From Building Classrooms to Building Community Relationships
It’s often hard to grasp just how much VISIONS teen volunteers accomplish in a summer. This past summer, for instance, we built structures big and small, ranging from classrooms in the Dominican Republic to wheelchair ramps for elders in many of our U.S. locations. These physical structures are what we leave behind as a token of our gratitude to the communities that welcome us into their lives.
But that’s not all that we build. By returning to live and work in our same host communities year after year, we also build connections with people, help raise their spirits (as they raise ours), let them know that others care (such as in the Gulf Coast, where we are still working 10 years after Hurricane Katrina), and forge relationships that help us understand their culture more while helping them understand ours. Basically, a lot of the results of VISIONS service work is intangible, but it can be just as impactful as the physical structures we leave behind.
On that note, here’s a rundown of the overall work, both tangible and intangible, that we completed across our 12 program sites this summer.
In Alaska, Mississippi, and the Montana Blackfeet and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations, our teenvolunteers focused on carpentry projects that included home renovations, wheelchair ramps, and build ing small infrastructure at local parks and gathering places. Other service projects involved environmental work and social service, such as the Kids Kollege day camp on the Northern Cheyenne.
During our VISIONS Myanmar (Burma) summer program, VISIONS teens worked with the students and staff of Phaung Daw Oo Monastery School, which is also our homebase. Our group facilitated English lessons for primary and secondary students, constructed a shade structure, and as sisted with repair and construction projects at the school.
The VISIONS Dominican Republic (DR) and Cambodia programs also focused on school infrastructure. In the D.R., our teen volunteers completed the addition of two classrooms to a school built by VISIONS several years ago. Meanwhile in Cambodia, participants built a much-needed two-stall latrine for a school of 400 students that had only basic facilities. The group also fixed a handwash station and taught English classes.
Our Central and South America Spanish immersion programs focused on community-wide projects, such as tourist kiosks in Sucre, Ecuador, the completion of a two-story albergue community center in Nicaragua, and a large-scale irrigation project in Peru, just to name a few.
Caribbean programs focused on small infrastructure and social service projects, such as building playground equipment and doing major home renovations in the British Virgin Islands. In the French language immersion program of Guadeloupe, VISIONS teens completed trail and organic farm work, and also facilitated activities and English classes for a local day camp.