I think about my 2 week trip every day. The connections Visions has with the community are so deep. I finally felt like my true authentic self. Eating scorpions with locals, building a school bathroom in Cambodia, and constructing handicap ramps for elders in the Blackfeet tribe were some of my adventures of the last two summers.
In Cambodia we partnered with a group that rescued girls from sex-trafficking and trained them to be semi-professional soccer players. I was in awe of their strength. How did they get through the day, let alone push themselves to become high intensity athletes? On the Blackfeet reservation we helped build a Sundance lodge to assist locals in their sacred ceremony.
I marveled at how devoted they were to their vibrant traditions, despite all the hardships they have faced as a race. Their resilience clarified why I was there. After spending 3 weeks in Cambodia I felt like I really made a mark and left a piece of myself there. We formed a community with many of the residents in Battambang- Mom our cook , our tuk tuk drivers piccun and vonny , the principal, the teachers, the schoolchildren, some of the shopkeepers, and the SALT girls. We had formed and become part of a real community. Amd everyone was so appreciative.
They enjoyed taking us around and welcomed our curiosity and willingness to help. It was a new way of traveling that I would like to continue to pursue. To live at the local level, immerse yourself in the culture, and really get to know the people. I lived there. I was a part of it. And it felt amazing. The two weeks I spent in Peru were some of the best of my life.
The leaders were very helpful and friendly, and all the natives were very kinda and patient. I learned a ton of Spanish and expanded my vocabulary. I spent 27 days on the Blackfeet reservation in northern Montana leaning about the tribes culture and history while also exploring glacier national park and making friends for life.
I don't even know where to begin. I met the most amazing people and learned so much. I always thought it was cheesy when people said that one small experience changed their life, but just the 2 weeks I was there gave me a whole new perspective and really opened up my world. My Peru trip was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. I made so many new friends, saw amazing sights, perfected my Spanish-speaking, and got the chance to immerse in Peruvian culture.
The staff on the trip was amazing and our daily activities were very enriching and fun. I am still in touch with everyone in the group and we all text on a regular basis. A girl I met on the trip became my best friend and we still visit each other pretty regularly, even though we are miles apart. My Dominican Republic trip was fun and a very good learning experience. I had a lot of fun on this trip, but it definitely wasn't comparable to Peru.
Overall it was a good trip. I met a lot of new people, sometimes it wasn't the best but that was just because of our group's dynamic. I'm adopted from Vietnam, so Cambodia wasn't great after learning about their past history but overall it was educational. Great summer experience learned a lot and made great friends along the way.
The leaders made every aspect of this trip unique and fun in a way where everyone wasn't bored and we had something fun to do every day. My trip to Guadeloupe was great and I made so many new friends. Great organisation that helps make memories. I embarked on the 27 day visions service trip to Montana and it was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We spent our days helping the local Native American Blackfeet reservation and its wonderful people, and spent our free time engaging in awesome bonding activities, sitting by the campfire and enjoying the grandiose beautiful sky.
I also want to give a special shoutout to Nick Nelson who was one of the coolest mountain men Ive ever met and acted as a great role model to all of us. I highly recommend. Several of our students have attended Visions programs. The organization seems to have real values about community-building and cultural exchange that are important for today's youth and society. The service projects are well-planned; great leader ratios important note from an educator ; and not the "savior" approach that is becoming more common with international volunteering.
Several of our kids have even returned to their program sites to visit community friends. I went on the British Virgin Islands mission with Visions for three weeks, and I must say it was an unforgettable experience that will last forever. Despite the fact that I'm Canadian, I found myself right at the beginning in the warm care of genuine people from all over the U. The leaders of the program, five of them, were true and enthusiastic, people who loved what they were committed to.
My peers were supportive and humorous. I remember cleaning dishes while joking and having the time of my life with people I had no background with. The supportive environment also allowed me to explore new opportunities. By the second week, we were scuba diving.
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I was really nervous, but, my peers and leaders gave me moral encouragement and seeing them brave the challenge forced me into the new experience. Though work days were difficult, there was always something to look forward to after. Whether getting ice cream, meeting the locals, or even getting some time on the beach, it was a time that I look back on with a smile. Absolutely loved these trips! At first I was only supposed to go to Ecuador and the Galapagos and I loved it so much so I found out I could go to the Dominican Republic and I went right after that trip ended.
Absolutely loved that trip too! These trips were the best experiences of my life. I made so many amazing friends and did so many amazing things I could have never done without visions. Visions changed my life. I highly recomend both trips because both of them are very involved in the culture and you really get to explore where you live in these country's and places. Also you go on amazing excursions that are insane and amazing. And if you love kids like I do both of these trip have a lot of kids you get to connect with and really get to know them and play with them. I loved that so much I always couldn't wait to either go to the worksite or the preschool just to see the kids.
And also if you are looking to improve your Spanish these trips really help with that. I highly recommend going on a visions trip because they are life changing expierences and changed my life. The Nicaragua trip was fantastic all around. The people I met and the experiences we had together were unforgettable. I really loved being able to talk to people throughout the trip in Spanish. It is an amazing feeling when you are able to communicate in another language, even if you mess up all the time!
