In 2010, at age sixteen, I served as a volunteer for Amigos de las Americas (AMIGOS) in Azuero, Panama. To say that my volunteer experience in Panama was transformational is an understatement. Words cannot truly depict the complete metamorphosis I underwent during that summer. I became more self confident, improved my public speaking abilities (in both English and Spanish), discovered new passions, and created lifelong friendships and relationships across the Americas. I returned to the United States as a mature young woman with a greater perspective on the world and increased empathy for those living in poverty. This past summer I returned to AMIGOS as a project supervisor in Perez Zeledon, Costa Rica. My time serving on project staff was again a truly transformational. The level of responsibility I was given as a project supervisor allowed me to grow in ways that other non profits and other jobs would never have let me. The high level of collaboration between AMIGOS and our local partner agencies is unparalleled with other non profit agencies of the Global North. Through engaging in real, authentic partnerships AMIGOS is empowering youth from across the Americas to be catalysts for positive social change in their own communities.
I went to Ecuador with Amigos for the first time as a 16-year old for one month. It was the most influential experience of my young adult life. I have been back to Ecuador twice to visit my host family and perform research for my honors thesis in college. I have also once hosted my host sister in my home in Houston.
Becoming a volunteer with Amigos de las Americas was the very best choice I have ever made for myself. My six weeks spent in a rural community called San Isidro in Paraguay changed the way I see myself and my place in the world. AMIGOS does way more than train and send volunteers to work on a community project. AMIGOS inspires life-long leadership, creates an appreciation for all cultures and makes you realize just how much one person can do. I think of my time in San Isidro every single day. I learned a countless number of things this summer and I now know that all I want to do with my life is make an impact and continue learning. If I had one wish, it would be that every single person could be a volunteer with AMIGOS. AMIGOS teaches you things that you could never learn anywhere else. I feel so much pride when I say that I was a volunteer with Amigos de las Americas.
My experience with amigos changed my life. I spent a year training, two months in Barahona, Dominican Republic, and then another year training others.
It is different from any organization in that it implements skills to achieve cultural sensitivity and global citizenship that one carries with them throughout their lives. The consistent mindset of support rather than help and collaboration rather than implementation is what truly sets it apart and empowers youth leaders.
My experience as an AMIGOS volunteer is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I spent 6 weeks in a rural community in Paraguay with two other volunteers. I lived with the most caring host family and worked with the community to build stoves that improved the safety and health of families. I learned that I can connect with anyone, anywhere and I am always going to continue working with this organization.
I volunteered with Amigos when I was 16 years old. I was placed in a tiny town called La Carroza in Guanajuato, Mexico. When I look back on my time as a volunteer I wonder how I was able to do what I did at such a young age. Then I remember it wasn't just me doing it. With the help of my partner, the Amigos staff, my host family, and the citizens of La Carroza we were able to make what was hopefully a long-lasting change. We petitioned the local government for a trash pick-up service to come once a week, helping a town that previously burned or buried their trash. We got durable trash cans which we painted and decorated with local students, who were simultaneously learning about personal and environmental health. Even now when I am faced with a challenge, I look back at my time as a volunteer and think "If I could do that, I can do this." It is so much more than a service trip, it's an organization that builds bridges that change lives on both sides.
I volunteered for 8 weeks in a small community in Paraguay in 2011. I had just finished my sophomore year in high school. No other program offered an opportunity to be as independent in a foreign country and truly get to know the culture without being surrounded by fellow Americans. I loved my time, the people I worked with (both Amigos employees/other volunteers and community members). I built 16 latrines, ran camps for the kids everyday lasting 2-8 hours, fundraised money in the community to buy 3 community trash cans, picked up trash and worked on a photography initiative run by one of the leaders. I had such an amazing time, that I became a trainer the following 2 years helping more students prepare for their amazing adventures. I just moved away and am missing this part of my life so much that I'm looking to get involved with AMIGOS across the country from where I'm from.
Hi! I'm Meg Radunich, and my times as a volunteer with AMIGOS de las AMERICAS was one of the most valuable experiences I had as a young person.
I went as a 17 year-old -- most volunteers are in high school or college -- and found my 8 weeks in Guanajuato to be both challenging and rewarding.
Why you should do AMIGOS!
1. Life-Long Friendships: I still keep in touch with my fellow vols and site supervisors. You also make friends with other local volunteers in your chapter. Even if you are assigned to different countries, they are an invaluable support when you return and you miss being in the field, speaking Spanish, feel like no one 'gets' you, and you miss being an amigo :)
2. The fundraising is do-able: The program really helps you sell the walnuts and grapefruit to fund the trip. Also, you'll be surprised by how much people want to help make this trip possible for you! People are very generous with donations. The fundraising was not as hard as I thought it would be.
3. You LEARN SPANISH: Seriously. You learn to survive. My host family was extremely patient and supportive as I picked up the language throughout the summer. By the end I was completely conversant, making it that much easier to foster real, lasting relationships with the locals in my community.
4. Volunteers get A LOT of flexibility and power over projects/project management: It's one of the only programs who really lets volunteers (ages 16 - college) really take ownership of their experience. If you want to teach a class at the local school, you can do that. If you want to organize a health seminar for the community, you can do that. The program seeks to empower young people, and that is not just lip service.
5. Self-discovery, personal challenge: AMIGOS taught me life-long skills. You find a deeper sense identity, as a citizen of the United States and your place in the world at large. I learned the value of serving and learning from others who are different than I am. My time as an AMIGOS vol helped me better understand my worldview and set me up personally and professionally for future opportunities.
Bottom Line: I recommend AMIGOS to any young person interested in personal growth and lifelong friends. I look back on that time and cherish all of the great conversation with my host family and all the rich, rich cultural experiences had!
Review from Guidestar
I started out as a vlounteer in the Amazon giving vaccinations in a small village at the age of 17. It was such an inspiring,transforming adventure I was able to join field staff & worked the next 3 summers in Colombia,Honduras&Guatemala facilitating volunteers in villages running vaccination clinics & working in community development. These amazing experiences changed my life & developed strong skills of self-reliance,leadership & figuring out a way to get the job done despite all obstacles that make things seem impossible.I have watched Amigos develop & transform its mission over the last 40 years,expanding its reach to many more countries,a greater variety of missions & espe cially the inclusion of youth volunteers in each country served.