WHO IS QUALIFIED TO PARTICIPATE?
A qualified volunteer must be able to commit to either a 12-month program and must be at least 21 years old. An advanced knowledge of Spanish is required. A bachelor’s degree or higher is preferred but not required. Read more about our current volunteers living in the DR here.
HOW DO I APPLY?
Click Here to Apply Online. Upload two letters of recommendation with your online application or send to:
The DREAM Project
916 Williams Rd, Unit 2
Colchester, VT 05446
Please note: applications will NOT be reviewed unless competed in full.
WHY IS THERE AN APPLICATION FEE?
The $40 application fee helps cover the administrative costs of the application process. We need to charge a fee to support the solicitation, recruitment and review process for our volunteer program, and to discourage applicants who are not seriously interested in the position.
CAN I APPLY FROM OUTSIDE THE US?
We accept volunteers from all over the world. The application fee can be paid online via PayPal or by check to 916 Williams Rd, Unit 2, Colchester, VT 05446.
HOW MUCH IS THE VOLUNTEER FEE? WHAT DOES IT COVER?
The average cost of living in the DR is $1,000/month. To cover these expenses, DREAM asks that volunteers raise a certain amount of funding, to be determined based on experience and financial need. We ask that funds be raised in full before the start of the program. We cover pickup and drop off at the Puerto Plata airport, accommodations, all required training workshops, a rental cell phone and helmet, training and oversight at the local schools, cultural excursions, and a living stipend (which is allocated to cover expenses such as cell phone use, meals, transportation to work sites, laundry, etc.) The fundraising fee essentially covers your expenses for the 10-month stay. Please note this fee does not include airfare, health insurance, or personal spending money. Fellowships are available to cover a portion of this fee, so don’t be discouraged by the full amount. See our Resource Guide for more information.
ARE THERE FELLOWSHIPS FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT AFFORD THE FEE?
The DREAM Project does have a limited fellowship fund to reduce the cost of the volunteer fee for those who qualify. There is also a Dominican Heritage Scholarship for potential volunteers of Dominican descent. To apply, please visit our fellowship page.
We encourage volunteers who do not receive full fellowship funding to seek outside donors, grants, and scholarships to sponsor their work. For example, the Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College offers scholarships to Dartmouth students. Past volunteers have sent letters to extended family and friends asking for donations to DREAM in their name to help cover their volunteer fee. A couple volunteers have raised upwards of $5,000 towards their fee this way. See our volunteer resource guide for listings of applicable grants and fundraising ideas.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR A DREAM VOLUNTEER?
DREAM volunteers start their mornings at their site after walking or biking to work and grabbing a cafecito at the local coffee stand. The workday ends at 5 pm, although some shifts vary depending on your placement. After work many volunteers go for a walk on the beach, exercise, talk with family over Skype, visit a friend or neighbor’s home, or take advantage of other activities in Cabarete. On the weekends, volunteers often explore neighboring towns, such as Puerto Plata, or take a guagua (public transportation) to snorkel, surf, or read a book on the beach in Sosúa or Playa Encuentro. You can also visit Santo Domingo over the weekend. Throughout the year DREAM offers various excursions to volunteers, which have included trips to a Dominican baseball game in Santiago, a weekend at a bed and breakfast in the fishing town of Las Galeras, and a visit to the famous Las Hermanas Mirabal museum in Salcedo.
ARE MEALS PROVIDED FOR THE VOLUNTEERS?
Meals are not provided, but are paid for by volunteers through their DREAM living stipend. There are many local affordable options (100 pesos or USD $2.50 for a Dominican meal at a comedor) and several supermarkets and colmados (corner stores) are within walking distance of volunteer housing.
WHAT WILL MY ACCOMMODATIONS BE LIKE?
Volunteers are provided with accommodations (apartments or houses) within walking distance of their work site. All apartments meet DREAM’s standards of safety, accessibility, and comfort. Although DREAM strives to place volunteers in comparable accommodations, the living arrangements of each volunteer will vary due to the local availability of housing at the time of arrival. Volunteers may have a roommate, but all volunteers have their own room. Volunteers are required to stay in DREAM housing.
IS THERE A MINIMUM OR MAXIMUM STAY?
All long-term volunteers are encouraged to stay for at least 10 months (one academic year) in order to be most effective. A full 12-month year is preferred. The first week of each semester is a mandatory orientation week. Volunteers receive 3 weeks of vacation over the winter holidays where volunteers can travel in country or return home. Once they finish their initial term, many volunteers choose to stay for summer camp or the following year. There is no maximum stay unless the volunteer is dismissed early due to behavior.
DO VOLUNTEERS HAVE TO SPEAK SPANISH?
Yes. You do not have to be entirely fluent, but intermediate to advanced language skills are required. You must be able to effectively communicate in Spanish with students, staff, and community members. A portion of the interview will be done in Spanish to test speaking level. We encourage you to brush up on your Spanish skills before arrival by using programs such as Rosetta Stone or Live Mocha.
HOW CAN I GET IN CONTACT WITH A PAST VOLUNTEER?
WHAT AIRPORT SHOULD I FLY INTO AND WHAT AIRLINES FLY THERE?
The closest airport is the Puerto Plata International Airport (airport code POP), which is about a twenty-minute drive from Cabarete. DREAM arranges airport pickups and drop-offs from the Puerto Plata International Airport only. American, Delta, JetBlue, and United airlines offer routes from the U.S. to Puerto Plata. Cheaper fares may sometimes be found flying into Santiago or Santo Domingo, but volunteers are reminded to factor in the cost of cab fare to Cabarete which averages around $100 from Santiago and $150 from Santo Domingo. Comfortable public transportation with large bus companies (Caribe Tours and Metro) can also be taken from Santiago and Santo Domingo to Sosua for less than USD $8 one way. A taxi from Sosua to Cabarete is around USD $15.
