DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

You will be welcomed like family into a community we have worked with for more than 25 years. Build schools, homes, and medical clinics, and helping to run a thriving summer camp. Off hours are infused with the lively Caribbean culture, with time spent socializing, dancing, practicing Spanish, and watching baseball. Program participants also take excursions to the Zona Colonial, beaches, and Dominican Alps.

PROGRAM DATES

June 30 to July 20 $4950

July 25 to August 10 $4150

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WHAT WILL YOU ACCOMPLISH

During our 20+ years of work in this vivacious community, VISIONS teens built homes, schools, a medical clinic, and community centers. Along with working on these ongoing construction projects, you will also help organize a popular summer camp for neighborhood kids.

WHO WILL YOU IMPACT?

Our projects take place in neighborhoods where living conditions are substandard, public services are meager, yet the community members are charismatic, kind, and welcoming. Work alongside local professionals and get to know the families and kids through daily interaction.

WHERE WILL YOU EXPLORE?

From mountains and beaches to city life and rural communities, summer adventures include hiking and swimming in waterfall pools in the Dominican Alps, beach visits, and a trip to the historic Zona Colonial and marketplaces in Santo Domingo’s city center.

WORK ON SERVICE PROJECTS THAT MATTER

Service in the Dominican Republic is immensely rewarding, and during our 20+ years of work with the Lions Club of Sabana Perdida, VISIONS teens have made significant improvements, including building dozens of homes, large schools, a medical clinic, and community centers. Every summer, we also organize a popular summer camp for neighborhood kids. Projects in the Dominican Republic mostly take place in bateys, neighborhoods originally formed by immigrant Haitian workers lured to the country as cheap labor for the sugar cane industry. Living conditions in bateys are sub-standard and public services are meager. We use cinder block and mortar, and work alongside local professionals in the ongoing construction of homes and public facilities.
VISIONS DR Service

FEATURED PARTNER

The Lions Club of Sabana Perdida has earned high acclaim as one of the most active Lions Clubs in the world. They have worked with VISIONS since 1991 on large and small-scale projects alike, and members work year-round to help serve the communities of Santo Domingo.

CONTRIBUTE TO A COMMUNITY THAT WELCOMES YOU LIKE FAMILY

Days in the DR are characterized by the continual companionship of Dominican friends—neighbors and kids always are spending time with us. Game of dominoes or vitilla, the precursor to baseball that local kids play with a broomstick and plastic bottle cap. You will have dinner visits with neighborhood families, yet another opportunity to immerse in the Spanish language. We enjoy Dominican life beyond our neighborhood, too, visiting marketplaces to buy fruits, vegetables and other goods. We go to a discotheque after taking merengue and salsa lessons from teens of the “Leo Club.” And because there’s music everywhere, all the time, impromptu singing provides daily entertainment at the work sites and at home.

OUR HOME BASE:

SANTO DOMINGO

Our home is in Elio Franco, a small neighborhood of Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the New World. Here, we have two neighboring houses, and we eat all meals together as a group in one of the homes. We feel fortunate to have a legacy of service and friendship in the Dominican Republic, and we are well cared for by the communities in which we have lived and worked for so many years.

The Dominican Republic is VISIONS oldest international summer program. Based in neighborhoods of Santo Domingo since that first summer in 1991, VISIONS participants are welcomed like much-anticipated family members arriving to a reunion. Teen volunteers in the D.R. have accomplished some of VISIONS largest building projects, including some schools that serve more than 800 students each year.

With a wide variety of landscapes, from mountains and beaches to city life and rural communities, summer adventures in the Dominican Republic are diverse. Enjoy a quiet mountain town, a day hike, and a swim in waterfall pools in the Dominican Alps, the Caribbean’s highest range. We visit beaches a couple afternoons each week for swimming in the clear ocean waters, and we explore the historic Zona Colonial and marketplaces in Santo Domingo’s city center. On this trip, you will discover a Dominican Republic unknown to tourists, resulting in an unforgettable summer experience.

EXPLORE THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

DAILY LIFE

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.

ITINERARY

First Day

  • Arrivals to Santo Domingo

During Trip

  • Orientation & Welcome Dinner
  • First Full Day of Worksites
  • Fourth of July Cookout
  • Family Day & Baseball Game
  • Colonial Zone & Artisan Market
  • Full-Day Beach Excursion
  • Dominican Alps Weekend
  • Tres Ojos Caves
  • Community Goodbye Dinner

Last Day

  • Departures from Santo Domingo

SESSION TWO

First Day

  • Arrivals to Santo Domingo

During Trip

  • Worksites & Welcome Dinner
  • Full-Day Colonial Zone & Beach
  • Afternoon Baseball Game
  • Community Goodbye Dinner

Last Day

  • Departures for Santo Domingo

MORE DETAILS

  • VISIONS leaders meet each student volunteer at the Santo Domingo airport and then we travel 40 minutes by bus to our home. Leaders also see each person off from the airport at the end of the program.
  • Parents receive a phone call or email once their child is met by VISIONS leaders at the airport. After that, phone calls home are generally limited to once a week.
  • We rent two neighboring houses, one for boys and the other for girls. Leaders live with kids. There are bunk beds, and participants bring their own sheets, light blanket and pillow.
  • VISIONS has a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio, one of the best ratios among summer programs. The maximum group size is 25, and programs are gender-balanced. Most participants attend alone, and no more than two friends may attend a program together.
  • We emphasize an inclusive group dynamic. Things like age and grade become less important on a VISIONS program. We eat most meals and do most activities as a large group, and we break into small rotating groups for workdays.
  • Details such as a packing list, travel notes, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. The process is straightforward and we are here to help. VISIONS travel agent books flights, which are not included with tuition.
  • DR I: 70 community service hours; DR II: 60 community service hours. Youth summer program for ages 14 – 18.

Program Director(s):

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