Welcome to the Dominican Republic! You will arrive in Santo Domingo and begin your journey.
Learn about the issues facing bateyes, marginalized Haitian-Dominican communities, on this service intensive program. Gain firsthand knowledge of the social, racial, immigration, and economic issues between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Work on a variety of service projects in these communities such as running a day camp for local children, building homes, or creating a community garden. Outside of service work, meet with lawyers, community organizers, and representatives at Asociación Scalabriniana al Servicio a la Movilidad Humana, an organization that advocates for documentation and human rights awareness for the bateyes communities. Get to know the locals as you live amongst them and learn about their life stories. Take a break from service and enjoy the beaches of Bayahibe and Samana where you’ll get to swim, kayak, and relax.
Components of a Critical Issues Program
Depart the United States for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Your Rustic Pathways staff will greet you upon arrival and take you to the nearby hotel for the night to get some sleep before the real adventure begins.
After breakfast at the hotel, head to your new home just outside of San Pedro de Macorís. Get familiarized with your surroundings and the history of the bateyes. These communities are home to sugarcane workers and their families, who have some of the lowest standards of living in the region. Sugar is one of the Dominican Republic’s main exports, and the country depends on its production to keep its economy healthy. Many of the field workers come from neighboring Haiti, and conditions are typically poor. Workers may be in the fields for up to 14 hours daily in the tropical heat. Some migrate for work; others stay in the Dominican Republic year-round or were even born here. Many lack citizenship and therefore quality education for their children. We have been working for years directly with a few small communities who open their arms to Rustic Pathways students like you to come work and help out where you can.
Wake up to your first full day in the bateyes – the area itself is completely surrounded by sugar cane fields, and home to the communities you will be working with. Receive a formal introduction to the project and people you will be serving. After a delicious Dominican lunch head over to start your service projects in one of the batey communities. Service initiatives vary based on local needs, so you may help with construction or agricultural projects, or designing activities for local children. Again all projects are designed around the immediate needs of the community and may vary week to week. Students will be contributing to the Monte Coca Batey Project, helping to build homes for those in Batey Monte Coca.
The next two days will be spent continuing work on service projects in the bateyes. You will work and live with your fellow travelers at The Base, which is also home to a local NGO that serves the surrounding bateyes. After service, enjoy a game of pick-up baseball with the local kids before returning to The Base for dinner. On Saturday, visit a sugar cane field and learn how the cane is planted and cut, and taste some raw sugar cane! The evenings will be spent relaxing, planning service activities, and discussing the day’s work. You’ll be learning to connect global issues of migrations and citizenship to the local experiences you are witnessing on the ground in the Dominican Republic. Hear from a guest speaker from the ASCALA organization in the evening as you learn more about the work being done in the bateyes.
After three days of invigorating service work, look forward to unwinding with a well-deserved day of fun! Go to the beach to spend the morning swimming in the serene Caribbean waters and soaking in the sun. After a lunch on the beach, go snorkeling near the coral reeds of the beach town of Bayahibe. Have a relaxing dinner at the beach before heading back to The Base after your fun-filled day.
Monday and Tuesday are Summer Camp! Run an educational summer camp for local children from some of the bateyes we work in. Get them out and running around, playing educational games and having fun with your group and other kids in the community. In the evenings, plan your camp activities and discuss the day’s work. Play sports, including baseball, which has a huge presence in the bateyes and across San Pedro de Macoris. Take a trip to town for ice cream and spend the evenings relaxing in the cool night breeze by the Base.
After two long days of camp, unwind with another day of fun at the beach! Spend your morning soaking in the sun and have lunch at the beach. In the evening, head back to the base and prepare for service the next day.
Thursday and Friday are service-filled days. Start to see all the progress you’ve made and complete the projects you started last week, spending more time with families you are serving and getting a better understanding of the infrastructure and Haitian-Dominican nature of these communities. Unwind after service by playing a game of baseball with kids. Spend the evenings having more in-depth group discussions, watching a movie and enjoying the beautiful Dominican sunsets..
This morning, put the finishing touches on your service project and get ready to say goodbye to the communities you’ve called home for the last 11 days. Say your final farewells to your new friends and community and start packing for your last beach trip of the program.
Say farewell to the bateyes on Sunday morning before you head out to the beach town of Samana bright and early for some time of reflection on the experiences you had in the communities. Relax on the beach, swim through the blue water, and explore some of the most beautiful views in the area. Experience the contrast between the Dominican Republic’s stunning attractions and the lesser-seen bateyes where you have been working for the past two weeks.
Head back to the capital for a tour of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the first university, cathedral and hospital in the Americas. Explore the walled city and learn about the deep history of the first European settlement in the Americas. After touring the Colonial Zone and doing some souvenir shopping, head over to a special dinner and dance show at a typical Dominican restaurant.
If you are heading home, you must say your last goodbyes to your new friends and head off to the airport bright and early in the morning. If you are heading off to another Rustic Pathways program in Latin America, get ready for more adventure!
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
For more information, email email@example.com
Students will return to Santo Domingo on Tuesday afternoon. They will spend that night in Santo Domingo at a hotel near the airport. On Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, students transferring to other programs in Latin America can catch a flight to Costa Rica, Cuba, or Peru. Students connecting to other programs in the Dominican Republic will join their new trip on Wednesday morning.
