Leaving Malden, Massachusetts for a summer adventure in Browning, Montana shows signs of courage and open-mindedness. Senior Meitong (Mei) Huang of Malden High School branched out during the summer of 2014 on her trip to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana and brought back valuable lessons about perspective and culture with her.
Through the help of VISIONS Service Adventures, a program where students travel to different parts of the world and complete community service projects, Huang met people from many different backgrounds.
Although Huang was apprehensive at first, she knew the nature of her trip would be different from her last Summer Search adventure in Colorado. (The Summer Search program at MHS allows students like Huang to venture out to places they otherwise would not have likely visited.) The trip to Montana was more about “leadership, adventure, and cultural immersion,” rather than physical pursuits and self-awareness, like her trip to Colorado.
With eighteen other kids and five instructors, Huang grew close with the others during the five weeks in Montana. VISIONS Service Adventures is all about “building relationships,” which Huang did through the various activities the group participated in. Along with bond-building exercises that took place several nights a week, the group spent approximately three weeks building a wheelchair ramp for an older citizen. Because it was her first time, Huang “found that it was really rewarding to build something with [her] hands from scratch.”
Living in another state, whether it is five years or five weeks, takes a lot of mental preparation, but Huang was “ready for a new beginning.” Along with her group, she stayed on a ranch, and although the area was unfamiliar, she felt “welcome” and comfortable. The small community consisted of about 5,000 people, so weekly gatherings were a recurring tradition that the group was able to participate in.
After her trip, Huang realized she “liked it a lot more than she thought it would,” and she would not change her mind of going. Meeting new people is always rewarding in some way, and she is glad the “people worked well together.”