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!
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
There is little I would change. There were a few weeks when our site supervisor could not visit for 2+ weeks at a time. As our only contact for supplies outside the small community, this was tough. He was also responsible for bringing our us our mail, etc so this was difficult some weeks.
Would you volunteer for this group again?
For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?
Did the organization use your time wisely?
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When was your last experience with this nonprofit?