As outlined here, there are 7 basic steps that go into planning a group trip through one of CSA's International Exchange programs. For more detailed instructions for Leaders, please see our Resources for Group Leaders.
Steps in Planning a Trip:
Take a look through the International Exchange section of our website. We have a wide variety of programs depending on your interests and goals. Want to spend your spring break hanging out with kids? Take a look at the Volunteer Service for University Groups. Want to get your hands dirty putting into action life-saving public health initiatives? Check out the Academic Service Learning: Public Health. Want to really challenge your Spanish and learn from native speakers, consider Spanish Immersion. If you don’t see a program that matches your group’s specific needs or interests, contact us, and we’ll try to work together to develop a specialized program which does.
Decide what dates would allow for the most people to come down as part of your team. Then send us a message so we can check our calendar for availability. We ask that our groups plan to arrive on a Sunday and depart on a Saturday.
Recruiting team members for your trip simply means getting the word out to friends, co-workers, classmates who have a desire to learn and a passion for making a difference in the world. You can find a variety of specific strategies outlined in our Leader Guide.
Part of recruiting team members is putting together your ‘go-to’ team, 3 or 4 people who want to take a more active leadership role in helping to plan and bring together all the details. They will help you do in recruiting, fundraising, handle administrative details, and prepare your service project. Having a small group of people supporting you is critical for the success of your trip.
With your ‘go-to’ leadership team, decide what your group’s fundraising goals will be. Some groups simply make each team member responsible individually for covering the cost of their tuition, while other groups choose to do fundraising activities. Setting goals and coming up with an action plan helps to visualize the steps needed. For help in fundraising, check out our Fundraising guide. And always keeping your end goal in mind: exploring the beautiful Dominican Republic while putting to use your skills and abilities for the local people.
The degree of preparation will depend on your exact service project. The CSA team will guide you to know exactly what your team should work on before arrival in the DR. Some examples are preparing materials for workshops to youth or women, developing activities for a children’s summer program, while or collecting medications for a health focused project. We ask that all groups consider bringing down basic donations for the local communities supported by CSA. You can find a list of suggested donations in the Packing List section.
Arrive in the Dominican Republic ready for an experience that will transform the way you think about the world. CSA will take care of all the details for your trip as listed in your program calendar: from meeting you off the plan at the airport, all housing, food, transportation, classes or lectures, recreational activities, the organization of your service project, to dropping off at the airport for the flight home – that’s all included in your program tuition. We want you to be able to focus on soaking as much of the Dominican culture as possible without having to worry about logistics.
Come prepared to be challenged, to grow beyond your comfort zone, to make new friendships, and to find yourself a different person than when you left home.
Once you get back home from your time in the Dominican Republic, it’s important that you share your story. First, with the people – friends and family – who supported you in coming, especially if they helped you financially. Take the time to write them a note, telling them what the trip meant to you, and share a few pictures.
Then, share with your wider circle of influence. Write a short story for your school newspaper, local news station, etc. The goal is to empower other people to get involved; either supporting the same communities you worked with in the DR, or in their own local community. Your story is inspiring, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to continue creating a positive impact even back home.
To read the stories of other volunteers and students, check out CSA in the News.