Lainey Curtis '13

October 1, 2012 (Bozeman, Montana) This summer Lainey Curtis '13, spent a month of her vacation in Ghana, West Africa, with VISIONS Service Adventures, an international service learning program.

Curtis was one of 20 high school students who lived in a small town of Ghana’s Volta Region. The teen volunteers began construction of a children’s home (Ghanaian parlance for an orphanage / charter school) by digging trenches, mixing and pouring a concrete foundation, and positioning 18 columns as the first phase of construction. The high schoolers also cleared and marked a trail to the peak of Agbenoxoe Mountain, overlooking Lake Volta and an historic shrine. And as part of a social service initiative, the group volunteered with children at a nearby orphanage.

The trip wasn’t all work for Curtis and her peers. They learned about Ghanaian culture firsthand through shared work projects and social visits with local hosts. The group visited places of historic and geographic interest, including the Cape Coast, the ancient capital of Kumasi and its sprawling artisans market, and Mole National Park, where they viewed African wildlife. Students also learned Ghanaian trades, including traditional kente weaving, through internships with craftspeople.

“Service in the cross-cultural context allows teens the opportunity to make a difference and, just as important, know the people whose lives they are impacting in personal, mutually respectful ways,” says Katherine Dayton, VISIONS Executive Director. “We give students tangible ways to be challenged through ambitious service work, thereby developing resilience and self-confidence, and realizing their potential in this world.”

VISIONS Service Adventures operates high school and middle school volunteer travel programs in Central and South America, the Caribbean West Indies, United States, Cambodia and Ghana. “Each of our program locations is unique,” said Dayton, “but all provide primary ingredients of community service, cultural immersion, adventure and opportunities to explore places off the tourist track.”