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Service Learning in the Dominican Republic: Creating a Sustainable World

Program Number: 20187RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/2/2013 - 3/9/2013;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: Dominican Republic
Price starting at: $1,792.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Service Learning
Meals: 18; 7 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Through discussions and service work in local communities, learn how sustainable development has become a necessity for all humanity as you bring immediate improvement to the lives of the residents with whom you’ll interact on your four days of service. The theme of sustainability continues with meals prepared from locally-sourced poultry, fish, meat, and organically-grown fruits and vegetables. Relax and rejuvenate during two full days of leisure on a beautiful beach or in active pursuits of your own choosing and a festive evening of dance and music with local residents.


• Work directly with impoverished communities on projects that bring immediate improvement to their lives.
• Choose from a variety of projects according to your personal interests and desired level of physical activity; options include rebuilding houses, building biomass stoves, planting trees, helping out at an orphanage and working alongside Haitian refugees in a permaculture garden.
• Enjoy the natural beauty of the island of Hispaniola and interact with local residents and children.

Activity Particulars

Walking on rough, uneven, stony and unpaved ground in a humid, tropical climate. Unavoidable stairs. The grounds and buildings at Home Base Las Canas are tiled and these tiles may be slippery when wet. Driving over rough, poorly paved roads in a developing country. Service Learning project choices have an activity range from Active through Challenging and are approximately six hours on each of the four days.

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.

Itinerary Summary

Arrivals Puerto Plata International Airport, transfer to Las Canas, 7 nights.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

Arrival Puerto Plata
7 nights

During four days of service, choose the projects you would like to work on according to your personal interests and desired activity level. Throughout the program, local experts offer insight into the importance of sustainability in this region as well as on environmental issues facing the north end of the island. Project choices include; interacting with residents and children in a Haitian refugee camp and a local orphanage, with a snorkeling excursion to learn about coral reef conservation; a slightly more active program building biomass stoves, rebuilding shacks, reforestation and permaculture gardening; and the very active biomass-stove-building option with a hike to a remote mountain-top village. Independent time allows you the opportunity to enjoy Rio San Juan beach, learn to dance bachata or salsa to live music, and take in local points of interest.

Dominican Republic

On his first voyage to the Americas, Christopher Columbus received a friendly welcome from the native Taino people on the island he would call La Española (a name which became Hispaniola). In 1496, his brother Bartholomew built the city of Santo Domingo, Europe’s first permanent New World settlement and the capital of today’s Dominican Republic, a small, tropical, Spanish-speaking nation with close ties to the nearby United States.

Private beachfront estate on the Amber Coast. Each condominium has a terrace, sitting room, two bedrooms and a private bath.
Meals and Lodgings
   Home Base Las Canas
  Puerto Plata Area, Dominican Republic 7 nights
 Home Base Las Canas
Type: Other
  Description: Home Base Las Canas is a private beachfront estate located 27 miles east of Puerto Plata on the Amber Coast.
  Contact info: Las Canas
Gaspar Hernandez,   Dominican Republic
  Room amenities: Five condo buildings each have one upper and one lower unit with terrace, sitting room and 2 bedrooms, each with private bath. The units are all equipped with ceiling fans and screened windows.
  Facility amenities: Palm-covered dining and lounge area, private beach, swimming pool and Jacuzzi. A shared laptop is available for brief email access. Unlimited purified water is available for each participant to fill personal water containers as needed. Laundry service is available at an additional cost.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 2:00 PM
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
6 p.m. Dinner on Day 1. You will be staying at Home Base Las Canas that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast on Day 8. Breakfast will be at 7am You will be staying at Home Base Las Canas the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. A passport, valid a minimum of 6 months after return travel date, with one completely BLANK PAGE. A Limit of Liability Risk Waiver and the Service Project Selection form will be sent after enrollment and must be completed and returned to Road Scholar by 45 days prior to departure. All U.S. citizens must purchase a Tourist card on arrival in the Dominican Republic at a cost of US$10, payable in cash. The Tourist Card booth is at the entrance of the Immigration and Passport Control Area. A return or onward airline ticket is required by all visitors, as well as all documents needed for next destination.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Puerto Plata Area
  Nearest city or town:  Puerto Plata
  Nearest airport:  Puerto Plata International Airport (POP)
  From End of Program
  Location: Puerto Plata Area
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Road Scholar Group Transfer


From Airport





Travel Time:


40 minutes. 




