Do we have to be able to speak Spanish?
No, Spanish skills are not necessary, but we do need some fluent Spanish speakers at each site. You may wish that you could converse with the local residents and people you meet. If you are able, we recommend learning some conversational Spanish for your own personal benefit.

Can I participate if I am not affiliated with Yale?
Absolutely! We encourage family and friends to participate in the Service Trip. All helping hands are welcome. Please note that children must be at least 7 years old to participate, and all participants under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

When do I need to arrive in the Dominican Republic?
Participants should arrive in Santo Domingo before 2:00pm on Saturday, March 12, 2010. We will then board buses and travel to San Juan de la Maguana (expected arrival time is 5:00pm). After checking in to Hotel Libano, we will have cocktails, introductions, and dinner on the roof of the hotel.

Can we attend a portion of the tour, either arriving late or leaving early? 
No, we work as a family of volunteers-members of a team who will share different responsibilities and project assignments. We will have work teams for all of the projects, and teamwork means all hands on deck! You can certainly travel to Santo Domingo early or stay longer on your own, if you’d like.

I would like to travel to the Dominican Republic with other members of the Yale group. Is there a group flight to the Dominican Republic?
The program fee does not include international air arrangements so there is no group flight option. 

Will there be financial assistance available for this Service Trip?
It is possible that there will be some funding for partial scholarships primarily for Yale alumni and current Yale students. As we are dependent upon the generosity of paying participants for scholarship funding, there will not be any information about scholarships until mid to late January. We will then notify any scholarship applicants (as noted on the application) if there are funds available and what information they need to provide to be considered for funding. Please be aware that available funding will be extremely limited. Please do not send e-mail requests for funding to us as we cannot record the information at this time.

We encourage those of you who can to contribute to the Service Trip Scholarship Fund! Scholarship gifts are fully tax-deductible and enable talented alumni from diverse backgrounds to participate, enhancing the experience for everyone.

What will the weather be like?
The weather of the Dominican Republic is basically tropical with lots of sunshine to enjoy the sand and sea. It has an average temperature of 77 degrees all year round. The temperature reaches around 89 to 95 degrees during the summer season, and in the winter months the temperature varies from 75 to 90 degrees. March typically provides pleasant warm temperatures in a marginally higher range from 71F (22C) to about 83F (28.5C). We recommend, however, that you be prepared for cooler weather in the evening.

What will we wear?
Comfortable work clothes. You will be working at community centers and project sites in impoverished communities, often outdoors. All excursions and group activities will be casual. There is no need for a coat and tie unless you’d like to dress up at your discretion. You may want to bring one nicer outfit for the farewell dinner, but formal attire is not necessary. You should bring a swimsuit if you choose to swim during the trip.

What will accommodations be like?
We will be staying at the Hotel Libano, which is located in the central part of San Juan. This is the same hotel that housed the group who participated in the 2008 trip to the DR. Accommodations are basic but quite clean and adequate. The hotel is within walking distance to the city’s center.

I have specialized skills that may be valuable to the service projects and I’d like to be involved in the project development. How can I do that? 
You will be asked for this information in the registration page. We will then work with a committee of specialized alumni volunteers who provide expertise to help shape our service projects. If you have additional questions for now, please contact Joao Aleixo at (203) 432-1054 or write to joao.aleixo@yale.edu

What about medical emergencies?
We apologize for the error but please note that previous information reported in this section was incorrect. There is no insurance coverage provided by Yale or any other entity responsible for this trip. We recommend that each volunteer look into getting medical and travel insurance to cover this trip. Sometimes the site that you book your airfare through may offer this additional insurance or your current medical insurance company may cover some overseas care or offer additional supplemental insurance. Credit cards, in particular American Express, sometimes provide insurance if the card is used to charge the expense (as well as airline or current insurance). We encourage you to look into this since Yale cannot assume any responsibility for travel issues or medical emergencies or care costs.

Can you provide information about travel insurance?
The Yale Alumni Service Corps strongly urges every tour participant to consider the purchase of trip cancellation and interruption insurance. While YASC and AYA are not able to give advice regarding travel insurance, we can provide information that we hope each traveler will consider carefully in deciding what to do about insurance.

Neither YASC nor AYA carries insurance that offers financial protection to travelers for cancellation of any or all of the trip for any reason.

Should you decide to purchase insurance, you must choose what level of coverage you wish to obtain. Basic travel insurance is generally offered at several levels that protect a traveler from loss in the event that a traveler withdraws from a trip because of circumstances in the traveler’s personal life. Basic travel insurance also typically offers some level of protection in case of trip cancellations, trip delays or lost luggage.

However, basic travel insurance does not offer any protection in the event a tour is canceled by force majeure or other, similar events. That level of coverage is offered by some insurers under the heading of Cancel for Any Reason Coverage (CFAR) and is more expensive than basic travel insurance. It may be offered as a separate package or as an upgrade option for some basic plans. There are restrictions on CFAR coverage with respect to when it must be purchased, what level of coverage the traveler must buy and who is eligible to purchase it.

Many carriers offer travel insurance. Here is the contact information for two carriers offering travel insurance and CFAR:

Travelex Insurance
800 228 9792

Travel Insured
800 243 3174

We strongly recommend that tour participants consult an insurance company or visit the websites of either or both of these companies to come to an informed decision as to whether or not to purchase trip cancellation and interruption coverage and the appropriate level of coverage.

What if I have to cancel my participation unexpectedly? 
Please be aware that after the December 1 registration deadline, the initial program deposit is non-refundable. Following the final January 12 payment deadline, all Service Trip program fees are non-refundable. We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance, which would cover your expenses resulting from cancellation due to illness or accident. We are happy to send you a brochure from Travel Insurance Services, or you may obtain coverage through the company of your choice.

What if my questions are not answered here? 
We’ll be delighted to address your particular questions and concerns. For more information, please contact Joao Aleixo, Service Tour Coordinator, at (203) 432-1054, or via e-mail atjoao.aleixo@yale.edu

See you in Santo Domingo!