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Make Memories Matter with Outreach360’s Family Volunteer Vacations

Outreach360 has been helping families make memories that matter for over 20 years. Through our family volunteer vacations in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, we have not only provided a great service to these communities but have also strengthened the bonds between families all over the country. You might be asking yourself: “Don’t all vacations strengthen family bonds?” Here at Outreach360, we believed that we curate experiences that no other family vacation can match.

So, how do you know if a volunteer vacation is right for your family?

Here are the reasons you should make your next vacation a family volunteer vacation:

Family Bonding Time
The world is full of distractions, largely related to electronics. Phones, tablet, and computers seem to be a constant distraction for families and take away from the potential memories that could be built on vacations. During all Outreach360 volunteer trips, families are given the opportunity to disconnect from the rest of the world and reconnect with family members. This is an amazing opportunity for parents to bond with their children as they get older. As kids get older, parents often have difficulty finding time to fully connect with them. A volunteer vacation is a perfect opportunity to foster this reconnection while also making it fun and educational.

Teach Lessons and Values
Being immersed on a volunteer trip in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua allows for families to learn valuable lessons about giving, service, and helping others. These are core values many families try to teach through regular volunteering. However, being able to participate in a week-long volunteer trip physically shows the values and teaches them first hand. Children are able to see how helping to teach the ABC’s to a child in need can put the biggest smile on their face. These little moments can result in everlasting lessons and memories that will live on and shape your family.

Make Memories that Matter
All vacations are memorable. Whether it is something funny that happened on the beach or that amazing meal you had for dinner, there is no doubt that all time spent with family on vacations create memories. Outreach360 can give you and your family the ability to make memories that not only matter to you but also to others. By spending just one week in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua, you are able to make an impact on the community by teaching and helping others. You and your family will cherish these memories forever and feel so full after your time with us, but your actions and time will create memories for those in need that will also be coveted forever. These dual memories mean so much to all involved, and through this opportunity for a family volunteer vacation, you will be able to create memories that matter.

Outreach360 works to provide the safest and most memorable vacation for families. Be sure to check out our Family Volunteer Vacations page to learn more. We hope you join us to make memories that matter with your family.

Register Today!

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Summer Volunteer Programs Abroad 2018

Outreach360 has a variety of exciting volunteer opportunities for you this summer, each that strive to help educate under-served children in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Through working at local schools and the Outreach360 Learning Center, you will have the opportunity to teach children in areas you are passionate and most knowledgeable about. Not only will you be able to make a difference in these children’s lives and create lasting memories, you get to do so in our two amazing locations, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

Here is more information about our two beautiful locations along with other volunteer opportunities:

Dominican Republic
Outreach360 is stationed in the northwest region of the Dominican Republic in a small town called Monte Cristi. In Monte Cristi, you will experience the quaint fishing town with its beautiful beaches, historical salt flats, and breathtaking scenery. In addition to the sites and activities you will be immersed in on your trip here, you will also be able to interact with the local children and help to provide English education. Therefore, this volunteering is for anyone! By teaching and helping them with their English, you are unlocking countless possibilities for their success in the future.

Nicaragua
Nicaragua is one of the most scenic and safest countries in Central America. Outreach360’s Learning Center is located in the coffee growing town of Jinotega. Jinotega is also known as “The City of Mist” due to it being located in the mountains of Nicaragua. While you are a volunteer you will be able to experience the rich culture, explore beautiful locations as well as serve a very under-served part of Nicaragua. Along with teaching English to these children you also have the option to participate in construction and sustainability volunteering projects. These areas include building a new Learning Center and teaching sustainable agriculture solutions. All of these volunteer options help to prepare the Nicaraguan children for a more successful future.

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to our powerful service trips to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua trips, we have created the Dare to Dream Summer Camp Program that expands upon these volunteer trips. This program is not only about helping to educate children but rather giving them the tools they need to grow up and be WHATEVER they want to be. Through the Dare to Dream Program children have the opportunities in a variety of areas including Art, Music, Drama, Science, Technology, Journalism, Engineering, and more! So if you have a strong passion in any of these fields or any others, you have the opportunity to shape and mold your own volunteer curriculum and bring a new skill to these children in need.

No matter what your passions are, there is a way you can incorporate them into your volunteer time with Outreach360.

Register Today!

