We hope to encourage and engage a consistent flow of good-intentioned and culturally sensitive expats into the Puerto Plata community with a focus of sharing and service. Providing volunteer opportunities for new expats where there is a learning curve due to language, culture, and other barriers is not always easy. However, we have developed a few different opportunities which are listed below. We have found that the volunteer experience works out best when volunteers stay in our volunteer housing and plug in with other volunteers and members of our organization.
Long term volunteers should be highly flexible and self motivated, realizing that life here in the Dominican Republic is much different than in the developed world. Volunteers should plan realistically: financially, culturally, and linguistically. The most productive volunteers will prepare ahead of time by studying both language and culture.
What can long term volunteers do? Below are some longer term volunteer opportunities that others have done in some respect in the past. Please note that we have a very small administrative staff and long term volunteers need to be prepared to work independently on these projects:
Fair Trade Art Shop Worker (actually a paid position on commission but sales can be sparce so this is also listed in the volunteer section) – This person works shifts in our fair trade art shop. There is also potential opportunity to lead artist workshops and help to develop the shop in other ways.
Physical Education Teacher – We currently have no specific physical education teacher in our schools, and the subject falls on the regular teachers. A volunteer taking on this role follows a schedule, rotating between classrooms, between the two elementary schools. This person follows suggestions and curriculums but plans his or her own activities. Comfort communicating in Spanish and/or Haitian Creole is necessary.
Art Education Teacher – We currently have no specific art education teacher in our schools, and the subject falls on the regular teachers. A volunteer taking on this role follows a schedule, rotating between classrooms, between the two elementary schools. This person follows suggestions and curriculums but plans his or her own activities. Comfort communicating in Spanish and/or Haitian Creole is necessary.
English Teacher – We need a consistent volunteer to lead our afternoon English club. This goes along with our six week long summer English camp. Ideally this volunteer would be involved with both. Some comfort communicating in Spanish and/or Haitian Creole is necessary.
**The art teacher, phys. ed. teacher, and English teacher could potentially be done by one person, and could potentially be a position that receives free stay and perhaps a stipend.**
Math Specialist / Math Coach – The Dominican Republic is not known for high quality math education. Check out the second graph in this study to understand further. We would truly benefit from a math specialist or math coach to work directly with our teachers, modeling and sharing different tactics with them to improve their math teaching and keep them on their toes. Fluency in Spanish is required for this position.
Science Specialist – The Dominican Republic is not known for high quality science education. Check out the third graph in this study to understand further. We would truly benefit from a science specialist or science coach to work directly with our teachers, modeling and sharing different tactics with them to improve their science teaching and keep them on their toes. This person could also help design lessons for our educational farm field trips. Fluency in Spanish is required for this role.
**The science specialist and math specialist could be the same person. This could also develop into a paid position.**
Hospital Candy Striper/Health Volunteer – Nurses at the public hospital perform a limited amount of tasks. Many things are left to the personal caregivers of patients who are usually one’s family. We have observed in many cases that patients without family to care for them truly suffer. There is volunteer opportunity here for those with the necessary language skills.
Literacy Volunteer – This requires initiative on the part of the volunteer and involves scheduled meetings with an illiterate adult or youth where you, over the course of your time, teach him or her to read. The following articles are highly helpful in preparation for this: How to Teach an Illiterate Adult to Read
Public Health Volunteer – This volunteer leads public health workshops in our schools among students, teachers, and parents. Topics include proper trash removal and recycling, nutrition, reproductive education, child rearing education, clean water education, chronic illnesses education, and more!
Financial Literacy / Small Business Entrepreneurship Volunteer – We have given microloans to several community members. Different volunteer groups have provided small business consulting, such as Virginia Tech and Northeastern University. There is an ongoing need to support these entrepreneurs and provide financial literacy training to our students and community members.
Second Hand Shop Volunteer – We have a small second hand shop where we sell donated items. We also give away donated items in this same space in exchange for points earned via school attendance and other activities. We need someone to work together alongside a local employee in order to run this shop.
Will I have to pay to volunteer long term? Will I get any benefits such as free stay or meals?
The answer to these questions depends on the volunteer’s specific skills and experience, and also our needs for those skills and experiences at the time. Most volunteers will be asked to pay a fee initially. However, arrangements can be made with volunteers who fit a match. Arrangements could be free stay or free stay and free meals while volunteer groups are present. Some could even receive a small stipend on top of that. Volunteers who do not possess strong language skills upon arrival will have to pay.
We are a private non-profit who receives no aid from the government, so as much as we would love to be able to pay expats to help fill the roles mentioned above, it is not always possible. Therefore, we suggest raising support.
E-mail Volunteer@EsperanzaMeansHope.org for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!