It’s a good and fair question, and we do our best to answer it with you. Everyone benefits if your summer program is the right fit for you. If you’re in the right place, happy and fulfilled, that energy will seep into everything you do and everyone you’re with: other kids on the program, your leaders, and community members.
The Right Fit is also important to your parents, who probably made an investment for your trip, and to your friends back home who can reap the benefits of your new perspective when you return. Finally, we’ve found over our 29 years that it’s important to the world—even a microcosm of it—as the ripple effects from a powerful service-oriented summer can last a lifetime. That’s why finding the Right Fit is as important to us as it is to you.
So, what is the Right Fit? Our website begins with a fairly broad explanation: “Motivated, curious, adventurous teens who want to do ambitious service work in cross-cultural communities with like-minded peers.” It goes on to explain that not all participants come equally motivated, however, and that some may initially sign on because they’re just interested in a travel experience, service hours for high school requirements, or were persuaded by parents to do something for the summer.
What we do know about fit is this: If you are open to the experience—even if there are some nerves and trepidation—that’s a good indication. If you’re willing to do something different than everyone else for the summer, that’s another sign. VISIONS doesn’t allow more than two friends to attend the same program together because we place such a high value on an inclusive group dynamic and “newness,” where each person can more easily take that next step in developing who they are as an individual while forging new friendships. Just like separating a bit from your friends when going to college, VISIONS offers the opportunity to tap into new (and the best) parts of yourself.
If we had to explain the average VISIONS kid, we’d have to say that there is no “average.” They are from all over the country, plus about 10% from overseas. There are kids whose families have no problem covering the cost, kids who are squarely in the middle class and find inspirations for fundraising, and kids who come to us through partner organizations that receive our financial assistance for providing spaces to low-income, high-achieving students.
VISIONS is athletic kids, kids who have no desire to catch a ball, vegans and burger-lovers, musicians, dancers, bookworms, self-described nerds, freedom fighter activists, and (were it not for the intervening VISIONS summer!) would-be couch potatoes.
Our leaders are almost as diverse as our students, and we keep a 1 to 4 or 5 ratio of these terrific mentors who make sure that each participant is finding their way, as well as their place, during the program.
And then there are our community members—an extended family who are ready to whoop it up with us, share their great feeds and cookouts, show us everything that is amazing about their place in the world, and to befriend us… to befriend you.
If you’re still wondering whether you are the Right Fit for VISIONS, let us know and we’ll talk it through. If you’re curious enough to inquire, then that’s a great start.