Dominican Republic

Program Itinerary

Dominican Republic

– High School Summer Program Itinerary –

The itinerary depicts the typical 19-day program with notations made for activities not included in the 12-day trip. The flow of the schedule may change slightly due to impromptu community events, weather, or other factors that keep us flexible.

Day 1: High school volunteers arrive at the Santo Domingo airport, where VISIONS leaders meet each student as they arrive. After making a quick call home, we set out for the two-hour drive to Cotui, which is done in small groups based on arrival times. 

The rest of the day is spent settling into our home in the easy-going neighborhood of Quitasueño and beginning our orientation to what’s in store during our time together. Our dinner cook prepares a delicious Dominican meal and we have our first Circle meeting to start getting to know each other.

Circle meetings continue every other evening throughout the program.

Day 2: We complete the formal program orientation and become acquainted with our neighborhood through a fun scavenger hunt. Then we jump into the launch of our projects! We learn the context of what we are about to accomplish together, get trained on proper tool use and get to work. One group also starts with plans for the day camp we run for local kids. 

In the evening, we have a Cena de Bievenida welcome dinner with community friends.

Day 3: Our first full work day! Community service projects include construction of schools and classroom additions using cinder block and mortar, running a day camp, and other activities such as designing and painting a mural at the community center.

Homebase crew days also commence with groups rotating on a daily basis to prepare breakfast and lunch, clean our living space, deliver laundry and shop at local markets for our next meals. At the conclusion of the work day, we take a refreshing break at Presa de Hatillo lake.

Read more about daily life on VISIONS programs.

Day 4: Immerse in Dominican culture during a “day stay” with one of our partner families in the community. You’ll be paired up with another participant and your host family will also be part of other elements of the program.

Days 5 – 8: Projects really get underway, working in the mornings and wrapping up around 2 pm. Afternoons and some evenings are for activities such as visiting prehistoric caves called Guácaras, partaking in a dominoes league with neighbors (dominoes is very popular in the DR!), taking merengue and salsa lessons, and cooling off at a local swimming pool.

One afternoon we travel to the town of San Francisco de Macoris to visit an organic cacao plantation and tour the chocolate-making facility, polishing off the excursion with a tasty cup of hot chocolate.

During Circle meetings, our group transitions into the “working stage,” delving into activities to learn more about constructive feedback and effective community building.

–The shorter program condenses the schedule above by ~ 2 days.–

Days 9 & 10: We’ll visit two of the Dominican Republic’s most striking natural preserves, Los Haitises National Park and La Cueva de la Linea Nature Reserve. The excursion includes kayaking through mangrove forests at Sabana de la Mar, hiking through jungle terrain, swimming in natural pools and enjoying the incredible Samana Bay.

–Not included on the shorter program.–

Days 11 – 15: 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. Dominoes league heats up with neighbors, we swim at Presa de Hatillo and tour the immense dam that supplies power to much of the DR, and have “Cotui time” with options of working out at the local gym, going to a salon de belleza (beauty parlor) for a haircut or manicure, and checking out local markets.

We also hold our annual lighthearted olimpicos competition with local kids, partake in a baseball game (the Dominican national sport), and other fun cultural exchanges that are ongoing throughout the program. One evening is set aside for the super fun VISIONS Talent Show!

Circle meetings and our time bonding as a group also take on new meaning as we transition into thinking about how the summer experience might continue to play into our lives back home. 

–The shorter program condenses the schedule above by ~ 2 days.–

Day 16: Our last full day of work is topped off with the popular Fiesta de Despedida with our local friends and project partners to celebrate all we have accomplished together. 

Days 17 & 18: After cleaning our homebase and packing up, we’re off to Juan Dolio beach community near Santo Domingo. We have time for a quick dip at the beach, eat dinner at a local restaurant and stay at one of the small hotels in town. 

The next morning we head into Santo Domingo to the Zona Colonial to check out an ancient fort, popular shopping district, and the first cathedral in “the New World.” The rest of the day is spent basking on the white sand beaches of Juan Dolio and swimming in the crystal Caribbean waters. 

Day 19: Everyone departs and leaders see each participant off on their flights Hasta la próxima!

Celebrating 35 Years