VISIONS Blog

May 05, 2017

Ingredients and Benefits of VISIONS Summer Programs

Building Confidence: Through immersion in different cultures and by working on ambitious projects in areas of need, VISIONS is an extremely grounding experience that gives kids an opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Making New Friends: Most teens come to VISIONS on their own, and we have a policy that no more than two friends can come together. That means that the group dynamic begins on day one of the program. More than a teen tour, VISIONS provides committed time in a community so that real friendships and understanding can grow.

Circle Meetings: Circle is a time for leaders and students to reflect on and grow from the shared experiences of living and working in a new culture. We carve out time 3 to 4 times a week to listen carefully and speak plainly to each other. Circle mirrors the interpersonal communication that all communities experience, while encouraging participants to learn about themselves and reflect on their impact on their community.

Projects with Lasting Impact: VISIONS dedicates at least five days a week to service work and focuses its primary efforts on construction projects that have lasting impacts. Participants learn technical skills, the value of teamwork, and problem-solving with the assistance of professional carpenters and contractors.

Building Empathy & Gratitude: By working on real projects in areas of great need participants return home with increased empathy and gratitude for all they have at home.

Improving Languages: VISIONS offers English-speaking sites as well as Spanish and French language programs where participants live in communities with local people who help to build the language skills.

Dedicated Adult Mentors: VISIONS maintains a 1 to 4 leader to student ratio, which is hard to find in summer programs. We provide carefully crafted programs with leaders who help each student tap into their true potential.

April 11, 2017

VISIONS Alum Raises Funds to Rebuild a School in Nicaragua

As the president of the Homestead High School Spanish club in Mequon, WI, Talia Gottlieb organized a fundraiser to benefit a community in Nicaragua where she lived on a VISIONS trip in 2015. After hearing from Talia, our local partner Victorino identified a great project to fund: the repair of a dilapidated kindergarten.

March 28, 2017

Lakota Food and Values at Standing Rock

Despite the ongoing passionate efforts of the Native American community, conservationists and activists, it appears that the Dakota Access Pipeline is indeed filling with oil that will flow underneath the Mississippi River and traverse the distance to Illinois — destination refineries. This New York Times short article also maps the pipeline across its 1,172 miles.

March 11, 2017

Teen Community Service Programs in the United States

High School Students at Native American Pow Wow

For almost 30 years, VISIONS has offered service programs that have had an impact on communities around the world. We are proud of the work that has been done in all of our locations, and each year we are inspired by the ties that our participants have created and built upon.

While we send teens to far-reaching corners of the globe, those who choose a U.S. program are often surprised by the experience that they have in this country. VISIONS offers programs in Alaska, two Montana Indian Reservations—the Blackfeet and Northern Cheyenne—and Mississippi. These programs give the opportunity to learn and be part of important issues happening in the United States.

March 11, 2017

B’Nai Jeshurun Teens & VISIONS Service Programs: Seven Years and Counting

Jewish Youth Group on Community Service Trip in the Dominican Republic

For anyone who knows VISIONS, they will tell you that relationships have always been central to what we do and who we are. In most of our host communities we have spent close to two decades (and in some cases almost 30 years) building relationships that have stood the test of time. We build in an intentional family-like dynamic that contributes to teen volunteers and community partners forming bonds and creating cross-cultural ties that hold strong for years to come. 

March 11, 2017

Thoughts on VISIONS Values

VISIONS Executive Diretor Katherine Dayton

What the VISIONS values say about us and about your summer, and why they’re important right now.

by: Katherine Dayton, Executive Director

In preparation for a staff retreat this past fall, I reached out to some veteran leaders to ask, “What is VISIONS to you?” This was the first step to elucidating our values and why we exist. VISIONS started 29 years ago, and while our values can be deeply felt by almost any leader or student who has been part of a program, it’s another thing to put it into words. 

March 08, 2017

Women-Run Business

JoanneAccording to the National Women’s Business Council, 36.3% of businesses in the U.S. are women-owned. VISIONS is proud to be one of them.

March 08, 2017

VISIONS Featured in Teen Ink

VISIONS Ambassador and super-alum Sarah Yamashita wrote about her experiences and was featured in Teen Ink, a monthly magazine showcasing artwork and writing generated entirely by teenagers. It can be found in the February issue of the magazine as well as online. We're thrilled to see Sarah's article in print, especially in a publication dedicated to showcasing the abilities of teens!

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