I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel with International Student Volunteers (ISV) to the Dominican Republic in 2005. ISV gave me a very unique experience where I was able to impact the lives of local families by volunteering and also travel around the Dominican Republic doing a bunch of different fun adventure activities.
When I arrived with ISV I immediately fell in love with the Dominican Republic. The well trained Tour and Project Leaders who guided my group of 20 students along the way, and the children that we were able to help on a daily basis, made this trip the most memorable of my life. ISV took us whitewater rafting, surfing, snorkeling, rappelling down waterfalls, cliff jumping, canyoning, windsurfing, and exploring the Dominican culture giving me the adventure of a lifetime. The organization and number of activities that were set up for me in just two weeks far exceeded my expectations.
As fun as the adventure tour was, the biggest impact that ISV had on me was during the 2 weeks I spent on my Volunteer Project at Crossroads. Seeing things I would have never imagined and the conditions that people have to live in was a very eye opening experience. I instantly fell in love with the place and people we were helping. Seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces as our old bus pulls up to their village on the dirt roads, with the kids chasing after us to greet us with hugs, climbing all over us as we arrived each morning still brings a smile to my face today. I was able to really connect with the people in the village. The families invited me in their new homes showed off their decorations and home with so much pride and joy. Seeing how grateful they were for what we were doing is one of the biggest rewards I have ever felt. I can’t thank ISV enough for giving me this amazing opportunity and organizing the trip of a lifetime.
We made little mission trips to poor villages giving toiletries, food, milk, and medical treatment for the sick just made me appreciate everything I have so much more. I'll never forget the time I had in the Dominican Republic and the people we were able to help. Their smiles and the joy they shared with me will last forever. As much as we gave to them, from our suitcases full of clothes to the shoes we had on our feet to the houses we helped build giving them running water and electricity for the first time, to teaching the children, it still felt like I was the one they were helping. It gave me a whole new outlook on life and made me appreciate everything I have so much more and gave me a whole new outlook on life.
I have been on other volunteer trips before and nothing comes close to comparing with experience that I had with ISV. ISV’s professionalism and organization in setting up such an amazing program is something I would recommend to anyone who is looking to travel. The friendships I made in the Dominican Republic, the lives I helped change, and the kids hanging all over me with smiles on their faces are things that will always be with me thanks to ISV.