Global Expeditions is a once in a life time opportunity.
But it is not, a once in a lifetime investment.
There are dozens of international service-learning programs for young people to choose from. Most of these programs, however, perpetuate a model of service-learning that is more beneficial for the travelers than for the actual people they are supposed to be serving. Short term trips that focus primarily on service can have minimal effects at best and harmful effects on the communities at worst. Often times, students show up, do work they are under qualified for, take job opportunities away from community members, and then leave. This is an outdated and ineffective service-learning model that does not teach young people how to serve the global community effectively. This is why Global Expeditions has taken the service-learning model and completely turned it upside down (or is it right side up?).
This is why we call our approach "learning-service."
For almost a year leading up to the trip, Global Expeditions students participate in a learning community that provides them with the knowledge, cultural literacy, and skills necessary to make their short time abroad as successful as possible. But the learning does not stop upon arrival; in fact, it only increases. Students are encouraged to ask questions and learn through doing. Throughout this process, students are able to form long-term global partnerships, refine leadership skills, discover new truths, and move closer to cultural competency. Furthermore, by keeping the main objective learning-based, expectations are more easily managed. We do not sell the false promise of making a difference in just two week's time. All we can do is hope to learn enough so that when we return home, we are ready to serve well.
Global Expeditions students return home with invaluable skills, knowledge, and partnerships. When combined with the wealth of resources in their own community, students now have the basic necessities for meaningful and effective global service to take place. With some hard work and dedication, they are now ready to be difference makers. It is not easy. It doesn't always provide profile pics for social media platforms. And it is not as glamorous as some of the other service-trips. But it is successful. Project Wisdom has worked with our Global Partners for years now, and the outcomes are special. Since returning home, Global Expeditions students have helped spread awareness to thousands of students and community members on important global issues, and they have helped raise thousands of dollars for specific projects that benefit the communities they visited and the people they learned to love while abroad. Even more important, this framework has provided students with a process for engaging the global community for the rest of their lives: learn first; serve second.