Alina’s exciting month in the Dominican Republic
I spent a month volunteering in Samaná in the Dominican Republic. Samaná is a small city located directly at the coast. I really loved the location since it wasn’t as touristic as other places. In the same area, very close to my project, there were the most beautiful, Caribbean beaches with turquoise water and white beaches.
I shared my accommodation with other volunteers from all around the world. Although the rooms were only furnished with the basics I felt comfortable and at home the whole time. The luxury of, for example, warm water isn’t even necessary there and only then I realized how few things are actually necessary to be able to live a good life. Living with the other volunteers was super fun and life never got bored. Everyday we would cook together while listening to typical Dominican music.
Success Stories at Work
During my stay I worked at a school that supports children with special needs. My tasks were, among others, to play with the kids and to teach them mathematics, writing and reading. I’m not going to lie - sometimes it was pretty exhausting and I needed a lot of patience but it was so much fun at the same time and the kids grew close to my heart after only a short period of time. The most beautiful thing was to see how the children made progress and were, all of a sudden, able to count or to use new words. There wasn’t even one day where a child did not put a smile on my face.
In the beginning I wasn’t really able to communicate in Spanish which was sort of a disadvantage. Even though it wasn’t always necessary to use words to express myself it would have definitely helped at times. Yet, during the course of my stay, I quickly noticed how I was making progress in Spanish and how I was able to understand individual words and even whole sentences. The six free Spanish lessons each week definitely helped a lot, too!
Exciting Diving Expeditions
Every afternoon I spent 4 hours working at the school. The rest of the day I was free to, for example, go to the beach, learn Spanish, help the other volunteers or just relax in a hammock and read a book. During the weekends I also had a lot of spare time and was able to explore the island. I often either drove to beautiful beaches close by or went diving since Samaná is a great place dive due to a fascinating shipwreck close to the shore. There are also really great diving schools in which you’re able to obtain a diving licence. If you don’t want to or can’t go diving there’s also the option of snorkeling. I was super lucky that I was in the Dominican Republic during whale season which lasts from mid-January until March so I was able to join a Whale Watching trip. That definitely was one of the highlights of my stay as it was fascinating to be this close to the animals.
Something I really appreciated was the fact that I could reach the coordinators of the program 24/7 and who even helped me with the smallest problems. They also were really helpful concerning the planning of weekend trips and you can get advice from them at all times. Therefore, you’re never alone and always feel very supported.
In general, I loved the culture of the Dominican Republic. The people are very open-minded and ready to dance at all times. Moreover, the nightlife in Samaná is really great: there are a lot of bars right at the beach promenade playing Dominican songs to invite you to dance Bachata.
My month in the Dominican Republic has been a very impressive time with a lot of great experiences. I learned a lot about myself and the Dominican Republic definitely has a very special place close to my heart.