Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

Service & Leadership

Apply by 5/1 and get $400 off!
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Information for term Service & Leadership

Application deadline, and cost information.

Application Deadline

May 1, 2020

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: May 1, 2020
  • Dates: Aug 24 – Dec 8, 2020 (15 weeks)

Application Deadline

May 1, 2020

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: May 1, 2020
  • Dates: Aug 24, 2020 – Apr 10, 2021 (33 weeks)


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Improve your Spanish in a colorful, vibrant atmosphere while you help with community challenges.

Put your Spanish skills to good use and connect with local communities in need. After a first month of intensive Spanish language training adapted to your level and Teaching English as a Foreign Language course, immerse yourself in a new cultural reality and learn through service.

Throughout your stay you'll have the opportunity to get involved with up to two different NGOs, programs, or schools, including:

  • Rosa Orphanage: Help organize activities and guided play at this orphanage for children with disabilities.
  • Dominico Americano: Serve as a teaching assistant at this prestigious English institute.
  • Ciudad Santa Maria School: Volunteer as a teaching assistant and tutor for English language classes
  • Acción Callejera: Assist and support in educational activities such as tutoring, arts, and sports workshops for children and teens that come from at-risk home situations.

You'll live with a friendly homestay and practice your Spanish as you prepare and share traditional meals, shop, relax, and learn local customs by joining in their daily routines. In your free time, you’ll have your choice of local activities – hang out with new friends, play dominoes in the park, catch a local baseball game, or enjoy delicious snacks like tostones and empanadas on the go!

Weekends will offer plenty of time for sightseeing and organized excursions to see the many historic and natural treasures the Dominican Republic has to offer.

The Take-Aways

  • Service

    At least 18 hours a week of volunteer service in your choice of organization and theme

  • Leadership

    Improved leadership skills and empathy through serving others

  • Certificate

    A Certificate of Completion

  • of alumni said their language skills improved

  • said they learned to interact with different cultural backgrounds

  • said their level of independence increased


Location & Culture

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Santiago offers vibrant culture with a wealth of historical landmarks

One of the oldest settlements in Spain’s New World empire, Santiago de los Caballeros, or Santiago for short, is the Dominican Republic’s second-largest city and the Caribbean’s fourth largest. But compared to many other cities around the world, it is small. It’s friendly, easy to navigate, and full of cultural attractions and things to do.

With very few English speakers, Santiago is not considered a tourist city. Even so, you’ll find a number of museums and historic buildings dating back to Spanish colonial times. Dominican country music, bachata, comes from Santiago, and the local culture is well-preserved and celebrated here.

During your time in Santiago, you’ll want to visit sites like the Catedral Santiago Apóstol, the Gran Teatro del Cibao, and the Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration, which towers over the city and offers beautiful views.


Daily Life

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Daily Life

"After my trip with CIEE I have definitely grown in ways I never could if I had stayed in the US."

Learn more about daily life on a high school study abroad program by reading our blog.


  • Housing

    Private bedroom in home of carefully screened homestay.

  • Local Support

    CIEE resident staff available 24/7.

Program Blogs

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Program Blogs


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Sample Activities

Your program fee covers fun cultural activities:

  • Go horseback riding and take a nature walking tour down Rancho Baiguate during your orientation.
  • Explore the markets and main sights in downtown Santiago, such as El Monumento (a monument built in 1944), San Luis Fort, and el Centro León, which showcases vibrant Dominican art.
  • Shop along the lively Calle del Sol. Hunt for bargains and colorful fashions, and visit the artisan shops of Mercado Modelo for a variety of authentic handicrafts.
  • Visit a baseball field/stadium and play a pickup game with the locals!

Your program fee also includes at least two day trips, two multiday excursions, and two multiday service retreats hosted by CIEE staff per semester, so you’ll get the chance to take in the diverse sights and sounds of several Dominican hot spots.

Montecristi and Dajabón day trip

Take a day trip to the northwestern border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where you’ll visit the Dajabón market – the most important binational market in the Dominican Republic. You’ll also get the chance to swim at El Morro beach, and learn about issues around Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic with the NGO Solidaridad Fronteriza.

