Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic
PROGRAM DATES 
Jun 30 to Jul 20
$4950
Jul 25 to Aug 10
$4150
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION 

The Dominican Republic (DR) program has been one of VISIONS longest-running summer community service partnerships. Teen volunteers will immediately feel like family with the neighbors that we have been working with for more than 25 years. The acclaimed VISIONS DR service projects include building schools, homes, and clinics, and helping to run a summer camp. Off hours are infused with the lively Caribbean culture, and time is spent socializing, dancing, playing and watching baseball. Program participants also take excursions to the Zona Colonial, beaches, and Dominican Alps.

  • High school students assist in concrete block construction as volunteers
  • have fun interacting with local Dominican Republic children; play games and practice Spanish
  • Meaningful service projects with the highest rated summer program for teens
  • After the work day, participants enjoy free time to wander the beach and swim in the ocean
  • Play with local children in the beautiful city of Santo Domingo
  • Learn new construction skills during the summer for high school Spanish speakers
  • Take salsa and merengue dance lessons given by DR teenagers and visit a discotheque
  • Engage locals and make connections on a VISIONS summer program
  • Enjoy a lively environment where the children are full of laughter and the community is close knit
  • Live in close proximity to community hosts in Santo Domingo
  • Participate in sporting events with local youth while traveling abroad in the summer

Welcomed Service

Service in the Dominican Republic is immensely rewarding, and during our 20+ years of work with the Lions Club of Sabana Perdida, VISIONS teens have made significant improvements, including building dozens of homes, large schools, a medical clinic, and community centers. Every summer, we also organize a popular summer camp for neighborhood kids. Projects in the Dominican Republic mostly take place in bateys, neighborhoods originally formed by immigrant Haitian workers lured to the country as cheap labor for the sugar cane industry. Living conditions in bateys are sub-standard and public services are meager. We use cinder block and mortar, and work alongside local professionals in the ongoing construction of homes and public facilities.

Full Immersion

Days in the DR are characterized by the continual companionship of Dominican friends—neighbors and kids always are spending time with us. Game of dominoes or vitilla, the precursor to baseball that local kids play with a broomstick and plastic bottle cap. You will have dinner visits with neighborhood families, yet another opportunity to immerse in the Spanish language. We enjoy Dominican life beyond our neighborhood, too, visiting marketplaces to buy fruits, vegetables and other goods. We go to a discotheque after taking merengue and salsa lessons from teens of the “Leo Club.” And because there’s music everywhere, all the time, impromptu singing provides daily entertainment at the work sites and at home.

"Can't be described without making up new words. Yes, that’s how incredible this was."

Eli Cherry – Brookline, Massachusetts
Our Home Base 
Santo Domingo
Our home is in Elio Franco, a small neighborhood of Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the New World. Here, we have two neighboring houses, and we eat all meals together as a group in one of the homes. We feel fortunate to have a legacy of service and friendship in the Dominican Republic, and we are well cared for by the communities in which we have lived and worked for so many years.
The Dominican Republic is VISIONS oldest international summer program. Based in neighborhoods of Santo Domingo since that first summer in 1991, VISIONS participants are welcomed like much-anticipated family members arriving to a reunion. Teen volunteers in the D.R. have accomplished some of VISIONS largest building projects, including some schools that serve more than 800 students each year.
Explore the Dominican Republic

With a wide variety of landscapes, from mountains and beaches to city life and rural communities, summer adventures in the Dominican Republic are diverse. Enjoy a quiet mountain town, a day hike, and a swim in waterfall pools in the Dominican Alps, the Caribbean’s highest range. We visit beaches a couple afternoons each week for swimming in the clear ocean waters, and we explore the historic Zona Colonial and marketplaces in Santo Domingo’s city center. On this trip, you will discover a Dominican Republic unknown to tourists, resulting in an unforgettable summer experience.

Daily Life

On the northern outskirts of Santo Domingo, we make our home in the lively neighborhood of Elio Franco. We live in two neighboring houses and eat all meals together as a group in one of the homes. There are bathrooms and showers, bunk beds and communal areas. The electricity that fuels water pumps can be sporadic, so some showers take the form of cool bucket showers.

Service work begins after breakfast and ends by mid-afternoon to beat the heat. You will work five days per week, and typically get to choose between three different projects each day. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. The crew makes breakfast, walks to the nearby store to buy food for the next meals, takes laundry to our laundress Lola, and enjoys a “day in the life” of the neighborhood.

After work is a blend of neighborhood activities and outings. There are trips to the beach, a baseball game, dancing lessons, plenty of time with local kids, and ongoing opportunities to practice Spanish. After dinner a few evenings a week, we have meetings to talk through the cultural and volunteer experience.

Weekends and a few other days are set aside for travel and excursions during the first session. The second, shorter session includes some of the same highlights as the first, but condensed into afternoons and one full-day excursion.

Meals on a VISIONS program are varied and plentiful with a mix of Dominican and American cuisine. We serve vegetarian and meat options, and also provide healthy snacks throughout the day.

VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle into our home and join in the daily life of the neighborhood. This also is a base from which we travel to after-work activities and weekend excursions. The itineraries show some of the highlights of our time in the Dominican Republic.

Itinerary

FIrst Day
Last Day
First Day
Last Day
Arrivals to Santo Domingo
Orientation & Welcome Dinner
First Full Day of Worksites
Fourth of July Cookout
Family Day & Baseball Game
Colonial Zone & Artisan Market
Full-Day Beach Excursion
Dominican Alps Weekend
Tres Ojos Caves
Community Goodbye Dinner
Departures from Santo Domingo
SESSION TWO
Arrivals to Santo Domingo
Worksites & Welcome Dinner
Full-Day Colonial Zone & Beach
Afternoon Baseball Game
Community Goodbye Dinner
Departures from Santo Domingo
  • Teens travel and immerse in local culture in the Dominican Republic
  • High school service learning organization for teen volunteers
  • Fun and safe environment to travel and practice your Spanish language skills
  • VISIONS is the perfect opportunity for your gap year after high school
  • Meet local artisans and explore the lively culture of the Dominican Republic
  • Highest rating Volunteer organization for teenagers in Santo Domingo

More Details

VISIONS leaders meet each student volunteer at the Santo Domingo airport and then we travel 40 minutes by bus to our home. Leaders also see each person off from the airport at the end of the program.
Parents receive a phone call or email once their child is met by VISIONS leaders at the airport. After that, phone calls home are generally limited to once a week.
We rent two neighboring houses, one for boys and the other for girls. Leaders live with kids. There are bunk beds, and participants bring their own sheets, light blanket and pillow.
VISIONS has a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio, one of the best ratios among summer programs. The maximum group size is 25, and programs are gender-balanced. Most participants attend alone, and no more than two friends may attend a program together.
We emphasize an inclusive group dynamic. Things like age and grade become less important on a VISIONS program. We eat most meals and do most activities as a large group, and we break into small rotating groups for workdays.
Details such as a packing list, travel notes, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. The process is straightforward and we are here to help. VISIONS travel agent books flights, which are not included with tuition.
DR I: 70 community service hours; DR II: 60 community service hours. Youth summer program for ages 14 – 18.
Program Director
Dominican Republic I & II

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