CAN I BUY A ONE-WAY TICKET?
Not unless you have a visa. The law of the Dominican Republic, which is now being strictly enforced, states that all visitors (non-DR citizens) who do not have visas must have a return ticket. Please check with your airlines when booking, because there are options to purchase open-ended tickets or buying returnable fares if you are unsure of your departure date.
DO I NEED TO GET A VISA?
The Tourist Card is an entry fee charged by the Dominican Republic for those who visit the country for tourism purposes. It can be obtained directly upon arrival in the airport for $10 USD or Euros with presentation of a valid passport. The tourist card is valid for a stay of 30 days in the country. Any visitor who has stayed in the country longer than 30 days (including 31 days) must pay the departure tax at the airport when they leave the country. Your passport will be reviewed by customs officials according to last entry into the country, you will be directed to a separate line to pay the appropriate taxes based on length of overstay, and should receive a receipt for your payment. The current overstay fees in 2015 are as follows. Note that the timeframe below indicates how many days and months one has stayed past the allowed 30 days.
1 day to 3 months – 2,500 pesos
3 to 9 months – 4,000 pesos
9 months to 1 year – 5,000 pesos
1 to 1.5 years – 6,500 pesos
1.5 to 2 years – 8,000 pesos
2 to 2.5 years – 9,500 pesos
2.5 to 3 years – 11,000 pesos
3 to 4 years – 16,000 pesos
4 to 5 years – 20,000 pesos
After 5 years and 11 months, the visitor must pay 11,000 pesos for each additional year in the country. The conversion rate in USD is calculated using the current daily rate from the Banco del Reservas. Yearlong volunteers will need to be prepared to pay departure tax at any point when they leave the country past a 30 day window, including for winter vacation and the end of their service. Payment of the departure tax is the responsibility of the volunteer and is not covered by the DREAM Project. The total departure tax paid by any one volunteer will depend on how frequently they leave the country and how long they stay in the country between departures. Volunteers are encouraged to take these costs into consideration when planning their budget. Volunteers should note that costs associated with the departure tax are comparable to processing fees for visas in other countries. The majority of yearlong volunteers at DREAM choose to purchase the tourist card and pay the departure tax at each entry into and exit from the country. If the volunteer would like to investigate other visa options, such as a business visa (which is valid for one year and allows one entry) or a business visa for employment purposes (which is valid for one year and allows multiple entries), more information can be found at the following website (for U.S. citizens): http://www.domrep.org/visa.html.
Please note that volunteers are responsible for all costs incurred when applying for a visa if they choose to pursue this option. Upon request by the volunteer, DREAM will be able to provide a letter of invitation as required by the consulate. Please also note that the business visa does not necessarily exonerate one from paying departure taxes when leaving the country. For more information, please contact the relevant consulate officials in the United States or your country of origin:http://www.domrep.org/consulates_us.html.
DOES DREAM PROVIDE THEIR VOLUNTEERS WITH HEALTH INSURANCE?
DREAM does not provide health insurance, and all year-round volunteers are required to have international health care coverage. We recommend purchasing International Insurance from IMGlobal or Insurance Services of America. Please bring copies of your health insurance card with you, and carry them with you at all times in case of an emergency.
IS THE COMMUNITY RECEPTIVE TO VOLUNTEERS?
Yes. DREAM has worked to establish trust within our communities and schools over the past decade and each year the enthusiasm grows greater for our programs. Students and community members eagerly welcome new DREAM volunteers each year.
IS THERE A RISK OF THEFT?
Unfortunately, there is a link between poverty and crime. When working in a developing country, theft is always a risk. Do not bring anything that is irreplaceable. Past volunteers have experienced incidents of theft, including stolen computers and iPods. Take precautions in storing belongings in a secure manner, and insure them before departure. Bring luggage locks and store valuables in your locked luggage. Most volunteers do bring down their own laptops for both work and personal use, just be wary of where you store it and who you let use it.
ARE THERE MEDICAL FACILITIES NEAR BY?
Cabarete has a 24-hour medical and dental clinic in town called Servi-Med. Servi-Med is run by a multilingual staff that can handle most minor illnesses and injuries; however, the facilities are limited. There is a well-run private hospital (Centro Medico Bournigal) 40 minutes away in Puerto Plata and a large clinic (Centro Medico Cabarete) 15 minutes away in Sosua.
IS THE INTERNET ACCESSIBLE?
Wireless Internet is highly accessible in restaurants and businesses in Cabarete, which provide free access to customers. The DREAM Center and Main Office both have wireless Internet. In addition, Internet is usually available at your housing, though the service may cost extra. Keep in mind that electricity or Internet service may be intermittent.
WHAT SHOTS DO I NEED?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no required vaccinations for entry into the Dominican Republic. The CDC does recommend Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and typhoid vaccinations, as well as current routine vaccinations (TPD, MMR, polio, etc., most of which are generally up to date if you have attended a public school in the US in the last 10 years). There is a risk for malaria and dengue fever in rural areas of the Dominican Republic, especially near the border of Haiti. The risk is low in more developed cities and towns, including Cabarete, although incidents of dengue fever have been reported in the area recently. Please check with your local doctor about taking malaria medication. DREAM encourages volunteers to follow the advice of their personal physician.