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 education, poverty, HIV/AIDS, recent histories of conflict and genocide, public health, environmental conservation, and sustainable development. We offer Global Awareness in Action programs in 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.
“My expectations for the program was to be immersed in Cambodian culture, learn about the people, and document my findings for our presentation at Yale. The program certainly exceeded my expectations: our experiences were life changing and I returned home with a new found understanding of the struggles developing nations face. Whether it was at the Phare circus school or the countless amazing NGOs we met along the way, I enjoyed the depth and breadth of the experiences we had in Cambodia.”
-Jared Dauman, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Chappaqua, 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 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: