Dive into La Vie Francaise on the island of Marie-Galante. Build needed community projects, dig in at an organic farming co-op, clear trails and volunteer with local kids. Learn island traditions, such as natural indigo dyeing, cane syrup-making and Gwoka drumming—all while improving your French.
For 2019, Guadeloupe is offered as a custom program only and available to schools, clubs, or groups of any age interested in the spirit of community service and adventurous travel.
While most people in Guadeloupe live humbly, they experience neither dire poverty nor grossly inadequate public services as in many other Caribbean nations. You can be assured, however, that your service is real and appreciated, filling gaps and meeting needs identified by community partners. VISIONS teens have built park pavilions, school additions, footbridges, beach shelters, picnic tables and renovated playgrounds. You might also install fencing, work with animals and generally get dirty on an organic farming cooperative, and help teach English or arts and crafts at a local day camp. Doing all this in French increases the challenge and your sense of accomplishment.
More important than the tangible results of your community service will be your cross-cultural learning and new friendships with the people of Marie-Galante. In our increasingly globalized world, one way to serve is to develop relationships across country, culture and class divides. This is a key objective of our work in Guadeloupe.
VISIONS has worked in Guadeloupe since 1996, offering a true French language immersion experience. You will be based on Marie-Galante, where the charming, unhurried ways of Guadeloupe are ours to savor. Guadeloupeans are sociable and you will find our hosts eager to connect and share a way of life that is centered on relationships and spending time with friends. You will practice your French in conversations with neighbors, project partners and local friends who join us (or lead us) in many of our activities. In pairs, you’ll experience day-to-day life up close during short stays with local families, who also are guests for dinners at our homebase. Marie France, our dinner cook, is an outgoing woman who runs a local restaurant and whose passion is making people happy with her terrific meals. We spend a lot of time with local kids and teens, working on language skills—English for them and French for us—an effort fueled by the desire to build friendships, many of which endure long after the program is over.
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The month I spent in the overseas region of France called Guadeloupe was arguably one of the greatest months of my life. The 27 day program provided an incredible amount of insight and fulfillment, particularly as we worked with the community of Capesterre on the smaller island of Marie-Galante. This service adventure sent me outside of my comfort zone, allowing me to truly face (and overcome) the challenges that life sets before me. I was afraid of speaking French at first, but the environment created both by my peers and by the VISIONS staff allowed me to become much more proficient in the language and have fun with it. Spending a month with 23 other kids that I had never met before was incredible - I felt like I was able to get to know everyone on a very personal level, as everyone was completely on their own to be themselves; everyone without influence from their friends or their technology - just the real person for everything that they are. For me, half of the trip was focused on being able to connect with and serve the community of the island, while the other half of the trip was (as I said before) getting to know so many different and unique people in such a unique and different place. Beyond that, the six VISIONS staff members that were with us respectfully maintained a position of authority while simultaneously providing us with the opportunity to be friendly and amicable - each and every staff members went above and beyond the "call of duty" for this type of trip and worked their hardest to make it a bettering experience for all of us. I've committed myself to returning to Guadeloupe one day, but I know for a fact it won't be the same without the incredible people and program that I shared the experience with the first time.
I had an incredible experience with VISIONS over the summer. I went to a small region of France called Guadeloupe, and lived with 23 other teens for a month. We all got to know each other really well, and I made long-lasting friends. The time we had I think can be called "life changing." We got a chance to fix up schools for the local french kids, and we taught english classes to them. It is so amazing that feeling you get when you know you've changed a person't life, or helped them in some way. Working with the local kids made me feel that way every day, and I would give anything to have that feeling again, which is why I'm going to try to continue doing community service at home. However this trip was not all just about working, we also got chances to go the the beach and go snorkeling, hiking, and all sorts of other activities on the island. I had so much fun on this trip, and would definitely recommend it to other teens.
I had an incredible experience with VISIONS and would recommend their program to anyone. It was the perfect balance of volunteer work and fun, and we became very closely connected to the community. We painted, constructed, taught, and did other odd jobs that culminated in a sincere feeling of accomplishment by the time we left this tiny island. The "French Immersion" in the title should not scare anyone; you speak the amount of French that you can and your friends/leaders will fill in for you, and you will learn as much French as you put into it. Over the course my monthlong trip this summer, I became unpredictably close with everyone, especially people I would never have befriended had I met them in day to day life. It's been a few months since we left, but my friends and I still talk and a few of us have met up since the trip. I guarantee that anyone who goes on this trip will come back with countless stories of adventures and a renewed sense of meaning in their life.