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Poco a Poco You Will Make a Difference

Good things take time. You will not change the world in one week while volunteering abroad; however, you will make a world of difference in one or more students’ lives. Empowering Outreach360 students to live a life of choice through English education will lead to a transformed world. The combined efforts of Outreach360 volunteers and donors in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic ensure this reality. Poco a Poco or little by little, you bring the opportunities that will fuel Outreach360 students’ future.

Why does this matter? Because sustainability matters.

Outreach360 takes measured steps towards educating groups of students who might one day take over our program, allowing us to pass on our teacher torches. Poco a Poco. Volunteers are the building blocks of our students’ growth in education. The knowledge they share during their time in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua will be further developed by the many volunteers that come after them.

This can be best shown by the Outreach360 Adelante Volunteers. These volunteers are returning students that have graduated from the Outreach360 English language learning program. Their success in the Outreach360 program is due to the many hours of volunteer efforts which paved the educational foundation for Adelante Volunteers’ advancement. This Poco a Poco process has transformed the lives of our Adelante Volunteers by empowering them to give back to their own community.

Charlotte Zhen, an Outreach360 volunteer from the University of Western Ontario, explains, “At first, I was a little skeptical about whether I could actually make a difference by volunteering for only one week. Outreach360 taught me that we should approach service with a Poco a Poco or a little by little mentality. Outreach360 does that by having volunteers serving year-round. Our combined efforts will lead to a sustainable education program, and eventually, the children will be leading their own schools and programs.”

Poco a Poco, education transforms the lives of all Outreach360 students. More importantly, this process inspires students to become educators. Adelante Volunteers come back to Outreach360 to teach new students. These individuals serve Outreach360 by creating a sustainable program where students become the teachers. In the near future, we will be giving Adelante Volunteers and native teachers the reigns of our program, which will, in turn, allow Outreach360 to branch out to other countries in Latin America.

“Spending one day with a child may not change their life; not right away. But being one day among the days of many volunteers adds up Poco a Poco. And that is when lives are changed,” Carly Greer, an Outreach360 volunteer from the University of Missouri, said.

Your direct involvement in the Outreach360 volunteer programs will motivate underserved students to dream big. Although you will only spend a short period of time volunteering, your influence will be continued to be felt by the service of volunteers that follow you. This process may be slow, but the rewards are big.

Jordan Weinstein, an Outreach360 volunteer from Edinboro University, said, “Working with these kids and being able to see them grow from just one week is so rewarding. Imagine what they can do with their lives if more people were able to donate and come serve year round. Nobody wants to feel stuck on a path that seems that they have no say in the matter of their own lives. That is why Outreach360 is so important.”

Looking to get involved? Poco a Poco, you will make a difference here: https://donate.outreach360.org/campaign/dare-to-dream-hike-2018/c162117

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Learning to Serve in the Dominican Republic

Outreach360 Adelante Plus Volunteer Guest Writer: Caleb Acosta

Caleb Acosta teaches Outreach360 students in the Dominican Republic Learning Center located in Monte Cristi.

My name is Caleb Acosta, I’m from the Dominican Republic, I’m 17 years old. I grew up in a humble family, composed of five members: my dad’s name is Miguel Acosta, my mom’s name is Norma Marichal, my brother’s name is Joshua Acosta, and my sister’s name is Aidil Acosta. I want to share my Outreach360 story and how I came to be where I am today.

In 2008, I was a student at Escuela Basica John F. Kennedy in Monte Cristi. I was in third grade at this time. One day, when I was sitting in my chair watching by the window, I could see Americans in this moment. It was a group of Outreach360 volunteers inviting students to the summer camp, but I wasn’t invited to the camp because I was too young for it. I was sad about not being able to go, but at the same time, I was happy because my brother and my sister were able to go the camp. They told me everything they did in the camp and everything they learned as well. I was excited about the camp and that became part of my dream. I lived as if I had attended the camp.

Caleb smiles with his sister, Aidil Acosta, and an Outreach360 volunteer, Ryan, after teaching Learning Center students in the Dominican Republic.

In 2009, I became the right age to start the classes in Outreach360. I started my classes with my sister Aidil, and the first year was such a great year; however, the next year was different. I just wanted to play all the time with my friends, and I wasn’t enjoying the classes. It was like being a new Caleb, but that is not the only sad story. It’s good to remember that even negative things can be used; we can take them as an example and with them make a positive change that will help us to mark the path of our lives.

I remember one day in my English class that the teacher asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For the first time, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I was hearing all my friends saying, ‘lawyer, engineer, architect, and doctor,’  but I didn’t say anything this day and that question was circling in my head. The next day of class the teacher was talking about the verb ‘to be’, but I didn’t understand what the teacher was saying. Then she showed me a beautiful smile and she taught me one more time, and I just learned because of this smile. I learned from the love of her actions. There will be days where you will ask yourself:

What do I want to be remembered for?

