At Vista, we believe that a sense of community is what binds us together. In fact, those at Vista learn that it is possible to become active members of a diverse array of communities.
In this blog series, What does Community Mean to You?, we will be highlighting a few of the communities that our students and members take part in. We hope that by reading these stories, you will be able to learn about the valuable connections that our students and members make every day.
One place that represents community at Vista is Discover, Vista’s post-secondary residential transition program. For prospective students, the thought of leaving home and entering into a new community can be intimidating. Like many of us when joining a new environment, applicants may wonder if they will “fit in” and feel like they belong with their new peers.
Vista students spending time together at a local beach
Often, we find that these fears dissipate once the prospective student visits the dormitory. Those at Vista are usually excited to welcome prospective students to the dormitory and our Student Ambassadors (students in the Discover Program who demonstrate leadership skills and act as role models) are trained to support new individuals entering the Vista community. One student recalls meeting a Student Ambassador on her initial visit, saying:
“Before I arrived for my visit to Vista, I was a bit nervous about it. However, the visit made me feel a lot more comfortable about the idea of coming here because I met students that I liked to hang out with. When I meet a lot of people at the same time and they crowd around me, it can be overwhelming. Nick [a graduated Student Ambassador] realized that and said, ‘You have to let her come to you.’ I was shocked he understood that about me right away! I hadn’t played video games before and Nick showed me how to play some games. I’m glad that I’ve met people that I like to do things with here.”
It is inspiring to see these connections grow organically for prospective and new students to Vista. Students live in the dormitory on Vista’s Westbrook campus and experience having a roommate, sharing meals, engaging in a variety of classes, and discovering fun ways to spend their free time. After realizing that they have they have common interests with their peers, students make their own plans to spend time together by doing things like going to the beach or gym and taking walks. Groups like Day is Done also meet regularly and provide opportunities for social camaraderie in a staff-supported environment.
Vista's Discover receptionist proudly displays artwork given to her by students like the center snowy owl drawing by Harry, a new Discover student
One new student, Harry, has been connecting with others by sharing his bird drawings with them. A bird enthusiast, Harry enjoys watching bird videos in his spare time and often uses these videos to draw his favorites. Harry has drawn birds for multiple students and staff members, often taking their requests about what bird they would like. Harry’s story shows that by being yourself, it is possible to form connections by sharing your passions with others!
Harry watching bird videos in the common room of the Discover dormitory
Community is about creating a supportive environment for individuals to thrive and share who they are with others. We love seeing this take place every day in Discover, and throughout the Vista community!
More to come!