No. You tourist visa is now included in your airline ticket upon arrival.
Yes. All flights between the Dominican Republic and the USA will have a flight leader starting in Miami. Return flights to the USA will also have a flight leader as far as Miami. Flights from the Dominican Republic to Costa Rica, Cuba, and Peru will not be escorted.
The direct flight from Miami to Santo Domingo takes approximately 2-3 hours.
During this trip, students will visit the provinces of Santo Domingo, San Pedro de Macoris, La Romana, Hato Mayor, and Samana.
Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, and/or Life Guards.
Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.
Rustic Pathways uses purified bottled water on all Dominican Republic Programs. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.
Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.
None. The Dominican Republic uses the same voltage as US outlets.
This program takes place in a few locations in Santo Domingo and eastern parts of the Dominican Republic. Students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80s and 90s during the day with occasional rain showers, and lows in the 70s and 80s at night.
During their time in the Dominican Republic, students will stay in a few different places. In Santo Domingo, we will stay at a hotel near the airport. In San Pedro de Macoris students stay in a facility used to house volunteers. It has dorm-style rooms with bunk beds, bathrooms, a communal kitchen/dining area that we will use for meals, and a balcony space used for evening activities. In Samana, students will stay in a hotel.
Students will be eating traditional Dominican food prepared by a local chef in San Pedro. Breakfast may include plantains or toast with eggs, fruits and cereal. Lunch and dinner will be typical Dominican dishes, which consists of rice, beans, salad and a meat/seafood dish or veggie dishes.
The bathrooms located at the volunteer facilities are shared with other Rustic Pathways students of the same gender, and have running water and American style toilets. Showers are rustic and hot water is not always available. Bathrooms shared with one or two other students in the hotels do have hot water.
Students will have limited to no access to Internet during the program. We will facilitate at least one call a week to parents.
Students should pack enough clothes and personal items to last through the program. Laundry may be available at some of the hotels, at an extra cost.
There are typically more girls than boys, however the exact numbers vary from week to week.
No flushing toilet paper down the toilet. Students cannot drink tap water.
There is minimal travel on this program. The longest bus ride students will experience is between 2 and 3 hours.
Students travel between sites and locations via small private buses.
While there is an inherent risk in travel, we control that risk very well. All of our programs are run in locations that we feel comfortable traveling to with students. Students will be supervised by our staff from the moment of the arrival in the Dominican Republic Airport. Students are never left alone in any place and the communities we are working with are very responsible.
All staff have at least first aid and CPR certifications, and some are also Wilderness First Responders. We employ local staff that know the areas that we visit well.
We have risk management plans in place for all of our programs, and close relations with local communities. We hire local staff that know the lay of the land, and can spot risky situations. We monitor weather, crime, and government notices, and also have a partnership with International SOS. We keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going in the country.
Parents should consult the CDC website and International SOS for information on Malaria and Dengue, which are both present in the Dominican Republic.
Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.
International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to International SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.
As a member you will have access to International SOS’s extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our International SOS webpage.
From our facilities in the bateyes, the nearest clinic is about 20 minutes away, and the nearest major hospital about 1.5 hours away. In Samana, the nearest clinic is 15 minutes away, and the nearest hospital is about 30 minutes away.
Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program. There will be ample access to fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and grains for those who are vegetarian. Vegan diets can be accommodated, but with a little more foresight and planning, as this is not a diet commonly encountered in the Dominican Republic. Please know that while we are happy to accommodate alternative diets, many of the special diets common in the United States are not common in other parts of the world and travelers must be patient and understanding in having these needs be met. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.
Students should expect to encounter moderate mosquitoes, as the DR can be buggy at times, particularly in the evening and at night. Students should bring repellent with DEET and may wish to wear light long sleeved shirts and pants.
Personal gifts, Internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.
The majority of costs associated with the program are included. Students should also have extra allowance money if they wish to buy souvenirs or purchase additional snacks from the local grocery store. US $100 per week is recommended.
Please refer to our Community Service Hour Awards webpage for more information on how service hours are awarded.
Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and organizations to identify and prioritize the needs of each community. We are partnering with batey communities on the improvement of homes, construction of latrines, improvement of community gardens and facilities, and education projects.
Rain Jacket and work gloves.
This program does not include formal Spanish language instruction; however students will have multiple opportunities to practice Spanish with people from the communities as well as with our local staff. Local children in the Bateyes are especially eager to help Rustic Pathways students with their conversational Spanish.
A batey (pronounced buh-tay) is a community that is located in the sugar cane fields where migrant sugar cane workers live. Traditionally these migrant workers are Haitians, and many bateyes have become permanent residences for sugar cane workers.
On this program, students will explore themes of immigration, poverty, human rights, and socioeconomic disparities within the country.
In the bateyes, Spanish and Haitian Creole are spoken. Most people speak little, if any English. Students typically do not have a problem with the language barrier, as locals are happy to practice English and teach students Spanish. Our program leaders are also bilingual and help translate for students.
Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
A school backpack is ideal as it can be used for day trips.
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
Welcome to the Dominican Republic! You will arrive in Santo Domingo and begin your journey.
The small town in the province of San Pedro de Macoris, where much of the country’s sugar cane is produced, and home to the communities we work with.
A beautiful beach town great for winding down after service.”
A quiet beach town, where you will relax and enjoy the local culture.