27 miles


All participants arriving on Day 1 will be met at Puerto Plata airport and given a courtesy transfer in our van or bus, to Home Base Las Canas, based on the flight arrival information that you provide on your Project Selection form. Normal flight arrival times are between 2 - 4 p.m. All participants will be transferred back to the airport on Day 8. Please note that transfers are provided as a courtesy and have no reimbursable value.


Making Your Own Way to Home Base Las Canas







Per Person/One Way:


The taxi fare to Las Canas is approximately $US 70 per car.
Prices are subject to change.


Taxi fares in the Dominican Republic are fixed rates based on destination Before actually getting into the taxi, confirm the rate and whether it's in US dollars, Euros, or Pesos. Having the correct amount of currency to pay this rate will be helpful, as most drivers do not carry change, especially for foreign currency.

Equipment Requirements: Clothes that can get dirty and closed-toe sturdy walking shoes, personal water bottle, daypack to take with you to project sites.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrivals / Welcome and Program Overview
(Saturday, March 2)
 Afternoon: Arrivals at Puerto Plata International Airport. Transfer to Home Base Las Canas.
 Dinner: 6 pm. Welcome Dinner at Home Base.
 Evening: Orientation to the program and introductions.
Accommodations: Home Base Las Canas
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Service Projects Day 1
(Sunday, March 3)

Note: Activity Level "Active" Projects Choices 1) Cross-Cultural Interaction with Orphanage in Puerto Plata . Spend time with orphanage children, playing, sharing picture books, reading to them in Spanish, holding babies. (approximately 3 hours) 2) Ascension Haitian Refugee Settlement. Spend time with children and residents. (approximately 3 hours). Then leave Ascension and head to Sosúa beach. Take a boat out to 3 Rocks Reef, to snorkel and learn about the ecology of the reef. (weather permitting)

 Breakfast: In the dining area, with an introduction to the project teams and work for the day.
 Morning: Each team will head out to its locale to work on its project. Spend approximately six hours per day on the projects that you have selected prior to arriving on the program.
 Lunch: You’ll make and pack your own sandwiches at breakfast, which will be transported in coolers to the project site. Unlimited purified water is available at Home Base for you to re-fill your own container and bring with you.
 Afternoon: Finish up work mid-afternoon then return to Home Base with time to swim in the pool, walk on the beach, soak in the hot tub, relax or journal your day.
 Dinner: Meals are prepared from fresh, organically grown and locally-sourced ingredients typical of the area, such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, rice, beans, vegetables and fruit and served buffet style.
 Evening: Your Study Leader, Dr. Dave Addison provides an overview of sustainability and discusses the idea of sustainability as a lens for examining social issues that you will encounter in the Dominican Republic.
Accommodations: Home Base Las Canas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Service Projects Day 2
(Monday, March 4)

Note: Activity Level "Moderately Challenging" Project Choices: 1) Building Biomass Stoves in Tubagua and nearby villages. Working in teams of two, mix cement and lift individual cinder blocks into place, then cover with cement. (approximately 5 hours) 2) Reforestation: Planting trees along the mountain around Brison and other locations.

 Breakfast: In the dining area.
 Morning: Each team goes to its project for the day.
 Lunch: Packed lunches are taken to the project sites.
 Afternoon: Finish projects mid-afternoon and return to Home Base to relax.
 Dinner: In the dining area.
 Evening: A local expert speaks about environmental issues facing the Dominican Republic, specifically focusing on the issues found in the north coast of the island.
Accommodations: Home Base Las Canas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Service Projects Day 3
(Tuesday, March 5)

Note: Activity Level "Moderately Challenging" Project Choices: Permaculture in Ascension Haitian refugee settlement: Work with residents to use available tools to plant fruit trees and vegetables (approximately 3 hours). Then leave Ascension and head to Sosúa beach. Take a boat out to 3 Rocks Reef, to snorkel and learn about the ecology of the reef (approximately 2 hours, weather permitting).

