Summer 2017: High School Programs Dominican Republic
94% Rating
(33 Reviews)

Summer 2017: High School Programs Dominican Republic

Rustic Pathways programs in the Dominican Republic demonstrate our dedication to service. Programs like Life in the Bateyes, Summer Camp Leadership, and Introduction to Public Health offer students the opportunity to dive deep into social issues and make an impact in marginalized communities. Proximity the the United States also makes the DR a great location for first-time travelers looking to try service work while also enjoying Caribbean paradise.

"La Republica Dominicana is the home of merengue, bachata, the world’s best baseball players, stunning coasts, beautiful mountains, and my very large family. I thrive on exposing students to the intricacies of Dominican culture, as well as to the complex issues it faces, including wealth inequality, access to healthcare, and immigration. My goal is for every student to leave with a changed perspective.”
--Harry Alvarez, Dominican Republic Country Director

Locations
North America » Dominican Republic
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
Language
English
Housing
Guesthouse
Hostel
Hotel
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    93%
  • Support
    95%
  • Fun
    88%
  • Value
    91%
  • Safety
    94%

Program Reviews (33)

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Amber
Female
16 years old
Dubai, UAE
Other

Dominican Republic: Island Living

10/10

I was hesitant to sign up for my first Rustic trip, I had travelled alone before, gone somewhere where I didn't know anyone else, but this was different. I didn't know what to expect from a trip, even though they provided an itinerary, I was still in doubt. After thinking about what kind of service I wanted to provide, and where I wanted to go, how long I wanted to stay, I had finally decided to choose Island Living. This trip was only 9 days and left me wanting more. This was 12 hours of service with plenty of beach days, so you can soak up the tropical sun on your off days. You will learn a lot about the island as well as providing eco-service, you'll probably end up leaving the Dominican Republic in hopes that you actually start your sustainable garden in your backyard just like my whole group did. You may be hesitant at first, especially if you go alone (without a friend), but it just makes your group that much more special. You aren't exposed to any other support system other than the people around you, and they become your family in such a short amount of time. I still talk to most of my group, about 16 people were on my trip and thats the maximum. It may seem small, but in reality, it just makes getting to know each other easier. We all worked really well together and our group leaders were fantastic. They all have stories of their own, and my group leaders were some of the most outgoing and adventurous people I've met, definitely take the time to get to know them too, they'll teach you a lot.

Island Living was such an amazing experience and even if you don't choose to go to the Dominican Republic, I would highly recommend you choose a Rustic trip of some sort because the experiences are life-changing.

Cayla
Female

Once in a lifetime experience

9/10

The people you meet, places you visit, foods you taste and things you do are all amazing. The DR is like no other place, the atmosphere was so lively, fun and energetic. It's a trip that can completely change you as a person and open your mind to so many new things. Also living with random people from all over of all different backgrounds, gives you the chance to learn about other places and their point of view. Just being unplugged and living in the moment, in such a beautiful place, is so relaxing.

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Maddi
Female
17 years old
USA
Other

AMAZING EXPERIENCE IN THE DOMINICAN

10/10

SO GLAD I TOOK THE PLUNGE! I had been checking out service and adventure trip websites for two years before I finally went to the Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways. Luckily, I had a friend that had been on two RP trips before me and had amazing experiences both times. Always great to hear good reports from other people!

My program "Life in the Bateyes" was a 16-day critical issues, service intensive program. Our service was split between building (homes and latrines) and working in a camp with kids from the Dominican. In both of these experiences - we worked with the MOST AMAZING, generous, warm, curious and truly grateful people you will ever meet.

Not only did we feel safe - we felt welcomed and loved! They were so truly grateful for the work we were doing and wanted us there. Only a couple of the locals are actually employed to help with the building project - but many would just show up because they wanted to be part of it all.

I was nervous going in, got sick from some of the local pizza and had a point in the trip that I really thought I wanted to go home. But I was so glad I stuck it out. Not only did I stay to the end, I wished it were longer, am already signing up for another trip next summer and am researching colleges with service semester abroad programs.

