Dominican Republic

Program Itinerary

Dominican Republic

– High School Summer Program Itinerary –

The itinerary depicts the typical 19-day program with notations made for excursions 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. The actual flow of the schedule may be a little different due to the flow of service projects, weather or impromptu community events that we are invited to.

Day 1: High school volunteers 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 make the two-hour drive to Cotui in small groups based on arrival times. We spend the day settling into our home in the easy-going neighborhood of Quitasueño and begin our orientation to what’s in store during the program. We also have our first Circle meeting to start getting to know each other.

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 time for worksite and tool training to prepare for our service projects. In addition to construction training, the day is devoted to getting grounded for the program experience ahead with rotating workshops that include safety, homebase boundaries, cooking and meal prep, orientation to our non-construction projects and fun icebreakers

In the evening, we come together for a Cena de Bienvenida welcome dinner with community friends, usually followed by merengue and salsa lessons for everyone ready to jump into Dominican culture.

Day 3: It’s time to begin our work! Community service projects include construction of schools and classroom additions using cinder block and mortar, running a day camp for local kids, and other labor projects 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 head into town to explore or go swimming at Presa de Hatillo lake.

Read more about daily life on VISIONS programs.

Days 4 – 7: Projects are underway, working mornings, having lunch at the worksites, and wrapping up around  2 pm. At the conclusion of each work day, 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 talleres (workshops).

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 above schedule by ~ 1 day.–

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 the incredible Samana Bay
–Just a day trip on the shorter program.–

Day 10: Sleep in and have an enjoyable R&R day of unwinding at homebase and optional small group outings. 

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 and engage with the people who live here and learn more about their lives. 

We hold our annual lighthearted olimpicos competition with local kids, partake in a baseball game (the Dominican national sport!), dance lessons and other fun cultural exchanges. We also have rotating taller workshops with local small businesses and artisans. 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 above schedule by ~ 1 day.–

Day 15: It’s time for a break from the worksites with a visit to 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.
–Not included in the shorter program.–

Days 16 & 17: The last days of work — and we make the most of it! After a big clean and wrap-up activities, we host the popular annual Fiesta de Despedida with our local friends and project partners to celebrate all we have accomplished together. 

Day 18: We’re off to Santo Domingo for a beach afternoon and hotel stay before departures the next day. 

Day 19: Everyone departs and leaders see each participant off on their flights.Gracias y hasta la próxima!

Celebrating 34 Years