Welcome to the Dominican Republic!
The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean, between the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. It shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. It is one of the Caribbean’s most geographically diverse countries, complete with incredible mountain scenery, stunning colonial architecture, a fertile agriculture landscape and some of the best beaches this world has to offer. Although the Dominican’s vibrant culture and island vibe have made it known in the tourism industry, many residents in rural parts of the Dominican Republic still live in poverty and children grow up lacking the resources and opportunities to live a life of choice.
Hundreds of kilometers of coastline surround the Dominican Republic. Some of which is lined with some of the worlds most beautiful white-sand beaches shaded by rows of palm trees and other parts are lined with a stunning landscape of rocky cliffs, mangrove lagoons or vast sand dunes. Whether you find yourself walking along the coast of a sleepy fishing village, or on the shore of a tourists haven, the diversity of the Dominican Republic shoreline will never cease to amaze.
The Dominican Republic has several urban communities from the Capital of Santo Domingo to the most densely populated city of Santiago. Traveling outside of these urban areas, one would find themselves in a primarily rural setting. Along many of paths, you will see horses, cows, and goats herding and grazing along the side of fertile rice fields or banana plantations. On other paths, you might find yourself exploring the lush jungles, raging rivers, and stunning waterfalls. You may even find yourself hiking one of the many mountains that make the landscape of the Dominican Republic so unique. In fact, four of the five highest peaks in the Caribbean rise above the surrounding valley of Santiago. All-in-all, one will not get bored with the beauty of this magical country.
The people of the Dominican Republic as a whole are very relational. Most Dominicans are friendly, outgoing, polite and hospitable, and have a strong sense of pride in the country and culture. Social interaction and appearance play an exceedingly important role in the culture. Perhaps the social glue of the Dominican Republic is the music that you will hear coming from the homes and local colmados (small corner stores/bars). Many of our volunteers appreciate the slower pace of life in the Dominican Republic. Where many North Americans are task-oriented, Dominicans are relationship oriented. Before getting down to business Dominicans “shoot the breeze” and talk about politics, health, the weather, or any number of things before they get to the actual purpose of the conversation. It’s a “live in the moment” philosophy, and we take it on as an organization!
The history of the Dominican Republic has gone through many twists and turns since the occupation of its original inhabitants, the Taino Indians. If you were to visit the Capital city of Santo Domingo, you would see the influence of European exploration in the architecture and museums. And, you would also see the communities with homes constructed during more prosperous times, and monuments constructed in celebration of freedom from a time when the country was misruled by an infamous dictator. There is always something new to learn about the Dominican Republic and it’s rich history, and as an organization, we strive to make sure that all volunteers get a taste.
Outreach360 is currently working in the far northwest region of the Dominican Republic in the small rural fishing town of Monte Cristi. The town of Monte Cristi is a magical place, best known as a slow-paced beach town, where many of its residents find work fishing the local waters, harvesting salt from the historical salt flats, or working in the nearby agricultural industry. Unlike the bustling tourist destinations in the large coastal resorts in the Dominican Republic, Monte Cristi finds itself well off the beaten path. It’s this distance that adds to its authenticity and charm, revealing beautiful scenery, friendly people, and the lively community of true Dominican culture.
Volunteering in the Dominican Republic
The Outreach360 Service Program in Monte Cristi focuses on education for children as a sustainable solution to rural poverty. As a volunteer, you play a role in creating opportunities for disadvantaged children to transform their lives. Our base program is teaching English in the Outreach360 Learning Centers, local schools or at our Dare to Dream Learning Camps! Your involvement will fuel our students’ future!
Outreach360 volunteers traveling to the Dominican Republic will broaden their cultural understanding of the country through activities and excursions organized by Outreach360. We recognize that an essential component of service-learning is understanding the culture and the people that you serve. That’s why you will find a full schedule devoted to direct service for the community and cultural/educational activities for volunteers to enjoy.
“The highlight of my trip was teaching the children! They were so loving, cute and eager to learn. It was also super cool to experience the culture of the Dominican Republic, it was very different than anything I have experienced before. Do it! It was one of the coolest and most memorable experiences of my life.”
– Casey Jobe, Sugar Bowl Academy, California