Q&A WITH HEATHER SMARICK, VISIONS ALUM

Heather is a VISIONS Dominican Republic 2023 alum, and currently a high school student in Pennsylvania gearing up to finish her senior year

What was your involvement with VISIONS?

I was in Cotuí in the Dominican Republic for the first session of 2023. There were 23 teens volunteering, and we collectively helped to start building foundations for classrooms at two different primary schools. We also lead lessons at a day camp for elementary school children.

What does your daily life look like right now?

Right now, I’m finishing out the home stretch of high school! I’ve been accepted into college (Go blue!) and have been enjoying my senior year figure skating, dancing, and hanging out with my lovely friends.

What does the word community mean to you?

Community is synonymous to comfort for me. It’s something I cherish, whether it’s present at the ice rink, dance studio, summer camp, or elsewhere. Finding people that constitute a community is something incredibly special, and I try not to take it for granted.

What was most memorable about your VISIONS experience?

My VISIONS experience introduced me to some really incredible people. I got to live in a beautifully welcoming place, meet hilarious people, and play card games to my heart’s content. The most memorable part was doing dishes one night when I was on home base—it was a tad disgusting but seriously fun working alongside some new friends with a lively house and a gorgeous sunset.

What did the VISIONS experience teach you?

The VISIONS experience taught me to enjoy the present moment, to be able to laugh at myself when necessary (especially when my Spanish speaking skills were a little pathetic), and that mixing concrete is a lot more challenging than it looks.

What is something that makes you hopeful for the future?

Meeting people like those I met during my VISIONS trip made me hopeful for the future because I saw a lot of open-mindedness. Traveling to another country alone can be intimidating, but the house in Cotuí had no lack of conversation, laughter, and willingness to work/learn. Knowing that people as receptive as VISIONS participants shape the future is reassuring.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I’d like to be remembered for being a good person instead of a great one. It sounds counterintuitive, but I think high schoolers spend a lot of their time trying to be great students, athletes, or whatever they aim to be well-accomplished at. I genuinely hope I’m seen as kind and considerate before I’m seen as an impressive resume.

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

I hope 10 years from now, I have a few more degrees than my current status of zero. I would love to be traveling and working a job I enjoy—whatever that may be!

Owen Clarke is a writer for VISIONS. A career outdoor journalist, his work appears in 30+ international magazines, including Iron & Air, Climbing, Outside, Rock and Ice, SKI, Trail Runner and The Outdoor Journal. He is also the executive editor of Skydiving Source and Indoor Skydiving Source.

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