What can I do for others to make a world a better place?

What is my purpose on this earth?

Caleb Acosta (left) takes a photograph with Peter, an Outreach360 Dominican Republic Learning Center student, during an English immersion camp.

Some of us probably think that our purpose is to get a lot of money, buy a big house or buy an expensive car, or get the latest cell phone of the year. Let me tell you that is not our true purpose on this earth, it is not where we’re going to find our sense of completion. The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. When you work towards something greater than yourself, you find meaning and you find purpose. When you keep people at the center of what you do, it can have an enormous impact. Deep inside of us lives a hero who wants to do something great with their life, who wants to inspire other people, and who wants to change the world. We need to use our minds, our hands, and our hearts to build something bigger than ourselves.

If you are not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. When your life means something to somebody other than you, then you have a purpose. We need to live in service to humanity. And from the teacher’s smile, I learned all of these things and I learned the answer to the question too. What do I want to be? I want to be in service to my family, to my church, to my city, to my country, and to the world. I think that is the purest form of joy.

Caleb poses with his father, Miguel Acosta, at his 2017 high school graduation from the Colegio San Jose of Monte Cristi as the Valedictorian.

I graduated in 2012 from my Outreach360 English class, Those three years were the best years for me because I learned a new language. That wouldn’t have been possible if all the volunteers weren’t here to teach us this new language that will open the door for new opportunities for a better life. After my graduation, I become an Adelante Volunteer. As an Adelante, I serve in the program volunteering at the Learning Center. I have the opportunity to practice my English with the American and Canadian volunteers. I was an Adelante Volunteer for six years.

In 2017, I graduated from my High School the Colegio San Jose of Montecristi as the Valedictorian. I was also accepted by Outreach360 to be an Adelante Plus Volunteer. This is an online study program with an American University. I’m going to study International Business, but right now I’m getting ready to take two tests: the GED and TOEFL test. In addition to this, I’m teaching English in the Learning Center, and that is a dream come true for me. I can see how the volunteers’ work is transforming the world where every person lives a life of choice, having the vision to continue to grow, and Release the Hero Within.

Learn more about Outreach360 here: www.outreach360.org.

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Hike For Hope. Hike For Humanity. Hike For Them.

Outreach360 believes in a world where every child grows up living a Life of Choice. We believe that can be achieved through access to an education that opens doors to new opportunities and therefore a path out of poverty. Outreach360 invites you to hike for change on May 5th, 2018 for the 3rd Annual Dare to Dream Hike.

Why should you get involved? Because your involvement will inspire students to overcome mountains. Literally.

Education continues to be an inaccessible right for millions of children around the world but your support can empower students in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic to continue their education. The 2018  Dare to Dream Hike is an annual fundraising event put on by you and the people in your community. Together, you will create a fundraising team and commit to raising as much money as you can to support these students. On May 5th, 2018, your fundraising team, along with hundreds of volunteers, students, and donors around the world, will celebrate the success of the Dare to Dream Hike by hiking somewhere in your community.

Audrey Sharp, the Outreach360 Development Director, says, “I hike for the kids who walk miles to get to our seasonal learning camps. We’re so proud of the students in our Learning Centers and how far they’ve come, not only in their English skills but also as students and dreamers. Our volunteers have worked so hard to fulfill the Outreach360 mission and, naturally, we continuously strive to expand the reach of our impact. The Dare to Dream Hike can make that happen. I hike so that the hundreds of children in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic waiting to get into our Learning Centers will be able to join our education programs.”

Although your team will set individual fundraising goals, your efforts will be joined by the Dare to Dream Hike community of fundraisers. Your involvement will contribute to a community of service-minded individuals who are passionate about education around the globe. Together, the Dare to Dream Hike fundraising teams will ensure that Outreach360 students live a Life of Choice.

Last year, the Dare to Dream Hike fundraiser was able to raise over $50,000 thanks to the efforts of Outreach360 hikers like Patrick Newell, an Outreach360 volunteer and 2017 Dare to Dream Hike participant. Patrick was inspired to give back after leading a service trip with Outreach360 to the Dominican Republic: “I participated in the 2017 Dare to Dream Hike for the kids. After volunteering for a week in the Dominican Republic, our team [Algonquin College] was so inspired by the children and their willingness to learn that we had to do more. We spent the week teaching in Outreach360’s new learning center in Monte Cristi; and knowing that the organization could serve so many more children in Jinotega if they had a larger facility, we knew we had to help make that happen.”

