Dominican Republic

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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How Interning Abroad Helped Me Discover My Purpose

 Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern Guest Writer:  Annika Hudson
From 2013-2014 I volunteered with Outreach360 for about eight months as a Caminos Volunteer. The experiences and individuals I came across while in the Dominican Republic have left lasting impressions on me. While it has been awhile since I volunteered, I continue to keep in touch with my friends and fellow Caminos volunteers. We became family during our time overseas.
A specific memory I have from the Dominican Republic was the blue class. I taught the blue class in the afternoon at the Learning Center. These students ranged from ages eight to ten years old. This class brought me so much joy. If I was having a rough day, I always knew that the blue class would provide me with lots of laughs and love. They supported one another and valued their education.

While each of these students continuously came to class with smiles on their faces, each of them came from dysfunctional home lives. However, when at the Learning Center, they could relax and forget about their worries. We used to always say “BOOMSHAKALAKA!” when it was time to focus and get started with the lesson. We constantly smiled, accepted, and embraced one another. They were probably my hardest goodbye when it was time to go home. I never thought that I could have such an impact on the students I worked with; and more surprisingly, I did not think they would leave such an impression on me. I still think about that class and hope all is well with them.

I volunteered with Outreach360 because my freshman year of college left me feeling very uncertain about my abilities and what I wanted to do with my life. Deciding to take a gap-year took a lot of thought but in the end, I needed time to discover myself and my passions. Thankfully, my time in the Dominican Republic gave me just this and the confidence to apply to a university that I never thought I could get into. The year following this experience, I transferred to the University of Pittsburgh. It was the perfect fit and I had many successes at this school.

Furthermore, I am now in graduate school, at Gwynedd Mercy University, to become a School Counselor K-12. My time in the Dominican Republic allowed me to begin to realize what profession I wanted to get involved in. Overall, after completing my time with Outreach360 I felt like I could conquer the world and nothing could get in my way. I continue to feel this way today. If you are someone who feels lost, or wants to take a gap year, or just wants to have a life-changing experience, it would be in your best interest to take a chance and be an Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer. I promise you won’t regret it!

For more information about the Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Internship, click this link: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/individuals-long-term-internships/

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My Internship Empowered Me To Travel

Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern Guest Writer: Dallon Asnes

My name is Dallon Asnes. I’m a senior physics major at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. In the summer of 2015, following my first year of college, I spent eight weeks in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic as a Caminos Intern with Outreach360.

Living for a summer in Monte Cristi was an incredible experience. It was my first time out of the U.S., my first time without the luxurious amenities to which I had previously grown accustomed, and my first time being immersed in a Spanish-speaking environment.

I had studied Spanish throughout high school but, once I got to Monte Cristi, my Spanish improved by leaps and bounds. I helped plan and direct the baseball-softball camp that summer, which meant most of my days were spent on a baseball field – which I loved – and I often had long, spontaneous conversations in Spanish with campers who all shared a similar passion for sports. Campers shared some of their favorite music with me and I’ll never forget our group sing-a-longs to Daddy Yankee or Prince Royce after a long day on the field. I was continually impressed with how well the campers could dance. Although I loved the bachata and merengue classes we had at the program center every week, I don’t think I ever learned to dance as well as them!

I often think back to hiking El Morro with our group and photographing the gorgeous beach right below us, or laughing along with the workers at the Salt Flat as I translated for our group tours. Living in Monte Cristi wasn’t all easy, however. Between mosquito bites, heat and the initial adjustment of being out of one’s comfort zone, there were times that challenged me. However, the Outreach360 staff remained open, accessible, and incredibly supportive whenever a situation arose. Many of my fond memories come from the strong sense of community those of us working with Outreach360 felt.

When I returned to college the next fall, I was craving another opportunity to live abroad. I decided to apply for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) and the Boren Scholarship, programs that would fund either a summer or full year abroad with an intensive language study component. When I met with fellowship advisors at my school to begin discussing my application, it dawned on me how significantly my experience with Outreach360 would strengthen my applications. I had lived for an extended period in modest conditions, I had demonstrated that I could adjust to new cultures and communities and I did so while leading our summer program and other volunteers.

These experiences from Monte Cristi helped me stand out in application essays and prove myself in subsequent interviews. One of the more challenging interview questions I faced was, “What will you do while living abroad to decompress or relax?” In Monte Cristi, I frequently journaled and regularly made time to read in a quiet space. Referencing this in my response helped show what I’ve learned from this past experience and how I’m ready to apply it to future ones. Furthermore, I should mention that the staff from Outreach360 wrote me great letters of recommendation to bolster my applications.