If you're on the fence about going - JUST DO IT! And pick a trip with a good amount of service hours. Our group got really close on this trip and I think a lot of it had to do with bonding through the work. We were so happy to reunite with our families at the airport but we lingered for an extra half hour just to get through the good bye tears with this new family of friends we made on this TRIP OF A LIFETIME!

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Sarah
Female
15 years old
Washington, D.C.
Other

Summer Camp Leadership

10/10

The trip brought a lot of realizations to all of the participants. We were able to experience the life of the locals there and we were given an introduction to their culture. The campers we had taught us all different aspects of caring for each other and creating special bonds that we never thought we would learn in such a short time. I will never forget the day we said goodbye to our campers. The bonds and memories we made throughout the week had been so strong it brought us all to tears. After experiencing this trip, I have been inspired to start doing service trips to benefit the kids that we met and other kids in similar situations. Tips I would share are bring a journal to write down and reflect on the day, and never be afraid to share in group discussions or participate in group activities. Also, the climate is very hot and we wore a lot of pants so water and staying hydrated is very important.

How can this program be improved?

I think this program was very spot on with the overall categories of what makes a program a great program. The only suggestion I have is the group meetings sometimes were a bit repetitive or dragged on. Other than that, the overall experience was outstanding and I would reccomend this program to others.

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grace
Female
16 years old
nj
Other

Mountain Air and Village Service

8/10

Overall this program was a really great experience. It was awesome to have the opportuntiy to contribute to a good cause and see a new country, culture, and lifestyle. The activities we did after dinner were always really fun and helped the group come together! The staff, accommodations, and food were all great. The group I was in, was almost thirty students, which lead to lots of small groups and at times I felt very left out. I feel that if the group was smaller then everyone would have a better oportunity to get to know each other and the group wouldn't be as socially divided. Another thing I might change would be going shopping in a huge market. The last day of the trip everyone went to this huge indoor market which was very intimidating because people would hassle you to come into their store. Although it was nice to have freedom in this market, I feel that it was not the safest way to shop. Maybe go shopping on the streets near the world heritage site- it seemed a little more safe and less overwhelming. Other than those two flaws, I was really glad I went on this trip, it was an awesome experience to see a different part of the world!

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Khrystopher
Male
17 years old
Brooklyn, New York
Other

Life in the Bateyes

9/10

There is so much to learn and the people in the communities you work in are so beautiful and fun to hang out with. This is most definitely an experience worth taking. You can travel learn how to build and learn so much about yourself as well. To be honest, the group that I was with had amazing people. Don't be afraid to get close with your group mates. Go there and enjoy yourself remember to hydrate.

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Fatoumata
Female
17 years old
Ann Arbor
Other

Summer Camp Leadership

10/10

I had such a fun time on this trip. From the time I got there I was exposed to new music and new food. The people were so welcoming. I had 3 great group leaders who made us all feel super independent and made sure we were aware of the culture around us. I will be back to the DR without a doubt, and look forward to being with the children and families from the Bateyes again. They all have a special place in my heart and the culture as well.

How can this program be improved?

More time in the communities of the kids that are in the camp!!!

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Hope
Female
18 years old
Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City University