 Breakfast: In the dining area.
 Morning: Each team goes to its project for the day.
 Lunch: Packed lunches are taken to the project sites.
 Afternoon: Finish projects mid-afternoon and return to Home Base to relax.
 Dinner: In the dining area.
 Evening: Your Study Leader, Dr. Dave Addison hosts a discussion about energy sustainability. This directly relates to the service project of building biomass stoves
Accommodations: Home Base Las Canas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Service Projects Day 4
(Wednesday, March 6)

Note: "Moderately Challenging" Project Choices: Rebuilding Shacks Day 1& Day 2: 1) Work with local residents, tear down dilapidated shacks, mix cement and pour cement slab. (approximately 6 hours). 2) On the following day, rebuild shack with new materials on the concrete slab and paint it. (approximately 6 hours) "Challenging" Project: Build Bio-mass stoves in Brison, a village at the top of the highest point in Puerta Plata which requires strenuous up and down-hill walking to access the houses.

 Breakfast: In the dining area.
 Morning: Each team goes to its project for the day.
 Lunch: Packed lunches are taken to the project sites.
 Afternoon: Finish projects mid-afternoon and return to Home Base to relax.
 Dinner: In the dining area.
 Evening: A local expert discusses relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and also address the plight of Haitian refugees living in the D.R.
Accommodations: Home Base Las Canas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Relax and Rejuvenate
(Thursday, March 7)
 Breakfast: In the dining area.
 Morning: Dr. Addison will facilitate a discussion about globalization, from the perspective of the Dominican Republic and talk about opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the country. Then head out to Rio San Juan beach, a favorite with locals. You may wish to get a beach lounger, go for a walk, swim, or sit under the trees and watch local life.
 Lunch: A buffet is specially prepared for Road Scholars to enjoy under the shady trees.
 Afternoon: Return to Home Base Las Canas mid-afternoon. Drive into Cabarete for a change of scenery. Watch the kite surfers or stroll the town.
 Dinner: Your choice to explore local fare.
 Evening: Meet at the designated time for return to Home Base Las Canas.
Accommodations: Home Base Las Canas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Leisure Activities and Farewell Celebration
(Friday, March 8)
 Breakfast: In the dining area. Meet for a wrap-up discussion to summarize the experiences of your week and exchange impressions.
 Morning: Today is at leisure to pursue activities of your own interest. A list of activities and booking assistance will be provided on site. You may also choose to relax at Las Canas.
 Lunch: Your choice to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: At leisure.
 Dinner: A farewell dinner of local specialties.
 Evening: Celebrate the Dominican way: Learn to dance bachata or salsa to live music.
Accommodations: Home Base Las Canas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Departures
(Saturday, March 9)
 Breakfast: In the dining area.
 Morning: Departures.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Puerto Plata Area Pico Isabel de Torres Cable Car and Sosua Beach
Drive into Puerto Plata to take the cable car (Teleferico) up to Pico Isabel de Torres (elevation 2,000 feet) for a view over the Amber Coast. At the summit there are walking paths and a botanical garden to explore independently, and time for lunch in the summit café. Return via Sosua where you’ll have an hour to enjoy the beach or stroll its market and refreshment stalls before returning to Las Canas. Round-trip transportation from Las Canas is included but the cable car ticket (approximately 350 pesos) and lunch are at your own expense.
  Hiking, Horse Back Riding
The following can be reserved on site at an additional cost: - Active excursions such as guided waterfall hikes, horseback riding, zip-lining are available through a local operator. For additional information, visit
  Snorkeling or Diving
Additional snorkeling or dive excursions (if you are PADI certified) can be arranged with our snorkeling operator. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

200 Conspicuous, Unusual, or Economically Important Tropical Plants of the Caribbean

Author: John Kingsbury

Description: A general purpose plant identification guide to Caribbean shores, also useful for subtropical Florida. Features color photographs and short plant descriptions.