The people are so understanding. It was a great learning experience, and I think I gained a lot of confidence in speaking Spanish every day. Another big highlight was living with 15 other people. Of course there were less than fun experiences, but we really became a tight-knit group of teens and leaders.
Comunidad [evening Circle meetings] was incredible. We went to some really extraordinary places. The community and their mission was really inspiring. You get to know the people first hand and become friends with them; some have even become like family to me. On the VISIONS Alaska program I spent about a month living in a traditional Athabascan Native village where I did construction-based projects which included constructing a new basket-ball court and also got to learn about Athabascan culture.
We got to learn traditional beadwork and birch-bark basketry from an elder right in her own home--it was an exceptional experience. My favorite community service project here was teaching English to the students who attend the school. Aside from teaching English to the students, we also got to go on excursions with them to visit nearby cities, villages and pagodas! It was so cool to travel with our Myanmar friends.
It was memorable for me when I was walking along the U Bein bridge with one of these students and as we were walking, she taught me some Burmese words.
I learned so many new skills in the worksites from nailing boards while on a ladder to discovering how to make cement. The work that you do helps the local communities. The work you do matters. We also got to know the community that we were living in! My favorite part of the trip was the day homestay. My host family for the day was very welcoming and friendly, and the kids in the family were adorable. I loved chatting to them in Spanish. Each program was vastly different in its own extraordinary way but all still included the special, core values of VISIONS that you won't find anywhere else.
Community service. This is what I had really wanted to do, so I really enjoyed it.
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That's not to say that the days were long, hard, and I wanted to go home. The work sites were fun! We got to know many community members and it I could often see the difference we were making. After the workdays and on the weekends we would do lots of other fun things including touristy things, workshops with community members, and just enjoying being in another country. By the end of the trips I had made lots of good friends and amazing memories.
Walking around the town for the last time I realized that it felt like i really lived there for the time I spent there. Also my Spanish improved a lot on the Spanish speaking trip. Honestly, I was very unsure about spending four weeks in the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. It is one of those experiences you have to get your head wrapped around and into the mindset that you're about to leave everything you're comfortable with.
The first week or so is one of the hardest; you have to be stripped down mentally into your most vulnerable state before you can let the next three weeks build you into the person you want to become. You learn the value of communication through Okanatapi and about the culture of the people through hands-on interaction. You work on projects that make you feel amazing because you know that it helps at least one person and will be there for years to come.
The last week was almost as hard as the first. You've made friends from people who live half the world away from you and it's the last time you might see them. This camp has made me more proactive and a better leader and follower. I wish I could go again, just to relive the experience.
I had an absolutely awesome time on the trip that I participated in Blackfeet Reservation, Montana. The VISIONS instructors are really, really great people who care about what they do, are always available for help, and really want to get to know you and have a good time! They implement a safe, encouraging environment for students, which makes all participants feel comfortable and respect each other. The service work is also amazing, as you really feel like are making a difference in the community you are working with.
They do not try to pretty it up online with vivid descriptions of the beautiful beaches or tall mountains on whatever program you are looking at. The staff members know exactly how to discipline, as well as hang out with, both middle school and high school students.
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They are never overbearing or annoying, and if there is ever a bump on the road you feel able to have a genuine conversation with them. They also do not act like your superiors; the staffers are more like older siblings rather than parental figures. The campers on each individual program are always a hardworking, fun, well-rounded group of kids. I have never encountered a bully or clique thus far, which is impressive considering how teenagers can often have exclusive relationships. The excursions we all go on after work during the weekdays or on the weekends are diverse and engaging.
From venturing out to waterfalls and a discoteca to overnight backpacking in Wyoming, you never feel bored or out of the loop of whatever culture you are immersing yourself in. At times you may feel sad or homesick or angry, which is normal for both new and veteran travelers. This is where circle comes into play. Circle, also known as communidad, is a time where everyone sits in a circle, shares what happened that day, and completes an activity that helps everyone get to know each other and how they are all currently feeling.
At first this sounded extremely cheesy to me. The sense of confidence and accomplishment they feel after completing a project is absolutely amazing! The hands on work and interaction with the community teaches students so much! Students get a different view of life- it is something they cannot learn at school while sitting in a classroom. Community service. This is what I had really wanted to do, so I really enjoyed it. That's not to say that the days were long, hard, and I wanted to go home. The work sites were fun! We got to know many community members and it I could often see the difference we were making.
After the workdays and on the weekends we would do lots of other fun things including touristy things, workshops with community members, and just enjoying being in another country.
By the end of the trips I had made lots of good friends and amazing memories. Walking around the town for the last time I realized that it felt like i really lived there for the time I spent there. Also my Spanish improved a lot on the Spanish speaking trip. I had such a good trip with Visions to the DR! I loved every minute of it and I want to do another trip next summer. We did so much with the locals that I felt a real sense of community. I would definitely recommend Visions to anyone!
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