Mountain Air and Village Service 2017

10/10

This is my third year traveling with Rustic Pathways and there's a reason why I keep returning! This trip was a great balance of meaningful work in the community, fun and leisure activities, and important lessons about language, history, and culture. The specific project that we worked on was laying pipes in a rural mountain community so the community members could access running water in their houses for the first time ever. For weeks other Rustic groups had been working on the project, however my group was lucky enough to actually finish the project and as a reward we got to see the water actually get turned on within these houses and the looks of pure excitement on the locals' faces. We actually worked alongside the community members and bonded greatly. For me it was an opportunity to improve my Spanish that I had learned in school, but for others that weren't as confident in their Spanish, the program leaders were eager to make any translations. Every day the local women would bring us coffee, the men would work alongside us, the teenagers would cheer us on, and the children would eagerly play with us if we had to take a break from working due to rain. The locals even taught us some of their favorite games! And at the end of a long day, the program leaders always rewarded our work by buying us ice cream, or a trip to the local smoothie shop. In addition to the community work, we also spent time at a beach and we even got to go snorkeling at a coral reef! the pictures were incredible. At the end of the week, we went to Santo Domingo and got to tour the colonial zone (a UNESCO world heritage site) and experience a traditional Dominican dance performance. The whole week was also filled with small surprises like Dominican dance lessons, a trip to a chocolate museum, and open air bus rides. I really enjoyed how the activities were a mix of things we expected from the schedule, and fun little surprises. One of the things that stood out most to me was how perfectly hired the staff is. Every Rustic trip I've been on has had at least one local program leader who knows everything about the area and can answer any questions about what local life is like. The local leader on this trip was also an avid traveler and backpacker, spoke perfect English in addition to his native Spanish, and was EXTREMELY funny and charismatic. Our other program leaders were a high school teacher from Spain, and a Venezuelan-American with a degree in international relations. They were all dedicated to making sure we got the most out of the trip. Overall this wasn't the most rustic trip that I had ever done. In the past I've done programs that were far more rural and involved sleeping in tents and going without electricity. However I think that makes this trip PERFECT for any first time travelers or parents who may be apprehensive. We spent a lot of time in hotels with hot showers and wifi so this is nice for anyone that might want to try it out before going on one of the more extreme trips. One thing to note is that if you want a traditional tourist experience, Rustic Pathways really isn't the program for you. In all of my trips, we've avoided the major tourist areas and activities in favor of getting a much more local, unique experience. But if local and unique is what you're looking for, then 10/10 I would recommend Rustic Pathways

How can this program be improved?

Maybe update the packing list? It said that we needed things like a long skirt which we never really used.

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Bridget
Female
16 years old
Powell, Ohio

2016 Mountain Air Service Trip

8/10

I went on a trip to Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways. It was my first trip with any travel program and my 2nd time to the DR. Since it was a service trip, there were 3 days of service, and 9 days total. The actual service work was pretty hard, but many of my group members were hardly working. Therefore, if you are worried about community service, yes it will be physically demanding, but you work (kind of) at your own pace, so if you are a lazy butt, you probably won't get sore. Conversely, if you are vey motivated, then you will get sore, and you might get blisters (I did!) I am a 15 year old girl, 5'6? who's max push-up count is 10ish. I was able to cope with the work load and get a fair amount of work done. Basically, you just need proper motivation and strength is optional.

During the program, we worked on 2 projects; building an aqueduct and a black water treatment system. We swung pickaxes and used shovels to dig out a trench for the aqueduct. Then, after the pipes were glued down, we filled the trench back in. For the black water treatment system, since the trips before us had pretty much dug out, built, and filled in the treatment system, my trip/group just had to fill in the outside and rebury it, since it was underground. We used buckets and shovels to refill the surrounding area. Now, during any other program, the service projects might be different, but this was just my experience.

Because of traveling from the US to the DR, one must subtract 2 days for air travel. Basically, you are left with 7 actual days of stuff. The itinerary went something like this: JFK to the DR, Travel to home base (day of intro), Service day, Service day, Beach day, White-water rafting, Service day, Last day (travel back to capital and spend the night at an airport hotel), Fly back home. Every day had a sufficient amount of stuff per day, and there were plenty of 20min breaks throughout the whole day. I'd say there was a good balance between fun and work, but if you don't want to work, then choose an exploratory trip instead of a service based one.

The lodging was not 5 star hotel quality, but it was pretty good for a tourist ranch in the middle of a rural mountain community. We were able to have running water, a toilet, 2 sinks, and a shower for 5 girls. Not too jam packed. It was also good lodging at the airport hotel and the beach-side hotel. The food was good, but it's important to prepare the brain and the stomach for a change of food style and taste. We traveled on open sides trucks to our community service projects, which were pretty dirty. They were safe though. By the end of the day, if you worked hard, you were as dirty as the truck. The truck rides averaged out at 20-30min. When taking multiple hour trips, we would ride the local buses, which were very comfy and AIR-CONDITIONED!!!

