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Voluntourist Trend:
Padres and UC San Diego Offer
Volunteer Vacations to Dominican Republic

July 19, 2010

By Henry DeVries

Photo of DrEricson

In response to a growing trend that combines travel with volunteering, UC San Diego Extension and the San Diego Padres have teamed up to provide voluntourists with a productive, safe experience in the Dominican Republic.

UC San Diego Extension will lead two volunteer trips with accommodations at the Padres training facility in the Dominican Republic on August 7-14 and October 24-31, 2010. For more information visit www.extension.ucsd.edu/cgvs.

“More and more people in all stages of life are becoming global voluntourists," says Emily Loui, manager of the Center for Global Volunteer Service at UC San Diego Extension. "People are looking to volunteer their time in meaningful ways that make contributions to people in regions other than their own, and younger people are especially eager to make voluntourism part of their lifestyle.”

The Padres Dominican Republic Baseball Park in Najayo, San Cristobal is about one hour from the capital in Santo Domingo. Opened in 2008, the $8 million, 15-acre compound houses the ball club’s international baseball academy and serves as the hub for the organization’s Latin American baseball operations.

The UC San Diego/Padres partnership provides community service to the seven local schools in the Najayo region. Volunteers on the inaugural trip this past March distributed hygiene kits and gave English lessons to elementary and middle school children. Similar activities are planned for August and October, including staging a class photo day for the children

“To get to our volunteer projects, we walk like the locals,” says Loui. “It is a 25-minute walk from the Padres facility to the schools. We want to provide an authentic experience, so if it rains we still walk despite the rain.”

Padres executives say their training facility is as nice as most big league clubs’ spring training complexes. The accommodations can be likened to those at a boarding school, complete with dormitories, a dining hall, game rooms, gym and a computer lab with wireless Internet. Program fees include accommodations, meals, transportation, baseball games, materials for the projects, insurance and donations to the schools. The cost is $900 and UC San Diego students receive a $400 discount. Airfare, which generally costs around $600, is extra.

The vacation volunteers on the trips eat all meals in the Padres cafeteria. Typical meals include menu items like eggs, pancakes, chicken, beef, rice and pasta.

The Caribbean island of Hispaniola, of which the Dominican Republic forms the eastern two-thirds and Haiti the remainder, welcomed Christopher Columbus on his first voyage in 1492. According to the U.S. Department of State, relations with the Dominican Republic are excellent, and the U.S. has been an outspoken supporter of that country's democratic and economic development. The country's standing as the largest Caribbean economy, second-largest country in terms of population and land mass, with large bilateral trade with the United States, and its proximity to the United States and other smaller Caribbean nations make the Dominican Republic an important partner in hemispheric affairs.

Media Contact:
Henry DeVries at hdevries@ucsd.edu or 858-534-9955 or 619-540-3031

 


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