Guadeloupe FAQ
Montclair Kimberley

The information below is everything you'll need to prepare for your VISIONS trip.

Feel free to contact us with any questions!

Letter From Your Director

Bonjour et Kao fé

Soon you will be in Guadeloupe, a beautiful set of Caribbean islands where you will be surrounded by sunny days, lush forests, green fields, volcanic and white sand beaches, and a fascinating, diverse culture.

My name is Emily Ponten, and I will be your VISIONS leader in Guadeloupe. I look forward to getting to know you and exploring the island of Marie Galante together! In addition to working with all of you, I have run summer programs in Guadeloupe for 2 years. You can read my bio if you’d like to.

VISIONS has been working in Guadeloupe for 23 years, and this is our seventh year on the island of Marie Galante. The community and your homestay families look forward to our arrival. While there will inevitably be some small changes to the schedule based on the flow of island time, you’ll see here is an overview of what to expect during your time on the island.

 

À Bientôt!
Emily

Program Itinerary

Saturday (March 9)

  • Arrive to Pointe-a-Pitre; hotel overnight with teacher chaperones

Sunday

  • Morning ferry to the island of Marie Galante (town of Grand Bourg)
  • You’ll be met at the Grand Bourg ferry dock by VISIONS leader and our homestay families
  • Group introductions, overview of the week ahead, and head out with homestay families for activities with them before the work and school week get underway

Monday

  • School Time! We’ll be breaking into small groups and attending two or three classes with local teens at the Grand Bourg high school. You’ll want to wear pants or a skirt and a modest shirt, as local kids usually are in uniforms. (Please see the packing list for instructions about the dress code and what items of clothing aren’t appropriate for the time in Marie Galante.)
  • Packed lunches and eat with Guadeloupian students
  • Afternoon: Head out for a hike to one of the island’s picturesque lookouts

Tuesday

  • Culture & Adventure exploration through a town scavenger hunt that will include interviews along the way that will give you greater insights to the history and modern times of the island community.
  • Lunch in town
  • Afternoon: Habitation Murat museum followed by the beach

Wednesday

  • Back to school for two or three classes, with rotations that will take you to different lessons than on Monday. Get your French skills ready, and be prepared to make more friends with local students!
  • Lunch at the school cafeteria
  • Afternoon: Kayaking trip guided by a local environmental nonprofit organization who will talk about conservation issues affecting the island

Thursday

  • Service work in rotations at a local organic farm that provides a lot of food on the island and to a local bakery to both learn from & help at this small business.
  • Packed lunches and eat at the historic Distillerie
  • Afternoon: Indigo dying workshop

Friday

  • Say goodbye to homestay families! 6:30 AM ferry for the big island and day’s tour with your group. Night in a local hotel.

Saturday (March 16)

  • Return home!

 

Notes:

  • Breakfasts and dinners / evenings are typically spent with homestay families
  • Lunches are usually eaten together as a group
Packing Guidelines

When in Rome, Do As the Romans Do

VISIONS places a high value on respect of the community members who welcome us year after year. We are not tourists. We are temporary community members, and as such must strive to honor the standards of our host community. We all need to be conscious of adapting rather than imposing our usual day-to-day conduct or dress on the places we visit, as tourists tend to do. The community where we live and work will want to welcome you as a friend, so we must do our best not to alienate local contacts.

In addition to the cultural considerations, conservative dress protects you from the sun, heat, mosquito bites and minor cuts. Long-sleeved gauzy fabric is breathable and cool, and the body adjusts to protective clothing. You’ll be more comfortable if less of your skin is exposed.

  • Articles of clothing NOT permitted on VISIONS programs:
    • Short-shorts (shorter than mid-thigh) or short skirts
    • Crop tops or shirts that reveal midriff
    • Spaghetti strap shirts or dresses
    • Low cut shirts
    • Clothing that reveals undergarments
    • Spandex or yoga pants (wearing these under other clothing such as shorts is permitted)

 

Gadgets

  • VISIONS is a cell phone / tech-free program, but [non-phone] cameras are allowed and encouraged. If you choose not to bring one, leaders will be taking photos throughout the program and we will share the photos with everyone at the end of the program.
  • Cell phones, music devices, e-readers and any other gadgets will be collected on the first day and will be returned on the final day. We make every effort to safely secure electronic devices, but VISIONS is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

 

Why the tech policy?

  • First: The absence of these devices encourages us to take in the full texture of the community—the sights, smells, sounds and rhythms of daily life. Participants consistently comment after their VISIONS program that they were able to form deeper friendships, and they felt more connected to the community when the distractions of technology were removed.
  • Second: Because we are a group of non-locals, we will naturally stick out. Bringing gadgets only makes us targets for petty theft, and it accentuates the differences between our hosts and ourselves.

