Global Awareness in Action (GAIA) summer programs for high school students are designed to provide motivated students with a unique perspective on critical global challenges at the local community level. These programs offer an unparalleled opportunity to learn firsthand about serious concerns facing humanity, such as homelessness, poverty, HIV/AIDS, youth, children’s, and women’s issues, recent histories of conflict and genocide, health care, environmental conservation, and sustainable development. We offer Global Awareness in Action programs in South America, Asia, and Africa.
Students explore these issues during several weeks in a host country, meeting with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) talking to local people, visiting clinics, community centers, and orphanages, conducting informal field research, and working on relevant service projects. The GAIA approach is unique, combining intellectual inquiry and hands-on interaction, resulting in 20 to 40 community service hours. Participants have an opportunity to interact with some of the people that are actually on the ground and getting things done: international volunteers and aid workers, government representatives, teachers, community leaders, activists, and individuals and families directly affected by the topic issues.
“I came into the program hoping to learn about India, the world, and ultimately, about myself. I took away several life lessons that have drastically altered my views on all of the above. I am more mature and well rounded as a person and traveler.”
- Julia Ofman, LaGuardia High School, Brooklyn, NY
To further focus their time in-country, each student chooses an independent project within the context of the program, and makes an informal presentation to fellow group members. Building on this work, the group collaborates on a shared presentation to be made at Yale University during the last two days of the program. Family members are invited to these presentations, which may include photography, video, music, dance, theatre, food, or all of the above, and are followed by in-depth discussions incorporating the questions of family members and other interested persons. A key aspect of the session at Yale is a discussion of opportunities for future action and continued involvement in attempt to respond to some of the world’s most serious challenges.
Global Awareness in Action Options: