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: Knights Impact

Knights Impact is an international service-learning program coordinated by the Office of Experiential Learning and the Office of International Programs offering students an affordable, high-impact experiential learning opportunity.

“Our experiences may happen on an individual level, but our impact happens together”
Dominican Republic, May 21-28, 2017

  • The Journey
  • What's Included
  • Impact Activities
  • Cost Breakdown
  • FAQ
  • Video and Photo Gallery
  • Students Information and Application
  • Contact Us

The Journey

an arial scene of a tropcial beach.

On Sunday afternoon, a cohort of MGA faculty, staff, and students will set sail from Miami to the Dominican Republic aboard the intimate 704-passenger Adonia with Fathom Impact Travel. Impact travel, pioneered by partnering tour operator Fathom, is a new approach to travel: it’s travel with a purpose; travel that transforms lives, including your own. Impact travel with Fathom provides the opportunity to build community with like-minded travelers. Moving beyond the norm of “tourists see,” Fathom embraces the mantra that “travelers seek.”

While at sea, we’ll participate in carefully crafted workshops that will introduce you to the destination and encourage self-discovery, curiosity, and critical reflection. After arriving in the Dominican Republic around midday Tuesday, participants will spend three days immersing themselves in the local culture of Puerto Plata while collaborating with local organizations to create enduring social impact.

On Friday, we’ll begin our return to Miami, where you just might find yourself a different person than when you left.

Knights Impact is co-created by:

  • the Office of International Programs, whose goal is to offer an international learning experience to every Middle Georgia State University student through study abroad programs, international partnerships, faculty development, and international student activities.
  • And the Office of Experiential Learning (Experiential Learning@MGA), which strengthens student learning and engagement by facilitating “exploration and application beyond the classroom,” transforming students’ perspective, their career trajectories, and our shared communities through internship, service learning, and undergraduate research opportunities.

map of travel route from Florida to the Dominican Republic

(Adapted from

What's Included

A cruise ship at dock.
  • Impact Travel Activities on the Ground
    The highlight of any Fathom trip is the opportunity to collaborate with local volunteers on important projects that contribute to the sustainable economic, educational, and environmental health of local communities. Three impact activities are included in the price of your trip, and a few require an additional fee to cover supply costs. The budget details can be found under the “Cost Breakdown” tab.
  • On-Board Events
    Aboard the ship, you’ll participate in unique programs and workshops to prepare you for the impact you’ll make once you’re ashore. These workshops will help you prepare for your on-ground experience by offering you tools for authentic interactions and critical reflection while you get to know your fellow travelers. Payment for most onboard programming and events is covered in the price of your trip, while a small number of optional events/activities are offered at an additional fee.
  • Meals
    Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard the ship are included, and you’ll be treated to snacks and water during your impact activities. If you’re feeling adventurous, additional curated dining experiences will be available on board at an additional cost.
  • Accommodation
    Your trip includes a seven-night stay in a comfortable stateroom aboard the Adonia. All base-price rooms feature space for two people. A limited number of these rooms can accommodate up to four travelers.
  • At-Sea Transport
    Your trip includes round-trip travel by ship between Miami and the port of Amber Cove in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Transportation to the Port of Miami is not included.
  • Ground Transport
    We’ll provide ground transportation to and from all of your impact activities in the Dominican Republic. Transport for leisure activities throughout Puerto Plata may be at your own expense.

Impact Activities

On Tuesday around midday, the Adonia will dock at the port of Amber Cove, near the city of Puerto Plata. Here, in the nearby villages, is where you’ll put your skills, your passions, and your shipboard orientation and training to good use. Over four days you’ll immerse yourself in the culture by joining the locals in impact activities that support the environmental, educational and economic health of their communities. Ready to have fun? Explore the landscape, relax in the Cove, and chart your own adventure. Impact activities include:


  • Student English Conversation and Learning
    Nationally, young Dominicans face considerable obstacles to academic success. One of the skills in demand by local employers is basic English.
  • Community English Conversation and Learning
    With the increased demand for bilingual speakers in the growing tourism industry in the Dominican Republic, there’s also a great need for programs that support adult English learning.
  • Creative Arts, Music, and Sports
    Fathom’s commitment to helping make learning fun doesn’t end when school lets out for the summer. As a Fathom traveler, you can be part of an innovative summer program designed to develop creativity, athletic ability, and life skills in a safe and fun environment.


  • Water Filter Production
    The water crisis is a reality that plagues the entire world. In the Dominican Republic alone, more than three million people have no access to piped water.
  • Reforestation and Nursery
    Fathom travelers participate in local reforestation efforts designed to improve the livelihoods of Dominican families, restore degraded land, and contribute to forest and wildlife conservation throughout the region.

Economic Development

  • Cacao and Women’s Chocalate Cooperative
    The poorest half of the Dominican Republic’s population receives less than one-fifth of the country’s annual GDP. But the economic opportunities are there. And so is the willingness to take advantage of them.
  • Recycled Paper and Crafts Entrepreneurship
    Another group of enterprising Dominican women have formed an association to create and sell arts and crafts from locally recycled paper.

Special Opportunities

  • Concrete Floors in Community Homes
    As a Fathom traveler, you’ll have the opportunity to help improve the lives and health of the Dominican people from the ground up--literally.

Impact: Partner Organizations
Fathom’s lead impact partners, Entrena and IDDI, have strong community connections in the northern Dominican Republic. Their deep roots and long experience provide us with a greater understanding of the specific needs of the local communities, and their well-established programs form the foundation that allows us to help address those needs in the most meaningful way.

(Adapted from

Cost Breakdown

people zip lining over a resort

All students are responsible for reading and understanding this cost breakdown and the explanation of shipboard charges. Please ask questions of the program directors if you are unsure of anything.

Base cabin prices

  • Interior Cabin - Double Occupancy $299
  • Interior Cabin - Single Occupancy $449
  • Outside Cabin - Double Occupancy $449
  • Outside Cabin - Single Occupancy $674

Charged at time of booking: (Priority Deadline Feb 20th)

  • Base cabin price as above
  • Taxes, fee, and port charges $133.63

Charged at time of purchase/ Reconciled Saturday, May 27:

  • Required gratuities $80.50
  • Impact activities and cultural excursions (approximately) $100 : $70 group excursion and $30 impact activity requiring fee
  • Personal/discretionary expenses on ship, if any (wi-fi, excursions, beverages, souvenirs, rentals, spa services, etc.).

Shipboard charges:
At boarding, you must present a credit or debit card in your own name. The staff will place a $100 hold on that card. Any purchases you make on the ship (drinks, excursions, rentals, souvenirs, wi-fi, etc.) will be subtracted from that $100. Fathom will place an additional $100 hold if your account drops below $40.

Your ship card, cabin number, and signature are used to confirm all purchases, and you can request a statement from the reception desk at any time.

Note that you are not required to buy anything on board the ship.

Expenses in port and on excursions:
Shops and cafes in Amber Cove and on excursions accept U.S. dollars. You can withdraw cash from your ship account (deducted from your card as described above) with no exchange or service fee. There is an ATM in Amber Cove for Dominican pesos. You will incur international transaction fees and ATM fees at this ATM--please check with your bank for specifics.

Service Learning Grants:
The Office of Experiential Learning will offer a limited number of service-learning grants (based on eligibility and on availability of funds) to defray the cost of participation. The grant details and application may be found here and should be submitted to


Impact Travel

What is impact travel?
Impact travel is a new category of travel that provides the opportunity to build community with like-minded travelers, become immersed in another culture, and work alongside its people to create enduring social impact.

Why is it important?
Travel can make a difference for good. Many people long to make a difference in the world and within themselves, but have no idea where to begin. Globally, great things are happening to address some of the social and environmental needs in the world, but there is far more to be done. This program exists to connect people’s passions and gifts with the needs in the world, and to help them navigate this complex journey. It exists to create meaningful social impact, and to unleash the greatness in every person.

What kind of impact activities can I participate in?
Impact activities include a range of projects focused on education, environment, and economic development. Depending on your passions and skills, you’ll be able to spend 3 days working alongside locals and our partner organizations on the causes you really care about.

