Gap Year in Dominican Republic

Go beyond the resort on this dynamic Caribbean island.

  • NEXT AVAILABILITY: Fall 2021
  • CLIMATE: Year-round: 70-90 °F
  • CURRENCY: 57 Dominican Peso = 1 USD
  • OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Spanish
  • CHALLENGE LEVEL: Moderate
  • UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Quality Education (SDG 4)
    Climate Action (SDG 13)
    Life Below Water (SDG 14)

Although the Dominican Republic is world-renowned for its white sand beaches and resort scene, lesser known are its complex history and the reality of daily life for its diverse local communities. 

Historically, the country has been defined by colonial power struggles, U.S. military occupation, and various political coups. Today, the quest for national self-determination continues as Dominicans fight for a more equitable future for its citizens, as well as a stronger presence on the global economic stage. 

In the Dominican Republic, you’ll peel back the curtain and experience local life. You'll learn firsthand how organizations are tackling different UN Sustainable Development goals. Through marine conservation and coral restoration, you’ll contribute to the Climate Action (SDG 13) and Life Below Water (SDG 14). Through supporting an after-school program, you’ll learn about Quality Education (SDG 4). 

While in the D.R., you’ll immerse yourself in vibrant cultures and breathtaking natural beauty, while being part of the movement to conserve it all. 

Build your understanding. Reframe your knowledge of Dominican culture with a history lesson of the Taínos, the island’s first inhabitants, on a tour of Santiago.

Join coral reef conservation efforts. Nearly a quarter of the planet’s coral reefs have perished, and those that remain are in critical danger from global warming, pollution, and human encroachment. In the Dominican Republic, NGOs partner with international volunteers to preserve the endangered coral reefs and the marine life that depend upon them. They promote the sustainable use of marine ecosystems through research, education, and conservation projects.

Hike to great heights. In the mountain town of Jarabacoa, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a white-water rafting excursion and learn about this fragile mountainous ecosystem on a carefully-tended trail hike to a gorgeous waterfall.

Work on critical coral reef restoration efforts in Bayahibe, a coastal community known for its sandy beaches and dive sites.

Befriend and support local youth.
In many rural communities of the Dominican Republic, schools are under-funded and don’t have enough teachers. Local NGOs support the education of under-served children in schools through volunteer service-learning programs. You'll help teach English at schools and lead after-school activities at NGOs' community-based facilities.

Visit a paradise island. During your stay in Monte Cristi, you'll make an excursion to Cayo Arena, a small island teaming with breathtaking marine fauna.

Reflect and make plans. Rest, relax, and reflect on how you'll implement your service learnings in Cabarete—the DR’s premier surf resort town. Take a surfing lesson then join an excursion to Laguna Gri Gri, a mystical lagoon filled with mangroves and gorgeous birds.

Note: This itinerary is subject to change due to availability and local conditions at the time of departure.

 

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