Caribbean Mini Semester

START Santo Domingo, Rep Dominicana |
FINISH San Juan, Puerto Rico |
DURATION 6 weeks |
AGES 17 - 22 |
STUDENTS 12
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Explore the Vibrant Caribbean

Immerse yourself in rich history in Santo Domingo, then volunteer in local communities. Hike stunning national parks and learn the language through homestays. Wrap up by aiding hurricane relief in Puerto Rico and exploring rainforests and bioluminescent bays. This program blends culture, service, and personal growth for an unforgettable journey.

Highlights

Hike through lush rainforests, the only tropical one in the US Forest System.  Imagine cascading waterfalls, vibrant flowers, and the calls of exotic birds as you explore this ecological wonderland.  This isn't just a scenic escape; it's a chance to connect with nature, discover a diverse ecosystem, and create memories that will stay with you long after your travels.  El Yunque offers a refreshing break from the beach and a chance to appreciate the unique beauty of the Caribbean's verdant heart.

Journey through captivating cave systems, encountering ancient Taino pictographs and petroglyphs etched into the rock walls. Witness awe-inspiring geological formations as you explore this hidden gem. This is a chance to step back in time, connect with the Dominican Republic's rich history, and gain a deeper appreciation for the island's natural wonders.

Volunteer alongside locals, tackling real-world issues and fostering cross-cultural understanding. You'll gain firsthand insights into immigration challenges faced by local communities, make a positive difference and build lasting connections, all while deepening your understanding of the Caribbean's diverse cultures.

Itinerary

This is a guide to what you can expect to do on program. The order in which the activities occur might vary.

Click download to view the full 6 week sample itinerary.

Download Sample Itinerary

San Domingo & Service Learning

In the first week of your adventure, you'll have the opportunity to explore the colonial zone of Santo Domingo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest city in the Caribbean. Immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture as you wander through its charming streets and visit its iconic landmarks.

Afterwards, you'll head to our base house for the week (equipped with a pool!) in the coastal town of Juan Dolio. This will serve as your home base for the week as you engage in community service projects.

Your focus will be on making a difference in the lives of the batey communities near San Pedro de Macoris. Bateys are traditional communities of predominantly Haitian descent, who are often sugar cane workers and face challenging living conditions. Your efforts will involve infrastructure work, such as building homes, cementing floors, and constructing latrines, among other important projects.

Throughout this experience, you'll gain insights into critical issues of immigration and statelessness, deepening your understanding of the challenges faced by these communities.

During your downtime, make the most of the beautiful beach in Juan Dolio. Relax, unwind, and soak up the sun as you reflect on the meaningful work you've accomplished and prepare for the weeks ahead. Get ready for a week filled with cultural immersion, community engagement, and a chance to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need.

Explore Los Haitises National Park & Samana

After a week of meaningful community service, it's time to explore the natural wonders of the Dominican Republic. Your next destination is Los Haitises National Park, a gem known for its stunning mangroves, captivating caves, and intricate waterways. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this important ecological reserve and discover the rich biodiversity that thrives within.

As you venture through Los Haitises, be prepared to be awe-inspired by the unique landscapes and the fascinating cave systems that hold  Taino pictographs and petroglyphs. Take in the breathtaking views, and let the serenity of nature envelop you. During your stay in Los Haitises, you'll have the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate at Paraiso Caño Hondo, where you can take a refreshing dip in a natural pool surrounded by lush vegetation. Allow the tranquility of this place to restore your energy for the adventures ahead.

Next, we embark on a scenic ferry ride across the Samana Bay, keeping an eye out for dolphins and other marine life. Upon arrival at the Samana Peninsula, you'll make the charming town of Las Galeras your home for the next week. Immerse yourself in the pristine beaches of Playa Rincon, where turquoise waters and soft sands await. Relax under the swaying palm trees, take refreshing swims, and simply bask in the beauty of this Caribbean paradise. Explore the Cueva Duarte, a fascinating cave system that offers a glimpse into the geological history of the region. Marvel at the impressive formations and learn about the cultural significance of these caves.

Deepen your understanding of sustainable agriculture through a permaculture workshop. Discover the principles of ecological design and learn how to cultivate food in a way that is harmonious with the environment. As you continue your journey in Samana, you'll be captivated by the natural wonders and cultural richness that surround you.

Mountainous Adventure & Language Immersion

Get ready to venture into the breathtaking mountains of Jarabacoa, a hidden gem in the Dominican Republic. This region is a well-kept secret, boasting the highest peak in the Caribbean and a plethora of natural wonders.

During your week in Jarabacoa, you'll have the opportunity to explore the central mountain range. Discover picturesque waterfalls, lush forests, and connect with the vibrant local communities that call this place home. Experience the warmth of Dominican hospitality as you stay at a family-run lodge, where you'll feel right at home. This will be your base for the week as you embark on various activities designed to enrich your experience.

Take advantage of Spanish classes to improve your language skills and enhance your cultural immersion. Engage in interactive lessons led by experienced instructors who will guide you in learning the language and provide insights into the local way of life.

In addition to language learning, you'll also have the opportunity to contribute to water access projects in the Jarabacoa region. We’ll work alongside an organization that has been partnering with local communities for the last decade to build aqueducts, bringing running water to areas that have lacked this basic resource. Join the effort and contribute to the construction of an aqueduct, all while gaining a deeper understanding of the importance of access to clean water.

Throughout the week, you'll learn about the challenges and triumphs of water access in the region, and witness firsthand the positive impact these projects have on the lives of local communities. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, embrace cultural exchange, and make a meaningful contribution to the community during your time in Jarabacoa.

Program Details

What's Included?
  • All in-program travel and transport, excluding flights
  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • All expeditions, activities, excursions, volunteer projects and entry fees as described in the itinerary
  • Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
  • Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
  • Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves
  • Certificate of Program Completion

 

For full program details, please request the information booklet.

Request Information Booklet

Medium Activity Level

Anyone with an average fitness level and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this mini semester! You will need to be prepared for some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program.

No Camping

 You will spend most of your time in comfortable hostels, lodges and homestays.

Medium Service Learning Level

You will be able to make a difference to the local community during your stay. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some hands-on learning about local issues.

Have you got any questions before applying?

Caribbean Mini Semester