5 weeks volunteering in the Dominican Republic
Concluding I can say that this five weeks were way leading, exciting and a great experience which I can highly recommend to every freshly graduate who wants to broaden his or her horizon and is full of zest for action.
Why I always wanted to travel to South America
Finding out my weaknesses, my strength and my goals for my future life was the greatest ambition of my journey through Latin America. After my graduation I wanted to go abroad, get to know myself and the world. I wanted to broaden my horizon, break out of given structures and as the saying goes “think out of the box”. All this was possible for me to experience during my five weeks as a volunteer in Samaná in the Dominican Republic.
The safety in Samaná and the friendliness towards tourists is really striking out and is to be pointed out at this point as this is not everywhere the case in Latin America.
Experience the Carribbean in Samaná
Samaná is a great place to approach the Dominican culture and in my opinion it is a great place to found a non profit organisation. This is constituted with a good location which does not miss the special Caribbean attitude towards life with endless white sand beaches on the peninsula of Samaná. Samaná is a town of approximately 40.000 inhabitants which is overruled by the explosive and energy loaded life. In the first week I had to adjust to thisbut you learn to handle and trust the new culture quickly which makes you appreciate it even more. My boss and my co-volunteers were also really helping me with this.
Solo traveling in South America
I never had the feeling of being alone because whenever there was a problem someone was easily reachable. The safety in Samaná and the friendliness towards tourists is really striking and unique in Latin America. I lived in a shared flat with three other volunteers in the middle of a housing complex. Besides sharing the bathroom and the kitchen I had my own room which worked as a place of refuge. But this made it feel like a community and a real shared flat life going along with compromises and discussions.
Every volunteer had the possibility to play a part in the work as he or she could best and wanted to. [...] My working areas were in IT, Social Media Marketing and also teaching slow learning children.
The volunteer organization in Samaná
The organisation in the Dominican Republic is just starting up as they had to move from Venezuela because of the critical political situation. But this was just in my sense as I had much more freedom in my volunteer service and in my working area. Therefore I did not have a given structure I had to follow. The feeling of being free in working is also supported by a horizontal management which is knowingly executed by my boss. Every volunteer had the possibility to play a part in the work as he or she could best and wanted to. This gave me the feeling of having the chance to self actualize me, to make a difference, to develope myself and to grow with the new tasks.
I was never bored with my tasks as a volunteer because I never had the feeling of being in a routine. My working areas were in IT, Social Media Marketing and also teaching children with learning disabilities. At first my boss showed me the different areas I could work in and therefore I could play my strengths and do what I wanted to. It is kind of based on a modular principle where every volunteer is allowed to plan his or her week individually, brick by brick. For example: I worked in the area of IT and Social Media Marketing from Monday to Thursday whereupon the teaching with children with learning disabilities took place Tuesdays until Thursdays in the afternoon which I could join if I had time and wanted to. Of course I could not expect to make significant processes because working as a volunteer also includes having a longer process in order to see and actively recognize results. This was something I had to learn, too.
Tours around Samaná peninsula
On the weekends we, the volunteers, always did a lot of trips around the peninsula of Samaná in order to distance ourselves from work and also to see and experience something new. Almost weekly we had boat or sailing trips to the famous Bacardi Island or to Los Haitises, one of the most famous national parks in the Dominican Republic. I definitely can say that I experienced and saw many things in my few weeks stay. But this was my intention: to experience and see as much as possible during my short stay. Furthermore diving has always been one of my biggest dreams this is why I did the official diving licence with a German in Samaná during my project. A trial dive is definitely something I would recommend to everyone. Samaná also offers a gym and furthermore a traditional nightlife. With this I mean a nightlife which is formed by Dominican duet dancing and the Dominican habits without American influence.
To conclude, I can say that this five weeks were decisive for my future, exciting and a great experience which I can highly recommend to every freshly graduate who wants to broaden his or her horizon and is full wanderlust.