A Word From Arielle

Interview with 2019 Montana Blackfeet Participant

Name: Arielle Ortega

Hometown: Lafayette, New Jersey

Relationship to VISIONS: 2019 Montana Blackfeet Participant

What does your life look like now?

My trip with VISIONS has given me a whole new perspective on life. I am thankful everyday for the small things, and realize that many are not as lucky. I try my best to get out in nature whenever I can, and take a moment to step away from the chaos that life can sometimes bring.

What is it like to walk in your shoes every day?

I like to fill my days to the max with school, extracurriculars, horseback riding, exercise, and taking care of my animals. In my spare time I love to create artwork and photography, especially of nature.

What does the word community mean to you?

Community to me is the word for a group of people, as small as two or as big as a thousand, that respect, support, and love each other. A community is somewhere anyone should feel safe expressing their opinions, and where everyone does their best to help one another.

What was most memorable about your VISIONS experience?

My most memorable experience was jumping off a driftwood tree into a 33 degree lake! I will never forget the shock my body felt when it touched the water. I’m very glad I did it, and it helped me break out of my comfort zone to try new and exciting things in life.

What did the VISIONS experience teach you?

The VISIONS experience taught me how valuable our time together is. In just 15 days I had made lifelong friends! We shared our memories and secrets with one another, and we still talk to this day. I have to say that most of it is due to the no phone policy. Sure, in the beginning there were some awkward silences that would have been filled with phone use, but not having our phones to use as a comfort really brought us together. I can’t help but think how many more friends we would have if we didn’t use our phones so much.

What is something that makes you hopeful for the future?

The way everyone was so like-minded on the trip really makes me hopeful for the future. And I don’t mean like-minded as in we are all the same, because that isn’t good, but in the sense that we all want to create a better place. I’ve never met so many people my age who wanted to make a difference in the world, and would spend a chunk of their summer helping others. It makes me hopeful that millions of other teenagers around the world are the same way, and they just need an opportunity to show it.

What do you feel is one of your greatest strengths that you have to offer the world?

I believe my greatest strength is being patient with others and understanding where people are coming from. Not everyone expresses their emotions the same way, and it is important to be able to understand that. Sometimes all anyone needs is an outstretched arm, and they will warm up to you and others in no time.

In what ways, big or small, would you like to change the world?

I would like to make changes to my local community, and the world. I would like to have clean roads and waters throughout my town, country, and eventually the world. The damage humans are inflicting on our environment can be eased by simply cleaning up all the garbage. I would also like to change the amount of men, women, and children dying of illnesses that have cures. Traveling around the world to treat and vaccinate those less fortunate than myself would be my ultimate goal.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I’d like to be remembered as someone with patience and a strong understanding of others.

What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

In 10 years I would hope to have graduated college and medical school. I would most likely go into Emergency Medicine, and join an organization such as Red Cross to help with medical related issues throughout the world. I’ve always loved science and community service, and I feel that working for a medical-related community service organization is the best way to complete that goal.

What would you like to say to other members of the VISIONS community?

Please keep helping others and making changes in your community. While small changes may not seem like a big deal, if everyone makes a little contribution, it can lead to a massive change. Never forget what you learned on the VISIONS trip as well, and take time to reflect on your trip and what you loved most about it. Also, if you can, try to find a way to help someone everyday. Even if it is someone small like holding the door or helping them pick up something they dropped. Small actions can make a big impact, and even cause a chain reaction of good deeds.

Do you have a VISIONS Story?

Fill out an interview for our Spotlight Series or submit a story of your own format or creative expression.

Recommended Posts

Nolan & Barry, A VISIONS Love Story

Nolan & Barry, A VISIONS Love Story

Nolan & Barry met during Leader Training in Bozeman before heading out to separate summer program locations. They were married just two years later. Now with two kids in Austin, they reflect on their journey with VISIONS, sharing insights on love, leadership and the impact of meaningful experiences.

Spotlight: Greg Rolland, VISIONS Leader Alum

Spotlight: Greg Rolland, VISIONS Leader Alum

Greg’s passion for the outdoors and cross-cultural service culminated in becoming a leader on our first Alaska summer program in 1995. He looks back on the early days, projects they completed and people he met.

Your Impact Lives On

Your Impact Lives On

Since our inception in 1988, VISIONS continues to offer some of the best volunteer opportunities for high school students there are. Projects are ambitious and real, and have an impact that lasts on the community. And you—our alum—are part of that legacy.

VISIONS in The New York Times