Students learn leadership and gratitude through Global Glimpse, while exploring the beauty of Latin American culture


Hanna Olsen , Staff Writer

Global Glimpse gives students the opportunity to explore the cultures of Latin American countries such as Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. During the two-to-three-week trip, students explore cities and natural habitats, go on hikes, learn about customs and traditions, and choose a Community Action project to address the needs of the area.

“Global Glimpse is very unlike other programs,” Lauren Camarillo said. Camarillo was a Global Glimpse leader from 2013 until recently. “It is a travel learning leadership experience that is accessible, and most travel options until college aren’t really accessible. They’re really expensive. And they might be more on the touristy side.”

Global Glimpse aims to promote service and leadership, as well as cultural immersion as a benefit of travel. “The mission of Global Glimpse is to engage with the community, to understand the community’s needs, see the natural beauty of a place, but also be really critical in the way that you look at the political landscape, local issues, climate issues or indigenous rights issues,” Camarillo said.

Junior Erika De La Rosa will be going on a trip with Global Glimpse this summer. “I’m traveling to the Dominican Republic, but the reason I’m very excited for this trip is that I’ve never traveled out of the country. So this is my first time,” De La Rosa said.  

For her upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic, De La Rosa is anticipating some of the adjustments she will have to make.

“Something I learned is that we don’t get to use sink water,” De La Rosa said. “When you’re brushing your teeth, you have to use filtered water to rinse your mouth out and stuff like that.”

The program is much more “critical” providing students with an expansive worldview. Global Glimpse is also made accessible to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. The program offers scholarships and financial aid, so some students pay almost nothing for an international travel experience and education.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Camarillo from a past Global Glimpse trip

Global Glimpse was previously only available to high school juniors, but has recently expanded to some students of other grade levels.

Students who are involved in service within their communities make great candidates for positions in Global Glimpse, according to Camarillo, should have a positive and motivated outlook on how they can help the world around them.

“Handiwork is just a pleasantly acquired skill set,” Camarillo said. “The main thing they look for is curiosity and a desire to get to know the world outside their community.”

Through immersing themselves in the realities of the local communities, students can gain insight, understanding, and gratitude for their privileges. Camarillo said that potentially interested students should also be fearless and ready to step outside of their comfort zones.

“It is not a comfortable trip, every day is a challenge,” Camarillo said. “They need students who are very willing to take risks and be outside their comfort level.”

Spanish is not a prerequisite for the program, but it is a greatly helpful tool for bilingual students.

De La Rosa speaks Spanish fluently herself. “A good amount of the program doesn’t speak Spanish at all,” she said. “But we have translators on the trip and I think it’s beautiful that they still choose to go on the [trip] even though there’s a huge language barrier.”

For non-Spanish speaking students, spending time in a country whose language they do not understand is a challenge, but also a culturally enlightening experience.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Camarillo from a past Global Glimpse trip

When traveling through Global Glimpse, students lose access to many comforts, Camarillo said, like air conditioning, hot water, consistent electricity, transportation, and familiar foods, which can take some adjusting. In addition, students cannot access their phones for the duration of the trip.

“That’s a big, really awesome part of truly being present,” Camarillo said. Students are able to fully experience the realities of the local people in the countries they visit, when they are forced away from the distractions of a screen.

Logistically, service isn’t readily available in many areas that Global Glimpse visits. 

“The part of the Dominican Republic I will be visiting is extremely small, so there’s not much access to WiFi,” De La Rosa said. “But part of the reason we are not allowed to use cell phones is to experience what people there experience on a day to day basis, and how we have to travel from a small city to a larger city to access the internet and WiFi.”

Global Glimpse’s outreach to Latin American communities is deeply impactful for students, allowing them to understand their privilege, develop a broader worldview, and form meaningful relationships.

“The most meaningful part of the trips come in the new connections that are formed,” Camarillo said. “The students deeply connect with the people that they meet in the country and often maintain those connections as well. I’m still friends with kids that we tutored in Nicaragua who are adults now.”

De La Rosa mentions how the program helped her expand her perspective outside of the Bay Area’s bubble.

“Something I want to learn on the trip is how to fully understand my privilege,” De La Rosa said. “I’d recommend it to other students to grow as a person and learn a lot of independence. It’s also such a beautiful thing to get to travel out of the country and help people.”