Will I have time to do other things besides impact activities?
Yes. You will participate in cultural activities with your cohort but will also have time to explore Puerto Plata, hike the coastline, or enjoy many traditional shore excursions, such as snorkeling, zip-lining or going to the beach.

Is there a set schedule of activities?
Yes. You will set your schedule in consultation with your cohort and program directors. The schedule will incorporate a variety of on-ground and on-board activities each day. Prior to departing you will select your preferred impact activities in the Fathom Journey Planner.

Trip Information

How long is the trip?
The trip spans one week, beginning and ending on Sunday:
Day 0 Board the Adonia and depart the port of Miami in the afternoon
Day 1 Travel day at sea, with impact and community programming onboard
Day 2 Arrive in Amber Cove, Dominican Republic mid-day
Day 3 On Ground in the DR, engaged in impact activities and recreation
Day 4 On Ground in the DR, engaged in impact activities and recreation
Day 5 Morning On Ground in the DR in engaged in impact activities and recreation. Depart Amber Cove early afternoon.
Day 6 Travel day at sea, with impact and community programming onboard
Day 7 Arrive Port of Miami in the morning
Students accepted to the Knights Impact program will receive a detailed daily itinerary in their program guides.

How much does it cost?
Prices for the Dominican Republic program start at $700. The price is based on two people sharing a room and includes:

  • on-ground impact activities and related supplies
  • onboard impact programs
  • daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • a comfortable room for a good night’s sleep
  • taxes, fees, port expenses
  • required gratuities

How do we get to the Dominican Republic?
You will sail from Miami on the Adonia, the smallest and most intimate ship in the P&O Cruises fleet.

How big is the ship?
The Adonia carries 704 passengers.

What is the recommended dress on board the ship and during activities? How do I pack?
The dress is casual, and you can come as you are. Bring warm-weather essentials like lightweight shirts, pants, sunglasses, sunscreen, bathing suit and insect repellent. Some impact activities require closed-toed shoes and pants. Shoulders must be covered when visiting schools. Bring at least one pair of long pants, a shirt that covers shoulders and a pair of shoes you do not mind getting dirty.

What dining options are available on board? Do you need to know if I have allergies?
Dining is comfortable and relaxed on board. Our menus reflect healthy, nourishing, and locally inspired dishes. Please indicate food allergies or requirements and we will help you navigate the available options.


Where does the ship go?
The ship will sail to Amber Cove near Puerto Plata, on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.

Why the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican Republic is a country of great beauty, but also of great need. The average household income in the Dominican Republic is less than $6,000 USD, and over 40% of the population is living under the poverty line. Over 3 million Dominicans do not have access to piped water. However, the country has a strong infrastructure for impact, with several community development organizations that have a long history of success working alongside the community to create programs that result in lasting transformation. Our lead on-ground Dominican impact partners, Entrena and IDDI, have deep roots in the Dominican Republic. Their long-established programs and strong community connections in the northern region of the country enable us to understand the specific needs and come alongside them to address the needs.

How long does it take to get to the Dominican Republic?
Typically the trip at sea will last a bit under 2 days, but the travel time can vary due to weather and ocean conditions.

What is it like in the Dominican Republic?
The northern Dominican Republic is a lush, beautiful area with mountains near the coastline and warm weather throughout the year. The Dominican culture is warm and inviting. While the local economy in the northern region has struggled through the years, there is strong potential and opportunity for growth.

What is the primary language in the Dominican Republic?
The primary language in the Dominican Republic is Spanish.

What if I don’t speak Spanish?
All impact activities were designed with non-Spanish-speaking travelers in mind, meaning that all should be able to participate fully without any Spanish skills whatsoever. We also believe that learning to communicate across language barriers can be an important part of the overall impact experience. However, there will always be bilingual staff accompanying travelers during impact activities.

What currency is used in the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican Republic uses Dominican Pesos throughout the country, and US Dollars in some tourist areas.

Is the Dominican Republic safe?
The Dominican Republic is generally safe for travelers, but we recommend that travelers take standard precautions including not carrying large amounts of cash or valuables. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry, or engaging in other behaviors that could draw undue attention. Fathom staff (both on-ground and in-office) are versed in extensive safety protocols in case any incidents occur. The ship is secured so that only passengers and crew are allowed on board. Access to Amber Cove is limited to cruise passengers and crew, impact guides/tour operators, and Amber Cove employees. You will travel to impact activities on private buses accompanied by security guards.

