Thinking of spending time in the Dominican Republic? Not only is the island nation rich in opportunities for surfing and beachcombing, but it remains a bit of a secret – although not for long. Tourism is on the rise, drawing in people who crave natural beauty and unique travel experiences.
Why not give back to this beautiful country while appreciating its cultural riches and natural landscape? One of the primary needs in the DR is language education, but there are multiple ways to help residents improve their lives. Many people in the DR live in small villages, and even a few weeks of your time and energy can make a lasting impact in their lives. At the same time, you will gain a new perspective and real-world skills that you can carry with you throughout life.
Here are the things you need to know before you sign up to volunteer in the Dominican Republic, including a look at the programs that will connect you with meaningful ways to give back to others.
Know Before You Go
The Dominican Republic is a dynamic island nation in the Caribbean. Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, DR is not only full of vibrant culture, but it has a diverse geographic landscape. As a traveler here, you’ll have access to coastal beaches, mountain terrain, desert shrublands and more. Many of the volunteer opportunities you will find are in small towns and villages across the different types of landscapes.
While the Dominican Republic has enjoyed economic and political security for about the last 20 years, its history of civil unrest still lingers to a noticeable extent in some areas. As a result, while the DR has one of the fastest-growing economies in the Americas, many of its residents are still pulling themselves up from poverty. Volunteers can provide aid in a few meaningful ways, including teaching English to locals. As the island nation becomes more of a tourist destination, the ability of its residents to communicate with English-speaking travelers will exponentially increase job prospects. Many communities can also use help with childcare and basic medical care.
During your time volunteering in the Dominican Republic, you should prepare to live in a tropical rainforest climate. Near sea level, the average temperature is 82 degrees, while up in the mountains the average temperature dips to about 64 degrees. In the north, the wet season extends from November to January. Throughout the rest of the DR, the most rainfall occurs between May and November.
One of the most meaningful ways you can contribute to the Dominican Republic is by teaching locals how to speak and write English. Love Volunteers has a program in Cabarete that connects you with young people who seek empowerment from learning English. Your volunteer experience will last at least two weeks, during which time you will live in volunteer apartments and use non-traditional methods to help kids ages 3-13. Your language lessons will integrate things like tennis, music, and dance. As part of your volunteering in the Dominican Republic, you will also help older students prepare for interviews. Many of your students will go on to be local tour guides, and you’ll prepare them for interactions with visitors from around the world.
Are you a young person looking for a way to contribute to the Dominican Republic? You don’t have to be an adult with professional experience or a degree to make a real difference. In fact, Global Leadership Adventures specializes in meaningful travel programs for teenagers. You can choose from summer projects that let you experience a month in the Dominican Republic, or dedicate your spring break to volunteering with an 8-day project. Programs include the 21-day Building a Sustainable World project, where you will build homes and schools out of recycled materials. This environmentally-friendly endeavor also gives you the opportunity to meet with local leaders and NGOs that work in sustainable building.
Shorter programs in the Dominican Republic with Global Leadership Adventures include the Global Health Initiative, where you will work alongside medical professionals on sanitation and public health projects, and the Spring Break Service Adventure, which combines community service with an exploration of underground lagoons and snorkeling adventures.
If you’re not yet sure of how to apply your skills for volunteering in the Dominican Republic, you might try reviewing the diverse array of Frontier programs. The projects range from medical placements where volunteers aid healthcare workers to a hospitality and tourism internship. Frontier also has programs for dentistry, NGO internships, and multimedia and journalism placements. In each volunteer project, Frontier makes sure you have a hands-on and immersive experience. You will learn from people who are well-versed in their fields and the needs of the Dominican Republic. Frontier programs range in duration from 2 weeks to more than 4 weeks.
Ready to Travel?
Ready to start exploring volunteer opportunities in the Dominican Republic? Check out one of these knowledgeable organizations and start learning more about the many chances to contribute to this vibrant nation! Before you know it, you can be on your way to a volunteer experience that you will cherish forever.