Our 2018 goal is to raise $100,000 to invest in the future of the students enrolled in Outreach360’s Learning Centers. This would not be possible without the support of Outreach360 volunteers and donors. Your involvement will make a real difference in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Join Outreach360 for the 2018 Dare to Dream Hike. United, we will hike wherever we are in the world to celebrate the children who have inspired us to hike for hope in this fight for education.

What will you hike for? Summit up for us here: http://donate.outreach360.org/daretodreamhike

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Families that Dare to Dream Together Stick Together

Looking for your next family vacation getaway? We’ve got you covered. The Outreach360 2018 Dare to Dream Summer Camp is an authentic, service-learning experience made for family volunteers in both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Families who participate will have the unique opportunity to educate underserved students in subjects such as journalism, STEM fields, performing and fine arts, health sciences, business, and environmental sustainability.

But wait. There’s more.

Angela Durtschi with her son taste-testing coffee during a cultural excursion in Jinotega, Nicaragua with Outreach360.

During your trip to the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua, you and your family members will serve real needs and together you will make a difference in underserved students’ lives. The knowledge family volunteers share with students will ignite their curiosity for potential careers they may not have known existed. Furthermore, this opportunity is inclusive for everyone. Outreach360 students are eager to learn from volunteers of all ages, including young children, young adults, parents, and grandparents.

Teaching abroad can open doors for your family, and you will truly make memories that matter. The 2018 Dare to Dream Summer Camp is the perfect way to introduce your loved ones to the developing, global community in a safe environment. Being exposed to service abroad will initiate your family into the emerging world of global citizenship. With these experiences, family members will become more conscientious of the needs of the international community. More importantly, service abroad will instill your family with a mentality of service that you will take home with you.

Jacob Durtschi interacting with students in Nicaragua while serving with his family as an Outreach360 volunteer.

Angela Durtschi, an Outreach360 Family Volunteer, said, “Initially, I signed up to broaden my son’s view of the world and encourage empathy. I ended up achieving this for myself as well. We are all more alike than we are different and it´s always a great idea to remind yourself that we live in a small world.”

This opportunity is perfect for families interested in making a global difference while sharing their passion for subjects of their
choosing. This exchange of knowledge will empower your family’s personal growth by requiring them to think outside the box in order to teach in a sustainable way. What may be practiced in the United States or Canada, may not be practiced in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Discovering these differences will broaden your family’s understanding of the world. Most importantly, it will motivate students to pursue new careers.

“This was such a good opportunity for our family to engage with people with diverse backgrounds. It put our kids in a role that their egocentrism was challenged. They worked hard and really stepped up to help other people. They were also given opportunities to learn from the kids and start to see similarities they had with the students,” Jacob Durtschi, an Outreach360 Family Volunteer, explained.

How can your family get involved? Register for the 2018 Dare to Dream Summer Camp today!

Now is the time to give back. If you register your family for the 2018 Dare to Dream Summer Camp before April 1st, Outreach360 will match your registration deposit. For more information on how to register, click here: https://outreach360.org/dare-dream-summer-camps/

 

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Communicate Love. Communicate Change.

Love is a universal language that is expressed through actions and service. Travelling to another country where you are unfamiliar with the language can create some anxiety; however, Outreach360 has built a foundation on which volunteers can build long-lasting relationships by Communicating Love to our students.

Why does this matter? Because a transformed world matters. 

Service is about overcoming barriers to create positive change in local and international communities. Volunteering with Outreach360 in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua is a unique service-learning experience in which one must communicate beyond language limitations.

Outreach360 students speak Spanish as a first language, and they are enrolled in the Outreach360 Learning Center programs to improve their English language skills each day. Furthermore, our volunteers serve to Communicate Love to our students while speaking English. This exchange opens doors to communication through action.

“Communicate Love means using love as a form of communication. When you have a language barrier between you and the person, you can use love, expression, interest, and care instead of words for them to be able to understand you. Bringing positive energy into the classroom with a smile can go a long way,” Jackson Ranheim, an Outreach360 OLÉ volunteer, says.

You do not need to know the native language to make an impact abroad. This misconception oftentimes prevents individuals from taking the leap to serve abroad in Latin America. Remembering to Communicate Love relieves this anxiety. We know that a simple high-five or thumbs-up can communicate more to Outreach360 students than words can. Expression through actions will create understanding transcendent of language barriers.

