June 18 – July 5, 2017 and July 9 – 26, 2017

Changing the world sometimes changes you

At the Global Leadership Forum (GLF), we challenge our participants to step out of their comfort zones. Through supportive education and deliberate community engagement we aim to harness the energy and power our youth have. Through the GLF experience, participants find themselves emancipated from the idea that they cannot do anything about the problems in their community. Our graduates are more confident, skilled and empowered makers of positive change.

The GLF has three phases. During the Castle Phase, we spend time on UWC-USA campus learning about each other and gaining the skills necessary for the coming challenges. We intentionally build a supportive community through individual and group activities that pertain to social skill development, innovation, and development of each participant’s personal story. During the Culture Phase, we visit local communities in Las Vegas, Santa Fe, and Taos to experience the mosaic of the rich Southwest culture created by indigenous and European descendant populations. We volunteer with local non-profits and learn about what it takes to make change in the world. Finally, we explore the stunning wild areas of Colorado during the Challenge Phase. We work with Mission: Wolf organization that has created a sanctuary for wolves. During this phase we reflect deeply on our role and responsibilities on this planet while participants get to powerfully interact with the soul-nurturing animals.

Program components

1. Leadership Development

glf-lggroupWe provide the space to develop leadership skills. During GLF there are daily opportunities for participants to be leaders.

2. Project Development

We work with participants to create projects that they are passionate about. Participants are encouraged to implement their projects at their home communities.

3. Service Learning

We spend a minimum of 18 hours during the GLF volunteering for various non-profit groups.

4. Global Community Building

The participants represent a wide variety of backgrounds and traditions from around the globe! Participants are encouraged to learn and respectfully teach each other about the diversity of the world. One of the most treasured take-aways from the GLF are the new perspectives and life-long friends.

5. Cultural Experience

Participants experience the cultures of the Southwestern United States. They listen to live music on warm summer evenings, and learn about the strong Native American and Hispanic heritage present in New Mexico.

6. Wilderness Challenge

Participants learn how set up a campsite, cook in the backcountry, hike, endure, and thrive in the wilderness.



Cost: $3,300

Dates: June 18 – July 5, 2017 or July 9 – 26, 2017

Application Deadline: May 31st, 2017

Location: New Mexico

Ages: 14-18

Information Booklet: Download pdf [1.9MB]


“Global Leadership Forum had a profound impact on the way I see and go about influencing the world, and I will forever consider it one of the best experiences of my young life.”

– Ben Brimacombe, GLF Participant


There are two things to know about GLF:  you will be busy, and you will have fun. Below are some things to expect.


Intentional community building, interpersonal skill development workshops, community problem-solving workshops, discovery of the UWC-USA farm.


Summit the breathtaking Hermit’s Peak in Pecos Wilderness, learn basic wilderness skills, live outdoors at the Mission: Wolf wilderness facility in Colorado.


Tour and history of the campus, decolonization of the U.S., visit the Bandelier National Monument and learn about home of generations of cliff dwelling Native Americans, visit Tesuque Pueblo farm and learn about Native American agriculture, visit downtown Santa Fe,  enjoy live music and delicious food, and soak up Southwestern culture, visit local non-profit organizations.


Perform in the GLF Cultural Show!


Volunteer with local non-profit organizations, volunteer with Mission: Wolf by collecting wood, feeding wolves, and helping maintain trails, volunteer at the UWC-USA farm.


Develop and record your personal story, share your story, deepen your understanding of privilege and power, develop skills and network to realize a community project.


Arrival or departure  via Albuquerque airport, transfer to and from UWC-USA campus, settle in your room with your roommate or bid goodbye to your friends.








Look over the FAQs below, download and read the GLF Information Booklet on the top right. If you have any additional questions, feel free to email Gita at

What is the weather like in New Mexico?

The weather is warm and sunny in the summertime, and often hot during the day! The air is very dry. We are in the high altitude dessert between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, so participants will be well over 6,000 feet (2000 meters!) in altitude all of the time. Participants need to watch out for sunburn and wear a hat and sunglasses. It is extremely important to drink water and consume electrolytes in this part of the world. We sometimes have summer “monsoons” when it rains almost every day, then clears off and is cooler.

Do I take any tests?

The GLF is a non-academic program, so participants are not required to take any written examinations. That being said, participants are tested every day of the program through physical and emotional challenges. We believe that participants experience true personal growth and learning when they have overcome challenges, and we provide a supportive environment for such growth.

Is it safe in New Mexico and the area around UWC-USA?

Although this may not be something that participants think about, it is certainly something parents sometimes worry about. Las Vegas, NM (where UWC-USA is located) is a safe place. The school itself is a closed campus, and we have our own security personnel. When the program moves off campus for the Culture and into the Challenge Phases, participants inherently take some more risks; however, the GLF staff is trained to manage the group, so that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable learning experience.

Do I need to speak English fluently?

While we do not demand advanced English proficiency, it is important to us that you are able to speak, read, and write well enough to learn from this opportunity. We want everyone to be able to contribute. The English ability will be assessed during the interview.

What are the instructors and staff like?

