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    Student Testimonial: Global Routes | Leaders In Action

    Posted December 2, 2022, 10:05 am by TeenLife

    Eden Monk, 2023: Global Routes | Leaders in Action

    I was seven years old when I started dreaming about the opportunity to travel with Global Routes. I would count the summers left until I’d graduate as a leader in training at my summer camp, Windsor Mountain, and could complete the next step in my leadership journey. Not only have I grown up wanting to go on a GR trip, but I have grown up hearing anecdotes from my mom who traveled with Global Routes when she was a teenager. While Global Routes has changed and evolved over the years, the core values have remained the same; I, like my mom, have learned the importance of cultural immersion, respect, community, growth, and friendship.

    I chose the Leaders in Action program because it had an emphasis on leadership training which I felt would benefit me both in my personal and academic life. Every morning when I woke up, my host-mom Lily would have a delicious breakfast ready on the table for us: a hot cup of Costa Rican coffee, gallo pinto, cheese empanadas, and homemade guanabana jam with crackers. We usually spent the mornings doing work or exploring the community. We built a greenhouse in the elementary school, painted tires around the massive soccer field, completed team building challenges in addition to exploring farms, rivers, and landmarks around town. It was a great time to build relationships with people we never would have otherwise met. At dinner time I would walk back up the hill with my friends who lived by me and help my host-mom cook dinner and practice my Spanish. Dinner was one of my favorite times of day because it was when I was pushed to work on my Spanish to fill the dinner table with conversation and laughs.

    We ended many nights with tea and cookies; Lily and I would go into her garden to pick tea leaves before my friends from next door came over to debrief the day. We loved having tea outside at the picnic table so we could look at the stars and be close to the river, an experience you cannot get living in NYC. One of the most memorable parts of my program was the time we spent in the rainforest. At the RAC (our jungle lodge), we spent three days learning about nature, history, survival, and inner peace. We stayed in the home of Mauricio which had incredible views of the most beautiful green covered mountain with a waterfall flowing into the river just below us. Waking up to that view was surreal to say the least. The time we spent there was filled with laughter and heavy rain, and we had an absolute blast. One of my favorite activities was gathering food from the property and helping Mauricio’s mom cook dinner for 24 people.

    My advice for teens looking for programs is to find one that matches your values. I recommend Global Routes because of its emphasis on cultural immersion and because of the wonderful people who work hard to make it the best. Additionally, I would recommend a tech-free program like Global Routes. I understand the urge to want your phone while traveling but the experience is enhanced when you disconnect and learn how to entertain yourself without a device. Having no phones enriches the experience of traveling as you are able to fully connect with the world around you. Finally, don’t be scared to go on a trip if you don’t speak the same language as your host family. I was nervous at first, but I improved my Spanish so much on this program!

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