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Dominican Republic

19 & 12 Days

High School Service Program
High-Impact Projects
with Spanish Immersion

JUNE 26 to JULY 14, 2020 |  19 DAYS

JULY 18 to JULY 29, 2020 |  12 DAYS

JUNE 26 to JULY 14, 2020

JULY 18 to JULY 29, 2020

Program Overview

Help build much-needed schools and organize a summer camp for kids from the poorest neighborhoods of Santo Domingo. Spend off-hours in classic Caribbean style—socializing, dancing, laughing, telling stories, speaking Spanish and watching baseball with new friends. Complete the experience with excursions to the Zona Colonial, artisan markets, beaches, caves and the majestic Dominican Alps.


“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.”


Ryan Wincig

New York

Embracing Projects That Matter

Service in the Dominican Republic is immensely rewarding, and during our more than 25 years partnering with the Lions Club of Sabana Perdida, 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. These projects mostly take place in bateyes, neighborhoods originally formed by immigrant Haitian workers lured to the country as cheap labor for the sugarcane industry. Living conditions in bateyes are substandard and public services are meager, so being a part of improving things here is deeply gratifying.


“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.”


Teodora Lupu


Dominicans’ warmth and resilience have charmed VISIONS participants since 1991. You’ll feel it, almost from the day you first arrive.

Making Meaningful Connections

Our home is in a small, middle class neighborhood on the northern edge of Santo Domingo. Days are characterized by the continual companionship of Dominican friends and neighbors who have welcomed VISIONS for almost 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, trying out newfound merengue skills in the discoteque, and working side by side 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.

Santo Domingo,
Dominican Republic


“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.”


Cesar Zuniga


With lush mountains, desert scrubland, 250 miles of coastline, bustling cities and thriving traditions, the Dominican Republic is arguably the most environmentally diverse, culturally vibrant and historically rich country in the Caribbean.


A place as varied as the Dominican Republic delivers an abundance of choices for adventure, a hallmark of this location. In addition to regular beach visits for swimming in actual aquamarine water, we’ll explore the country’s Taino, African and European heritage in places like the Zona Colonial and marketplaces in Santo Domingo’s city center. Because there’s music everywhere—all the time—impromptu singing and dancing provide spontaneous daily delights. The longer program includes a weekend excursion to a quiet mountain town, a day hike and a swim in waterfall pools in the Dominican Alps, the Caribbean’s highest range. On these outings, you will discover a Dominican Republic that most tourists can’t tap into, making it truly unforgettable.


  • Wander among peaks and waterfalls in the Dominican Alps
  • Check out the Zona Colonial historic district, the oldest permanent European settlement in the Americas
  • Browse El Mercado Modelo, a three-story artisan market featuring vibrant paintings from Haiti, Dominican amber, and other crafts and wares
  • Walk among stalactites and stalagmites in the Tres Ojos caves
  • Watch an Oakland A’s training league baseball game
  • Learn first-hand about the realities of living in a garbage dump community
  • Take merengue and salsa dance lessons



(Alberto Ramos pictured above)

Community Organizers

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 bateys. 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. Now in his 40s, Alberto is deeply involved with his community. He and his wife Kenia (our dinner cook) have three fantastic kids who are carrying on the tradition of being part of our programs every year. Alberto has served as director of the VISIONS Dominican Republic program for more than 15 years and is beloved by participants. Like his parents, he holds a profound belief in the power of VISIONS to positively affect the communities and our participants.

Dominican Republic Blog Posts

2019 Summer Program Highlights

2019 Summer Program Highlights

As this summer 2019 begins to wrap up, VISIONS summer service trips continue to build, bond and explore. The following highlights provide overviews of the service projects, cultural experiences and adventures that are unique to each program.
B’nai Jeshurun in the DR

B’nai Jeshurun in the DR

Last month a B’nai Jeshurun group consisting of 21 teenagers and four adults traveled to the Dominican Republic to complete a school-construction project in the community of Naranjo. This is the third time students from B’nai Jeshurun have visited the DR to help with such community service projects.

Celebrating 30 Years