A Look at Home away from Home for VISIONS Teen Volunteers
Where We Live
We get asked this question a lot: What are the living conditions like on a VISIONS program?
The answer, simply put, is that it varies from program to program, but there are some common threads among all of the places we live. Careful consideration is put into every aspect of our program locations, and choosing our living quarters is a big part of that process.
While service work is at the root of each program, it’s in equal measure with cultural immersion that transcends the experience of an average tourist. We live in neighborhoods in the heart of each community, many of which we have lived in for more than 20 years. The only exception to living in a neighborhood is on our Montana programs, where we live just outside of the main reservation towns in places with large expanses of natural beauty. In all of our locations, we live very much like local people do, and we are part of the fabric of daily life.
This also means that what we may take for granted at home—such as ample water for long showers or consistent electricity—may not be as reliable (although you can count on showering regularly). This is the reality of life in many of our host communities, and in the end, it makes the experience more interesting and authentic, adding to the character of each program.
Here are some things you can count on when participating in a VISIONS program:
- We live in large rented homes, schools or community centers that are part of the community.
- Boys and girls have separate rooms, and leaders live with kids.
- Our homes have social areas, kitchens, bathrooms, and showers.
- The places we live are basic, but clean and comfortable.
- Mattresses are provided, and participants bring their own sheets and pillow.
- We do laundry once a week.
Our Homes by Program
The location of VISIONS temporary homes change from time to time depending on the evolving needs of the community and the group, but here’s a glimpse at our current housing:
Alaska: A high school centrally located in Tetlin, a native village at the base of the Alaska Range, with a population hovering around 200.
British Virgin Islands: A community center on a hillside of the island the island of Virgin Gorda, where we overlook the Caribbean from all directions.
Dominican Republic: A house in the lively neighborhood of Elio Franco on the northern edge of Santo Domingo.
Galapagos: An environmentally sustainable, organic permaculture farm in the mountains of Santa Cruz Island. Note that the farm is powered by solar panels and home to giant tortoises.
Guadeloupe: A community center overlooking the sea on the island Marie-Galante, the third largest of the French Antilles islands.
Montana Blackfeet (Middle School and High School): A ranch home and large bunkhouse on an incredible conservation ranch outside of Browning, the reservation’s governmental center, and bordering Glacier National Park. Note that we don’t live right in a neighborhood, but our projects largely take place in Browning.
Montana Northern Cheyenne: A community center outside the small reservation village known as Muddy Cluster.
Peru: A rented home in the bustling town of Urubamba, surrounded by massive Andean peaks in the Sacred Valley of the Inca.
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