One Teen Volunteer, Four Amazing Summers

Andrew Goodrum has participated in four very different VISIONS community programs over his high school years. By experiencing different locations each summer, this teen has been fully immersed in radically diverse cross-cultural experiences and traditions and has become familiar with each community’s most dire service needs.

The end result? A very well-rounded global citizen in the making.

Andrew has also helped start a nonprofit that was inspired by his VISIONS trips. We caught up with this teen adventurer and humanitarian to learn more about his work and summer travels with VISIONS, and to see what he’s up to now.

What VISIONS programs have you participated in?

I’ve participated in VISIONS Alaska (2012), Ghana (2013), Cambodia (2014), and the 2-week Myanmar program (2014).

Does one stand out in your mind more than another?

Each program was unique and amazing in its own way, however, if I had to choose just one, it would be Ghana [VISIONS is currently not operating in Ghana, but hopes to be back there soon]. The people in Ghana were very welcoming. The projects we did were impactful and eye-opening. Volunteering at Mr. Ark’s center for the disabled was so inspirational. Bringing a smile to patients with malaria was priceless. Those are smiles that I’ll always remember.

What kinds of things did you take away from the VISIONS experience?

After each program, I brought back a huge appreciation for what I have. I’ve also brought back so many unforgettable memories and made friendships that will last forever. After my VISIONS Cambodia and Myanmar program, I came back with an understanding of my niche as well as what I want to do in the future. My respect and open-mindedness for other cultures worldwide has been broadened as a result of VISIONS, and that’s something that will stay with me.

What are you up to now?

Working hard on our nonprofit which I along with two others set up after our return from VISIONS Ghana in 2013. In August 2013, Ivan Boyers, Ariel Kim, and I started our nonprofit: Ark’s Foundation. Mr Ark is the owner of a center for the physically disabled in Maase, Ghana. Ark’s Foundation aims to raise enough money to build a school so that the 100+ kids at the center can get an education they deserve. You can check it out at www.arksfoundation.org. We are also on Facebook and Twitter. The inspiration to create this nonprofit stemmed from our VISIONS trip.

How do you think your VISIONS experience helped prepare you for what’s to come?

VISIONS has opened my eyes to the way others live worldwide. My knowledge of global issues has grown and my appreciation for what I have has been strengthened. Because of the language barriers of the various programs, VISIONS has also taught me how to communicate not only through words, but also through actions.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?

Working with Katherine and Matt in the Bozeman VISIONS office! In 10 years, I hope to stay involved in community service. Seeing the impact VISIONS has made on various communities has inspired me to one day run a successful nonprofit. I also hope to be working as a biologist or as a videographer.