Outreach360 has witnessed this exchange in the classroom. The positive energy that volunteers bring to their lessons empowers students’ grasp of the English language. A smile at the end of the day goes a long way for our students. Your actions will inspire a transformed world in which all students may live a life of choice.

Caleb Acosta, an Outreach360 Adelante Volunteer and an Outreach360 English education program graduate, explains, “For me, Communicate Love is a stronger language that connects all the people around the world. I do this by smiling every day and doing what I need to do with my heart. I remember when I was a student with Outreach360 that I didn’t know how to say something in English and I didn’t understand what the teacher was saying. The teacher showed me a beautiful smile and she taught me one more time, and I just learned because of this smile. I learned from the love of her actions.”

For more information about Outreach360, visit our website: www.outreach360.org.

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How Volunteering Abroad Changed Me

Outreach360 Volunteer Guest Writer: Alyssa Gehman

When I was a freshman in college, I was lost. I didn’t know where I fit in on a campus four hours away from home. So I started applying to anything and everything. I still don’t remember what made me decide to go on a trip to a place where I didn’t speak the language when I’d never been out of the country before, and with 20 strangers for that matter, but it was the best decision I could have ever made volunteering abroad with Outreach360

In the seven days, I was in Nicaragua, those 20 strangers turned into 20 new best friends. Some of them, people who will probably be in my wedding one day, are people who I would have never met otherwise.

After my first trip, I couldn’t stay away. At this point, I’ve volunteered with Outreach360 five times and have had several unique experiences. I’ve volunteered as a team member, a team leader, and an individual long-term volunteer and hold every experience so close to my heart.

Over the past four years, I’ve gotten to work with several different groups of students and have gotten to see the kids in the learning center grow. It’s so incredible to see how the organization has evolved over time and how smart the students are.

Not only does Outreach360 give its students amazing opportunities, but they also think of everything for volunteers. As a volunteer, your primary responsibility is to be the best teacher for the kids and the only other thing you have to worry about is living in the moment. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such an amazing organization.


The time I’ve spent with Outreach360 continues to change my life. I’ve completely fallen in love with traveling, Latin American culture, and servin
g others through my experiences in Nicaragua. I continuously learn new things about people, the world and most importantly, myself. Each time I return to Nicaragua, my life is put into perspective. My goals are clearer; life seems simpler.

I’ve grown so passionate about non-profit work and education through volunteering abroad with Outreach360 and hope to eventually have a career within the non-profit sector. My dream job would be to organize service trips for a college campus similar to the work that I did as a team leader. I’d love to give students the opportunities that I’ve had in the past. Looking back, I don’t know if I would have gone in this direction had I not made a choice to do something different.

I think volunteering abroad is so important not only for the world but for the soul and I encourage everyone to participate in some way. For me, getting to see how other people live completely changed my life and made me see life from a different perspective. I’ve learned that changing your life starts with just taking that first step out of your comfort zone, and I’m so thankful that I decided to get involved with Outreach360!

Register to volunteer with Outreach360 in Nicaragua here: https://outreach360.org/nicaragua/

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Celebrate the New Year with Year-End Giving

Celebrate the New Year by supporting students’ education in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The 2017 Outreach360 Holi-Yay Fund Days campaign is a year-end fundraiser. Your donation will ensure the continuation of our English educations programs abroad. The Holi-Yay Fund Days fundraiser supports the Outreach360 mission of providing opportunities for underserved children in Latin America to live a life of choice.

Jovani, a Nicaragua Outreach360 Learning Center student, says, “Donate because it will do good for our future. It will help a lot of people in need.  Outreach360 is important to me because it will help me a lot with my future. I will be able to help my family with my future job. I think that is important to my family because they will be proud of me. Please donate to Outreach360.”

Students, like Jovani, rely on our education programs. Donating will provide opportunities for Outreach360 students to achieve their dreams.  Jovani hopes to become a translator in the future. His progress in the Learning Center Program in Nicaragua would not be possible without generous donations from our volunteers and donors. One day, it is our hope that Jovani can accomplish everything he aspires to do in life, and the Holi-Yay Fund Days campaign aims to empower our students, including Jovani, on their journey through English language education.

English education provides opportunities for Outreach360 students to live a life of choice. It is our belief that education is the most sustainable form of service in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. English education, specifically, will open doors to new careers for underserved children. Donating to the Holi-Yay Fund Days campaign is a click-easy way to motivate students from your own home to continue their academic growth.

