Carrie Baseggio, a Scottsdale teenager, spent a month of school vacation last summer in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands with VISIONS Service Adventures, an international community service based adventure travel program.
Miss Baseggio was part of a group of high school students who traveled to Patate, a small Andean town in Ecuador, to do community service work.
Teen volunteers completed renovations on a school performance hall at la Escuela de Educación Basica de Patate, began construction of a lavamanos (hand-washing station) at la Escuela, and planted approximately 600 sapling trees in communities surrounding Patate as part of a reforestation effort and to prevent landslides.
In the Galapagos, the group removed invasive moss and weeds using farm tools and picking by hand.
The trip wasn’t all work for Miss Baseggio and peers. They learned about Ecuadorian culture firsthand through shared work projects and social visits with local hosts.
The group learned local trades through internships with artisans, visited the popular hot springs town of Banos, toured some of Quito’s historic sites, hiked in the Andes, went snorkeling in the Galápagos, and played sports with local youth.
“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 operates high school volunteer travel programs in Alaska, the British Virgin Islands, Cambodia, Mississippi, Montana Blackfeet, Montana Northern Cheyenne, Myanmar (Burma), Dominican Republic, Ecuador & Galapagos, Nicaragua, Peru, Guadalupe, and middle school programs, including the Island Passage in the British Virgin Islands and Northern Passage in Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Indian reservation.
“Each of our program locations is unique,” said Ms. Dayton, “but all provide primary ingredients of community service, cultural immersion, adventure and opportunities to explore places off the tourist track.”
The Scottsdale Independent is available for free every Wednesday.