Leadership is at the Heart of Every GLA Program

Discover our leadership curriculum, intentional program design and leadership learning philosophy!

Leading The GLA Way

We believe that leaders are made and not born, and that leadership is a life skill that can and should be developed in young people. That is why the concept of leadership is embedded in all of our programs, across every aspect of the experience, to inspire students to be the change they wish to see in the world.

The GLA Leadership Curriculum is designed to engage students on all levels and is tailored to each unique group. The curriculum utilizes critically reflective journaling and intentional Mentor-facilitated discussion to digest and process daily experiences through the lens of leadership.

We celebrate examples of outstanding leaders we encounter in the community, and guest speakers bring concepts to life as well as demonstrate the full spectrum of leadership styles and approaches.

Leadership is at the heart of everything we do. Whether you’re attending a GLA service-learning program far away or close to home, we’ll help you find, articulate and develop your personal leadership style.

Intentional Program Design

Whether its your first time away from home, sharing a room with roommates, or it’s your third GLA trip, leadership is a unique experience woven throughout all elements of the program. Our leadership curriculum is designed to challenge you and help you grow in new ways each time you explore a new destination with us.

Leadership is woven throughout all elements of the program. From role play and exploration to getting students out of their comfort zone and into leadership roles within the group, GLA intentionally weaves this approach into the daily experience on our travel programs and internships.

Each GLA Program Itinerary has been curated to include several leadership workshops, discussions and activities, and is further tailored to the needs of each group and program site. Every site visit, adventure excursion, cultural workshop and community service project is an opportunity to put these leadership skills into action. Our holistic approach to leadership and learning creates a lifelong impact for students.

We know there isn’t one right way to be a leader. No matter whether a student is introverted or extroverted, experienced in leadership roles or trying one out for the first time, we guide students at they discover the leadership style that fits them and their vision of how to change their community and the wider world.


Discover how you can find your own leadership style no matter whether you’re extroverted or introverted!

The GLA Leadership Curriculum

Our proprietary Leadership Curriculum is baked into every aspect of the program experience.

Our Leadership Curriculum in Action

The table below illustrates the differences and depth of curriculum that we explore on our intentionally designed  travel programs and internships of varying duration.

The GLA Leadership Curriculum consists of five pillars that are brought to life on every program through engaging discussions, role plays and interactive activities tailored to each program site’s country and local social context.

Students on programs that are 10-14 days in length take part in our foundational level curriculum, where we cover three of our core leadership pillars through carefully curated Mentor-led discussions and activities.

On our 21-day programs, we go deeper into your leadership potential by exploring all five GLA Leadership Pillars, in addition to an exclusive “GLA Way” activity where we challenge students to apply their leadership skills back into their home context.

On our 21-day internships, in addition to exploring personal leadership development, we also dive deeper into career leadership and building professional competencies for students to build their resume. From public speaking to time management and teamwork, the curriculum on internships has been curated to to apply a student’s personal leadership style to their future career in a way no other summer program delivers!

Curriculum Differences Based on Session Duration


We encourage students to recognize that we all have the power to be incredible forces for good, and we give students permission to exercise their leadership potential intelligently and compassionately.

We believe that framing the program experience and various daily activities around leadership helps create personal development and growth opportunities for students to dig deep into their vision and purpose, as well as their knowledge of themselves and the wider world.

10, 12 & 14-Day Programs

  • Deep dive at least three GLA Leadership Pillars through carefully curated Mentor-led discussions and activities
  • Leadership Development (ex. serving as Leader of the Day, meeting local leaders, etc)
  • Personal goal setting workshop
  • Hands-on thematic learning opportunities (ex. cooking, dance, handicrafts) and reflections
  • Exclusive location-based and theme-based activities such as The Debate

21-Day Programs

  • Deep dive all five GLA Leadership Pillars through carefully curated Mentor-led discussions and activities
  • Leadership Development
  • Personal goal setting workshop
  • Hands-on thematic learning opportunities
  • Exclusive location-based and theme-based anchor activities (debate-style discussions on pervasive issues)
  • More time to get acquainted with the local culture, perspectives and language
  • More time for leadership opportunities in the group
  • The GLA Way activity

21-Day Internships

  • Deep dive all five GLA Leadership Pillars through carefully curated Mentor-led discussions and activities
  • Leadership Development
  • Personal goal setting workshop
  • Hands-on thematic learning opportunities
  • Professional goal setting workshop (including a resume workshop)
  • Real-time feedback and opportunities for improvement
  • Guidance from Internship Supervisors with Master’s Degrees
  • Receive a letter of recommendation
  • Earn optional college credit as accredited by Portland State University


Consider enrolling in one of our 21-day travel programs or three-week travel internships for more time onsite.