Yes, there were bugs, and yes, they were big. I had 20+ Mosquito bites by the end of the trip, even with copious amounts of application throughout the day. Even with the Zika scare going on, I have not gotten sick, nor did I take any meds throughout the trip, or get any shots before hand. If your trip doesn't require them, then you probably don't need immunizations. However, it's your money, so spend it as you like. Rustic Pathways always provides "safe" water, and will never let you or force you to drink dirty water. There were numerous opportunities to get burnt and bitten, so we were told to and willingly applied sunscreen and bug spray at every available option.

Our program leaders were awesome. I'm not being cliche. They were seriously awesome. They were kind, good, fun people. They encouraged participation, but also didn't force anyone to do anything they didn't want to do. Peer pressure did that for them. I had 3 native Spanish speakers program leaders and 2 native USA citizen program leaders on my trip. If you are traveling to a foreign country, yes, the language WILL be a barrier. However, my program leaders were a great help, and translated at need. However, in the rural parts of the DR, almost no English is known. Be prepared to learn new words, and if you can speak some Spanish, be prepared to use it. I just finished Spanish 2, and even though the class is boring and I learn nothing, my minimal spanish was really useful.

A few tips:
-overpack. Overpack. OVERPACK. You will get dirty, and no, you don't need dresses and rompers. Also, bring work clothes and non-short shorts. They aren't kidding when they say the locals will think you're scandalous if you wear short shorts. There are few to no chances to wash your clothes, unless you hand wash them. If your packing list says 6-8 shirts, bring 12. Again, OVERPACK.
-bring lots of everything. Extra contacts, extra shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, you name it. Cuz you really don't want to be needing it and borrowing it from your mates.
-don't relying a debit card. There are virtually no options to pull money out of an ATM, so bring at least $100USD in cash. More, if you want to buy lots of gifts and snacks. The rustic people will exchange your USD into pesos when you get there, but BRING EXTRA. Always better to be safe than sorry. And besides, if you have extra pesos, you can always change them back. 45 pesos = 1 USD.
-you will get dirty. You will work hard. That's what you signed up for. Mentally prep yourself so you don't become a sissy. No one likes sissys.
-prepare your mind for travel. You will be going to a different place, with different customs, values, and cultures, languages, and food. Embrace the popping of your bubble, and get used to being outside of your comfort zone. You will enjoy yourself more if you go for it. YOLO, and all that crap. Don't leave with any regrets. And lastly, it is always easier to ask for forgiveness from your program leaders than permission.

And yup, I think I touched on everything.

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Hana
Female
15 years old
Ossining

Rustic Pathways- Dominican Republic

10/10

I went on the Marine Life and Coastal Restoration trip in the Dominican Republic this summer and it was magnificent! I had never traveled with Rustic Pathways before nor, have I spent this much time away from home before. I had a great group and the staff members were amazing. They made me feel right at home and I never got homesick once! The country is beautiful and Rustic Pathways helped me to see that because unlike going on a family vacation where you stay in a resort, Rustic had us stay directly within the small town so that we could be amerced in the culture. Some of my best memories from the trip revolve around one of my staff members. She was a native Dominican so she was able to give us the inside scoop about the country. We had culture nights and personal tours with her and it was great. One of the best parts was when she was teaching use some of the traditional dances including the merengue and the boys had to dance it with her. (It was hilarious!) Memories and experiences like this you can't get by going to a resort and that is why Rustic Pathways is so amazingly unique. I'm so happy with my decision to do one of their trips and if I could I would do it over again. I am definitely doing one of their trips next summer!

