I served as a volunteer in Limon, Costa Rica, in the summer of 2010, just before my senior year of high school. My partner, Travis, and I lived in the home of Benita, our host mother, and we worked closely with her daughter, Jane, on community projects that included trash pick-up and recycling, along with fundraisers to support our main project: building a playground at the school. I can't think of a single better way I could have spent those six weeks.
I was a volunteer with AMIGOS in 2004 in Paraguay and it honestly changed my life. Going from living in a privileged community in the US to a tiny Paraguayan village and the contentment amidst hardships that I saw there not only made me want to be more involved with AMIGOS (and I was a supervisor and later an APD and would still love to work for them if our paths cross again some day) but also inspired me to travel around the world, work for non-profit organizations, and become a responsible and socially conscious adult. I will definitely send my children on AMIGOS!
In 2009 I spent six wonderful weeks in Honduras through Amigos and then last year, I returned to Latin America with the same program, this time to Panama. This experience has taught me so much about who I am as a person and what I can accomplish. I have met some of my closest friends through Amigos and have basically built up a second (and third!) family during my experiences, ones which I know I can always fall back on. I feel that Amigos is a unique organization in its ability to provide independent leadership opportunities to both American and Latin American youth as well as in its success in empowering communities to make great strides in environmental welfare, youth leadership, community organization, outlets of creative expression, and overall community public health. There is no program quite like Amigos de las Americas.
What an amazing experience! Totally opened my eyes to a way of life that I would have never been able to experience otherwise. I was in Rodeito/Manguito, Lempira, Honduras with 2 partners in the mountains. There, we organized and taught classes for various age groups about hygiene, disease, nutrition, english and the like. I really felt that this program was significantly more sincere and influential than say, a church trip building homes for people, as you really become a PART of the community. People know you by name and will constantly invite you in for food, tea or a friendly conversation. I was there for 7-8 weeks and I have endlessly benefited from it. All and all, Amigos is a fantastic program which I would recommend to anyone who is willing to get a little dirty, come out of their shell and experience something truly foreign and new.
Two of my children have spent multiple summers volunteering with Amigos. It has been a life changing experience for both. They have developed cultural awareness and sensitivity. Their Spanish skills have improved. They have a different appreciation and perspective on life. Because of the projects and group activities that they participated in they see that their work can yield meaningful and lasting differences in the lives of others. Lastly, they have formed bonds with people from other countries and the US that are unlike friendships they have experienced in their day to day life in our home town. My children both maintain many of their Amigos friendships.
I volunteered with Amigos in the DR in 2009 and Oaxaca in 2010. I worked on my chapter training staff in 2010 and 2011, preparing Amigos for their summer as volunteers. Amigos does an amazing job of building communities both in Latin America through their project initiatives, and the United States through chapter training. Throughout training and the summer, I've found some of my best friends-- people who understand where I'm coming from and share the same passions. But one of the most important things that Amigos gives young people is independence-- the independence to be somewhere completely new and the independence to try, make mistakes, fail, succeed, laugh, and learn.
Amigos made me realize that there's far more to learning than a school classroom. I'm going on into a gap year between high school and college. Amigos probably influenced my decision not to go straight to school in the first place. In the first part, I'm taking an outdoors course that focuses on leadership training. In the second part, I'm looking into community-building volunteer work in Brazil. I plan to study public health in college. I have Amigos to thank for that.
AMIGOS changed my life. I served in Paraguay (vol), Costa Rica (route leader), and Mexico (PD), and the experience I gained has been invaluable to my career and professional and personal relationships. AMIGOS trusts youth and gives them the skills and opportunities to demonstrate their responsibility and ability to grow. AMIGOS is a well-run, responsive, and efficient non-profit organization.
I was a volunteer with Amigos for the first time in 1992, 1993, and 1994 while in high school. After college, I got involved again at the Board level in the New York City and Boston Chapters. AMIGOS has had a major guiding influence in my life, from majoring in Spanish and secondary education in college, to serving in Peace Corps for three years, to working in the public sector as a career. It is an excellent opportunity for students and I highly encourage people to take a look and consider participating in the field or working with a Chapter!
I was a part of Amigos de Las Americas after my Junior year in high school. It changed my life completely and left me craving more adventure and action in my own community and in other places. It also helped focus career ideas for areas of study. Becoming fluent in Spanish became my main priority because of Amigos.
I was a volunteer for Amigos in the summer of 2010. I was sent to Azuero, Panama where I had the most incredible, perfect summer of my life. For 8 weeks, I lived and served in a small community that changed my life. I came back a better person and stronger woman, with a zest for life that can never be tainted. Through Amigos, I've met the people I want standing next to me at my wedding- lifelong friends that I couldn't bear to lose. I continue my involvement with the organization by training new vols for their summers abroad.