Thanks to some of these scholarships, I’ve since had the opportunity to study in India for ten months and volunteer in Madagascar for three. While my experiences with Outreach360 helped me to earn these scholarships in the first place, lessons I learned in Monte Cristi taught me how to manage what can be difficult cultural adjustments and gave me the confidence to push through new challenges.

While I was in Monte Cristi, every day was filled with exciting, new experiences. When I think back to the summer, in addition to these fond memories, I can’t help but appreciate the influence of Outreach360 and the opportunity that a Caminos Internship proved in propelling me toward more diverse, international experiences. I encourage you to be involved in whatever capacity you can!

Register to become an Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern here: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/individuals-long-term-internships/ 

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Outreach360 Is Thankful For Your Support

Outreach360 is humbled by our dedicated volunteers and donors that have supported us in educating underserved children in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Our organization would not continue to grow without your service. More importantly, our students would not have the opportunity to learn English in our Learning Centers without you. Because of your devotion to our volunteer programs, Outreach360 has been able to serve over 10,000 students since 1994. Thank you!

Outreach360 wants to celebrate you this holiday season! In order to do so, Outreach360 Nicaragua Learning Center students have prepared a quick message for you. Click the photo below to watch:

How can you stay involved?

Outreach360 would like to encourage you to stay involved this holiday season by participating in the Holi-Yay Fund Days campaign this Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving that takes place on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. It is an opportunity to give back on a global scale. In addition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is offering to match donations made to Outreach360, up to $50,000, on Giving Tuesday. This is a unique, first time event – an incredible opportunity for Outreach360!

You can participate in the Holi-Yay Fund Days fundraiser by creating a Facebook fundraising page. Encourage your family and friends to donate on Facebook on Giving Tuesday.  Participation in this event will support the education of Outreach360 students in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Unable to create a Facebook fundraising page? Let Outreach360 donate for you!

Give us your credit card information before Giving Tuesday, so we can make the donation on your behalf. You can call us at 602-882-8628 to give Outreach360 your credit card information. Your credit card will be stored securely until Tuesday morning, and then will be destroyed after your donation is made.

Click here for more detailed directions on how to get involved in the Holi-Yay Fund Days fundraiser.

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This Is It. This Is Outreach360.

Carpe diem. We’ve all heard the saying; however, our multi-tasking nature oftentimes prevents us from seizing life’s moments.  Outreach360 works to create experiences that empower volunteers to embrace service, without distraction. Volunteering abroad is a unique opportunity to truly live in the present. This Is It.

“Joining Outreach360 is such a refreshing experience and allows you to step out of your everyday schedule and see life in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua first hand, the impact you have on the students, community, and also the people you work with. This opportunity to serve others definitely allows you to live in the moment just as we learned Dominicans and Nicaraguans do every day,” Alexia Lucas, a former Outreach360 volunteer from the University of North Carolina, explained.

The Outreach360 principle, This Is It, is about transforming your experience by enjoying the present moment. Service is about embracing the opportunity, not only for yourself but for those around you as well. Immersing yourself in the experience will fuel your involvement creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Sammy Schultz, a former volunteer from the University of Missouri, says, “Outreach360 gave me the chance to communicate love to children while transforming the world. This organization has given me a whole new meaning to the concept of living in the moment and giving all I’ve got when it comes to impacting children.”

This Is It transcends to the experience of the students you are educating in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. When you allow yourself to embrace each moment while volunteering, Outreach360 students benefit more from your engagement. Your impact abroad will fuel the futures of Outreach360 students, empowering them to live a life of their choice.

We think Bridgett Kieffer, a former volunteer from the University of Missouri, said it best: “Life is too short to just live it for yourself. Get out, give back. This is it: your time to impact others for the rest of your life.”

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

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It’s Not About You. It’s About Outreach360 Students.

Serving abroad is a selfless act. It’s an opportunity to focus on the needs of others and to make a difference in international communities. When you are volunteering abroad with Outreach360 in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua it is important to remove the focus from yourself in order to make a lasting impact on the students. It’s Not About You.

