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The experience of living and learning within an “unfamiliar culture” will expand a student’s sense of agency, provide greater confidence to bridge any divide, and will demand a critical assessment of self and the means by which one views the world’s problems—making the home stay experiences an essential part of this program.

Where will I live?

Students stay in villages and homes where most foreigners rarely have a chance to visit, let alone have the opportunity to enter. Not only are they entering these homes but are welcomed and treated as one of the family members. Since students are in the country for 12 weeks, we have set it up so that students will experience life in a rural area as well as life in an urban center, living for six weeks in a small town, within the province of Las Hermanas Mirabal, a historically and culturally rich province, home to the Mirabal sisters, celebrated world-wide, on November 25, as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The province is proud of the role that these three women played in their history; it’s seen and felt throughout the three towns where students will be hosted, in Salcedo, Villa Tapia or Tenares. At the same time, this area is considered to be an agriculturally rich area, the bread-basket of the DR producing cocoa (used to make chocolate), yucca, plantains, bananas, sugar cane, rice and coffee.

In addition, to the urban center, students will spend six weeks in a small mountain village, providing a very different experience from their stay in the small urban setting. In the rural mountain village conditions are more rustic, with some families cooking over an open fire, while all use mosquito nets and in some houses when the electricity goes out (which happens daily), families use lanterns.

The families, in this area, that are hosting students would never have thought to open their homes to foreigners but because of the relationships that we have forged over the years and because of the community development projects, they have offered to host students. In short, the families, in both the small towns and mountain villages are generous, open and have a richness of spirit and giving that has no price.

Most of the families have children and for those learning Spanish, they are some of the best teachers. The family stay by itself provides an authentic experience, allowing students to be fully immersed in the culture and village.

The following slide show has pictures of the area where the Transcending Borders program is located.

Will I live near other students/staff?

Students will be grouped together in the same rural village and urban center. In the rural village there is anywhere between 40 to 80 households, making it so that all students will live within a short walking distance to at least one (or several) other students in the program and then within 5-10 minutes traveling on the back of a small motor-concho. At the same time, the Transcending Borders staff will be within 5-15 minutes to each student. If for any reason, students would like to make a housing request, please contact us.

What is the main form of transportation?

In the rural areas, most people travel by small motor-conchos. Because of the amount of time you will be riding on the back of motor-conchos, i.e., to community projects, to class or to visit other students and/or friends, we are asking that all students bring a motorcycle helmet from the States. Helmets can be purchased any where from $35-$100 from this website www.jafrum.com/Motorcycle-Helmets.

On weekends, travel to other parts of the country, will be with public transportation, most likely on a large, air-conditioned bus, known as Caribe Tours. Further travel information and directions to these destinations will be shared with students upon arriving to the DR.

Health and Safety

Student health and safety is one of our top priorities. The following are some important steps that we have taken towards meeting this priority:

1) Transcending Borders purchases health insurance on the student’s behalf. The cost is included in the program fees, which includes comprehensive international health insurance, administered by Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). The CISI policy is designed to supplement private insurance by providing additional coverage for the cost of accidents and routine sicknesses while abroad.

A complete description of the benefits and provisions of the CISI insurance policy, including dates of coverage, benefits, the claim process and contact information is included with the participant acceptance materials.

2) Upon arriving to the Dominican Republic, all students will receive a comprehensive, mandatory on-site orientation. This orientation provides students with a general introduction to the country, city, and program as well as important health and safety information, ranging from ranging from emergency contact numbers, insurance, course schedule, cultural information, and much more. This on-site information builds upon the pre-departure resources students receive, including the Student Handbook (sent to all students and parents before the program) that details health and safety recommendations, pre-departure tips, and general travel advice.

3) Before departure, all students need to obtain the appropriate immunizations and medications as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and/or your physician. If you or your student has any questions regarding medical matters, you should consult your doctor.

If taking any prescription medication, you need to bring a sufficient supply to last through the duration of the program. Medicine that is mailed may be stopped and searched or seized by customs officials. Always carry prescription drugs in the original container with a prescription label showing the student’s name, the instructions for use, and the name and dosage of the medication.

If you wear disposable contact lenses, bring enough to last the entire stay. If you wear glasses, consider bringing an extra pair or carrying the prescription for your contact lenses and/or glasses.

4) Transcending Borders has on-site support for all aspects of the program. The Country Director has enthusiasm for working with students and a vast knowledge of the local culture. In addition the Director, together with local staff make the housing arrangements for students, oversees the academic aspect of the program, and student involvement in community projects. In addition, on-site staff will provide general 24-hour support (for emergencies).

5) All students are provided with on-site emergency contact information prior to their departure and are encouraged to share this information with their family members. Please limit the use of the on-site contact numbers to emergency situations. Students should ensure Transcending Borders has their emergency contact email address and phone numbers on file.

6) In the end, students are ultimately responsible for their own behavior and adhering to the Transcending Borders Code of Conduct will help ensure their health and safety. All students are provided a Student Handbook that outlines the Code.