Health and Safety

Read on to find out pre-trip health suggestions, and our health and safety policies.

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.

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