My trip to the Dominican Republic this summer was without doubt the most fulfilling and worthwhile experience of my life. I opted to travel out to the DR for the 5 week programme and enjoyed every second of it. Before flying out, I must admit that I felt a little uninformed about the exact tasks we would be responsible for on the project site. Please do not let this put you off - once over there everything became clear and all fell in to place.
The first week was a Spanish and Cultural Immersion programme. This is something I would definitely recommend to future volunteers because knowing a bit of Spanish is invaluable when working in a school and interacting with the locals. Extras such as dance and cooking classes, city tours and a trip to the beach really added to the experience and gave more of an insight in to Dominican culture. For the duration of the week I stayed with a really lovely host family who took great care of me and made me feel extremely welcome in their home.
For the two week programme myself and 13 other volunteers were placed on project at Blue Moon. We worked in a kindergarten teaching the local children a range of subjects including English, Health, Road Safety, Arts and Crafts and Physical Education. On top of this, we restored and developed the worn-out playground at the school, and re-built the foundations of an elderly man’s house and laid concrete floors within it. It was a truly eye-opening experience! Seeing the children playing in their new playground touched my heart and really made all of the hard work and sweat worth it. A really rewarding experience that I felt honoured to be a part of.
The adventure tour was another incredible experience. I would 100% recommend staying for the last 2 weeks as it’s a perfect opportunity to see more of the country and do so many fun filled and adrenaline pumping activities. A couple of my many highlights were rappelling down the side of a 45m waterfall, surrounded by beautiful scenery, and another was cliff jumping.
I must also mention the awesome ISV project leaders Danyi and Pedro, and adventure tour leader Adolfo. They were all full of fun and enthusiasm, constantly keeping a smile on everyones face. The experience really wouldn’t have been the same without them. Think yourself lucky if any of them are involved in your ISV experience!
I would recommend this programme to anybody who wants to make a positive impact in our world. Whether you are an avid volunteer, a wanderlust globetrotter, or a novice traveller, you will fall in love with the Dominican Republic and ISV. I was lucky enough to make some amazing friendships along the way. I’m already looking at another ISV programme for next year! We as volunteers take part in a programme like this to enhance the lives of the less privileged, but my life has also been enriched in so many ways. Amazing experience and I fully encourage everyone to look in to volunteering with ISV or a similar organisation.