This summer, 20 Palo Alto High School juniors will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of a foreign country by participating in the school’s chapter of Global Glimpse, a newly piloted, leadership-oriented program.
According to Paly’s Global Glimpse coordinator, social studies teacher Steve Foug, the program, which is in its first year at Paly, is targeted toward students of diverse backgrounds and strives to give participants a way to learn about other regions of the world while helping them develop management and communication skills. Participants will experience life in a rural community in a Latin American country over a three-week period in the summer and will engage in a variety of community service activities.
“Students will travel to a small city in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic or Ecuador and will stay in a hostel for two to three weeks,” Foug said. “They’ll teach English to the locals in the evenings for free and work on a community action project.”
One of the goals of the program is to expose students to the realities of life in other parts of the world.
“They’ll spend a day with the [local] families and see what it’s like to live on a dollar a day,” Foug said.
Foug says the program is an excellent opportunity for students to improve collaboration skills, as participants will have to work with students from different schools while abroad.
“It’ll be a mix of students from all over the Bay Area,” Foug said.
In the beginning of the school year, teachers nominated around 90 students to take part in the program. Those interested in attending submitted an application and were then accepted into the program by the Global Glimpse team.
“I asked social studies teachers to nominate students that they thought would be interested in this program or would do well,” Foug said. “This is targeted toward people that are interested in the leadership aspect, fundraising or a service-oriented career.”
Participants are required to attend workshops throughout the year to prepare for their trips.
“We have a series of workshops and learn about things like culture, globalization, Latin American history, aid and development so that these students will be well equipped wherever they go,” Foug said.
Foug believes that the program is appealing because it offers students a wide range of activities and facilitates the development of valuable personal qualities.
“It’s a program that has so many facets to it and will hopefully give students skills that will be applicable for all types of careers down the road,” Foug said.
Another major drawing point for Global Glimpse is that attendees are not required to speak any Spanish, so even those who have no knowledge of Spanish whatsoever still have an opportunity to travel to Latin America.
“I don’t speak a lick of Spanish, and neither do some of the Paly students that will be going,” Foug said.
Junior Aiva Petriceks, who will be attending the Global Glimpse program in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, said that she is most excited to interact with others and form friendships that will continue even after the trip has ended.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting the people there and making lasting connections,” Petriceks said.
Foug also emphasized that the objective is not simply to do a transient community project, but rather to implement meaningful change in communities and have attendees develop important interpersonal skills.
“It’s not just, ‘Let’s go down to a third-world country and help and feel good about ourselves,'” Foug said. “It’s more focused on what we can learn – what we can take away from it ourselves.”