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Leigh
Female
Other

Dominican Passion

9/10

My service trip to the Dominican Republic, the island of arroz con pollo, fresh-squeezed chinola juice, smiling citizens, and aqua-tinted ocean, comprised of countless new experiences for me. I flew on an airplane independently to a different country, met locals and new friends, and I spent my July days in the lush mountains and salty ocean that the island had to offer.
As I look back, one of my first experiences foreshadowed my entire trip. When I sat down for my first meal there was an assortment of fresh tropical fruits including a chinola, which is the Dominican Spanish term for a passion fruit. My first impression of the round, exotic fruit that I had never tried before with waxy, yellow skin and bright yellow, gelatinous pulp with flecks of black seeds was skepticism. My natural instinct was to assess the flavor before I even tried the fruit. Instead of simply not trying the unique looking fruit based on the unappetizing appearance, I decided that I would try eating it. The chinola ended up being tangy and delicious, therefore becoming my absolute favorite fruit. Whenever I had an opportunity to sip chinola juice or eat an icy chinola popsicle while on the trip, I would eagerly take it.
The process that it took for me to try my new favorite fruit, chinola, proved to directly relate to and symbolize my Dominican Republic trip. Before I boarded the plane to the Santo Domingo airport, I was apprehensive and skeptical about stepping out of my comfort zone and attending a trip to a foreign country. Although, the result of my decision to participate in the service program ended up being beneficial since the Dominican Republic ended up becoming one of my favorite places. The moral of my trip and story is to step out of your comfort zone, and you will discover your favorite things in the entire world.

How can this program be improved?

Despite the spectacular trip I endured while in the Dominican Republic, the only improvement that could have been made was the duration of the trip. I believe that next time I attend a program that travels overseas, I would prefer to have a longer duration of time experiencing and immersing myself into the culture and atmosphere.d

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Samantha
Female
18 years old
Florida
Other

Most amazing trip!

10/10

My trip to the DR with Rustic last summer was so incredible. By far the best week of my life. I met so many amazing people, did some great community service and had the best time ever! Thank you so much to Rustic and I highly recommend going to the DR with rustic! I loved it so much I am going back next summer on a different program :)

How can this program be improved?

Longer trip!

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Cory
Female
42 years old
Rockwall, Texas
Other

Wonderful company

10/10

My daughter went to the Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways and we could not have been more happy. She loved it and I felt like she was in good hands. Would totally recommend this company to anyone interested in sending their child on a trip abroad.

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Jess
Female
19 years old
Hong Kong

DR Public Heath

9/10

Overall this program was amazing. The staff was very aware of safety while at the same time letting us explore. In all honesty, the DR ended up not being my favorite place. But my experience with Rustic Pathways was near flawless. I didn't sign up for the trip with friends, I choose to go alone and I was so glad that I did. The program was set up in a way that everyone got to know each other quickly and deeply. I met some great people on my trip.

I found the service on this trip to have been very meaningful. Rustic really emphasized the importance of making a lasting difference, instead of participating in voluntourism.

I'm signed up for another one of their Australia programs in summer 2016, because I love how Rustic runs them.

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Abigail
Female
17 years old
Lexington
Other

Intro to Public Health-DR was amazing

10/10

My experience with rustic pathways was great. I was apart of the Intro to Public Health trip with around 15-16 kids and 4 counselors. All of us bonded immediately even the counselors and we all got along extremely well, even though most of us didn't know each other before. The first days of the trip were spent in Santo Domingo touring hospitals and listening to NGO's privately speak to us which was so interesting. Then we went to Hator Mayor and spent the majority of the time there traveling 45 minutes each day to Batey Botecito to do community service. There we were able to bond with the kids and adults while building latrines and cement floors and talking in Spanish. After two days of service we took a beach break and then 3 days of Wilderness First Aid Classes that prepared us to create health lessons for the kids in Botecito. The next two days we hosted workshops for the kids teaching them hand washing, wound care, trash clean up and built them a DIY sink. It was very life changing and i would love to go back again. The way of life in the bateys is so different from my life at home and opened up my eyes. After all community service (30 hours) was completed we took a ferry to Samana and hiked to El Limon Cascada which was beautiful and then the next day we spent time at an island beach. The flight from JFK is not bad at all and is a great way to meet new people.

How can this program be improved?

I did not like the Ferry ride, it was uncomfortable and hot, but once we saw land it was pretty and interesting to see.

