– High School Summer Program Itinerary –
Below is the planned itinerary for the VISIONS Dominican Republic summer program. The actual schedule may vary due to the flow of community service projects, the weather, impromptu invitations from local friends and other opportunities.
*The itinerary depicts the typical 19-day trip with notations made for some of the specific activities that are not included in the 12-day trip. The shorter program also has fewer volunteer hours and will miss some of the local afternoon activities mentioned below.
Day 1: Arrive at the Santo Domingo airport, where VISIONS leaders meet each student as they arrive. All teens make a quick call home before heading to homebase. (Additional calls home happen about once a week, but as with all VISIONS locations, this is otherwise a tech free teen summer program.) We spend the day settling into our home in the easy-going, fun neighborhood of Quitasueño and learning what’s in store during the program. We also get to know each other during our first of many Circle meetings, which become a regular opportunity to touch base and plan together during the program.
*Circle meetings continue every other evening throughout the program.*
Day 2: We delve fully into program orientation and getting to know our neighborhood. There is also time for worksite and tool training in order to prepare for our service projects. In the evening, we come together for a big party and welcome dinner with community friends, usually followed by merengue and salsa lessons for everyone who’s ready to jump into Dominican culture.
Day 3: It’s time to begin our work! Community service projects in the D.R. include construction of schools and classroom additions using cinder block and mortar, running a popular day camp for local kids, and other labor or beautification projects like designing and painting a mural at the community center. At the conclusion of the work day, we head into town to explore or go swimming at Presa de Hatillo lake.
Days 4 – 7: Projects are well underway, working mornings, having lunch at the worksite, and wrapping up by 2 pm. We also begin our homebase days, when a rotating crew helps with grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up our living space. At the conclusion of each work day around 2 pm, we head to various activities and excursions such as day hikes in the hills around Cotui, visiting prehistoric caves called Guácaras, and participating in artisan and other workshops, also called talleres.
Days 8 & 9: Head to Los Haitises National Park and La Cueva de la Linea Nature Reserve for an exciting weekend! The excursion includes boating through mangrove forests at Sabana de la Mar, hikes, swimming in natural pools, and enjoying time as Caribbean tourists of the incredible Samana Bay.
*May be just a day trip on the 12-day program.
Day 10: Sleep in and have an enjoyable R&R day of unwinding at homebase.
Days 11 – 14: We make great progress on our projects this week, continuing with rotations that allow participants to home in on favorite projects. Afternoon and evening activities take us deeper into Dominican culture and friendships with neighbors. We have plenty of time to talk with people who live here and learn more about their lives. We engage in “Olympics,” lighthearted competition with neighbor kids, dance lessons and other fun cultural exchanges, and of course also invite local friends for dinners. We also have rotating taller workshop groups with local small business people and artisans.
Days 15 & 16: It’s time for a break from the worksites with an assortment of fun, relaxation, and also time to prepare for our program Talent Show. The next day has the option for a beach outing or visiting the historic city of Santiago to tour some of the sites such as the Catedral de Santiago Apostol, Fortaleza San Luis and the expansive Mercado Modelo, where there’s time for souvenir shopping.
*Not included in the 12-day trip.
Day 17: Last partial day of work — make the most of it! We also give our living space a big clean and pack up before hosting a dinner for local partners and watching a slide show from the month we all spent together.
Day 18: Head to Santo Domingo for a beach afternoon & hotel stay before departures the next day.
Day 19: Everyone departs and leaders see each participant off on their flights. Gracias y hasta la proxima!