The Five Pillars of Leadership

The GLA Leadership Curriculum comprises five pillars that come to life in every program through dynamic discussions, immersive role-plays and interactive activities tailored to each program.

Your Values

Leadership stands tall upon intention: the earnest desire to contribute, pillar by pillar, to the betterment of our world. Leaders understand that in the architecture of life, the strength of their foundation— their values— determines the resilience of the structure, from the base to the apex, year after year.


Leaders venture where others have faltered. Equipped with the humility to acknowledge reality as it is and the boldness to envision what it could become, leaders stand firm, like a pillar to the wind, anchored against the storms and trials of uncertainty.


Leadership flourishes with foresight, creativity and proactive problem-solving. Leaders discern opportunity where others perceive hopelessness, ingeniously extending pillars and supports toward enlightenment, in harmony and equilibrium.


Leadership remains incomplete without decisive action. Translating intention into action, by building a pillar layer by layer upward, leaders strive for their aspirations to flourish and yield results: achievements that defy complacency, transcend bureaucracy, and confront corruption.

& Influence

Leaders understand that intricate challenges are best tackled collaboratively. They know no pillar stands alone. So they nurture enduring connections and forge bonds of significance that resonate with others. Leaders thrive by doing right by others, providing shelter and sanctuary for all who traverse their paths.


Request your copy of our free Global Leadership Adventures program catalog and have it mailed or emailed directly to you!

Program Components

Our programs are intentionally designed to facilitate transformation in aspiring young leaders.





Students take part in community-led service projects that benefit the local community or habitats in-need. Service provides a meaningful way to give back in the short-term and contribute to long-term, sustainable goals.


Getting out of the classroom and into the wider world is an important step in any young leader’s development. Learning in a hands-on way allows students to truly understand distinct cultures and practices.


Adventure challenges us to seek out new paths and step outside our comfort zone, critical for any leader. There’s also fun in discovery and finding the fun can be essential to building rapport and facilitating collaboration among peers.


Leadership learning is the cornerstone of any GLA experience. Through the unique combination of our program components, students can discover their personal leadership style and see it modeled by others.


Two elements intrinsic to any GLA experience are the destination you choose to explore and the theme of your program. These decisions guide students as they consider the context of their learning environment and focus area.


The outcome of your journey with GLA depends on all these factors. From academic and career-focused objectives to personal development goals, students find themselves transformed with a lifelong impact.


Be sure to save your spot on your favorite program early before waitlists begin to form!

Videos on GLA's Leadership Philosophy

Discover what leadership learning means to us by watching these videos from different perspectives.

Responsive YouTube Video Embed

In this video, GLA co-founder and Time 100 honoree Fred Swaniker discusses how you can inspire someone to rise to leadership. He covers three critical elements for this that form the foundation of GLA’s leadership learning formula:

  • Young People with Potential: People who have demonstrated at an early age that they care about society, they have passion for something, and they have values as well as vision.
  • Practice: Get young people to practice leadership through different situations, because leadership isn’t something that we learn through theory, but instead something we learn by doing. That practice, on a small scale and in partnership with local community leaders, can build confidence to do much bigger things later in life.
  • Opportunity: Give young people access to education, to a network of mentors and advisors, and to a network of peers they can collaborate with, to take the ideas that they have to really scale them and make them more effective.
Responsive YouTube Video Embed

In this video, GLA alumni student Malik Jackson travels to Ghana in West Africa with fellow teens from New Orleans,  and we follow his story of remarkable ability to overcome obstacles and realize his true leadership potential:

  • “You can’t let a situation put you at a disadvantage from the start.” Malik describes his childhood and the way his mindset heading into his participation at Son of a Saint, and later his GLA program, meant everything for developing the person he would become.
  • “The Ghana trip taught me so much… it opened my eyes to what possibilities are in the world.” Malik reflects on how the unique circumstances of his trip to Ghana with Global Leadership Adventures helped him discover what he can do in life.
  • “You never realize how many things you take for granted until you do not have it.” Malik talks about his realizations after he returned back home to the United States post-program, and what the meant for him and his outlook.


Head over to our YouTube channel to discover years’ worth of videos covering all things GLA!

Internship → Leadership

Explore our travel internship curriculum and how it ties into our leadership learning philosophy.


Did you know that Global Leadership Adventures offers travel internships for high school students?