Why Choose GLA?

Our Program Models



Of GLA Alumni Agree:


*Based on a survey of alumni 3 years post-program

Global Service-Learning

Through the vehicle of community service, students dive out of their comfort zone and into a welcoming community. Experiencing a culture through this lens offers students the opportunity to truly get to know local residents and lends a strong sense of purpose to their travel. Through the service-learning methodology, participants come away with an in-depth understanding of their host community and the global issues it faces. Our service-learning programs are a good fit for students who want to form meaningful bonds with local residents or those who wish to lend a hand on community-developed service projects.


Europe Discovery

Where our service-learning programs go deep, Europe Discovery programs go broad. These experiences deliver on our exploratory travel methodology to immerse students in a country or theme through a series of locations deliberately selected for their impact and significance – iconic monuments, historical sites, and cultural exploration are all on the agenda. This program model is ideal for students who are curious about or have a strong interest in history, culture, the arts, contemporary issues, and the role of each city or region on the global stage.

Why Choose GLA

The GLA Difference

Leadership & Intentional Program Design

GLA programs create ambitious, ethical leaders. At GLA, we believe leaders are made, not born: leadership is a life skill than can, and should, be developed. Leadership is woven throughout all elements of the program. From role play to style 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 programs. Every site visit, cultural workshop, and service activity is an opportunity to put these leadership skills into action. Our holistic approach to leadership and learning creates a lifelong impact for students.

Program Components: Global Service-Learning Programs


Community service is the vehicle through which students are exposed to a culture unlike their own. When GLA students arrive, our local teams and host communities welcome their energy and additional helping hands. As students become embedded in a greater plan for change, global issues that were once remote become tangible, and distant concepts turn into people with faces, names and stories. Working side by side with our partners, students become engaged in understanding how the labor they provide accelerates critical, community-led initiatives. Many of our alumni leave our programs valuing the time they spent on service sites most.


GLA celebrates experiential learning through immersion, cross-cultural exchange and guided reflection. Our students participate in interactive experiences that expose them to diverse cultures, arts, value systems and histories in ways that no textbook could convey. These experiences welcome high engagement, critical thinking and a willingness to see the world through many different perspectives. Designed around a combination of cultural activities, small group discussion, leadership development, journaling and reflection.


Adventure is at the heart of every GLA program, and your experience overseas will be no different! Each host community is set in a unique landscape and contains its own historical and natural treasures, as well as exceptional opportunities for students to challenge themselves in memorable ways. Our adventure activities are intentionally selected to tie into program themes and double as learning opportunities. Imagine hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru, ziplining over a rainforest canopy in Costa Rica or seeing the Great Wall of China for the first time.

Program Components: Europe Discovery Programs


Where our Global Service-Learning programs go deep, Europe Discovery programs go broad. Discover your leadership potential while exploring and connecting with local leaders along the way. These experiences are travel-centric, focusing on the exploration of a region or theme. As opposed to regular tourists out only to see the sights, our students come away as more experienced travelers ready to engage with the world as they travel, with both a broader understanding of the world at-large and their possibilities to transform it.


Explore Europe’s most iconic and impactful sites while meeting learning objectives. GLA celebrates experiential learning through immersion, cross-cultural exchange and guided reflection. Our students participate in interactive experiences that expose them to diverse cultures, arts, value systems and histories in ways that no textbook could convey. These experiences welcome high engagement, critical thinking and a willingness to see the world through many different perspectives. GLA programs cultivate more confident communicators and independent agents of change.


No GLA program would be complete without adventure! Mark experiences off your bucket list with UNESCO World Heritage sites such as La Sagrada Familia, the Eiffel Tower, or the Acropolis. Experience the thrill of a gladiator training in Rome, kayaking excursion in Greece, or an invigorating game of golf in Scotland. Each city contains its own historical and natural treasures and exceptional opportunities for students to challenge themselves in memorable ways.