At UWC-USA, the relationship between participants and staff is casual, yet, professional. Inside and outside the classroom students and teachers conduct themselves more informally. How informal you think the relationship is, depends on your background. At GLF students and faculty address each other by their first names. We expect everyone to exercise the highest level of respect towards each person of our community. The program staff are extremely devoted, passionate and knowledgeable people who enjoy working with youth on issues of personal matter as well as issues that will change the quality of life for people around the globe.

What kind of technology is available at UWC-USA and what should I bring?

The UWC-USA campus has a well-functioning WiFi. There are small computer labs in each of the dorms, with four to six computers in each lab and internet access from each of these computers. Participants should feel free to bring their own laptop, tablet, smart phone, or nothing at all! Participants use their technology for note taking, journaling, free time, and communication with their families.

There are parts of the program when we will not be using any technology, and participants may be asked to refrain from making cell phone calls and texting in some settings. Also, in some of our locations, there is simply no access to a signal.

Where will I be living?

Participants are assigned to one of six residences during their time at UWC-USA. Participants share a dormitory room with one or two other participants of the same gender. The GLF staff lives in the same dormitories as participants, only a few doors down. The staff is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During the Challenge Phase, we sleep in sleeping-bags inside tents. Participants really enjoy the camping experience and we provide all the equipment and training needed to have a safe and comfortable life in the wilderness.

What’s the food like?

We offer a large variety of dishes in our school cafeteria, and there is always a vegetarian option. We are also able to accommodate specific dietary needs. We always have a salad bar with extensive ingredients and fixings, and most meals have a meat option too. After we leave UWC-USA, we become more adventurous, and make our own meals over camp stoves!

Where do I go if I have problems?

Program coordinators are always available and we periodically check in with every participant to see how things are going. If you have any problems or concerns, each member of the GLF staff is a great person to talk to. Our program prides itself on the extremely friendly, supportive, and socially-connected staff. We have high instructor-to-participant ratio: 1:5 or 6. We are here for you.

What rules does GLF enforce?

The GLF faculty is not here to be policing every student’s behavior, but they do enforce the few rules that we have. Participant fate lies in their own hands when it comes to rules. What happens to participants depends on their actions. The first rule is that GLF participants must be respectful towards each other. We will talk more about this during the first day of the experience but as a rule any harassment (racial insults, sexual misconduct, religious offenses) are not tolerated. The second rule is that there is zero-tolerance policy for drugs, alcohol, or smoking. The school is also very serious when it comes to this. We understand that there may be different rules and attitudes towards substance use in various home countries but during the GLF participants have to restrain use of drugs, alcohol or smoking. If you are caught having any experience with illegal drugs, alcohol or smoking, you will be forced to leave. There is no room for negotiating this rule. Lastly, there will be curfew between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. During this time you are expected to be in your own dorm, hopefully resting for the challenges you will face the following day.

What is community service?

Community service is a central component of our program. While some participants might have been exposed to community service in the past, for others this might be the first time ever hearing of it. Community service is exactly what it sounds like – it is something that you do to serve the local community. The opportunities for community service include working with the elderly, the environment, people with mental or physical disabilities, or children. Within each category exists several different opportunities, and we will meet local teens while we perform community service in Las Vegas and Santa Fe.

Will I be able to talk to my family?

We have WiFi over the entire campus, as well as cell phone reception. We welcome participants to bring a phone, laptop, or other device to communicate with family and friends via cell phone or any application such as Skype or Google Hangout. If participants do not have a “smart” device, you may always use a computer in one of the computer labs or borrow a device from a staff member or a friend.

How much spending money should I bring?

There is no need to bring spending money! Our days are packed with activities and we always have food and snacks from the moment participants land to the moment they depart. That being said, there are opportunities to buy art and gifts. If participants would like to bring money for those items, they usually use between $25-150 during the experience.

Where do participants come from?

The program brings together students from all continents. The countries represented vary every year. In the past, we usually have had more than 25 countries represented. We also bring students from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds which brings a variety of perspectives to the discussions.

I need to complete community service hours for school, do you do that?

During the program, participants complete at least 18 hours of community service. We are happy to complete forms or documents to help verify that the hours have been completed.

What is one last piece of advice you have?

Participants are encouraged to be open to new ideas and experiences, because there are many. Our program is too unique, too different, and too extreme to fit into any context to which participants have previously been exposed to. Therefore, trying to judge what it has to offer, is next to impossible. Participants find that keeping an open mind and coming to the GLF with lots of energy results  in many truly remarkable experiences. The hardest part of the program is saying goodbye to friends and to the community that the GLF experience has created.


“It is so influential and powerful for me to have had those several days there, and of course the experience is so incredible and amazing. It was my first time to be in such a diverse setting! I was curious, nervous but happy to find out the differences among others. And through a lot of meaningful collective activities, I believe in the quotes of UWC-USA that “there is more in you than you think”. When I returned to China, I pay more attention to, and care more about the environment…I do not want to buy plastic water bottle, so usually I would have my beverage filled in tins or use a water bottle again and again!”

– Ziqi Wei, China, 2014 GLF Participant