Frequently Asked Questions


No Data Found

Pre-trip/Registration/Admin

What if I missed the parent info night?

 

 

 

You can find all of the info on your trip page and in the videos below:

First Part (Intro): https://fccdl.in/XMfRDi2O6

Second Part (Location Specific):

Third Party (Safety+Health): https://fccdl.in/tGpQfj1ai

*Note that for university students, the rules differ on alcohol consumption, and they may explore in pairs.

 

 

How can I make a trip payment?

 

Trip payments are made through our crowd-funding partner empowered.org. To find a link to your personal empowered page click on the manage my trip tab at the top of our website to access your trip portal.

Where can I find my trips travel dates

Travel dates can be found in your personal trip portal accessed by clicking the manage my trip tab at the top of our website to access.

What if my trip doesn't appear on the registration menu?
What is my remaining trip balance?

Trip balance can be found in your personal trip portal accessed by clicking the manage my trip tab at the top of our website to access.

How do I log into empowered.org?

You should have received an email to the email of the registering participant upon registering with details on accessing your empowered.org account. Check the participants email and spam for login information, and email gro.y1529834664ssabm1529834664etned1529834664utsla1529834664bolg@1529834664snoit1529834664seuq1529834664 if you continue to encounter questions.

What if my son or daughter cannot pay full price for the trip?

That is a great question. We actually have many students who cannot personally fund the whole international trip. For this reason, and because we want as many students as possible to be able to realize their goals of traveling with us, we offer scholarship opportunities and workshops to help students fundraise. We recognize fundraising as an essential skill in organizing and advocacy, and value the opportunity to mentor our students in developing these skill sets. A great place to start exploring fundraising is with our fundraising packet here [https://globalstudentembassy.org/exchange/fundraising-and-scholarship-opportunities/], which provides tips and examples of how to use our fundraising tools. Many students have fundraised their entire trip amount. For more information on fundraising workshops, check the calendar on your school’s web page. For more information on scholarship opportunities, we invite you to explore our scholarship information on the same page and apply for a GSE scholarship for travel. Please inquire with our partner GSE teachers and/or your local program coordinator about our nomination process for receiving a scholarship.

Where can I find my flight information?

You will receive your flight info in your email 30 days, 1 week, 1 day before trip departure, and you can also request that they be sent to you at any time by accessing your personal trip portal by clicking the manage my trip tab at the top of our website.

What if I need to cancel my trip?

Please refer to our Refund Policy on how we deal with trip cancellations, and email us at gro.y1529834664ssabm1529834664etned1529834664utsla1529834664bolg@1529834664snoit1529834664seuq1529834664.

I've decided not to travel, can I get a refund?

Please refer to our refund policy.

How do I find out who is signed up for a trip?

The www.empowered.org page for your trip has a list of all registered participants. Find your trip page through your trip portal.

How do I get a passport?

Your passport cannot expire within 6 months of your return flight.

You can follow the following state department instructions for getting a passport. In addition to applying by mail, many USPS offices process passports.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/how-to-apply.html

If you need a passport on short notice, see the following state department for expediting a passport at additional cost.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/hurry.html

Most major US cities have a passport office that can process passports within 24 hours in case of emergency. See SF passport agency as example:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/where-to-apply/passport-agencies/san-francisco.html

About the trip

How many chaperones travel with the group?

 

We have 2 GSE Exchange Coordinators on every trip no matter the size. As a general rule 1 teacher will travel for groups traveling with under 15 students, and 2 teachers for groups with more than 15 students.

Is Ecuador/Nicaragua Safe?

In our experience, Ecuador and Nicaragua are among the most safe and friendly countries in the world. We closely monitor all political, civil and environmental situations in country. Should we deem that the area is unsafe for travel, we will adjust the program accordingly.  Additionally, Global Student Embassy has built a vast network of in-country contacts in all of our partner locations and communities. We stay in dialogue with these partners regularly and are constantly receiving the most up-to-date information about our destinations and how it affects our groups and programs. We do everything we can to safeguard ourselves and our possessions, but students are also responsible for their own safety by following our policies, guidelines, and advice.