Picture this:

An Outreach360 student asks you to read a book with them. You recognize the title of the book-one of your childhood favorites-and you agree to read with the student. You joke about how you used to read books like this when you were the student’s age. The student hands you the book and looks at you expectantly. You think about all the time, money, and effort you spent to volunteer abroad just to sit down and read a children’s book. To you, this task may seem insignificant. To the student, the words in that book will fuel their future.

Simple acts, such as reading a children’s novel, will transform the lives of our students in powerful ways. Reminding yourself that your volunteering experience is not about you will empower your actions to better serve Outreach360 students. Although this process may seem difficult, it will make your volunteering experience more meaningful to you and the students.

Sydney O’Hara, an Outreach360 Communications OLÉ Volunteer, says, “I did not embrace the It’s Not About You Outreach360 principle until late into my first volunteering experience. One week before my trip, my dad was diagnosed with a terminal form of skin cancer. Although I was physically present in the Dominican Republic, mentally I was at home with my dad. I allowed this news to hinder my ability to be the best teacher I could be for the students. It was not until my last day abroad that I understood the implications of the It’s Not About You principle, and I was able to carry this lesson over into my relationship with my dad. Service is selfless, whether that be in service of children’s education or in service of your loved ones during trying times.”

What do you have to gain from this principle? The knowledge that you are able to serve students wholeheartedly

Outreach360 envisions a world where every person lives a life of choice. Before this can be obtainable, Outreach360 volunteers must choose to directly serve students. Embracing the Outreach360 It’s Not About You principle will transform your volunteering experience. It will open your eyes to the power of your service and the impact you can create in the lives of underserved children. In this way, you will ensure that all Outreach360 students can live a life a life of choice.

“When we say It’s Not About You, we mean that it’s about the children that we are serving; it’s about the children you are working with; it’s about the community that you are coming into as a stranger. There are other people that depend on this experience. This experience is about the people you are working with and how this experience benefits them, not you. However, it is a two-way street in a lot of ways. You’ll discover that you will benefit a lot from giving back to others,” Carla Mora, an Outreach360 Volunteer Leader, explained.

Visit the Outreach360 website for more information: www.outreach360.org

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Your High School Will Benefit From An Outreach360 Trip

“I have been a teacher for 12 years and I know what goes into planning and providing learning experiences. Nowhere else can you go in with no required teaching education or experience and yet have a meaningful week where you truly become a teacher and see what benefits this career provides firsthand.” -Rebecca Walsh; St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. 

Finding the perfect balance between education and fun can be difficult for teachers, but one common truth stands: high school students want to be a part of something greater than themselves. Outreach360 offers volunteer programs for high school students that aim to empower young adults to make a difference on a global scale. High school volunteers work to educate underserved children during their experience with Outreach360 in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

But wait. There’s more.

Outreach360 provides high school students with a standout service-learning experience. Your students will be immersed in the Latin American culture and take part in inclusive cultural activities, such as informational documentaries, interactive discussions about Nicaraguan and Dominican Republic culture from Outreach360 mentors, and cultural excursions.  In addition, the Outreach360 volunteer programs for high school students are safe and affordable.

This volunteering opportunity for high school students will create memories that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 reasons why you should take your high school students abroad to volunteer with Outreach360:

 1. Your Students’ Health and Saftey is our #1 Priority

Here’s the deal: Outreach360 offers volunteer programs for high school students that strive to provide a safe and health conscientious environment supported by staff and local community members. “One of the things I like best about this trip is that it is a great introduction to service for a lot of our kids in technically a third world environment that is still safe. We feel comfortable with them experiencing some different conditions than they are used to but in terms of how the food is prepared and the safety precautions taken we don’t feel as though we are putting them at risk and yet exposing them to an opportunity to see a completely different part of the world,” Amy Vachris, a St. Mark’s High School teacher, said. Since 1994, Outreach360 has hosted over 22,000 volunteers who have enjoyed a healthy and safe volunteer experience. There are several factors that make our organization safe, including our highly trained staff, our well-accommodated facilities, and our developed community relationships. For more information about our health and safety practices, read this blog post: https://outreach360.org/blog/health-safety-first-priority/

2. Students Will Gain Cultural Insights

As teachers, Outreach360 works to create an immersive experience that students will remember for a lifetime. We know that you work to do the same for your high school students at home. Outreach360 provides volunteer programs for high school students that will expand your students’ cultural and global knowledge. Although your students will become Outreach360 teachers for the week, they will be learning about the unique cultures of the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua in an immersive setting. Outreach360 high school volunteers gain cultural insights through our educational programming, which includes informational documentaries, interactive discussions about Latin American culture from Outreach360 mentors, and cultural excursions.

