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High School Service Program
High Impact Projects &
Vibrant Cultural Immersion
with Spanish Immersion
Language immersion programs longer than 15 days require two years of language study or the equivalent in life experience.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1
JUNE 11 to JUNE 19 | 9 DAYS
30 HRS SERVICE | TUITION $3,190
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 2
JUNE 24 to JULY 12 | 19 DAYS
70 HRS SERVICE | TUITION $5,590
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 3
JULY 18 to JULY 29 | 12 DAYS
40 HRS SERVICE | TUITION $3,990
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“I had a blast in the DR! 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, VISIONS teens have made an impact beyond what we could have imagined. VISIONS participants have built homes, large schools, a medical clinic and community centers. Working on these cinder block and mortar buildings is totally hands-on. Local maestros teach teens how to place blocks evenly, how to use concrete for different purposes and where to place the rebar that fortifies the construction. Each year, more than 3,500 Dominican children attend classes in schools built by VISIONS. Many of these kids otherwise would not be able to attend school since there is no space. The gratitude from the community is demonstrated by welcoming us into their vibrant lives, and working with us at project sites. If you are looking to truly immerse yourself in another culture and have a collaborative service experience, the DR delivers in spades. We have important projects planned for summer, including building additions at schools that are filled to capacity. We will also be running a fun and educational day camp for local children.
“My VISIONS trip to the Dominican Republic was the most life-changing experience of my life. Living in the local community 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 quaint, middle-class neighborhood of Cotui known as Quitasueño. Days are characterized by the companionship of Dominican friends, project partners and children. 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 also experience the culture beyond our host neighborhood 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 boating and swimming at the pristine Presa de Hatillo lake that’s just a few minutes up the road, we carve out time for beach visits and basking in the Caribbean sun.
We’ll also take a ferry ride on the largest freshwater lake in the Caribbean, go on short hikes, and participate in a variety of workshops, learning everything from coffee and chocolate-making to traditional Dominican cooking. Your time in the DR will be authentic and true, entirely different than what can be accessed through a tour. Immerse yourself in all aspects of the rich Dominican culture while you spend time partaking in meaningful service in the tropics.
ACTIVITIES AND EXCURSIONS
- Beach trip to Juan Dolio
- Day stay with a local family
- Visit Los Haitises National Park and La Cueva de la Línea Nature Reserve*
- Boat through mangroves at Sabana de la Mar*
- Visit and swim at Presa de Hatillo, the largest freshwater lake in the Caribbean
- Participate in chocolate and coffee-making workshops
- Practice Spanish with local friends
- Take merengue and salsa dance lessons
*Long session only
(Santos Ramos pictured above from when he visited 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
Traveling, volunteering abroad, or simply being in our own home environments are vastly enriched experiences for both teens and adults when we disconnect from technology.
Let’s hear from Cecilia Boyers! This multi-talented VISIONS alum is a veteran of five programs, holds two master’s degrees, and is an aerial silk acrobat, masterful banjo player, and new mom!