IT all started as a “what if . . .?”Today, it is an adventure come to life for 26 exceptional learners and a small army of dedicated teachers.The Global Leadership Academy (GLA) in Jeffreys Bay launched their unique TravelSchool earlier this year - a first for the region.Principal, Stefan Kleyn, beams with pride, “Since the inception of the school in January 2010, it was our aim to be different. It is our vision to see that every learner in GLA discovers and develops their God-given potential while travelling the world and bringing about positive change.“In June this year, after spending almost a decade raising much-needed funds for our own eco-friendly building, we brought this vision to life.“GLA is the only high school of its kind in the region -offering a full immersion in several countries and cultures for Grade 10 learners: shaping curious, compassionate and forward-thinking learners with the knowledge and power to make a difference.” TravelSchool A group of 26 Grade 10 learners, accompanied by seven adults, travelled to Russia, Turkey and Kosovo from June 16 to August 2 - exploring, keeping up to date with school work, volunteering and giving back.In Turkey they visited Istanbul, Cappadocia, Goreme and Selçuk. From there they went to Northern Cyprus for a few days, before visiting Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia.“From the Red Square to cathedrals, high-rise buildings, colourful markets and impressive farms, the learners immersed themselves in the colours, flavours and languages of local cultures,” says Kleyn. “Learners had to compete in seve-ral amazing race challenges designed to test their skills, faith, wit, determination and ability to work as part of a team: find their own way to the airport and buy meat while not understanding the language. And serve the local community: raise R100 to buy food for someone less fortunate, spend time with disabled children, serve at an orphanage, teach English and help at a horse farm.”The purpose: To teach them self-confidence and independence while doing good. They also had to keep up to date with their school work, as they missed four weeks of the third term - even if it meant learning under a tree. Teachers facilitated the different subjects presented in block classes totaling 16 hours per subject.The learners even received their history class under a tree. Take Aim “The ideals behind TravelSchool are as unique as the experience it offers, and the teachers are as driven by a thirst for knowledge and desire to improve the world - and the community they live in - as the learners who attend the school,” says Kleyn.“The aim of the TravelSchool is to prepare learners with the knowledge, experiences and tools they need to make informed decisions and to help change the world for the better.” Future Plans It is hoped that more learners can join the TravelSchool in the future.“We might even incorporate local destinations and African lands,” says Kleyn. “Learners attending the TravelSchool, will have the opportunity to serve, pray, love, share, witness and impact lives. More than this, their lives and the way they look at life, will change.” ) Clara de Beer – Grade 10 The TravelSchool not only taught me to be more responsible, but I also realised that you are much stronger than you think. It reaffirmed, and strengthened, my appreciation for our country, its people and the opportunities we have in South Africa. ) Kayla Olivier – Grade 10 TravelSchool was by far the best experience I have ever had. I have learned so much from the different cultures. It is almost impossible to describe how the Lord worked in my life. It was amazing to see how the Lord’s presence was with us and how He changed so much in our hearts. It is definitely something that I will do again any time and that I will never forget. Thank you that I could be a part of the pioneer group that broke ground for the school. ) Leon Olivier – Parent When we first heard about TravelSchool, we immediately thought: No. The cost, our child being alone overseas, it’s just too much of a risk for such a young child. God asked of us to trust Him and to think outside of our normal parameters/box! We had to trust not only for our child’s safety, but also for the funds. He came through! We did not have to contribute a cent, and our child came back a wonderful young woman (who has grown so much in God) and not just the 15-year-old child we sent over for an experience of a lifetime. Thank you GLA and everyone involved in making this happen and for giving our girl a wonderful trip and life experience.