Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION 

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.

  • A VISIONS Guadeloupe participant learns about fishing techniques from a local resident
  • Our local partners choose the projects we work on, making sure the work is meaningful and welcomed
  • A friendly game of dominoes with locals in Guadeloupe
  • VISIONS volunteers learning about fishing in Guadeloupe
  • VISIONS students participate in a drum circle as part of a cultural experience in Guadeloupe
  • Posing with local friends made during a summer service trip to Guadeloupe
  • A VISIONS teen traveler poses with an art project made during a cultural session
  • A VISIONS volunteer and staff member teach English to local students in Guadeloupe
  • Taking in a performance and concert by local girls in Guadeloupe
  • A teen volunteer checks out the local plant life on a trip to the beach

Welcomed Service

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.

Full Immersion

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."

Catherine Crosby – Spokane, Washington
Our Home Base 
Marie-Galante
We live on Marie-Galante, the third largest of the French Antilles islands and a place where you step back in time to a Guadeloupe that pre-dates tourism and industrial development. Known as the “island of a hundred mills,” Marie-Galante retains just a fraction of its sugar industry, but ox-drawn carts still transport cane to the few remaining mills. The beaches are considered the best in Guadeloupe, and residents work hard to preserve environmental treasures while also trying to build an economy for the next generation.
When establishing our Guadeloupe program in 1996, it was evident that it would be different from other locations where grassroots organizations are integral to the planning. In Guadeloupe, foreign organization cannot work effectively without the blessing of local and national government, and VISIONS enjoys the unqualified support of the Department of Youth. The Department promotes youth activities and maintains relationships with nationwide programs. With this, our projects focus on community efforts at public parks and trails, as well as schools activities.
Explore Guadeloupe

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. 

Daily Life

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.

Itinerary

First Day
Last Day
Arrivals to Pointe-à-Pitre met by VISIONS leaders. Overnight in Pointe-à-Pitre.
Ferry to Marie-Galante, Settle In & Community Welcome Dinner
Program Orientation & Worksite Training
Island Tour
Day Stays with Local Families
Zouk & Gwoka Lessons
Family Visits
Day Trip to Terre-de-Haut Island
Beach Day
Community Goodbye Dinner
Ferry to Pointe-à-Pitre
Departures from Pointe-à-Pitre
  • A young man prepares for a boating excursion on the blue waters of Guadeloupe
  • Our participants help make meals, which often involves a trip to the local market for food
  • Paddling a boat along a river on an afternoon outing in Guadeloupe
  • Cooling off by swimming from a boat near our home base in Guadeloupe
  • On a day hike in Guadeloupe
  • Exploring the scenery in Guadeloupe and interacting with locals

More Details

Summer leaders meet each teen volunteer upon arrival at the Pointe-à-Pitre airport. We stay the first night at a community center, and take a large commercial ferry to Marie-Galante the next morning.
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.
Teen volunteers and leaders live together in a community center, with showers, bathrooms, a kitchen and common area. Boys and girls sleep in separate rooms. VISIONS provides bunk beds and students bring their own sheets and a 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.
Guadeloupe I: 80 community service hours; Guadeloupe II: 40 community service hours. Youth summer camp with French immersion for ages 14 - 18.
Prerequisite: Two years studying French in order to participate in Guadeloupe I. No prerequisite for the shorter program. Middle school and high school French is acceptable.
Program Director
Guadeloupe I & II

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