 

Spending Money

Tuition covers almost everything during the program, but some participants like to bring extra money (around $30-50 per week) for personal items such as souvenirs, snacks, and baggage fees. VISIONS leaders encourage participants to turn in cash and cards at the beginning of the program and then check the money/cards out as needed. Please refer to your airline’s website for baggage fees (if applicable).

  • ATM Card: VISIONS recommends bringing an ATM card. They are more secure than cash and ATMs provide local currency. Additionally, they can be held in a parent's name because ATMs do not require identification.
  • Credit Cards: We recommend bringing a credit card for things like baggage fees and other expenses where cards are accepted. Since many small shops will not accept credit cards, however, you will still need a means for cash.
  • Cash: Please do not bring more than $150 cash—VISIONS can lock up cash in a secure area, but we don't want to accept more than $150 per person. You can rely on the ATM card for additional money needs.
  • Prepaid Debit Cards: These cards often do not work well in small local shops, so please do not plan on this as a primary payment option, especially if traveling outside the U.S.

 

Medications

  • Carry medications in their original containers, clearly labeled. Confirm that you have enough for the entire trip.
  • We recommend that you travel with your medications in your carry-on, so you will still have access to them if your luggage is delayed or lost.
  • It is recommended that participants carry a doctor’s letter that lists the diagnosis, treatment, and prescription routine (including generic names of the medication).
Passport / ID / Visas

Visas are NOT required for U.S. citizens. However, your passport must be valid for at least six months from the entry date to Guadeloupe. If you need a new passport, don’t delay! Processing for youth can take longer than adults, and you should pay for expedited processing if the trip date is less than two months away. U.S. citizens can hire a processing company (www.passportvisaexpress as an example), or do it yourself through the State Department (link here).

Passport Notes:

  • In addition to taking your passport to the program, please take a photocopy of the 2-page spread that includes your picture. Our leaders collect passports and photocopies for safekeeping during the program.
  • We also recommend that you leave a photocopy or digital image of your passport at home.
  • Participants who are not U.S. citizens must consult with the appropriate embassy or consulate regarding entry requirements. Please contact the VISIONS office if you need a letter confirming program participation.
Money / Meds

Money

Tuition covers almost everything during the program, but some participants like to bring extra money (around $30-50 per week) for personal items such as souvenirs, snacks, the optional weekly call home, and baggage fees. VISIONS leaders encourage participants to turn in cash and money cards at the beginning of the program and then check the money/cards out as needed. Please refer to your program packing list for further details about money, and to your airline’s website for details of baggage fees (if applicable).

  • ATM Card: VISIONS recommends bringing an ATM card. They are more secure than cash and ATMs provide local currency. Additionally, they can be held in a parent's name because ATMs do not require identification.
  • Credit Cards: We recommend bringing a credit card for things like baggage fees and other expenses where cards are accepted. Since many small shops will not accept credit cards, however, you will still need a means for cash.
  • Cash: Please do not bring more than $150 cash—VISIONS can lock up cash in a secure area, but we don't want to accept more than $150 per person. You can rely on the ATM card for additional money needs.
  • Prepaid Debit Cards: These cards often do not work well in small local shops, so please do not plan on this as a primary payment option, especially if traveling outside the U.S.

 

Medications

  • Carry medications in the original containers, clearly labeled. Confirm that you have enough for the entire trip
  • Bring medications in your carry-on, so you will still have access to them if your luggage is delayed or lost
  • It is recommended that participants carry a doctor’s letter that lists the diagnosis, treatment, and prescription routine (including generic names of the medication)
  • Confirm the medication is legal in the country you are traveling to (note that drug laws vary by country)
Health

Since VISIONS cannot provide medical advice regarding international travel or vaccinations, we recommend consulting with your family physician or a travel doctor, and keeping in mind that some vaccines require a series of shots that take place over several weeks. While there are no required vaccines for travel to the Guadeloupe, many travelers to developing countries choose to receive common travel vaccines including those for typhoid fever and / or hepatitis A.

We also suggest that you review the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, and specifically the Guadeloupe page. Please note that the program is based on the island of Marie-Galante. There is a hospital on Marie-Galante as well as in the capital city of Pointe-a-Pitre on the island of Grande-Terre, and participants carry the medical evacuation policy in case of any emergency that warrants further evacuation.

To learn more about health and safety on VISIONS programs, please refer to this FAQ link.