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Carmen
Female
18 years old
Colorado

Life in the Bateyes

10/10

This was the best two weeks of my life. I met some amazing people and the experience was so eye opening. The leaders were super friendly and it being my first trip like that and going alone I felt very comfortable. I felt safe and I felt I made an impact on the people that we met there. The service was hard so be prepared to work but it's worth it.The friends I met I still talk to every day. I would 100% recommend to anyone who loves helping people.

How can this program be improved?

I think the packing list let me come a bit underprepared.

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Angela
Female
18 years old
New Jersey

Mountain Air - Good Experience Overall

8/10

Mountain Air and Village Service in the DR was an overall good experience. It's a pretty basic and introductory program so it's perfect for first time travelers and for people who just want to get their feet wet. The councelors were really cool and gave us a lot of freedom. The only part of the program I wasn't crazy about was the fact that some of the people can be very exclusive and cliquey really fast. Obviously this depends on the people on each program, although since it is a very introductory program, a lot of students' parents made them go so they may not be the most passionate people that want to get to know you. This varys because there were plenty of cool people on my trip as well. Otherwise, it's a good time and a good experience to have. It would help to know a little bit of Spanish beforehand but you don't need to. I came in knowing nothing and learned as I went but learned so much. I would recommend this program to anyone.

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Ali
Female
37 years old
Chicago
Other

Mountain Air Service

10/10

I had been impressed with the experience from our initial decision to send our daughter. She was signing up with a friend who had previously been on a Rustic pathways trip. Me, being the nervous mother, packed many items to insure that they would be comfortable. Aleve, pepto bismal, tums, etc. However, four days in to the trip my daughter started to have an allergic reaction on her face that she occasionally gets during seasonal allergies. I didn't think to pack that medicine. I was able to text my daughter the name of the prescription and they had it for her within an hour. It would have taken me longer to get that prescription here. I was very impressed.

How can this program be improved?

Tell the girls to bring a pair of leggings to cover their entire legs for walking in the tall grass. Packing and not knowing exactly the activity didn't prepare my daughter to have her legs protected from the bugs and poison ivy type leaves. We were at the dr as soon as she returned.

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Jane
Female
54 years old
Baltimore, MD

Rustic Pathways DR staff are amazing!

8/10

My daughter went on the Marine Life and Coastal Restoration trip in the Dominican Republic with Rustic Pathways this summer. She loves travel and service trips and the entire 'rustic' experience. Unfortunately she broke her thumb the week before and went on the trip with a waterproof cast, some pain and not a little anxiety. Although she was thrilled to still be allowed to do the trip, in the end she was not able to participate in the water activities, and was not really able to relax and enjoy herself, so she came home a week early.
I am writing because I wanted to remark on the DR staff members. I cannot thank Alexa, Nicole, Ben and Harry enough for everything they did. Alexa and Nicola took great care of Annie during the trip with her broken thumb and cast, and pain and anxiety. They are caring, warm, patient and insightful, and were wonderful to her and with her. Ben took her to the clinic to have her cast removed, after many conversations with us both, and then helped book her on a flight home. Harry drove her to the airport and made sure she got safely through security. I know they were both busy with other trips and students, but they still went out of their way to help us both. I was especially appreciative of their help and availability all the rest of that day when Annie's flight was delayed, and then delayed again, beyond the time of her Miami connecting flight, and I could not get in touch with her to talk to her about it. Harry and Ben both remained calm and assured me that they would get in touch with her and that all would be well, which it was.
So I highly recommend the Rustic Pathways trips because the staff are amazing, and they continued to be wonderful and helpful and calm even when things were not going as planned.
Sincerely,
Jane

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Michael
Male
19 years old
Seattle, Washington

Dominican Rebublic: Mountain Air and Village Service

9/10

Even though I was the only freshmen with people that I didn't know, I still felt welcome. The people that go on trips like these are always nice and willing to make friends. Also, the instructors were just as nice. The trip itself was half fun and half work which for me was the right amount. Before going to the Dominican Republic, you should learn just a little spanish so you aren't lost all the time... Overall, this was a great experience for me.

How can this program be improved?

I would make the hours when shopping at the market a lot longer.

