On the northern outskirts of Santo Domingo, we make our home in the lively neighborhood of Elio Franco. We live in two neighboring houses and eat all meals together as a group in one of the homes. There are bathrooms and showers, bunk beds and communal areas. The electricity that fuels water pumps can be sporadic, so some showers take the form of cool bucket showers.
Service work begins after breakfast and ends by mid-afternoon to beat the heat. You will work five days per week, and typically get to choose between three different projects each day. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. The crew makes breakfast, walks to the nearby store to buy food for the next meals, takes laundry to our laundress Lola, and enjoys a “day in the life” of the neighborhood.
After work is a blend of neighborhood activities and outings. There are trips to the beach, a baseball game, dancing lessons, plenty of time with local kids, and ongoing opportunities to practice Spanish. After dinner a few evenings a week, we have meetings to talk through the cultural and volunteer experience.
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 as the first, but condensed into afternoons and one full-day excursion.
Meals on a VISIONS program are varied and plentiful with a mix of Dominican and American cuisine. We serve vegetarian and meat options, and also provide healthy snacks throughout the day.
VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle into our home and join in the daily life of the neighborhood. This also is a base from which we travel to after-work activities and weekend excursions. The itineraries show some of the highlights of our time in the Dominican Republic.