Students Invited to Join Orphanage Outreach Program in Dominican Republic

by Heather Gjerde, UW-Madison Communications

Deadlines are approaching for UW-Madison students to sign up for Orphanage Outreach, a program that offers semester abroad and alternative break opportunities.

The deadline for the Winter 2008/2009 is Oct. 15, 2008. For Early Spring 2009, the deadline is Dec. 1, 2008.

Orphanage Outreach offers college students alternative break options as well as semester abroad experience. They cater to students majoring or minoring in education, Spanish, pre-dental and pre-Medical education. There are programs offered throughout the year.

“Many university students describe an Orphanage Outreach trip as a life-changing experience,” Linck says. “It’s a great opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of many people, while at the same time learning more than you would have imagined.”

During the Winter Program, from Dec. 13, 2008 – Jan. 31, 2009, students will be involved in providing learning camps for kids, celebrating the holidays, teaching in the classroom, and participating on work projects.

Education is a huge need in the Dominican Republic; and it is Orphanage Outreach’s primary volunteer focus.

During the school year teaching opportunities range from teaching English to 5th-7th graders, teaching public health classes, teaching basic literacy, physical education, and even doing pre-school education. When volunteering during the summer, you might be teaching in learning camps—focusing on English and literacy, but also arts and crafts, music, physical education, etc.

Additionally, Volunteering with Orphanage Outreach in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic is a great opportunity for students to practice and expand their Spanish. Few people in Monte Cristi speak English, giving volunteers the chance for language practice: teaching in the classroom, translating for other teachers, translating for health education teams and health clinics, talking with the children at the orphanage and in the schools, etc.

Program fees are $800 per person. Additionally, there are scholarships or credits offered. In that case, a group of ten or more would generally pay $500 a person. The money raised supports the volunteers with food and transportation, and also supports the basic necessities of the children at the orphanage and the other programs in the local community. It is encouraged that students fundraise the money.