May I bring items to donate to people in the Dominican Republic?
Our focus is on bringing empowerment to our friends and partners. Giving things is more complicated than you might think, and we want to be mindful of long-term, sustainable development and empowerment. Unfortunately, Fathom and its partners cannot accept material items for donation at this time. Please do not bring items to donate in the DR.

Experiential Learning

What is Experiential Learning@MGA?
Experiential Learning@MGA, Middle Georgia State University’s Quality Enhancement Plan, is focused on enhancing and supporting experiential learning (EL) opportunities by promoting exploration and application beyond the classroom. Through internships, service learning, undergraduate research, and other EL opportunities, students’ learning in the classroom becomes more powerful, facilitates career exploration, and provides a competitive advantage as students enter the workforce. More details can be found at

What type of credit will I receive for my participation?
Students who participate in Knights Impact will qualify for the next eligible honor level under the Experiential Learning@MGA Initiative (i.e. silver, gold, or platinum). Students who have yet to begin the experiential learning program must complete the Bronze Level Module before departure or concurrently with their Knights Impact program in order to qualify for the next experiential learning level. Exemptions for the Bronze Level and details for self-registration in D2L can be found at under the tab Bronze Level Module.

Is participation in the experiential learning element mandatory?
Yes: you and your cohort will engage in a series of scheduled debriefs and reflection activities, along with QEP and program assessments as part of Knights Impact.

Can I receive academic credit for my participation?
Opportunities for independent study credit may exist as part of this program. Students are responsible for coordinating proposals for mutual agreement between the program directors and their academic department chair. Academic credit will not be awarded in retrospect. Proposals require all appropriate course elements (i.e. syllabus, CRN, learning outcomes, and deliverable schedule) along with a narrative outlining the relevance of the destination and service elements of the trip to the course objectives.

What other activities are available on board?
A variety of activities are available on board, ranging from orientation to the Dominican Republic, impact education, impact activity training, personal enrichment and much more.

Is there any cost associated with these on board activities?
The on-board impact activities are included in your base price, along with a wide variety of recreation & entertainment. There are select activities on board that will be available for an additional fee.

On-Ground Activities

What impact activities are available on ground?
Economic Development impact activities include working with local women’s cooperatives to increase product supply and improve their standard of living. You can also gain hands-on experience in making recycled paper and working with locals to create arts and crafts from the recycled paper that can provide critical income.

Education impact activities include the opportunity to work alongside local teachers to improve the English skills and academic performance of their students. You might also work with small groups of local community members to help improve their English skills, which improves their access to employment and higher income levels.

Environmental impact activities include working with local organizations to create and deliver water filters that provide life-enriching potable water to local families. Travelers can participate in reforestation projects, from cultivating seedlings to planting trees in designated protected areas.

How will on-ground activities be scheduled?
A schedule will be created based on your cohort’s indicated areas of interest, current local needs, and availability.

How long does each activity take?
Impact activities may range from a few hours to a full day.

How strenuous are the activities? Are there limitations?
We will provide you an opportunity to let us know about your personal limitations, and we will work to ensure that the activities suit your needs.

Can I participate in impact activities every day?
Yes, there will be a variety of impact activities available each day in port.

Are travelers required to participate in the on-ground activities in the Dominican Republic?
Impact activities will be mandatory for Knights Impact participants. You, your program director, and fellow cohort members will work together to choose your activities.

Are there other activities available besides the impact activities?
Yes, there will be a wide variety of recreation activities and shore excursions for you to enjoy.

Is there an additional cost for these non-impact activities?
Many of the recreation activities will have an additional cost.

Will there be a translator to assist during impact activities?
A bilingual facilitator will be present at all activities. Your Impact Guides will equip you with and encourage you to use basic Spanish skills.

What happens if the weather is bad?
Many activities can take place despite inclement weather. However, alternatives will be planned when needed.

