About US State Department Programs
AMIGOS partners with the US Department of State to administer the fully-funded Youth Ambassadors Program for youth from Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the United States. Youth participants, adult mentors, and host families are competitively selected.
The Youth Ambassador Program combines:
Participants study community development, civic engagement, and leadership theories and practice through a three-week International Training. During their International Training, participants learn about and engage with the history of their host community through host family stays, service work with local peers, and visits to cultural sites. Participants receive hands-on experience in the design and implementation of the AMIGOS Community-Based Initiative Process (CBIP). After returning home from their international training and exchange, each participant carries out a community service project in his/her home community.
Adult participants are Ecuadorian, Colombian, Paraguayan, Uruguayan, or United States teachers, trainers, school administrators, and youth educators. Adult mentors chaperone, facilitate, and mentor a group of high school-aged youth during the international training and exchange. The ideal mentor inspires young people to act as leaders and draws inspiration from the youth with whom they engage. This is an all-expenses-paid professional development opportunity funded by the US Department of State.
Becoming a host family is a highly rewarding experience – it’s an opportunity for you and your family to open your home and share a part of your lives with a young person from another country. Our participants are on an exciting journey, experiencing a new country and culture and you can be a part of this experience with them! Host families are an essential part of the AMIGOS experience, and you can make a difference in a young person’s life by hosting them during their exchange!
What are the requirements for participating as a host family?
Do I have to have a teenage son or daughter to host?
You don’t have to have a teenager to be a host. While having a high-school aged son or daughter at home is a plus, families with young children, adult children or no children are also encouraged to apply.
How are Youth Ambassador Program participants selected?
All Youth Ambassador participants go through a competitive application, interview, and selection process. Student participants are aged 15-18. Student participants are selected based on demonstrated leadership and dedication to community service, financial need, and academic performance. Adult mentor participants are aged 21+ and are selected based on their successful track record of working with youth, the past and current involvement in community service, and a desire to promote cross-cultural exchange among youth from different countries.
Are host families paid?
Host Families are not paid. All Host Families are volunteers and should be financially capable and willing to provide 3 meals/day and snacks for their Youth Ambassador participant.
What do participants do during the day?
Youth Ambassador participants will take part in training activities led by AMIGOS staff Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm. Saturdays and Sundays will normally be left open for participants to spend with their Host Families. There will be one day when participants attend high school with either a host sibling or with a fellow U.S. Youth Ambassador. AMIGOS staff will also sometimes organize weekend events for all YAs and Host Families.
What are the benefits of being a Host Family?
Serving as a host family is a life changing experience! Hosting a Youth Ambassador participant will be an unforgettable opportunity for your family to learn about South American culture. Hosting someone from a different country is also an exciting opportunity for to reflect on your own family and community traditions.
This year will be the seventh year that AMIGOS has the opportunity to bring South American youth to the United States. After more than 50 years of life-changing host family experiences for AMIGOS participants in Latin America, it is a joy to open our homes and communities to our South American AMIGOS.
How do you prepare families for hosting?
AMIGOS staff will visit each host family in their home to meet family members and answer any questions. In addition to the home visit, AMIGOS staff will facilitate a Host Family Training with representatives from each host family.
How do you prepare participants for the transition into a U.S. home?
Youth Ambassador Program participants will complete a 3-day Orientation in their home country before International Training & Exchange. One of the goals of this Orientation will be to prepare participants for life in the United States. When participants arrive in San Francisco, they will spend their first two nights together with AMIGOS staff at a hostel. AMIGOS staff will lead additional activities during this extra day of Orientation to ensure that participants are ready for their host family experience!
How expensive is it to host a participant?
Host families are required to cover costs associated with at-home meals, packed lunches, transportation to and from BART/the local training site. Host Families should also cover the costs of any family excursions that happen on the weekends or weekday evening (dinners out at restaurants, etc.) AMIGOS covers the cost of all outings as well as food and transport during week day and weekend training events. Participants bring their own pocket money to cover extra expenses such as the cost of souvenirs. All participants are provided with international health insurance.
What if my family wants to go out town during the hosting dates?
A weekend trip to grandma’s house or somewhere outside the city can be a very exciting addition to the hosting experience! Please note as you’re considering your calendar that participants are allowed to travel out of town with your family so long as the trip is approved by the Program Coordinator ahead of time. Participants must request approval for any trip: (1) that is longer than 3 hours away from their host family home, or (2) during which they would be spending the night in a sleeping space different from the one that AMIGOS staff initially visited during the application process.
If you know that your trip is very far away or during the week (and Participants would miss training), then perhaps this is not the ideal year to host.
Participants cannot spend the night alone in their host family home, and should only be left alone at home under special circumstances.
Can I select the participant I want to bring into my home?
Host Families do not select their participant. AMIGOS staff has the important role of matching participants and Host Families. On your Host Family Application, you will provide useful information about your family and you’ll be able to state your preference for hosting a student or adult, male or female, etc. AMIGOS will use this information to make the best possible match. You will receive information about your participant before their arrival.
How do I sign up?
If you are interested in serving as a Host Family with AMIGOS, please complete and submit the online application ASAP!