Female Volunteers

Professional Dominican women dress very modestly. We request that female volunteers wear skirts or pants or capris below the knee when teaching in the local schools, the leaning center, or at educational camps.  When participating in a sports camp, knee length basketball shorts or bermuda shorts, running capris, and baseball/softball pants are all acceptable. During free time, knee length shorts, capris, pants, and skirts below the knees are all acceptable. Please – no shorts above the knees, spandex type pants, leggings, jeans with holes, tank tops, or sleeveless dresses at any time.

At the beach,  wear a one piece swimsuit or a two piece with a tank top or tee-shirt as your cover up. If you plan to go to church, bring a long dress or long skirt and blouse. Bring a pair of closed toed shoes. It is recommended to bring a pair of pants in case you have the opportunity to go to the Dajabon market on cultural day.

At all times, other than church, we ask that you wear your Outreach360 shirts.  In addition to the Outreach360 shirt you will receive before your  trip, other Outreach360 shirts will be made available to you in the Dominican Republic.

Male Volunteers

Bring long pants for working in the schools, learning center,  or learning camps. If you plan to go to church, bring long pants and a nice polo or dress shirt. Bring a pair of closed toed shoes. You may wear shorts during sports camps, and at times you are not working in schools or learning camps, church or formal/professional gatherings.

At all times, other than church, we ask that you wear your Outreach360 shirts.  In addition to the Outreach360 shirt you will receive before your  trip, other Outreach360 shirts will be made available to you in the Dominican Republic.

Tattoos, Jewelry, Headwear – The areas in the Dominican Republic where we work are old country, conservative areas. Reputation in the areas where we work is very important. We want our volunteers to be respected as an American Peace Corps worker or local school teacher would be. We have also been asked to follow the same dress code and standards set by the local Ministry of Education to work inside public schools. Therefore, we request that all tattoos be covered when working with children. We request that all volunteers cover up or remove any piercings while teaching. Females (and males with long hair) should wear their hair up when at school or the learning centers. We ask that volunteers refrain from using bandanas.  Regular headbands are ok. Please remove hats and sunglasses upon entering schools or learning centers. We thank you for going out of your way to respect the local culture in which we are working

Dominican Republic Culture Lesson/Outreach360 Dress Code

Outreach360 has a seemingly strict and inflexible dress code. It seems contradictory to the “be flexible, fun, Caribbean, alternative break” environment we are in. Why? There are several cultural reasons that merge together that have created the Outreach360 dress code.

#1—We are Committed that our Volunteers are Respected Similar to how Local Teachers or American Peace Corps Workers are Respected

Dress is very important to Dominicans, much like it was in the U.S. and Canada way back in the 50’s and 60’s—when men regularly wore a suit and tie, and women dressed up to go to the market. Professionals dress very modest and proper—long pants, long sleeve shirts, collars, long skirts, etc. If they go to the bank, they dress up. If they go to a party, they dress up. Children will often attend our summer camps dressed in their Sunday best.

In contrast, Americans and Canadians tend to dress “sloppy” —shorts, tee-shirts, tank tops, etc. Partly because that’s our culture, partly because most Americans and Canadians in the Dominican Republic are on a vacation. Regardless, compared to the higher standard of dress shown by the Dominicans, we appear sloppily dressed.

We haven’t attempted to address the casualness of our dress—we aren’t going to ask our volunteers to wear collared shirts, shined shoes, etc. That’s too much to ask! But we are expecting our volunteers to dress more modestly—no shorts, no tank tops, etc. That simple step goes a long way in having Dominicans view our volunteers not as beach vacationers, but as professionals here to teach and make a difference. Much like a local teacher or American Peace Corps worker.

#2—We are Committed that our Female Volunteers are Respected

Female volunteers have a few additional challenges in the countries where we work that our male volunteers do not:

  • The Dominican Republic is a more male dominated societies. Professional women are more of a rarity here than they are in the states and provinces. They have to work hard to earn and keep the respect of others; the same is true of American and Canadian women working in the country. A modest dress is one way of keeping that respect.
  • Shorts—a woman’s thigh is considered a very sensually intimate area; much more so than the states or provinces.
  • Hollywood reputation—for much of the world, their view of American women is based on what they see on TV and in the movies—which often portray American women as promiscuous or in a sexual context. Dressing more modestly helps to fight this stereotype.

Common Questions/Answers:

Why is Outreach360 so concerned about being respected in the community? Because of the strong reputation Outreach360 has developed in the areas where we work, doors are opened to us that are quite unique—being able to teach in local schools, being able to be involved in the health system, etc. This wouldn’t be possible without maintaining a high level of respect in the community. And without the respect of the community, an individual volunteer would not be effective in the classroom.

Why the Restriction on Two-Piece Bathing Suits?
American and Canadian women draw a lot of attention at the beach, especially when wearing a bikini. To the point that it has caused some very uncomfortable situations for our volunteers in the past. Taking the small step to requiring a one piece suit has significantly improved the situation.

Do I have to wear shorts at the beach over my swimsuit?
Only when we take the kids to the beach, for modesty reasons. When it’s volunteers only at the beach, you do not need to wear shorts over your swimsuit.

Thank you for your patience with our dress code. Remember that we have volunteers working with us for months and even years at a time; they live with this dress code continuously. We hope that adapting to it for a shorter period of time will not be that challenging. We believe it will improve your volunteer experience significantly.