Safety & Security

Is the ship environment safe?
All Fathom and Adonia crew members are extensively trained in precautionary health and safety measures, as well as how to respond in the case of incident. P&O Cruises, the operators of the Adonia, also has exceptional experience in caring for the comfort, health, and safety of their travelers. Finally, all travelers take part in a safety briefing during their first few hours on board to ensure that they are familiar with the ship’s safety procedures and resources.

Do you offer travel insurance (medical and trip interruption)?
The Knights Impact program includes medical insurance. Participating students are encouraged to consider trip interruption coverage.

Samsung Galaxy Note Advisory

Recently, Samsung announced a global “stop sale” and voluntary recall and exchange program on certain Galaxy Note7 smartphones. Such phones, with particular lithium-ion batteries, can overheat and catch fire, posing a burn hazard. As such, please be advised that all guests in possession of a Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone must take the following precautions, pursuant to the safety advisory notice recently issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
* Turn off the device;
* Disconnect the device from any charging equipment;
* Disable all applications that could inadvertently activate the device (e.g., alarm clock);
* Protect the power switch to prevent its unintentional activation; and
* Keep the device on your person or nearby in carry-on baggage. (Do not place in checked baggage.)
Please follow the above precautions while traveling on Adonia, and if possible, please refrain from taking these devices with you on board.


Can you arrange accommodations for me in Miami before or after my trip?
Knights Impact does not arrange accommodations.

Do you offer a program in which individual students can be matched to share a room?
Yes. Program directors will match roommates by gender (as indicated on the program application), or students (same-gender) may request each other as roommates.

If I am traveling by myself and I want my own room, what is the single supplement charge?
The single supplement for the standard outside stateroom is based on a 50% surcharge of the double occupancy rate. For example, if a normal rate is $100, the single rate is $150.

What are the amenities in the staterooms?
Each cabin has a desk, television, radio, telephone, hair dryer, tea and coffee maker, and a safe.

Is smoking permitted on board the Adonia?
Smoking will be allowed in two designated areas on the Lido Deck, as well as on the Promenade Deck.

Before You Go

Is there a fee to change names on a reservation?
Within 150 days of the departure date, there will be a fee of $50 to change one name on a reservation.

Student Groups

Guests under the age of 21 traveling as a part of an organized student/youth group must acknowledge in writing their receipt of Fathom’s Student/Youth Guidelines. Your program director will provide this document after you have applied and been accepted to the program.

Travel Documents

Do I need a tourist visa?
It is the student’s responsibility to identify and bring the required documents. Currently, the Dominican Republic does not require a tourist visa for travelers by ship.

Do I need a passport?
Knights Impact requires that students participating on this program have passports. Fathom highly recommends that all guests carry a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the completion date of your travel. Having a passport will enable you to fly from the U.S. to a foreign port in the event you miss your scheduled embarkation or to fly back to the U.S. if you need to disembark the ship mid-cruise due to an emergency.

Passports are normally surrendered to and held by the pursers on board to facilitate clearances in ports of call. Photocopy the identification page of your passport and pack it separately, in case of loss or damage to the original.

Your name on your passport must be identical to those on your cruise documents. Otherwise, proof of name change (e.g. a marriage license) with a valid driver’s license (or other government issued photo ID) must be presented. Any discrepancies may prevent travel.
Your name on your passport must be identical to those on your cruise documents. Otherwise, proof of name change (e.g. a marriage license) with a valid driver’s license (or other government issued photo ID) must be presented. Any discrepancies may prevent travel.

Health Considerations

What should I do if I have a disability or medical condition?
Please document your medical condition or disability on the application form so that we can communicate the information to Fathom if necessary.

Are there impact activities available for travelers who use a wheelchair or walker?
We can help select and accommodate the best activities for travelers with disabilities. Knights Impact and Fathom do not discriminate against individuals on the basis of disability and will accommodate participants with disabilities to the extent feasible. However, some needs require adequate time to prepare for a traveler’s arrival. Contact your program director as soon as possible to facilitate arrangements.

Travelers who are unable to care for their basic needs (dressing, eating, and attending safety drills) must have a capable traveling companion. The medical staff on board is not available for daily care unless an individual is hospitalized in the ship’s Medical Center. In limited situations (either on board or on shore), Fathom may find it necessary to ask the individual to make alternative travel arrangements, such as if an individual with a disability is unable to satisfy certain specified safety and other criteria, even when provided with appropriate auxiliary aids and services.

