We believe that stepping outside of ourselves and encountering new perspectives fosters profound and positive change. We know that young people who engage in meaningful service work in unfamiliar environments gain exceptional insight—it’s been our program model for 30 years. Our students settle into the daily life of the host community, get to know local residents, experience different customs and in the process, begin to feel a sense of global connection. As one of the oldest international summer service organizations for teenagers, we celebrate this connectedness—and the hope it holds for the future.
THE VISIONS STORY
VISIONS has set the standard for international community service programs for high school and middle school students for 30 years. Collaborative service work and cross-cultural living help our teen volunteers understand a complicated world & learn meaningful ways to contribute productively.
Our roots go back to the early 1970s, when a few New York friends and educators relocated to a Pennsylvania farm to establish an experiential summer camp for teens. Many summers in this setting taught us that teens thrived while working and living together. They loved the camaraderie, the physical labor and the shared sense of purpose. The concept of VISIONS sprang from this knowledge. Teenagers want to be part of something bigger and are willing to work hard to meet big goals. In 1988, we decided to take these ideas beyond the farm, sensing that this kind of volunteerism would appeal to teens. We were right.
VISIONS collaborates at the grassroots level, with a strong commitment to our community partners. We have lived and worked in the Dominican Republic, Montana Indian reservations and British Virgin Islands for nearly three decades. Most of our other sites have hosted VISIONS teens for at least 20 years. When we develop new programs, we do so with long-term partnerships in mind. These enduring relationships translate into exceptional opportunities for deep cultural learning. You will interact with local people who know and care for us. And you will leave with a greater understanding of what life is like in other parts of the world.
VISIONS programs are built on the foundation of five core values:
- Connection. Forge connections with the self and others in ways that create enduring bonds, build empathy and make us whole.
- Communication. Foster clear and honest communication that is the bedrock for meaningful relationships, that takes listening further into understanding and that makes us real.
- Engagement. Actively and fearlessly strive to make a positive difference for other people, living creatures and the earth.
- Community Building. Commit to being part of an interdependent group that learns from setbacks, accomplishes shared goals, and challenges each other to tap into the best parts of themself.
- Knowledge. Cultivate understanding that comes from being fully present in the world and that engages the mind, body and heart. Through knowledge comes consciousness, transformation and love.