Teen Service Programs in the United States
Where Cultural Exchange Will Surprise You
For more than 30 years, VISIONS has offered teen service programs that have impacted individuals and communities around the world. We are proud of the work that has been done in all of our program locations, and each year we are inspired by the ties that our high school and middle school students have created and built upon. While teens can venture to developing countries around the globe, those who choose service programs in the United States are often surprised by the profound cross-cultural experiences they encounter.
Even within the U.S., cultures and lifestyles can be very different from one place to the next, and in Alaska teen volunteers experience those differences in one of the most remote corners of the country. Daily life in the village subsists largely on the bounty of nature, with a culture that is linked directly to the environment. Students catch a glimpse of how climate change is impacting the ecosystem in the northernmost state of the U.S. While working on carpentry projects, harvesting and smoking fish, and even processing big game, teens begin to understand how the protection of our environment is imperative to the survival of Athabaskan tribes.
“I gained perspective regarding incredibly different lifestyles, without having to leave the country. I learned about the history of this country, and about myself and my ability to adapt to different situations.”
—Lisa Neiman, Alaska 2019 Alum
VISIONS has worked on Montana Indian reservations for 29 years. We are part of an extended family and are invited to attend ceremonies that surpass a tourist experience. Reservations face more than their share of hardships—including significant unemployment and increasing poverty rates. The complexities of this predicament can only be understood by spending time in these places. Students learn about the history of the Blackfeet and Northern Cheyenne Nations while also working on projects with our local hosts and experiencing the exhilaration of the annual powwow and other cultural events. VISIONS runs Montana Blackfeet and Northern Cheyenne programs for high schoolers, as well as a Blackfeet program for middle school students.
“I learned a lot of things from this experience; about the spirituality and lifestyle of the tribe, how to communicate with people from other cultures, but most importantly for the first time in my life I felt needed and realized that my work was useful for them.”
—Chiara Ciccirillo, Montana Blackfeet 2018 Alum
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