I’m pregnant. Can I go on a Fathom trip?
Travelers who will enter the 24th week of pregnancy by the end of the trip will agree not to book the trip or not to participate in the trip.

What is the status of the Zika virus in the Dominican Republic?
On January 15, 2016 the U.S. CDC upgraded their travel notice for Zika virus to Alert Level 2 (practice enhanced precautions). Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and symptoms include fever, headache, red eyes, rash, and joint pain. The illness is usually mild and lasts between 2-7 days. However, the alert specifically references women who are pregnant or who are trying to become pregnant. ( The notice currently only affects specific cruises calling in to certain Caribbean, Central America, and South America countries. However, the situation is evolving so please regularly check the affected areas via the following links: and Guests are reminded to take enhanced precautions against biting insects by covering exposed skin, and using insect repellent. Comprehensive health information can be found at:

Where can I find up-to-date health information on the Dominican Republic?
You will find up-to-date travel information on the CDC Travelers’ Health website, a U.S. government website at
Check this site for details relevant to your destination. Vaccination requirements can change from time to time and there is a risk of malaria in the Dominican Republic. We recommend that you seek advice from your doctor to obtain appropriate advice and vaccinations prior to travel. Make sure your doctor knows that you will be taking part in activities that are based within communities, and that you may be ashore in the evening as the ship will remain alongside at night.

Fathom recommends seasonal influenza vaccination for all passengers. There is currently no requirement for Yellow Fever vaccination.

Mosquito-borne illnesses, including dengue, chikungunya and Zika, are prevalent in the destinations we visit, as with other Caribbean islands. Take enhanced precautions against biting insects by covering exposed skin and using insect repellent. Comprehensive health information can be found at

What type of medical facilities are available aboard the Adonia?
In the unlikely event that you or your traveling companions require emergency medical assistance, the ship has a well-equipped medical center on board, supported by qualified doctors. Our medical center holds the distinction of being one of the first facilities in the industry to be accredited by prestigious UK-based healthcare auditors CHKS, and certified to ISO9001:2008

About Fathom

What is Fathom?
Fathom is the pioneer of impact travel, a new category of travel that provides the opportunity to build community with like-minded travelers, become immersed in another culture, and work alongside its people to create enduring social impact.

What makes Fathom unique?
Our focus on lasting social impact is what makes Fathom unique. Unlike other service-learning trips, Fathom provides an accessible, safe, and high-value experience that leads to enduring positive impact on both travelers and local communities, while still providing a flexible, fun opportunity to recharge.

Does Fathom partner with any local organizations?
Fathom partners with Entrena and the Dominican Institute for Integral Development (IDDI), two local organizations with a long history of working alongside the people of the Dominican Republic to create significant improvements in the areas of education, environment, and economic development.

Is Fathom an independent company?
Fathom travel limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest travel company.

Video and Photo Gallery

Images (click the Knights Impact logo for photo album)

Student Information and Application

Knights Impact May 2017 is not accepting applications at this time. Please contact Prof. Tsavatewa ( or Dr. Thomason ( for more information about the program.

Contact Us

Knight Impact

Program Directors

Impact Ambassadors

For Faculty and Staff:
Knights Impact invites interested faculty and staff to participate in student recruitment and education about this initiative. Depending on student numbers and space availability, faculty and staff may be eligible to join the program as co-directors. Co-directors will organize and supervise the program, facilitate daily meetings and reflection activities, and participate alongside students in shipboard training and on-ground programming. The program offers a complimentary cabin berth for every 9 students recruited; additional space may be available for faculty/staff participants at their own expense.

To serve as an Impact Abassador:

  • Contact Dr. Thomason or Prof. Tsavatewa to indicate your interest
  • Attend the initial interest meetings in Macon or Cochran (schedule TBA)
  • Promote or invite us to promote Knights Impact in your classes and campus events
  • Follow up with students to help with the application and booking process

Keep up with us on Social Media with the hashtag #KnightsImpact

Follow us at

The Office of International Programs

The Office of Experiential Learning

  LAST MODIFIED: 7/20/2017