Bienvenue to VISIONS Guadeloupe – a summer community service program two decades strong. Developed for teens looking for a true French language immersion experience, VISIONS Guadeloupe provides the opportunity to interact with community partners in Marie-Galante while working together on projects relating to long-term sustainability. While your hands aren’t caked in dirt from the organic farm, you will be conversing with children and teaching English at Centre de Loiser, running a kids day camp, exploring the beautiful beaches and historic sugar mills, hiking the breathtaking island, and learning the crafts of local artisans.
As a department of France, Guadeloupe enjoys the rights and social services afforded to all French regions. While most people live humbly, there is not dire poverty or a dramatic absence of public services as in other Caribbean nations. Much of our work focuses on community structures—VISIONS teens have built park pavilions, school additions, footbridges and beach shelters. Smaller initiatives include making picnic tables and renovating playgrounds. We do environmental projects and also run a day camp for young kids. In our increasingly globalized world, one important way to serve is to develop relationships with people from other countries and walks of life. This is one objective of our work in Guadeloupe.
One of our partners: L'Office Municipal de la Culture et des Sports (OMCS) is a government agency that promotes activities for Guadeloupean youth. Government plays an important role on the islands, with educational programs, festivals, and environmental initiatives often organized by the municipalities. OMCS sanctions VISIONS programs on Marie-Galante.
There are constant opportunities to explore and absorb French Creole culture. The charming, unhurried ways of Guadeloupe are ours to savor. Guadeloupeans are sociable and you will find our hosts eager to make friends with you. You will learn Zouk and Gwoka, the dancing and drumming that underpin the island’s musical tradition. You will practice your French in conversations with neighbors, go to festivals, and visit marketplaces. Learn to make sorbet from local vendors, attend “dinner stays” at local homes, and design dyed fabric unique to the islands. In Marie-Galante, you will experience an intimate way of life that may well pass within the next few generations.
"I met amazing people, both local and VISIONS participants. I completed worthwhile projects and grew as an individual. I will remember this trip forever."
Guadeloupe adventures take place in idyllic settings of ocean beaches, nature trails, marketplaces, and island villages. Hike along rainforest paths to waterfalls. Stroll through artisan markets on the "big island" of Grand Bourg. Tour historic sugar cane mills and learn about the distillery process. Snorkel and spend time unwinding from busy days at Marie-Galante's famous beaches.
We live in the village of Vidon, on the island of Marie-Galante. We live together as a group in a community center the overlooks the sea. There are bathrooms and showers, kitchen facilities, and a bunk bed awaiting each person.
Our project work begins after breakfast and is done each day by early to mid-afternoon. You typically get to choose between a few different worksites four days per week, and another day is your “homebase day.” Homebase includes a crew of a few participants and a leader, and the group makes breakfast, runs errands and buys food at local markets for the next meals, does laundry, helps our dinner cook, and gets to enjoy a “day in the life.”
Afternoons after work are for cultural activities and nearby outings. There is time to play games with local kids, practice French with friends in the neighborhood, go to the beach, take island hikes, and sometimes just have a bit of downtime before dinner. 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, but condensed into afternoons and one full-day excursion.
Dinners are prepared by a local cook, and include a blend of delicious local and American cuisine. There always are vegetarian and meat options available, and healthy snacks throughout the day. A few times a week, we have meetings in the evening to talk through the volunteer and cultural experience.
VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we live in a home that is part of the neighborhood, and we are part of daily life. From our homebase, we take afternoon excursions and also some full-day travel events. The itineraries show some of the highlights of our time in Guadeloupe.