3. Instill a Mentality of Service in Your Students

Service is powerful. Period. Service abroad will not only change the world but will also change your high school students’ perspectives. By volunteering abroad with Outreach360, high school students will learn the value of giving back in international communities and at home.  Maria Kane, a teacher at The Pennington School, said, “This experience allowed me as a teacher to see my students away from technology and media to play and learn vulnerably.” Your students will grow to express their vulnerabilities through service, away from technology. A service-learning trip will increase the odds that your students go on to live a life of service and inspire their peers to do the same.

4. No Planning Means No Worries

Outreach360 understands that international travel logistics can be a nightmare for teachers. Between lesson planning for the school year and professional development days, you deserve a break. When you choose to volunteer with your high school students, you will not have to worry about in-country logistics. We will handle your transportation to and from the airport, provide you with comfortable housing, and three home-cooked meals per day. Outreach360 exists to make your volunteering abroad experience easy – it’s a turn-key approach to international service. Our staff is highly trained to accommodate all the needs that your students might have, so you can truly enjoy the experience of volunteering in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

5. Teach Teamwork

Teamwork makes the dream work. Outreach360 high school volunteers work alongside their teachers to educate underserved children in Latin America. This process creates a community of service-minded high school students. In order to meet your group’s volunteering goals, high school volunteers will need to work together to create effective lesson plans that engage Outreach360 students. Together, you will support each other throughout the process. This further encourages bonding time between classmates, motivating new friendships that will grow while serving and at home. This opportunity is a great way to spend quality time with your students. As a teacher, you will discover new qualities about your high school students that you never knew before.

6. Future Fun

International service is fun! Outreach360 high school volunteers will have the opportunity to explore a foreign city, hike up mountains, and make a difference in hundreds of students’ lives. Although your high school students will have several chances to participate in the local culture, you will be surprised to find that teaching will be the highlight of their week. Outreach360 students are thrilled to share powerful intercultural experiences with high school students. See all the ways that Outreach360 volunteer programs for high school students are fun here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw5XUQ4Gq3Q

7. Bring it Home

Outreach360 motivates high school students to dedicate themselves to a lifetime of service. Imagine if all young adults strived to make the world a better place through service at home and abroad. Their impact combined would move mountains. Outreach360 aspires to create a community of global high school students who are committed to making a difference and giving back, whether that means returning to volunteer in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua or volunteering at home. After participating in Outreach360 volunteer programs for high school students, your high school students will want to continue to make an impact in your local community and internationally.

8. Inspire Others

Volunteering abroad as a high school student will inspire others to do the same, creating a community of service-minded young adults who are passionate about giving back. This, of course, is not limited to young adults. Here is what Laura Layton Pendorf, a retired Polytechnic School teacher, had to say about her volunteering experience: “I was a high school Spanish teacher for 41 years and just retired. I have felt lonely and unneeded since then, this week in Jinotega working with the Nicaraguan children and my ex-students have given me a whole new outlook on life. I feel deeply inspired, proud of my capacities, and so deeply joyful to have shared them.”  Volunteering with Outreach360 as a teacher or a high school student will create positive change. Simply sharing your Outreach360 story, like Laura, can empower other teachers and high school students to volunteer. Eventually, this will lead to a high school volunteer and teacher volunteer community that is enthusiastic about direct service.

9. Empower Your Students to Empower Others

Each student in your high school has different skills and talents that make them extraordinary. Outreach360 aims to allow individuals to use their skills and talents to empower students in the local community. When you volunteer, you will share in your high school students’ strengths in order to make lessons more engaging for Outreach360 students. Laura Monti, a high school teacher from The Taft School, said, “As a teacher, I’d encourage other teachers to participate for insight into another educational experience, for the pride you feel when your students become teachers, and for the growth, you will experience when you are put into an entirely unfamiliar teaching environment.” Empowering your high school students through teaching will, in turn, empower others, including Outreach360 students, staff, and local community members. This process will motivate Outreach360 students to develop their own passions and to share them with the world, making their dreams a reality., 

10. Your Students Will Become Global Citizens

Exposing your high school students to service abroad will initiate your students into the emerging world of global citizenship. With these experiences, young adults will become more conscientious of the needs of the international community. Katherine Holding, a high school student from Fay School, says, “Outreach360 gave me not only a greater perspective of the one world we all share as well as an insight into the impact of love, but also showed me a previously unknown side of myself. While here, I found myself doing things I would have thought impossible and learning more than I ever could have imagined.”  Service will take on a new meaning and open doors for new beginnings for your high school students. The volunteer programs for high school students will cause your students to continue learning about issues around the world and become powerful advocates for action and change.

