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We are excited to share the top student travel stories of the summer, selected by our interns (and former Glimpsers), Anderson and Layla! We have enjoyed reading each of the nearly 1,000 blog post reflections written by students as they experience first-hand the power of immersive travel – from hiking the highest peak in the Ecuadorian Andes and dancing bachata in the hot Dominican sun, to gaining new appreciation for the value of community and complexity of immigration.

Each of the vignettes below provide a peek into the impact of the Global Glimpse community on the lives of young people. From our local partners, bus drivers, and food providers to our volunteer educators who champion learning outside of the classroom, we are beaming with pride as we round out our biggest summer yet! Enjoy.

 

INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVE: THE VALUE OF NATURE

GUARANDA, ECUADOR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Ecuadorian terrain caused some grumbling amongst the group — a natural response for visitors exploring a new place. However, the local community made it look so easy; the indigenous Kichwa have walked these mountain paths for a very long time. Once I had this realization, I became much more observant about their actions and movements […] I saw little kids walking their alpaca and gently picking flowers along the side of the trail. They were completely unphased by everything that made us tentative. Carlos, our guide, explained that nature is considered a value above even people. It is not here for exploitation.”  Read more…

What stood out to Layla & Anderson:

On their hike, Glimpsers experienced what everyone feels when traveling: culture shock. However, they practiced curiosity before judgment and looked at this moment with the Kichwa community and nature, as an opportunity to listen and learn.

 

 

IMMIGRATION: CHALLENGES OF A DIVIDED ISLAND

CONSTANZA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

“The Haitian immigrant community of Colonia Kennedy shared their homes, hearts, and life stories with us. Hearing about their current situation and some loss of hope for a better future deeply saddened us. Every day, immigrants experience heavy discrimination, including unfair wages, poor living conditions, and segregation from the Dominican citizens […] This experience inspired our group to make an effort to take action in aiding the Haitian immigrant community. We held an amazing nightly meeting filled with great ideas and plans to support them in the future.”  Read more…

What stood out to Layla & Anderson:

This captivating blog showcases Glimpsers getting an inside perspective on the ongoing immigration challenges between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Seeing firsthand the discrimination and poor living conditions many Haitians face caused a feeling of sorrow for the Glimpsers. However, the exposure to this situation motivated the Glimpsers to take action and brainstorm solutions to support this crisis.

 

 

IMMERSION: LIVIN’ LA VIDA LOCAL

RIOBAMBA, ECUADOR

“With curiosity in our minds and sleepy eyes, we rode from the crowded streets of Riobamba to the tranquil indigenous community at El Morino. Once we arrived, we met Cesar Ayol, the elected leader of this community, who served us a breakfast of bread, cheese, hard boiled eggs, and colada morada, a warmed fruity beverage usually served on Día de los Muertos. Over our delicious meal, Cesar discussed the culture, history, and politics of the community.”  Read more…

What stood out to Layla & Anderson:

This Living Like a Local blog justly captures the real, sometimes less exciting, day-to-day activities of life in Ecuador. Pancito con queso fresco, huevo duro, and colada morada spell out an Ecuadorian morning. These Glimpsers don’t focus on how they ate plain, showered cold, or held back on spending; but how they tried new foods with cultural significance and had the opportunity to learn about indigenous history from the people who know it best.

 

 

COMMUNITY ACTION PROJECT: HIDDEN HURDLES

SAN JUAN DE LA MAGUANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

“During the day, our group ran into some hurdles that turned out to be blessings […] It was discouraging at first, but we were able to find small tasks such as picking up trash, digging out dirt, or mixing cement to help make the construction of the benches run as smoothly as possible […] Ultimately, this challenge conveyed to us the importance of listening to a community’s needs and building a strong relationship with them.”  Read more…

What stood out to Layla & Anderson:

This delegation’s first day of their Community Action Project came with anticipated obstacles, but these Glimpsers turned them into lessons. As they began their project, they were met with a lack of trust from the community and disappointed themselves, thinking they hadn’t helped as much as they could have. However, the Glimpsers recognize that they learned an important lesson that day about the complexity of aid and community development work.

 

 

COMMUNITY: THE POWER OF MINGA

GUARANDA, ECUADOR

“Our experiences have shaped our perspective on the importance of daily face-to-face interaction, and taught us that no matter the amount of apparent differences, there is always a common thread that connects us. We learned that it’s okay to lean on others for support, and that tears can signify strength. Never before did we look at the earth and thank her, and never again will we not do so.”  Read more…

What stood out to Layla & Anderson:

Minga (originally mink’a in Kichwa, an indigenous language of the Andes) is one of those words that doesn’t translate well into English — it’s  when two distinct cultures come together to work, support, and create as a community. This blog thoughtfully shares how Glimpsers spent their final day reflecting on the critical role that community and collaboration play in developing and implementing a sustainable Community Action Project.

 

COMING HOME: STRANGERS BECOME SIBLINGS

CONSTANZA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

“The students’ blog posts over the past weeks demonstrate our efforts to improve knowledge of service and leadership. But part of what makes these trips special goes beyond that. It’s the birthday cakes and trips to the clinic. It’s munching on Raptor Doritos and queso cebolla […] When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, your emotions and memories of the experience are more vivid […] Many of us will maintain these relationships, but the 30 of us will likely never share the same space again.”  Read more…

What stood out to Layla & Anderson:

This reflection from a Global Glimpse Leader reminds us of those special micro-moments we experience while traveling and the power of forming human connection through shared experience. Global Glimpse Leaders are our courageous and wise teachers who volunteer their time to mentor and guide students throughout the trip.

 

 

FINAL REFLECTION: KAYAKAMA — IT’S NOT OVER

RIOBAMBA, ECUADOR

“On my way home, everything was odd and fresh to me […] As we drove by residential houses, I thought about how much work was put into its paint job. In thinking about the work we did in San Juan de Llullundongo, I’d never thought about who painted houses, or how much work was put into it — it was simply a house that was painted white to me. Where the tomatoes at the supermarket came from did not matter to me; it was just a bunch of little red fruits that came in a plastic package. It took this trip to understand and grasp that everything, whether it be an object, concept, or problem, has people behind it.”  Read More…

What stood out to Layla & Anderson:

This introspective post by a Glimpser nearly a week after returning back to the U.S. paints the way she feels about experiencing reverse culture shock. You see her observing the U.S. with new eyes, realizing that her normal isn’t everyone’s normal. We are proud to see how Glimpsers have integrated Kichwa into their learning and used “kayakama” to remind them that it wasn’t over just because the trip was over.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Hello from Global Glimpse alums, Anderson and Layla! We’ve returned to GG this summer, but this time as interns in the New York and Bay Area offices. One of our favorite parts of the day is to follow along with student reflections on the blog as Glimpsers share their travel experiences in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. We enjoy reading how they are broadening their perspective, growing their leadership skills, and preparing to contribute meaningfully to their communities when they return home — just like we did!

We hope you enjoyed reading our favorite blogs and feel inspired!

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