<p>I'm trying to find a community service program for my high school junior this summer in either Africa or Central America. Global Leadership Adventures, Cross Cultural Solutions and Global Routes are some names I've been given. Any experience with these or other ideas?</p>
I went on a Global Leadership Adventures trip this summer to Costa Rica, and it was an incredible experience. We did community service at a school in a rural village in the morning, and we played with the kids and taught them some English and helped to build a cafeteria for their school. The kids were adorable and inspiring, because even though most of them lived with almost nothing, they were the happiest kids I had ever met. In the afternoons, we'd either have some free time to walk around the town we stayed in (go to the grocery store, or the bakery, or the internet cafe), or we'd go on a trip to the beach (the beaches were beautiful!) or we'd have a guest speaker from the town who would talk about Costa Rica and some of the issues going on in the country. Two nights a week we would have spanish class taught by the locals, in which the teachers would sometimes bring in Costa Rican food or invite us to their houses or have us walk around town practicing our Spanish with the locals. On the first weekend, we went camping on an isolated beach and got to go surfing, which was awesome! On the second weekend we got to go whitewater rafting, horseback riding, whitewater tubing, and ziplining.
One of my favorite things about the program was having a homebase. I did a lot of research on other volunteer abroad summer programs, and while cross-cultural solutions also has a home base, they only offer 1 or 2 week trips, which in my opinion, would be too short. Global routes has you switch locations a few times. Having the homebase allowed for bonding with the local community a lot, and we got to play soccer and basketball games against some of the locals. I also loved our community service, because we got do to lots of different things, and if your favorite thing to do was play with the kids, you could do that. Or if you preferred manual labor, you could spend a lot of your time helping with the construction of the cafeteria.
So, really, it all depends on what kind of program you want. I've done a lot of research on summer programs, and I'd be happy to help with your decision! (Although you probably have already gone on a trip, but I'd be happy to help with your decision about next summer!)</p>