Register a team for the Outreach360 volunteer programs for high school students here:  https://outreach360.org/volunteer/high-school-teams/

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Your Health and Safety is Our First Priority

Traveling abroad can make even the most accomplished volunteer explorer nervous; however, with Outreach360, you will not have to be. Outreach360 offers volunteer programs for individuals of all ages and strives to provide a safe and health conscientious environment supported by staff and local community members.

Why does this matter? Because your health and safety matters to us.

Since 1994, Outreach360 has hosted over 22,000 volunteers who have enjoyed a healthy and safe volunteer experience in both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. There are several factors that make our organization safe, including our highly trained staff, our well-accommodated facilities, and our developed community relationships. Outreach360 aims to anticipate the health needs of our volunteers before their arrival in-country, and our staff is knowledgeable of local clinics and pharmacies.

Safe Travels Are Happy Travels

Outreach360 has perfected safety practices that have maintained our volunteers’ well-being for over twenty years. We owe a lot of these practices to our full-time staff members. Outreach360 team leaders are hired from the local communities our organization is housed in.

Coco Barrett, the Outreach360 Nicaragua Country Director, explains, “I am proud that Outreach360 makes health and safety a top priority. We have a professional leadership team made up primarily of local and international staff who live in the communities where we serve and who have been trained in emergency preparedness.  We take the time to educate our volunteers about our guidelines on how to avoid accidents and for staying healthy, safe and being respectful while serving in country.  We have connections with and are respected by the Jinotega community.”

We intentionally hire local staff because we recognize that working with people who live in the country is key to ensuring your safety – they know the country, the community, and the neighborhood where you will be volunteering. Furthermore, volunteers are instructed by our staff on how to be safe while exploring a new city. We educate our volunteers on safe conduct in-country, to avoid unexpected consequences. Our staff’s insight keeps our volunteers safe in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

But wait, there’s a lot more.

Outreach360 works in two of the safest developing countries in the Western Hemisphere. We have chosen these countries with our volunteers in mind. We have worked tirelessly to build strong community relationships in the cities we work in. Having worked in Monte Cristi in the Dominican Republic since 1994, many members, businesses, and organizations in the local community have benefited from Outreach360’s efforts and are aware of our work.  The community knows us well, and we know the community.

Fun fact: Outreach360’s Executive Director, Tom Eklund, was recognized by the mayor of Monte Cristi as an honorary son of the city.

We have worked to develop strong community relationships in Nicaragua as well. Although our work in Nicaragua is more recent, Outreach360 has already made a positive impact on the local community, where the residents of Jinotega know we are making a lasting investment.  Alma Fletes, a professional Nicaraguan social worker who grew up in Jinotega, is a full-time leader with us in Nicaragua and makes sure operations run smoothly with our local relationships. Outreach360’s strong, long-term relationships in the communities where we serve are important contributing factors to the high level of safety our programs maintain.

In addition, Outreach360 intentionally houses volunteers in our facilities, where we are able to maintain safe and secure accommodations during your time volunteering.  The neighborhoods in which our volunteers stay are safe and welcoming. When necessary to accommodate busier weeks with multiple volunteer teams, Outreach360 occasionally houses volunteers in well-respected local hotels that are always a short walk away from the Outreach360 volunteer houses.

But what will you do in case of an emergency? We’ll tell you: let Outreach360 take care of you.

Our trained leaders always carry cell phones and are in communication with in-country staff and our U.S. office.  Outreach360 also takes further emergency precautions, including having a satellite phone in each country.  In the event that local cell networks are down or temporarily cut off, Outreach360 in-country staff maintains communication with our U.S. headquarters via our satellite phones. We know that safety means safe-guarding communication, and we have taken measures to ensure that assistance is just one phone call away.

Outreach360 Wants You To Be Healthy

In the decades that Outreach360 has been established, it is rare for a volunteer to become sick or injured during their volunteer experience. Regardless, Outreach360 has taken every precaution to ensure your health and wellness because you matter to us.