Our Program Models in Action


Global Leadership Adventures offers Fellowships to provide academically or creatively gifted students the opportunity to expand upon their GLA program with a curriculum that both highlights and recognizes their achievements. These self-guided and GLA-supported Fellowships invite students to step up and learn to be leaders in their field of interest.

Our Fellowships are specially designed to work with any GLA spring or summer program, of any length, in any location, because you are the leader in your learning as a GLA Fellow.

Whether you’re a highly motivated student who wants to earn additional merits for your college application or simply passionate about broadening your horizons in a field of interest, you’re an excellent candidate for a Fellowship. Fellowships are 100% optional and to be inducted you must first submit an application.

Choose between being an Honors Fellow or Arts & Letters Fellow at the time of your Fellowship application.


You will be asked to complete coursework to spur your learning on a selected topic. This may include reading, viewing documentaries and more. You will be given options to shape your experience.


Once you arrive in-country, you will have an objective to complete that will further your learning and prepare you for your post-program assignment. This may include taking photos, journaling or capturing video depending on your chosen Fellowship.


After you return home, you will be given time to wrap up your Fellowship by completing a special project. This may include writing an essay, curating a photo collection or producing a short video.

5-Point Safety System

Safety is our first priority. While we believe in the transformative power of stepping outside comfort zones, we remain invested in managing the risks of doing so. We’ve carefully crafted and continue to enforce our 5-Point Safety System, a set of rigorous standards that support the safety, health and well-being of students on every program.


Utmost care is taken to provide safe and secure lodging. Accommodations vary based on location, but all include exclusive spaces reserved for GLA students and staff. It’s our home away from home, a place to relax, the gathering place for meals and sanctuary for reflection, team building and leadership after active days. To see Home Base details for your desired program, navigate to the program page and search under ‘Lodging.’


GLA policy is for no student to ever be by themselves at any point in time outside the established Home Base. Students may be with staff members, in groups or assigned to a buddy. Our program student to staff ratio is maximum 7:1, but typically 6:1 or lower. Our local partners and in-country staff have intimate knowledge of the host community and country, are familiar with the area’s medical facilities and are uniquely equipped to handle itinerary adjustments and emergencies.


From the moment students arrive, they are greeted by GLA staff and transported to Home Base in approved transportation by experienced and licensed drivers. In the case of a flight delay, staff will wait for their arrival. Transportation between Home Base(s) and activities is always in GLA-approved vehicles or via the mode of transport most appropriate for each specific location. For example, in Europe students will take public transport such as trains in small groups supervised by a staff member; in other countries where public transport is not as reliable, we will use GLA-approved vehicles such as buses or vans. In some cases, a taxi may be used but only with staff in accompaniment.


Meals are prepared fresh daily by Home Base staff or vetted restaurants, and include a healthy mix of grains, protein, vegetables and fruits. Students will enjoy local cuisine, but familiar staples such as rice are typically available. We are happy to provide a list of select programs that can best accommodate a student with particular food allergies or dietary restrictions. Students will always have access to unlimited safe drinking water and will be provided three meals per day, plus snacks.


GLA provides 24/7 support and a helpline while programs are in session. While incredibly rare in occurrence, GLA has a plan in place for all types of emergencies and situations that could arise through diligent risk management and identifying proper health and support facilities within vicinity of our programs. We provide medical and evacuation insurance to all students, and professional medical support is also available to our teams 24/7 should specialized guidance be needed.

Your Home away from Home.

Safety is our top priority, and we provide lodging that’s out of the ordinary. On a GLA adventure, you might stay in a zen-like ecolodge tucked away in the lush Caribbean jungle, a traditional Inca tambo, or rustic Thai villas neighboring an elephant sanctuary. Throughout this website, each program page will indicate a general idea of the type of lodging you can expect to experience. Most programs include an overnight stay away from the main Home Base or split time between two or more Home Base locations.


These may resemble Western hotels back home, with multiple stories and a reception desk at the entrance; others may be smaller, locally-owned properties where our group stays in an exclusive floor or wing.