Our year-end fundraiser ends on New Year’s Eve. Invite your family and friends to celebrate the 2017 Outreach360 Holi-Yay Fund Days campaign, and donate yourself. Do not miss out on this opportunity to give back to underserved children in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Together, we can continue to make a difference on a global scale.

Click here to donate to the 2017 Outreach360 Holi-Yay Fund Days campaign: https://donate.outreach360.org/give/153037/#!/donation/checkout

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What You Will Gain as a Caminos Intern

Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern Guest Writer: Sarah Allen

When I first traveled to the Dominican Republic as an English teacher for underserved students with Outreach360 in 2012, I learned a principle by which the organization lives: Serve; Don’t Help. Volunteers often go to developing countries with the mindset of helping the helpless. But since that first trip, I have returned four more times to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, and I now realize that development work is not one-sided. Empowering societies through cooperation, support, and mutual exchange is crucial to lasting development. Service is a two-way relationship that involves mutual communication, respect, and learning.

As a Caminos Intern with Outreach360, for everything that you give to the students and the community, you will gain even more. Personally, I owe the entire path of my life to that first week I volunteered at Outreach360: my interest in Latin American culture, my commitment to teaching and learning languages, my devotion to education, my passion for service, and my decision to pursue a career in international humanitarian work. If you are even half as lucky as me, you will gain so much from your time as a Caminos Intern with Outreach360: you will learn from like-minded peers, gain critical leadership skills, form meaningful relationships with students, soak up a new culture, open doors for your future, and even pick up some Spanish along the way.

Every returned Outreach360 volunteer will probably tell you that working with the students was the highlight of their experience. For me, it was no different. But working with the students was also by far the most challenging aspect of volunteering for me. During my first trip to the Dominican Republic, I spent every single day of the week teaching color words to a group of about eight kindergarten-aged students who had had very minimal exposure to English. Each day, it seemed like the students had completely lost all of the progress they had made the day before. Because of the total immersion approach that Outreach360 takes to teaching English, I felt like it was difficult to communicate and connect with such basic level students.

As the end of the week approached, I worried that our team had not accomplished the main goal that we had set for ourselves: facilitating mastery of eight basic color words. Feeling hopeless on the last day, our team gave the students coloring pages and crayons in a half-hearted attempt to do an activity that was relevant to the theme but still simple enough that we couldn’t fail.

To our surprise, as the students colored, we began to hear them ask each other for the crayons that they wanted. “Blue, please,” I heard from one student as he looked towards another student’s pile of crayons. “Red,” another student called as she gestured towards a crayon just out of reach in the center of the table. For the rest of the day, we encouraged students to ask their peers and teachers for the crayons they wanted for their coloring pages to practice their color words. Unlike we had thought all along, the students were making incremental progress all week, poco a poco. Despite my initial frustration of slow progress, I know that each successive week that Outreach360’s dedicated teachers have worked with those students, they have built upon what I taught that week.

At the end of the last day, every single one of my students ran up and gave me a huge hug, and that is what has kept me and hundreds of other volunteers returning year after year to continue to see them grow. Despite the language barrier I perceived, I was able to form a real connection with my students that I strengthen with each visit.

I have loved learning from Outreach360’s joyful and loving students, but the opportunity to forge lifelong friendships with fellow volunteers and staff has also been a hallmark of my experience as a volunteer. Outreach360 attracts all of the coolest world travelers, adventurers, and do-gooders. Through interactions with like-minded people from near and far, you will not only bond over your similarities, but you will gain new perspectives and a multicultural outlook from your differences.

Throughout your time in Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic, you will certainly encounter cultural differences you are unaccustomed to. But Outreach360 will be there to support you every step of the way and help you conquer any challenges you may face. By the time you return home, you will miss the gallo pinto you ate every day, the daily rounds of La Prensas loudspeaker, and even the bunk beds and mosquito nets.

All that you gain from your time as a Caminos Intern with Outreach360 will be invaluable within the context of any career or life path you may choose to pursue. I know I will carry the knowledge and experiences I have acquired in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic with me through the rest of my life.

Not only that, but you will also open doors for your students that will allow them to contribute to the healing of their communities. Like I said, the “Serve; Don’t Help” principle has stuck with me and served me as a guiding principle since my first trip to Latin America. I hope that you choose to spend a few months of your time as a Caminos Intern because I guarantee that your time with Outreach360 will stick with you too.

For more information about the Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Internships, visit this website: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/individuals-long-term-internships/

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