Hermanas Mirabal and Salcedo day trip

On this day trip, you’ll visit the Ojo de Agua – birthplace of the Mirabal sisters, four Dominican sisters who fought against the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. You’ll learn about the movements against Trujillo, and the cultural and political changes triggered by them


Spend a day visiting the Dominican Republic's bustling capital city, the first city in the Americas. You will visit a colonial era sugar mill to learn about history of slavery and syncretism on the island, as well as explore the Colonial Zone, a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of colonial history.

Samaná multiday excursion

Hit the road for a three-day excursion to the most beautiful peninsula in the Dominican Republic. You’ll participate in activities like a whale watch, water sports, windsurfing, and more, while learning the history of immigration to the Dominican Republic from British and French Islands. Expect a good time at Barrio Willmore, the Limón Waterfall, and of course the beach!

Rio Blanco multiday work retreat

Spend three days with fellow students and faculty helping out at Rio Blanco, a rural village supported continuously by CIEE. Lend a hand to residents as they construct a school and health center. Teach the village’s children to speak English. Help out as farmers harvest cacao and coffee.


Visit another CIEE supported village, Rio Grande. As you spend one or two days with the villagers, you will pitch in wherever help is needed. Whether you’re doing environmental work, mentoring teenagers, or running community center activities, you will experience the life-altering benefits of service work!

Please note this list of activities is based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to both adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when revising itineraries is always to enhance your experience. Every activity is designed to provide you with a deep immersion in your topic, local culture and sights. Get ready for maximum fun!

What People are Saying

  • I am a better Spanish speaker, writer, listener, and reader, and that’s something to be really proud of!! I’ve definitely increased my Spanish confidence, because I’m not so afraid to talk to others in Spanish anymore. And, I can understand the language so much more! Just the other day I was sitting with my homestay and their friend, listening to their conversation…and I actually understood practically everything they were saying!

    Christina C., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna
  • I learned that a happy life is not determined by how much money you have, it’s not determined by how smart or pretty you are, it’s not determined by your success or your job and it’s certainly not determined by how much stuff you have. It’s determined by the relationships and love you have with those around you. And I would not trade that for all the things in the world.

    Christina C., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna.
  • My first few days in this country, I was extremely nervous and a bit scared. I had no idea what to expect, or how I would adjust to living in a completely different culture. I was uncertain as to what my classes would be like. However, after my very first class, all my feelings of doubt and nervousness were gone. Not only did the class have an extremely relaxed, comfortable learning environment, but I felt so welcomed that it gave me the confidence I needed to enjoy myself. I had a feeling of security – that this new, different country wouldn’t be so bad after all!

    Christina C., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna
  • Taking a gap year was the best decision that I could have made before heading off to college. I have come out a more mature, open-minded, culturally aware, and ultimately happier person. I entered college with a sense of accomplishment for already having spent a year in transition, and I find that it is already paying off both socially and academically. If anyone is considering taking a gap year, the answer should be yes!

    Christina C., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna
  • As a result of my gap semester, once I started college, I was able to immediately skip to higher level Spanish courses for my Spanish minor. The Spanish that I learned during my semester abroad allowed me to feel comfortable enough being in higher level language courses and confident enough to pursue a minor in the Spanish language.

    Christina C., CIEE Gap Year Abroad alumna

Eligibility & Fees

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Eligibility & Fees


Fall: Rolling Admissions
Spring: November 1
Contact CIEE for more information


  • High school graduates in good academic standing.
  • Students must demonstrate, through the application and interview process, flexibility and maturity.
  • Students can be 17 years old at the start of the program.
  • 1 year of high school Spanish recommended

Application Fee


You can create a duo program by combining any two CIEE Gap Year Abroad semesters and get 10% off the second semester.

Apply to a Fall Semester or Academic Year term by our 5/1 priority deadline and get $400 off the cost of your program. Apply to a Spring Semester by our September 1 Priority Deadline and get $400 off the cost of your tuition.

Program fee includes iNext travel insurance. Full inclusions are found online.


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Academic Year 2020 33 weeks May 1, 2020 Aug 24, 2020 Apr 10, 2021


Fall 2020 15 weeks May 1, 2020 Aug 24, 2020 Dec 8, 2020


Our Staff

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Ready to change your life?