 

Do students need a visa for traveling to Ecuador/Nicaragua?

Students will receive a tourist visa upon arrival in Nicaragua/Ecuador. This visa is free in Ecuador, however costs $10 in Nicaragua- students should bring a $10 bill to pay this entry cost.

Do students need to carry a copy of their vaccination cards with them?

Vaccination cards are not required to entry into Nicaragua/Ecuador, but it is a best traveling practice to always have them on hand.

Can my son or daughter bring food with them, like Clif bars?

Yes. In fact, we encourage it. Many of the service workdays involve long hours or challenging labor. Water and snacks are always provided but students should bring additional energy bars that they can snack on throughout the day or if they need comfort food.

What meals will be provided?

All of the meals are provided as part of the trip cost.  The food is delicious and a mix of local delicacies so students get a feel for the local culture.  We have private cooks that are part of our local staff team in rural areas.  When students eat out at restaurants, we take them only to places that our staff have eaten at previously. Vegetarian and other dietary preferences are easily accommodated – please inform staff in advance on the medical form provided during registration.

What should the participant pack for their trip?

Please refer to our location-specific page for packing lists for each exchange program.

NicaraguaBahia de Caraqez, Ecuador – Cuenca, Ecuador

Should my son/daughter bring money with them on their trip?

Everything that your son/daughter needs will be provided on the trip. However, if he/she would like to buy gifts or memorabilia then they should bring some additional spending money (no more than $100). They may also want to have some money to buy snacks at the airport.

I can’t speak Spanish; is that a problem?

Not at all!  All staff speak Spanish.  It doesn’t hurt to learn a few greetings and if you are studying Spanish our trips are a great way to practice!

Where will we be sleeping?

GSE programs stay at family run hostels, and some trips have camping portions. We’ve been working with our housing providers for years, and do thorough risk assessments annually. Please refer to the itineraries on the location-specific pages for details.

NicaraguaBahia de Caraqez, Ecuador – Cuenca, Ecuador

Are mosquito nets provided?

 

In all sleeping arrangements where mosquitos are a concern, we provide mosquito nets for beds. However, some students and families feel more comfortable in having a mosquito net or an insect repelling sleepsack, such as the coolmax insect shield.

 

Will my student have email and phone access while in Ecuador?

 

Our programs offer students the opportunity to be away from home and explore their independence.  We ask that students not bring phones or wifi connecting devices. Students will send group emails daily as internet access allows.

In the event of an emergency or health concern, a GSE staff member will contact the primary guardian entered on the registration form. Emergency contacts will be contacted as a secondary measure in the case that any/all guardians are unavailable.

 

What is GSE’s policy on drugs and alcohol?

For all participants, GSE has a zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs. Alcohol is also strongly prohibited on high school trips.  Our programs are focused on community service and building relationship and students are prohibited from seeking out or using intoxicants. Students will be kept by the side of a chaperone in the event that these rules are broken and may be sent home at their family’s expense if their behavior is endangering themselves or the group. (Please see the release waiver for more info on this subject). Alcohol use on college trips takes place in a responsible manner. Failure to abide by the expectations of your trip leader could also result in dismissal from the program. Alcohol use on college trips takes place in a responsible manner. Failure to abide by the expectations of your trip leader could also result in dismissal from the program.

What about clean drinking water?

Filtered drinking water is available to students 100% of the time. Students should bring canteens or water bottles to re-fill throughout the trip.

What type of insurance is provided by Global Student Embassy?

 

GSE provides travel insurance for all participants that includes emergency medical, medical evacuation, and other services that we deem important for our travelers to have. You can access the details of this plan, and upgrade specific parts of it by using the insurance portal of our provider: http://coretravelinsurance.com/

Note: We cannot purchase trip cancellation/interruption coverage for you – GSE strongly recommends that participants purchase trip cancellation insurance. Trip cancellation/interruption insurance protects you against losing money due to a last minute emergency, whether medical, natural disaster or a death in the family. It is best to purchase coverage that has the fewest exclusions, and if possible allows for coverage for “cancel for any reason.” Sometimes more extensive coverage is available only if you purchase with 14 days of your first deposit to GSE, so purchase as early as possible. We cannot recommend a specific policy, but you can shop on sites like squaremouth.com. Coverage should cost about $50-100 depending on the trip and how extensive the coverage is.