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Lilly
Female
24 years old
Washington, DC

Fun Program

7/10

My experience with this program was pretty good. I was very exited to go one this trip however, I did not know much about it! I was disappointed to some degree because I was very exited to speak lots of Spanish, talk to tons of locals and learn about the government of this country but that was pretty limited.

Response from Rustic Pathways

Lilly, I regret that you did not have a stellar experience in the Dominican Republic. We work our hardest to offer the best possible experience, but know there's always room for improvement. I'm not sure what program you participated in but would recommend that you join our Life in the Bateyes program in the future. On this program you get an in-depth look at current social issues facing Haitian-Dominicans and the history of government policies and social prejudices against Haitians in the DR. Thank your for sharing your feedback. Over the years feedback like yours has helped us improve our programs, and we will take this opportunity to continue to do so. If you'd like to discuss your experience more, and offer us more feedback I'd be more than willing to speak with you on the phone. You can reach me at [email protected] or via phone at 440 487 7104.

Best,
Harry Alvarez
Dominican Republic Country Director

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Olivia
Female
19 years old
New Jersey

Mountain Air and Village Service

10/10

This trip was a life changing experience. The staff was amazing and I still stay in touch with some of them. Together as a group we dug trenches and laid piping for the town to have an aqueduct. This was hard work, but the staff made it fun the whole time and allowed us to take numerous breaks making it bearable. It was amazing to see how thankful the community was and how much work they put into our project. The next day we were the leaders of running a camp for the kids. This was hard because the counselors stepped back and gave all the responsibility to us. This was amazing because you form a bond like no other with these kids. Not being able to speak the language you are forced to communicate in different ways. One of the little girls did my hair and put flowers into it, something that wouldn't usually happen in the United States. After long days of service we would have free time which was so fun and helped us build friendships, playing cards and banagrams after a long day of working in the dirt was so fun. The trip was the perfect balance between learning about the Dominican Republic culture and helping a community in need. The sights we saw such as beaches and waterfalls were one's I will never forget. The counselors taught us history of the DR and taught us their traditional dances that we were able to perform the last night when we had a going away type party. Everyone's ability to give up technology even when we were in areas that it was available made the experience so rewarding. This is an experience that I will never forget, and the friendships I made were amazing. I still stay in touch with over half of the people from my group.

How can this program be improved?

I wish we could have done more service on the trip. Though we did around 30 hours of community service, the 9 day trip could've allowed for more service work.

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Claire
Female
19 years old
San Jose, California

Life on the Bateyes- Best thing that has ever happened to me

10/10

To say the least, this trip has been amazing. Not only did this trip incorporate the tourism side of the country, we also got to see the poorest areas of all-- the bateyes, where not many people get to visit. Going to both the agricultural and tourist areas of the country, we are able to really see the country, not only its beaches and waves but also its poverty. I got to learn more about the Dominican government, the sugar cane companies, and the hardships of the Haitian immigrants. This has really been an eye-opening experience for me, and I'm sure, the others in the group. 3 of us are even considering going on this same trip AGAIN next year. Aside from being in the impoverished bateyes, we also went around as a regular tourist would at the beautiful beaches, caves, and historical sites, so if you are interested in doing lots of community service, learning about Dominican culture, and also swimming in unbelievably beautiful beaches and caves, this trip is for you.

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Gigi
Female
19 years old
Newport Beach, California

This trip is life- changing !

10/10

If you want a fun, life- changing experience during your summer rather than sitting home on instagram (come on, we all know you do that;) ) then going on a rustic pathways trip is definitely for you! I participated in the Advanced Leadership Program and I am proud to say I came back a different, better person. The experience and bond I had with the little kids during the camp we ran was truly indescribable. As much as this trip was fun, it was also one of the hardest, most rewarding things I've ever done. Everyone on the trip got along well and I know I've made life long friends!

How can this program be improved?

Sometimes a lot of the girls felt as though there wasn't enough food to go around.