Rustic villas are detached, well-appointed structures that offer comfortable living with plenty of open space, amenities and lush landscaping. GLA reserves a group or cluster of villas, and has access to shared eating areas and common space.


Guesthouses are modest, unique properties where students have the opportunity to personally interact with their host, often eating together and sharing common areas.


An enclosed compound is a cluster or several buildings in a gated enclosure. Compounds often include detached guest quarters, a separate kitchen, dining area, a common area, multi-purpose facilities and host residences, all within an intimate space.


Traditional bungalows are detached structures, often featuring some open-air construction and located in remote locations close to nature and the local culture, such as beach towns, jungles and mountains.


Ecolodges tend to be remote, located in relatively pristine natural environments. Ecolodges emphasize elements such as environmental responsibility and minimizing negative impact. Students have the unique experience of being educated by hosts about the flora and fauna of local ecosystems, and experiencing closeness to nature as well as the area's local culture.

Full-Service Parent & Travel Support

At GLA, we are your tireless mission control. In other words, we’re with you every step of the way. We understand it can be challenging to leave your teen to the care of others, so we take equal care in providing superior support for every parent and guardian, before, during, and post-program.


Once you’ve enrolled in one of our programs, the GLA team is at your disposal to provide full support for all your preparations:

  • Where and how to book a flight
  • Recommended routes so that GLA students can travel together
  • Understanding the passport and visa application process
  • Full access to the online GLA Travel Portal: Connect with other families with students on your program, and have all pre-departure information at your fingertips


During the program, we are your direct link, 24 hours a day:

  • We provide a 24-hour emergency helpline
  • All students are required to call home upon arrival at their destination
  • Our team will make you aware of any emergencies, major schedule changes or updates
  • We are able to relay urgent messages between students and parents via in-country staff
  • We provide evacuation and secondary medical insurance for all students during the program
  • We periodically update program blogs with real-time photos and accounts of student experiences


After the program, our staff follows up with every family to:

  • Hear your feedback on the program and level of parent/travel support
  • Ensure we’ve provided the best possible service to you and your family
  • Discuss continued engagement and opportunities

Expert Staff

GLA’s international program staff are more than just chaperones – they’re passionate educators and teen experts. Students are led by program Directors and Mentors who have in-depth professional experience working experientially with youth, hold college or graduate degrees, and are confident travelers with certifications for the locations and activities they will oversee.

Over half return each season to work with GLA year after year. Some Directors have even served overseas in the Peace Corps, or in other international organizations and roles, and they bring the skills they have acquired working cross-culturally to their roles with us each spring and summer.

Our staff elevate a program from a mere trip to a life-changing journey.

Local Partners

Our local partners are the key to making our programs as immersive and authentic as possible. At GLA, we recognize that working with local partners is a fundamental part of sustainable development, effective community service and responsible travel. They are a core part of our global family, and many have been working with us for years.

Dr. Dave Addison

Dave Addison holds a PhD in Global Sustainability from Argosy University. He has lived in the Dominican Republic for over a decade, and passionately directs 7 Elements, a local non-profit focused on delivering sustainable solutions to humanitarian needs. The impact of 7 Elements on communities has included construction of a large-scale aquaponic food production system, safer homes and community centers, reforestation efforts and improved community health.

Esther Simba

Beloved by generations of GLA students and community members, obtained her Bachelor of Education with Languages (Swahili and English) at the Tumaini University Makumira in Tanzania. She has a wealth of experience in education and volunteer programming, and has consulted for the US Peace Corps. Having served as the GLA Tanzania Local Director since 2009, she continues to be known for being more than a director or leader, but also “a dear mother” and passionate teacher.

Dougal Croudace

Dougal is originally from the U.K., but has been living and working in Ghana for over six years, and established the NGO Dream Big Ghana in partnership with local village communities. Dougal focuses on giving support in three areas: sanitation, education and youth sports development. One of the foundation’s major projects, building eco compost latrines, has benefited the health of hundreds of local people.

Free Program Catalog

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