 

What if I get sick during the trip?

Our leaders have the travel experience and medical training required to determine when an illness is potentially severe and when it is more routine. GSE has a wilderness first aid trained staff member on each trip. Should a student ever need to go to the doctor, a leader will accompany him/her to make sure he/she asks all the relevant questions and gets the best medical care possible. It is important that you notify your program coordinators and leaders of ANY medications you are taking regularly, or before you begin something new during the program. There is a hospital in Bahia (Ecuador) and San Clemente, both of which are a few miles away from our project.

Please be sure to consult with a travel doctor prior to your departure. If you have questions about vaccines needed for the region, please consult the CDC website https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/ecuador#vaccines-and-medicines. We ask that all participants be up to date with standard vaccines and have proof of immunization history in the event of a medical emergency.

 

Refund Policy and Tax Deductibility:

Cancellations and Initial Deposit
The initial deposit of $299 is firmly non-refundable. This deposit is used by GSE to secure air flights immediately.

Generally all trip payments are nonrefundable to participants and donors. We do understand that circumstances beyond a volunteers control may contribute to trip cancellation.

If trip cancellation is due to illness or a family death, GSE purchases insurance with $1000 of medical cancellation coverage through Core Insurance. GSE requests that participants looking to cancel their participation first file a claim for the $1000 refund with core insurance. After the claim is processed GSE can refund everything but the $299 deposit plus any nonrefundable costs GSE has already paid (e.g. airfare, prepaid lodging, etc.) to the person who paid it.

Please note: GSE Encourages all participants to upgrade their medical cancellation insurance to cover the entire cost of their trip. This can be done via the core insurance portal.

If a volunteer needs to cancel a trip for other reasons, any unused funds (funds leftover after any nonrefundable costs GSE has already paid such as airfare, prepaid lodging, etc.) raised by the canceling volunteer may be reserved for a future GSE program.

If a volunteer must cancel his/her participation in a program, it is the volunteer’s responsibility to inform his/her Program Coordinator and donors of this.

Trip participants may want to consider trip cancellation insurance. While it is recommended insurance is purchased (generally costing <$100), GSE will not make specific recommendations on providers for liability reasons.

Flight Booking Policy
Participants will be booked in group tickets and can under no circumstances get out of group tickets within 95 days of departure. Participants under 18 must travel with the group at all times. Participants over 18 may choose a different return date, but are responsible for their expenses and logistics when not traveling with GSE, as well as the total cost of their round trip flight. They must arrive on the same flight, and should book their tickets with our travel agent Shayna Davis at [email protected]. Notify us as soon as possible and we will reduce your trip cost by $450 to take into account that we will not be purchasing your ticket.
Donations Received Beyond Goal
Donations collected beyond the volunteer’s specific goal are greatly appreciated and will be used to support the further development of our international programs and chapters.  Find out more about out local year-round programs in Nicaragua and Ecuador.
Tax Deductible Service Program Fees
If you are a U.S. tax-payer, you are eligible for out-of-pocket savings for your or your student’s volunteer service program. The service program fees, air fare, visa, and related travel expenses are tax deductible if the participant adheres to GSE’s program itinerary, because they perform the work of Global Student Embassy, a 501C-3 tax-exempt organization. (See IRS Form 526)

Our trips adhere to IRS requirements that students work, on average, eight hours per day, six days out of nine to ensure this tax benefit. We will provide a detailed itinerary, however, we also recommend you keep a personal journal detailing the hours you work for tax purposes. Approximately 80% of the program costs is likely tax-deductible. Those interested in claiming this benefit will need to consult a personal tax advisor for tax-deductibility advice.

Please note: additional travel or vacation either before or after the service program may disqualify all or part of your service program fee, air fare, etc., from this tax deduction.

