GUADELOUPE

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

A true French language immersion experience, you will live and work in the community of  Marie-Galante. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time in this laid back culture. Work on an organic farm, teach English to local kids, run a day camp, and build infrastructure, from trails to picnic tables. Also, explore the beautiful beaches, snorkel, hike, learn from local artisans, and visit artisan markets.

PROGRAM DATES

July 1 to July 25 $5950

July 30 to August 10 $3750

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WHAT WILL YOU ACCOMPLISH?

Your work will focus on the construction of community facilities, and over the years, VISIONS teens have built park pavilions, school additions, footbridges, and beach shelters. Environmental projects are also planned, along with running a day camp for local kids.

WHO WILL YOU IMPACT?

You will serve the community of Marie-Galante, practicing French language, absorbing French Creole culture, learning the dancing and drumming that underpin the island’s musical tradition, and experiencing a way of life that may well pass within the next few generations.

WHERE WILL YOU EXPLORE?

Guadeloupe adventures include sandy beaches, nature trails, marketplaces, and island villages. You will hike along rainforest paths to waterfalls, stroll the artisan markets of Grand Bourg, tour historic sugar cane mills, and snorkel and unwind at Marie-Galante's famous beaches.

WORK ON SERVICE PROJECTS THAT MATTER

As a department of France, Guadeloupe enjoys the rights and social services afforded to all French regions. While most people live humbly, there is not dire poverty or a dramatic absence of public services as in other Caribbean nations. Much of our work focuses on community structures—VISIONS teens have built park pavilions, school additions, footbridges and beach shelters. Smaller initiatives include making picnic tables and renovating playgrounds. We do environmental projects and also run a day camp for young kids. In our increasingly globalized world, one important way to serve is to develop relationships with people from other countries and walks of life. This is one objective of our work in Guadeloupe.

FEATURED PARTNER

One of our partners: L'Office Municipal de la Culture et des Sports (OMCS) is a government agency that promotes activities for Guadeloupean youth. Government plays an important role on the islands, with educational programs, festivals, and environmental initiatives often organized by the municipalities. OMCS sanctions VISIONS programs on Marie-Galante.

CONTRIBUTE TO A COMMUNITY THAT WELCOMES YOU LIKE FAMILY

There are constant opportunities to explore and absorb French Creole culture. The charming, unhurried ways of Guadeloupe are ours to savor. Guadeloupeans are sociable and you will find our hosts eager to make friends with you. You will learn Zouk and Gwoka, the dancing and drumming that underpin the island’s musical tradition. You will practice your French in conversations with neighbors, go to festivals, and visit marketplaces. Learn to make sorbet from local vendors, attend “dinner stays” at local homes, and design dyed fabric unique to the islands. In Marie-Galante, you will experience an intimate way of life that may well pass within the next few generations.

OUR HOME BASE:

MARIE-GALANTE

We live on Marie-Galante, the third largest of the French Antilles islands and a place where you step back in time to a Guadeloupe that pre-dates tourism and industrial development. Known as the “island of a hundred mills,” Marie-Galante retains just a fraction of its sugar industry, but ox-drawn carts still transport cane to the few remaining mills. The beaches are considered the best in Guadeloupe, and residents work hard to preserve environmental treasures while also trying to build an economy for the next generation.

When establishing our Guadeloupe program in 1996, it was evident that it would be different from other locations where grassroots organizations are integral to the planning. In Guadeloupe, foreign organization cannot work effectively without the blessing of local and national government, and VISIONS enjoys the unqualified support of the Department of Youth. The Department promotes youth activities and maintains relationships with nationwide programs. With this, our projects focus on community efforts at public parks and trails, as well as schools activities.

Guadeloupe adventures take place in idyllic settings of ocean beaches, nature trails, marketplaces, and island villages. Hike along rainforest paths to waterfalls. Stroll through artisan markets on the "big island" of Grand Bourg. Tour historic sugar cane mills and learn about the distillery process. Snorkel and spend time unwinding from busy days at Marie-Galante's famous beaches.

EXPLORE GUADELOUPE WHILE YOU EXPERIENCE VISIONS

DAILY LIFE

We live in the village of Vidon, on the island of Marie-Galante. We live together as a group in a community center the overlooks the sea. There are bathrooms and showers, kitchen facilities, and a bunk bed awaiting each person.

Our project work begins after breakfast and is done each day by early to mid-afternoon. You typically get to choose between a few different worksites four days per week, and another day is your “homebase day.” Homebase includes a crew of a few participants and a leader, and the group makes breakfast, runs errands and buys food at local markets for the next meals, does laundry, helps our dinner cook, and gets to enjoy a “day in the life.”

Afternoons after work are for cultural activities and nearby outings. There is time to play games with local kids, practice French with friends in the neighborhood, go to the beach, take island hikes, and sometimes just have a bit of downtime before dinner. 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, but condensed into afternoons and one full-day excursion.

Dinners are prepared by a local cook, and include a blend of delicious local and American cuisine. There always are vegetarian and meat options available, and healthy snacks throughout the day. A few times a week, we have meetings in the evening to talk through the volunteer and cultural experience.

VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we live in a home that is part of the neighborhood, and we are part of daily life. From our homebase, we take afternoon excursions and also some full-day travel events. The itineraries show some of the highlights of our time in Guadeloupe.

ITINERARY

SESSION ONE

First Day

  • Arrivals to Pointe-à-Pitre met by VISIONS leaders. Overnight in Pointe-à-Pitre.

During Trip

  • Ferry to Marie-Galante, Settle In & Community Welcome Dinner
  • Program Orientation & Worksite Training
  • Island Tour
  • Day Stays with Local Families
  • Zouk & Gwoka Lessons
  • Family Visits
  • Day Trip to Terre-de-Haut Island
  • Beach Day
  • Community Goodbye Dinner
  • Ferry to Pointe-à-Pitre

Last Day

  • Departures from Pointe-à-Pitre

SESSION TWO 

First Day

  • Arrivals to Pointe-à-Pitre

During Trip

  • Ferry to Marie-Galante & Orientation
  • Worksites Begin
  • Day Stays with Families
  • Afternoons: Island Tour, Beach Time, Hike, Workshops
  • Worksite Wrap-up & Goodbye Dinner

Last Day

  • Departures from Pointe-à-Pitre

MORE DETAILS

  • Summer leaders meet each teen volunteer upon arrival at the Pointe-à-Pitre airport. We stay the first night at a community center, and take a large commercial ferry to Marie-Galante the next morning.
  • 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.
  • Teen volunteers and leaders live together in a community center, with showers, bathrooms, a kitchen and common area. Boys and girls sleep in separate rooms. VISIONS provides bunk beds and students bring their own sheets and a 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.
  • Guadeloupe I: 80 community service hours; Guadeloupe II: 40 community service hours. Youth summer camp with French immersion for ages 14 – 18.
  • Prerequisite: Two years studying French in order to participate in Guadeloupe I. No prerequisite for the shorter program. Middle school and high school French is acceptable.

Program Director(s):

NOT QUITE READY?

We'd be happy to get you in touch with a parent whose child has already been through one of our programs.

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