Our local staff is trained to address health concerns. Being with people who live in the country you are serving is key to ensuring your personal health. Our leaders keep our volunteers aware of ways to stay healthy, to drink sufficient amounts of water, and being aware of when and where to wear mosquito and bug repellent. We provide guidelines on how to avoid accidents in the area, appropriate precautions when eating in local restaurants, and general common sense guidelines to keep everyone healthy.

“One of the things I like best about this trip is that it is a great introduction to service for a lot of our kids in technically a third world environment that is still safe. We feel comfortable with them experiencing some different conditions than they are used to but in terms of how the food is prepared and the safety precautions taken we don’t feel as though we are putting them at risk and yet exposing them to an opportunity to see a completely different part of the world,” Amy Vachris, a St. Mark’s High School teacher, said.

The Outreach360 Kitchen Staff are professionally trained cooks that prepare meals for volunteers daily at the volunteer housing facilities. Our cooks are trained to cook only with purified water. Dietary needs will be accommodated during your stay in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Staff members encourage volunteers to sample local cuisine at restaurants and shops. If you do have an opportunity to eat at a local restaurant, it will be a location approved by Outreach360 staff, meaning that location has high sanitary standards. Bottled water is available 24/7 for our volunteers to help keep everyone well hydrated as well.

What about the mosquitos? Don’t believe the buzz. Outreach360 has got you covered.

We encourage our volunteers to use mosquito repellent, especially in the morning and evening. Mosquito nets or screened rooms are provided for all volunteers. Vaccinations are up to volunteer discretion. There are no required vaccinations in either the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua. A more extensive discussion of medical preparation, including links to the CDC website, is available in the Outreach360 Country Volunteer Guide. With over 22,000 volunteers joining us since 1994, we are not aware of a confirmed case of a volunteer contracting a mosquito-borne illness.

Although very uncommon, if a volunteer gets sick to the point of needing medical attention, or receives an injury, there are equipped private medical clinics near our facilities in both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.  Staff members will point out the closest pharmacies and clinics for volunteer access during the city tour on the first day of your arrival. In case of a medical emergency, you will not go to the clinic alone. Outreach360 leaders facilitate the clinic process and assure appropriate translation for receiving treatment.

More information about Outreach360 can be found on this website: www.outreach360.org.

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Why You Should Go On A Family Volunteer Vacation

“Our week at camp was an incredible experience for me and my children, ages 15 and 12. We saw each other as teachers, students, adventurers, and resilient volunteers instead of just parents and teenagers. We also had a safe environment to immerse ourselves in the beautiful, rich culture of the Dominican Republic, and we experienced a much different lifestyle than we have back home.” -Lisa Asseling; Outreach360 Family Vacation Volunteer. 

Family volunteering is a unique opportunity that will bring your family closer together while serving a common cause. An Outreach360 family volunteer vacation is an inclusive way to introduce your family to a foreign culture. Volunteering abroad with Outreach360 is safe for family members of all ages, including young children, young adults, parents, and grandparents. During your trip in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, you and your family members will serve real needs and together you will make a difference in underserved students’ lives.

But wait, there’s more.

Family volunteering with Outreach360 will expose your family to international service providing your loved ones with global connections that will empower and inspire. All the while, bringing your family closer together! Here are 10 reasons why you should consider going on an Outreach360 family volunteer vacation:

1. Your Family’s Safety Is Our # 1 Priority

We know that traveling abroad can raise some concerns, but please know that Outreach360 considers all of our volunteers to be members of OUR service family. We keep our family safe and out of harm’s way during their stay in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, just as you would keep your family safe at or away from home. Here’s the deal: Outreach360 family volunteer vacation safety is our top priority.  We manage our own facilities and have full-time international and local staff leading our volunteers in each country.  The local staff lives and works full-time in-country, and they facilitate the volunteer experience. Working with people who live in the country where you are serving is key to ensuring your safety – they know the country, the community, and the neighborhood where you will be volunteering.  Outreach360 also orientates all of our volunteers on basic health, safety, and respectful living guidelines that ensure family volunteer safety and ultimately to ensure that you have the best volunteer experience imaginable.

 2. Gain Cultural Insights

Although you and your family will focus on providing educational opportunities for kids, together you will gain knowledge about a different culture. It’s a common sentiment amongst Outreach360 volunteers that they leave their experience feeling they have gained as much as they have given. Here is what Anna Boyd, a former Outreach360 volunteer from Saint Stephens Episcopal School, had to say about her experience: “I have volunteered with Outreach360 4 times, and each time I feel like I learn something new. I always leave feeling as is I have received from the kids even more than I gave to them.” This cultural exchange of knowledge is what our organization strives for. The Outreach360 family volunteer vacation will benefit your family by teaching you about a new culture in the Dominican Republic and in Nicaragua.

