5 Ways to Keep the VISIONS Spirit Alive Throughout the School Year

VISIONS 2015 summer service programs have come to a close, and for the participants

who have recently returned to school, the experience might seem like a far-off dream. Heading back to school can be a bit of an adjustment for some. The transition from the excitement of a VISIONS experience—including the connections made with new communities, landscapes, group of friends, and mentors—back to pre-VISIONS routines can often feel unsettling.

VISIONS alumni often reach out during this transition asking how to keep the momentum of a life-changing summer alive. While many dream of their next VISIONS program, there are many additional ways to harness the experience and keep summer fresh in the mind:

  1. Get Physical: Some participants realized how invigorating and rewarding the physical aspects of VISIONS service work can be. Whether it was digging water trenches, hanging drywall, or building with cinderblock, there’s nothing like that tired feeling after a hard day of work. And knowing that you’re working towards improving a community in need adds to the exhilaration. If this was the case for you: Find physical or engaging service work in your community. The hard work, grit, and determination that comes along with it is a great way to balance the academic side of life.

  2. Find Your Volunteer Niche: Were you drawn to the social services that you participated in during the VISIONS summer? Maybe working with kids or village elders? Look into local volunteer opportunities that fit into your schedule and suit your interests, such as working at the local food bank, with kids through Big Brothers Big Sisters, or with older folks at the senior center. Check out VolunteerMatch for opportunities near you.

  3. Start Something: We’ve had VISIONS teens return home so inspired by their experience that they started a non-profit to keep helping the communities in which they worked. After a VISIONS Ghana program (currently on hold), a group of kids started the Ark’s Foundation designed to raise money to build a school in the community they served. Another participant sold homemade fudge and raised $1,600 for a community partner group she connected with during her VISIONS Nicaragua experience. Find a cause that touches you, and run a fundraiser to support it.

  4. Do Something Small on a Global Scale: Most of us don’t have time to take on the world, but we can take on smaller tasks as they come about. Check out DoSomething.org to get involved with teen initiatives for doing good things in your community.

  5. Stay in Touch: By staying connected to the peers and leaders from your summer program, you can motivate each other to keep doing things that make a difference. Also regaling each other in stories from your VISIONS summer helps to keep the spirit of your adventure alive. If you haven’t yet, “like” us on Facebook and join your VISIONS alumni page here. VISIONS alumni ambassadors are also a great resource for researching the next program location that best suits you (even for the summer after senior year). If you would like to be put in touch with an alum of a specific program, email us.

VISIONS in The New York Times