Meet Michael Sano, Therapist, Counselor and Former VISIONS Leader
From marriage and family therapy to academic counseling, former VISIONS staffer Michael Sano is at his happiest when he’s helping others live their best lives. Let’s meet Michael!
Hometown: Reading, Massachusetts
Current Location: San Francisco, California
Michael Sano first came to VISIONS nearly 20 years ago, as a staffer on our Dominican Republic program in 2004. He later returned as the director of our Nicaragua program, from 2011 to 2012. Although he hasn’t worked for VISIONS in over a decade, Michael still works to serve others and make the world a better place, these days through therapy and counseling.
Currently working as an academic counselor for graduate students at UCSF, Michael is also studying to get his marriage and family therapy license, and hopes to open his own practice in the future. Read on for an interview with Michael on what he’s learned from VISIONS and where he’s headed today!
What is it like to walk in your shoes every day?
It’s waking up every day and focusing on the little actions that can make my world and the larger world a better place. It’s trying not to be dismayed by the barrage of challenges before us. It’s being proud to be queer, being brave to be creative, being humbled by the daily sacrifices people make for one another.
What does the word community mean to you?
Communities are groups of people who share practices and beliefs. They share a common language to express their identity. They will support and stand up for one another.
What was most memorable about your VISIONS experience?
What we can learn from one another—our stories, our experiences—are the foundation for which we build all other types of learning and new ways of being.
What did the VISIONS experience teach you about yourself and life outside yourself?
The VISIONS experience taught me how to better recognize and listen to my instincts and also to better engage with all the ways in which we speak to one another, both spoken and unspoken. It taught me how to merge the needs of my communities with my own needs.
What is something that makes you hopeful for the future?
Each VISIONS group I worked with reminded me of the audacity of youth and how young people only need to be empowered to achieve great things.
What do you feel is one of the greatest strengths you have to offer the world?
I like to think I have an ability to help others in drawing out their strengths and big ideas and inspiring them to be put into action.
In what ways, big or small, would you like to change the world?
As a therapist in training, I’m recognizing more and more the power of empathy and human connection. I hope to help make the world a kinder place.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Having helped other people feel they have bettered their life and the world in some way. Also, I’m a writer by hobby so I’d love to leave some stories behind.
What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
Running my own accessible practice as a psychotherapist, continuing to find ways to contribute my skills and my voice to others in need, and planning my next big trip.
What would you like to say to other members of the VISIONS community?
You are my people—I miss you!
Anything else to add?
I still have never worked with a better team than my VISIONS teams.
Former VISIONS program director and carpenter Lee Conah volunteers in his city and is an accomplished handyman. He also writes music! Read on for more on Lee, and a link to a song he wrote about his experiences.
Molly loves creating outdoor community spaces and making her surroundings closer to nature. She reminisces about her time in BVI with VISIONS in the early 90s, sharing insights about why teen summer programs are so important.
Patrick’s love for the outdoors was fostered in VISIONS Alaska in 2008, and subsequently on a 3-month backpacking trip in Colorado. His love for wilderness shows in his desire to work to make the earth healthier, both in his community and in the job he loves. Learn more about Patrick!
VISIONS Foundation provides scholarships to teens with financial need to attend summer programs through their partner org, VISIONS Service Adventures. Meet scholarship recipient Rebecca Edwards, a senior from the Blackfeet Reservation, who attended a VISIONS program in the Dominican Republic.