A Brief History of the Caribbean, From the Arawak and the Carib to the Present

Author: Jan Rogozinski

Description: Written for a scholarly audience, this concise history presents the full sweep of Caribbean geography, culture and commerce from aboriginal inhabitants through European colonization and modern developments.

A Continent of Islands, Searching for the Caribbean Destiny

Author: Mark Kurlansky

Description: A wonderfully observed social history of the Caribbean by a far-ranging journalist and favorite author. Kurlansky has a knack for honing in on the small details that make the Caribbean culturally unique, offering frank insight on music, religion, healthcare and the influence of the United States.

A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies

Author: Bartolome de las Casas, Nigel Griffin (Translator)

Description: A graphic chronicle of human rights abuses and an appeal to the conscience of Spain written in 1542 by a witness.

A Traveller's History of the Caribbean

Author: James Ferguson

Description: A concise history of the Caribbean Islands, beginning with a description of the islands' formation and geologic attributes and carrying through the first civilizations in the region all the way up to the modern tourism boom.

Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti

Author: Steven Latta

Description: A compact, up-to-date field guide, covering 306 species of birds (including 31 endemics).

Caribbean Literature And the Environment, Between Nature And Culture

Author: Elizabeth Deloughrey (Editor)

Description: This collection of 18 essays reflects on the relationship between humans and natural history in the Caribbean, putting into consideration its troubled history and the effects that tourism and globalization have had on the region.

Culture Smart! Dominican Republic

Author: Ginnie Bedggood

Description: A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture with a short overview of the land and people along with practical travel advice.

Dominican Republic Map

Author: World Mapping Project

Description: A detailed, double-sided map showing the island and surrounding waters at 1:450,000.

Fishwatcher's Field Guide Caribbean

Author: I Greenberg

Description: A convenient double-sided plastic card showing 75 reef fish of the Caribbean.

Lonely Planet Dominican Republic & Haiti

Author: Leah Gordon, Scott Doggett

Description: A practical guide to Dominican Republic and Haiti.

National Geographic Dominican Republic

Author: Gilles ( Mingasson (Photographer)

Description: An abundantly illustrated guide to the country, with essays on history and culture and color maps.

Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life

Author: Paul Humann

Description: Humann's compact guide illustrates Caribbean fishes, corals, invertebrates and plants commonly encountered in shallower water.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Author: Junot Diaz

Description: The Dominican-born New Yorker's long-awaited multi-layered tale of the hopes and dreams and tumult of the hugely overweight, hopelessly confused young New Jerseyite of the title. Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize.

The Contemporary Caribbean: History, Life and Culture Since 1945

Author: Olwyn M. Blouet

Description: Blouet navigates the complicated history of the Caribbean with scholarly ease in this account of colonial politics, race, economics and the more recent pressures from globalization.

The Devil Behind the Mirror, Globalization And Politics in the Dominican Republic

Author: Steven Gregory

Description: Gregory adeptly explores the impact of globalization on the lives of the people of the Dominican Republica in this moving history.

The Dictator Next Door, The Good Neighbor Policy and the Trujillo Regime in the Dominican Republic, 1930-1945

Author: Eric Roorda

Description: This book questions the relations between the United States and the Dominican Republic in the 1930’s. It also examines the Good Neighbor Policy.

Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola

Author: Michele Wucker

Description: The story of the historic tensions between two countries which share a single island but are divided by history, language, race and class.

Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys

Description: This short novel by Dominican-born Jean Rhys is steamy -- both in its lush, tropical setting and in its plot. The book imagines the encounter between Edward Rochester and his mad wife -- a sort of prequel to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

Wild Caribbean, The Hidden Wonders of the World's Most Famous Islands

Author: Michael Bright

Description: Nicely illustrated, this companion book to the BBC series on the natural history of the Caribbean includes an overview of the plants, animals and underwater life of the islands from Cuba to Trinidad and Tobago.

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