3. Instill a Mentality of Service in Your Family

According to a study from the Public Library of Science Journal, three psychologists at the University of British Columbia found that children receive psychological benefits from giving, much like their parents do. Why does this matter? The study infers that beginning service at a young age will instill happiness, and as a result of that happiness, it will also instill a family mentality of giving back. Outreach360 family volunteers are giving back in a sustainable way through education. Sharing knowledge will provide our students with a life of choice. In addition, this exchange of knowledge will inspire your family to live a life of service.

4. Less Planning Means Less Worrying

Outreach360 gets it. International travel logistics can be a nightmare. When you choose to participate in an Outreach360 family volunteer vacation, you will not have to worry about in-country logistics. We will handle your travel transportation to and from the airport, provide you with comfortable housing, and three home-cooked meals per day. Outreach360 exists to make your volunteering abroad experience easy – it’s a turn-key approach to international service. Our staff is highly trained to accommodate all needs that your family might have, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy volunteering in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

5. Team Work Makes the Dream Work

With Outreach360, parents teach alongside their children to educate underserved students in Latin American communities. Family members will create lesson plans together, teach together, and learn together in the classroom. This environment creates a team mentality while serving. In order to reach your family’s volunteering goals, you will work as a team and support each other throughout the process. Working as a team will further encourage quality family time allowing you and your family to bond over service. You’ll discover brand-new, positive qualities about your loved ones that you never knew before.

6. Family Fun

Volunteering with Outreach360 means endless family fun. Your family will have the opportunity to explore a city abroad, climb mountains, and make a difference in dozens of students’ lives. Although you’ll have several chances to participate in the local culture, you will be surprised to find that teaching will be the highlight of your week. Outreach360 students are thrilled to share powerful intercultural experiences with volunteers of all ages. See all the ways volunteering with Outreach360 on a family volunteer vacation is fun here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1EXXzaFO5E

7. Bring it Home

After your family volunteer vacation with Outreach360, your family will want to continue making an impact in your local community and internationally. Outreach360 hopes to inspire families to continue to serve. Whether that is by returning to volunteer in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua or volunteering at home, Outreach360 aspires to create a community of global families who are committed to making a difference and giving back.

8. Inspire Others

Imagine the impact we could have if all families took one week out of their busy schedules to serve. It would cause a ripple effect of transformation! By volunteering abroad with your family, you’re likely to inspire other families around you to do the same. Avery Kit, age 8, said this after volunteering with her family: “I missed my best friend’s birthday to be here, but I am going to tell her all about being here and she is going to know why I missed her birthday. Because she knows it’s important to help people.” Simply sharing your Outreach360 story, like Avery, can empower other families to volunteer. Eventually, this will lead to a family volunteer community that is enthusiastic about direct service and positive change.

9. Empower Your Family to Empower Others

Each member of your family has different skills and talents that make them extraordinary. Outreach360 aims to allow individuals to use their skills and talents to empower students in the local community. When you volunteer as a family, you will share each others’ strengths in order to make lessons more engaging for Outreach360 students. Shawndell Hand, a former Outreach360 Family volunteer, said, “The experience will definitely have a lasting impact on how our family functions. I believe, in addition to having a much greater spirit of gratitude for our blessings, we all see one another in a new way. We each gained a better understanding of what we carry in our hearts; we have more pride about the caring and loving sides of each family member; and I forever hold the memories of watching the kind, gentle, and loving spirits that my husband and children shared with these extraordinary children of Jinotega.” Empowering your loved ones will, in turn, empower others, including Outreach360 students, staff, and local community members. This process will motivate Outreach360 students to develop their own passions and to share them with the world, making their dreams a reality.

10. Become a Global Citizen

Exposing your family to service abroad will initiate your family into the emerging world of global citizenship. With these experiences, your family will become more conscientious of the needs of the international community. Service will take on a new meaning and open doors for new beginnings for your family. An Outreach360 family volunteer vacation will cause your family to continue learning about issues around the world, and become powerful advocates for action and change

Register your family to volunteer with Outreach360 today: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/family-volunteer-vacations/

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