Note regarding mosquito-borne diseases: The CDC provides guidelines for the most effective types of insect repellent; see this page for their recommendations. While VISIONS cannot guarantee that a participant won’t contract a mosquito-borne illness, we do have program practices that help mitigate exposure. Examples include minimizing standing water, guiding kids to properly apply repellent, having fans in rooms, using mosquito nets on beds, etc.

Program Expectations

Buddy System and Boundaries

If you want to leave your homebase area during the occasional free time – for example, to stop at a store or to go for a run – you need to find someone in your group who is willing to go with you, and you must remain inside the pre-determined boundaries. You and your buddy check out with a leader, establishing where you will be and how long you will be gone. When you return, you check in with the same leader. 

The boundaries are explained by leaders on the first day of the program, and usually encompass our immediate neighborhood and the nearby places we know well. Our leaders need to know where everyone is at all times for your safety and for maintaining the general flow of the program. Participants will be with leaders at all times during non-daylight hours, unless there is a special case such as a dinner with a local family.

 

Zero Tolerance Rules

The “Airplane Rules” are in place for everyone’s safety, health and welfare, common sense, group dynamic, and with local laws in mind. It is important to remember that local laws may be different than what you are used to, and in some locations, repercussions and penalties are severe and may have a long-lasting impact on your future. VISIONS rules and policies are in place to protect you.    

VISIONS is a Zero Tolerance program regarding (1) consumption, possession, or attempted possession of alcohol or drugs/illegal substances; (2) sexual activity. Consuming, possessing, or attempting to possess alcohol or drugs/illegal substances will result in immediate dismissal from the program. Participants may not abuse over-the-counter drugs or use medications not prescribed to them. Sexual contact—meaning conduct deemed unacceptable in public places—also will result in dismissal. Remember that VISIONS focuses on an inclusive group dynamic, making cliques and romances out of sync with the goal of a powerful and life-changing experience. Please review the Enrollment Contract for the complete Terms of Participation.

Sending a participant home is difficult for everyone, but it will happen if an Airplane Rule is broken. Being sent home, even in final days of a program, results in forfeiture of the Certificate of Service and recognition of service hours. Again, the safety, health, and wellbeing of participants is at the core of our policies.

Community

Community

When we refer to the community of participants and leaders in VISIONS, we mean it as best defined by M. Scott Peck in “The Different Drum”:

[A] group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to . . . delight in each other, make others' conditions (their) own.

On a VISIONS program, we place a premium on building a sense of community and getting to know everyone in the group. Sometimes, community can mean “neighborhood” in the sense of sharing resources like power tools and physical labor, as we do in the communities where we work. On a deeper level, it can mean creating a kind of family out of strangers and it is this sense of community that we strive to create among our groups and leaders.

Community means embracing your responsibilities within the group rather than hiding in anonymity, respecting others, communicating clearly, and living together cooperatively. To encourage growth in each of those areas, your leaders will facilitate evening meetings that include every participant on the program. Your group will meet three or four nights a week for about an hour to speak and listen to each other. We almost always start by reflecting on the day, including the overall volunteer and cultural experiences. Sometimes an incident or event raises questions that deserve everyone’s perspective and input. When it’s called for, we also use the time to hash out issues and iron out differences. This is a time to communicate openly and to listen to others’ perspectives. It can also be an occasion for us to see how others perceive us, which is a valuable gift.

Through this forum, we stand to gain insight as well as more confident and effective communication skills, which are as useful as the physical skills we learn and apply during the day. Our focus is the here and now, and the integrity of the community, of both leaders and participants, living and learning together.

It is your time, our time, to build a foundation of trust and cohesiveness in the process of becoming a strong community.

 

There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; 

there can be no peace — and ultimately no life — without community.

- Scott Peck

Code of Ethics

  • Travel with a spirit of humility and a genuine desire to meet and talk with local people.
  • Be aware of the feelings of others. Act respectfully and avoid offensive behavior, including when taking photographs.
  • Cultivate the habit of actively listening and observing rather than merely hearing and seeing. Avoid the temptation to “know all the answers.”
  • Realize that others may have concepts of time and attitudes that are different—not inferior—to those you inherited from your own culture.
  • Instead of looking only for the exotic, discover the richness of another culture and way of life. Learn local customs and respect them.
  • Spend time each day reflecting on your experiences in order to deepen your understanding. Is your enrichment beneficial for all involved?
  • Be aware of why you are traveling in the first place. If you truly want a “home away from home,” why travel?

Compiled by The North American Center for Responsible Tourism, San Anselmo, CA