Student Life
The Esperanza Project
The Esperenza Project - Dominican Republic
The Esperanza Project is a small program run by founders and directors, Anthony and Fiona Austin who created the organization in 2009, out of a perceived need to provide a much needed educational and extra-curricular program in the town of Cabrera. 
The Esperanza Project runs a school programming through the academic year and a camp program through the summer months for youth in the community. 


Number of students placed here

Partnership was established


Dominican Republic


2010 - Present



Esperenza project believes in giving children and teens an opportunity to explore, create, and inspire, whilst empowering them to grow academically and socially, in a safe, supportive, hands-on learning environment. 

Student Experience

What did you take away as being the most valuable aspects of having participated in Beyond Borders? What aspects of this experience were most impactful, and why? 


“This experience has taught me a lot about myself. It helped to solidify my need for volunteer work with kids in my life. It helped me come to better terms with what I didn't want to do post grad. And it really helped to remind me to prioritize the important things in my life.  I have a tendency to do a lot of things and coming back from this experience really helped me realize that I need to make time for the important things in my life including volunteer work and physical activity. It is really hard to put into the words the things that I have learned as a result of this program. I will never forget the people I have met, the relationships I have built and the lessons I have learned as a result of the program.” 


“Words cannot describe how the experience changed me. It taught me so much about what is important in life, things like family, friends and faith. I learned to look at time differently now, things that appeared so important before I left, mean nothing in comparison to how I saw them when I returned.” 


What would you like to say to a prospective student considering the Beyond Borders program? 


“International service learning experiences are so important because they expand your whole worldview. Your home is no longer just in one place, but in many different places with many different people to call family. You get to learn more about yourself and the new culture you are surrounded by, and use gifts and talents you may not have known existed.” 


“I think experiences like these are so important for individual growth and learning. Although you travel with another person, you are challenged on an individual level. You are able to grow and learn from amazing people, people who have much more difficult circumstances than you can ever imagine, yet you would never know.  I think experiences like these allow you to grow without the pressures that exist here at home. You can become whoever you want to be and not have to worry about what other people think. This experience allows you the freedom to learn about the world without restrictions.” 


What was your journey like overall? 


“The Esperanza Project is a school and summer camp that provides a curriculum for students from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and teaches them English, allows them to develop skills and to try extracurriculars they may not have had the opportunity to try otherwise. Life is not about getting and having; it is about giving and being at Camp Esperanza.” 


“During my placement I helped teach Geography, English and a reading group. On Wednesday afternoon we run clubs, so my partner Allison and I did a yoga/ Zumba club. I also worked at a Puentes which a local preschool. We helped organize the year end concerts and prom. Then we had 3 weeks of setting up for camp which was mostly manual labour. Followed by 8 weeks of being a camp counsellor, working 4 weeks on court sports and 4 weeks on field sports.” 



Students will collaborate with their community partner upon arrival to outline their roles and responsibilities as a volunteer. Partners will introduce students to their organization and the variety of projects for students to participate in. Likewise, students will share their own skills and passions with the community partner in these first weeks. This process of mutual sharing and learning leads to co-developing projects, self-guided learning, and mentorship, such that all parties get the most out of this new relationship. What students work on at organizations changes year to year and depends on the student’s interests. Placement tasks could fall under any of the following categories: 

  • Education support 
  • Community outreach 
  • Child and youth programming 
  • Physical education  
Additional Information

The directors, Anthony and Fiona Austin hold certifications in regular elementary education, special education, and English as a second language education. They also have several years of summer camp experience, both as counsellors themselves and later with directorial positions.   

The Esperanza Project runs a school programming through the academic year and a camp program through the summer months for youth in the community.