High School Service Program
with Spanish Immersion
Age 14 to 18
JUNE 25 to JULY 22 | 28 DAYS
95 HRS SERVICE | TUITION $5,950
JUNE 25 to JULY 22
95 HRS SERVICE
“I had a blast on the VISIONS program. I believe that community service builds character. I would do this all again in a heartbeat. Throughout this program I learned values that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I also learned not to take anything for granted.”
Embracing Projects That Matter
Service in the Dominican Republic is immensely rewarding. During our 30+ years partnering with local nonprofits and community leaders, VISIONS teens have made a significant impact. They’ve helped build dozens of homes, large schools, a medical clinic and community centers. Work on these cinder block and mortar buildings is totally hands-on. Local maestros show volunteers how to place blocks evenly, how to use concrete for different purposes and where to place the rebar that fortifies the block construction.
Each year, more than 3,200 Dominican children attend classes in schools built by VISIONS. Every summer, we also organize a popular summer camp for kids. This year, these traditions of impactful construction projects and social service move from our 30-year base in Santo Domingo to the smaller city of Cotui, where VISIONS participants will partner with the Asociación de Vecinos (Neighborhood Association), Club de Leo (Lions Club), schools and local leaders from both Cotui and Las Cruces, a nearby community with many in need.
We have a variety of projects planned, including rebuilding part of a primary school where the walls and roof are falling apart (replacing the corrugated metal with cinder block construction), creating a park for local youth, leading outdoor, socially distanced day camp activities for local children, and helping with the construction of a small vocational school (if time allows).
“My VISIONS trip to the Dominican Republic was the most life-changing experience of my life. Living in the local community with Dominicans immersed us in a culture where family is the number one priority. By the end of the trip I feel like our group truly replicated this concept.”
Making Meaningful Connections
Our home is in the small, middle-class neighborhood of Cotui known as Quitasueño. Days are characterized by the continual companionship of Dominican friends and partners, some who have known VISIONS for 30 years. Many afternoons end with a game of dominoes or vitilla, the precursor to baseball that local kids play with a broomstick and plastic bottle cap. We experience the culture beyond our host neighborhood as well, visiting marketplaces to buy fruits and vegetables, and working with Dominicans who do not speak English—the perfect conditions for sharpening your Spanish skills. And when words fail us, our strong basis of mutual respect and deep friendship in the community provides a bridge across the language barrier.
“VISIONS was unforgettable. I snorkeled and walked through a bat cave—activities that I never imagined I would do. The country is beautiful, and the people are the nicest I’ve ever met.”
SETTING OUT TO GO BEYOND
A country as varied as the Dominican Republic delivers an abundance of choices for adventure, one of the hallmarks of our DR program. In addition to beach visits to dive into aquamarine water and bask in the Caribbean sun, we’ll visit two of the Dominican Republic’s most striking natural preserves, Los Haitises National Park and La Cueva de la Linea Nature Reserve. We’ll take a thrilling jaunt through lush mangrove mazes at Sabana de la Mar, take in views of the dense jungle hills of Anamuya, swim in natural pools, and more.
We’ll also explore the historic city of Santiago de los Caballeros, take a ferry to go caving at Guacara, hike in the surrounding hills, and participate in a variety of workshops, learning everything from pottery to coffee and chocolate-making to traditional Dominican cooking! Immerse yourself in all aspects of the rich, vibrant Dominican culture while you spend a summer serving with us in the tropics.
ACTIVITIES AND EXCURSIONS
- Beach trips
- Visit Los Haitises National Park and La Cueva de la Línea Nature Reserve
- Boat through mangroves at Sabana de la Mar
- Explore the historic Santiago de los Caballeros, one of the oldest cities in the Americas
- Visit and swim at Hatillo Dam, the largest freshwater lake in the Caribbean
- Participate in chocolate and coffee-making, pottery and cooking workshops
- Practice Spanish with local friends
(Santos Ramos pictured above from when he visitied the VISIONS home office in Montana)
In many ways, the Ramos family is like most Dominican families—warm and outgoing, loving, hard-working and humorous. In other ways, though, they stand alone. They are legendary for their integrity and selfless service in their community and as part of VISIONS. The Ramos family has been our family in the Dominican Republic since we began working there in 1991. They have embraced, guided and advised us, providing loving wisdom and active support.
Santos and Lidia Ramos are longstanding members and past presidents of Club de Leones (Lions Club). Santos owns a small colmado, or corner store, in the neighborhood where the Ramoses make their home and where VISIONS teens have their homebase. Every summer, Santos leaves his shop in the care of a neighbor and joins VISIONS to supervise work projects, and to create and nurture ever-stronger ties between our host community and us. Santos is a wise, discerning and eminently respected elder.
Lidia served as the principal at Escuela Melvin Jones, a school built by VISIONS and the Lions Club in the ’90s, which serves more than 800 school children every year. She, too, is an active community volunteer and coordinator for philanthropic and service projects in poor batey communities. Lidia offers love and affection to VISIONS teens who are living far from home.
Their son, Alberto, has also been a part of VISIONS since, as a teen, he worked with our kids. He then served as director of the VISIONS Dominican Republic program for more than 15 years and was beloved by participants. Like his parents, he holds a profound belief in the power of VISIONS to positively affect the communities and our participants. He and his wife Kenia (our former dinner cook) have three fantastic kids who are carrying on the tradition of being part of our programs every year.
Dominican Republic Blog Posts
Check it out:
VISIONS Featured In The New York Times!