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Erin
Female
19 years old
Chicago, Illinois

Best Cultural Experience

10/10

While in the Dominican Republic, I truly got to experience how the locals live and why us going there can impact their lives. Learning about what they have to deal with daily was opened my eyes to the fact that in the U.S., people have very easy and simple lives. When our running water is shut off, even if only for a few minutes, we act like it's the end off the world. In the DR the running water is not drinkable, you can't flush toliet paper. Things like this we take granted for everyday and it's amazing to know that the people there are grateful for what they have, even though they could complain about they have to go through.

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Tara
Female
19 years old
New York
University of Connecticut

Best trip ever!

10/10

I was nervous at first to travel by myself. But after my trip I realized that I have made life long friends and memories. I know that I made a difference through all the hard work we performed and I cannot thank Rustic Pathways enough for the most AMAZING experience!

How can this program be improved?

Maybe to spend more time with children.

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Emerson
Female
19 years old
North Carolina

An Amazing Experience

10/10

There is nothing negative I have to say about my Rustic Pathways trip to the Dominican Republic. I met countless number of people who greeted me with opened arms and big smiles. We did adventurous activities that the entire group really enjoyed. And we also did community service that gave me a different understanding of how the people really lived like in the Dominican Republic. I would recommend Island Living and Eco-Service to anyone.

How can this program be improved?

We never really got a chance to feel at home in our base because of traveling so much. Although it was good to see the different parts of the Dominican Republic, two places would been enough. Four was pushing it to where we were sick and tired of being in the busses and cars.

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L.
Female
19 years old
Aix-en Provence, France

Life in the Bateyes

10/10

This two week program really changed the way I look at our world. Through our work in the community and the Bateyes, I realised how fortunate we are to have basic necessities such as a passport or running water.
The program taught me that there are people who cannot leave the sugar plantations because they do not own any documentation, which enables the plantation owners to exploit their people in a horrific manner. Through the service and the discussions we had with a local lawyer I learnt a lot about social responsibility.

The service itself was mostly physical labour, we were building a wall around a community centre and put cement floors in the houses of locals. Although this was very challenging, there is no better feeling than coming back after a day of hard work and realising what you have achieved. Besides, we were interacting a lot with the local children, who are incredibly grateful and welcoming.

The accommodations were a little bit rustic for the first week without air-conditioning, very few showers and of course no WiFi but this only improved my experience. The last part of the second week is spent in a resort, where you get to see the touristic and paradise-like side of the Dominican Republic, which is great because the contrast really makes you reflect on the previous two weeks.

The staff was always helpful and very nice and the security standards were high, as in any of the Rustic Pathways programs.

This was my second trip with Rustic and I would really recommend it to anybody who wants to experience this entirely different part of our world.

How can this program be improved?

A few more tools for the students, who were working on the wall would have been useful, since there was a lot of waiting for others to finish. But that was really a minor issue.

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madeline
Female
19 years old
Florida

Advanced Leadership Challenge

9/10

We spent the first few days preparing for the camp. We did team bonding activities such as rafting, hiking, and camping. When the first day of camp arrived, we were faced with a very hyper group of 30 kids. These kids were ages 5-12. At times, they didnt listen to the instructions or wouldnt want to participate, but that is common for all camps. It was amazing seeing these kids get to experience new opportunities. For example, when they saw a shower for the first time all their faces lit up and they were all screaming of joy. We visited their town which really made me appreciate everything I had. After 6 exhausting days of camp, we relaxed on the beach. We took a catamaran out and went to many cool snorkeling spots and beaches. It was an amazing trip.

How can this program be improved?

The only part I didn't like, being an unathletic girl, was the hike.

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Caitlyn
Female
19 years old
Collegeville, Pennsylvania

Dominican Repuclic

10/10

Truly amazing experience, wouldn't replace it for anything. It made me more aware of how I want community service to be a bigger part of my life. The people are so kind there, and it made me realize how fortunate I am. The rustic pathways staff was very friendly and welcoming; I always felt safe and knew I could talk to them about anything.

About The Provider

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Travel and volunteer abroad with Rustic Pathways to one of many exotic locations.

We take students on unique, rewarding, and safe programs to some of the world's friendliest and fascinating countries. Immerse yourself in a new culture, work on purposeful community service projects, and expand

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