Health Policies and Practices:

International Trip Staff Training
We recognize that the quality of a students’ experience is directly related to the quality of their leaders. For this reason, trip leaders undergo a meticulous interview and training process then ensures we are working with the best. Our leaders are typically 25 – 30 years old and love working with youth. They have traveled sufficiently to the relevant regions, speak the local language, and are experienced in youth leadership.

All GSE trip leaders are Wilderness First Aid certified and have been training specifically to the region and locations in which they work. GSE Staff are to act within their level of training to respond to all accidents and injuries including but not limited to animal/insect/snake/scorpion bites and stings, accidents during and after garden projects, broken bones, extreme weather events.  In case of a serious or life-threatening emergency, there are emergency protocol procedures for each of our locations

Transportation
During the trip students will travel by airplane to and from the US to Managua, Nicaragua or to either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador (depending on flight availability). All in-country transportation is private and provided by reputable drivers that GSE has been contracting for years. At times, transportation may be in open-back pick up trucks, without seatbelts traveling at low speeds (under 10mph), along dirt roads.
Accommodation
For the duration the Interim, the group will be staying in reputable hotels or hostels.  Parents will be given a complete list of hotels and contact information before departure.
Risk Management
Trip leaders run through the full itinerary of each trip weeks before the trip takes place.  This ensures that we have all up-to-date safety information and can make adjustments if necessary.  Emergency transport is on-call 24/7 throughout the trip.
Urban Tourism
At various times during the trip, students will be walking the streets of cities and towns in Nicaragua or Ecuador.  As in any urban area, there is the possibility for pick pockets or theft.  Students will always be traveling in groups accompanied by the Trip Leaders.  Students should pay attention to keep with the group.  With the exception of a camera, students are encouraged to leave all valuables (e.g. smart phones, computers, expensive jewelry, etc.) back in the USA.
Drugs and Alcohol Policy
For all participants, GSE has a zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs. Alcohol is also strongly prohibited on high school trips.  Our programs are focused on community service and building relationship and students are prohibited from seeking out or using intoxicants. Students will be kept by the side of a chaperone in the event that these rules are broken and may be sent home at their family’s expense if their behavior is endangering themselves or the group. (Please see the release waiver for more info on this subject). Alcohol use on college trips takes place in a responsible manner. Failure to abide by the expectations of your trip leader could also result in dismissal from the program.
Drinking Water
Filtered drinking water is available to students 100% of the time. Students should bring canteens or water bottles to re-fill throughout the trip.
International Insurance
Global Student Embassy has an international health and liability policy that covers all participants, but does not have a policy about international travel insurance (insuring belongings and cancellations of trips) and therefore, leaves the decision making to each individual family.

Many homeowners and renters policies will also cover you for lost/stolen items during your travels. However, they can have high deductibles and a variety of clauses that can make this more troublesome than you’d prefer. GSE strongly recommends that participants purchase trip cancellation insurance. Trip cancellation/interruption insurance protects you against losing money due to a last minute emergency, whether medical, natural disaster or a death in the family, as well as theft. It is best to purchase coverage that has the fewest exclusions, and if possible allows for coverage for “cancel for any reason.” Sometimes more extensive coverage is available only if you purchase with 14 days of your first deposit to GSE, so purchase as early as possible. We cannot recommend a specific policy, but you can shop on sites like squaremouth.com. Coverage should cost about $50-100 depending on the trip and how extensive the coverage is.

Illness During Travel
Different environmental factors exist when traveling abroad and our bodies may not be accustomed to the challenges posed by daily life in a new country. While a certain amount of travelers’ diarrhea is to be expected, our leaders have the travel experience and medical training required to determine when an illness is potentially severe and when it is more routine. GSE has a wilderness first aid trained staff member on each trip. Should a student ever need to go to the doctor, a leader will accompany him/her to make sure he/she asks all the relevant questions and gets the best medical care possible. It is important that you notify your program directors and leaders of ANY medications you are taking regularly, or before you begin something new during the program.

Please be sure to consult with a travel doctor prior to your departure. If you have questions about vaccines needed for the region, please consult the CDC website (links above). We ask that all participants be up to date with standard vaccines and have proof of immunization history in the event of a medical emergency.

X