The best part of VISIONS is that it doesn't just benefit the communities it serves, it benefits all who come in contact with the program. Namely, it has a huge impact on its participants.
Before VISIONS, I was living inside a bubble of modern society. It seemed like everyone else in the world was exactly like me, pushing to do well in school to get into a good college, and then rushing around in life to do as much as possible and get a job and hopefully do some good along the way.
This world I'd imagined was too stressful, too competitive, and too alienating.
So I am so so thankful that VISIONS came and smashed down the walls that were starting to close in on me.
Through the physically difficult (but oddly soothing) community service we did, spending time with some of the Reservation's seniors, and participating in Circle with my friends, I realized that the world I'd lived in for the first sixteen years of my life was fake.
What was real was the cold water we'd filtered during our hike, the green plastic tub a friend and I heaved onto its side to dump out its soapy content, and the chocolate fur of an excited "Rez" puppy. What was real was the pink and blue sky of a sunset, the grey chunks of tile we fought every inch to take off the floor of the community college library, and the dust that billowed around us like fog as we drove on a dirt road.
During my trip with VISIONS, nothing else mattered, nothing else existed except those things. That feeling, of knowing a world that is wholly itself, has stayed with me ever since. For that, I am so, so grateful that I chose to participate in this program.