for coastal communities-in-need, you can really make an impact on the people here in Ghana.


This is the place to go if you want it all from your first African experience: safaris, throwing spears with the Maasai tribe, and even standing at the base of the incredible Mount Kilimanjaro. If you’re a foodie in the making, the cuisine in Tanzania also can’t be topped!


There’s probably no country outside of Europe or North America that most GLA students are as familiar with on the surface as China - but don’t let that familiarity make you think you’ve got it all figured out. China really is two worlds in one nation: the sprawling urban growth and cultural richness it provides is balanced with a gorgeous east Asian landscape where Chinese traditions date back for centuries.


If you’re passionate about democracy and social justice, India is a great country to check out. It’s the largest democratic country in the world, and on top of that, you’ll be immersed in a place undergoing tremendous change while still preserving its historical and cultural wonders

Indonesia (Bali)

Indonesia is unique for a country as massive as it is, given that it’s made up of thousands of islands. If you’re dream is to be an island hopper, and volunteer in a place that is an ecological paradise but where communities need your help, than catching that flight to Bali within this island chain is the ticket for you.


Whether you’re helping to preserve the eclectic coral reefs of this world-famous island or learning to scuba dive for the first time, Fiji is a place for a teenager with a passion for volunteering and who wouldn’t mind getting a tan at the same time. Since Fiji is so small, you’ll be able to get a great overview of a country and its people during your time on the island.


As famous for its rice paddies and elephants as its popular cuisine, Thailand has it all. High school students who desire authentic cultural immersion in the temples and markets of a diverse Asian community will find lots to love about Thailand.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is very close to the United States, so if you’re looking for your first opportunity to volunteer abroad that’s only a short plane ride away, this is an excellent option. Communities in the Dominican Republic are benefitting from the long-term conservation work GLA students have been providing for years, meaning you’ll be able to add your time here to a lasting legacy of service.

Costa Rica

GLA has more programs available in Costa Rica than anywhere else, and with a country as ecologically and culturally diverse as this one, you’ll have your pick of the kind of opportunities you want to experience. Whether you want to be immersed in a rainforest, protecting the oceans, or finding connections to locals through sports or service, Costa Rica is an ideal location to volunteer abroad for teens who are both first-time travelers and complete pros.


Guatemala is a rich tapestry of culture, community, and language. Whether you want to sharpen your Spanish language speaking skills or volunteer with children from real Maya communities, Guatemala is a place where your impact will be felt, and its impact on you will be even greater.

With so many choices, there's certainly no shortage of volunteer opportunities for teens through GLA!

Curious about volunteering the GLA way?