Find out more about what we're doing to make AMIGOS programs safe, our polices and requirements related to COVID-19, and new programs we're developing.

For over 55 years, AMIGOS has been the industry leader in cross-cultural exchange, leadership development, and community service. We believe in a world where all people are lifelong leaders sharing responsibility for our global community.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have spoken with families, young people, and AMIGOS constituents. And we have consulted medical experts and sources, including our Medical Director and contacts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Our first priority remains the health and safety of our volunteers, host families and communities, staff, and chapter network. While we will greatly miss our many host families and communities this year, AMIGOS has found a creative way to return to Latin America that protects everyone’s health and safety.

This year, volunteers will be given much-needed time to explore their passions, learn and practice Spanish, and unplug from technology, all while they live, work, and learn together in a pod (a group of volunteers and staff who live together in one location). They will learn invaluable life skills as they are assigned rotating roles and responsibilities where they will learn how to cook, co-facilitate activities, lead daily guided reflections, and much more!

This model is an opportunity for students to experience the importance of interdependence and human connection and the value of ethical service.

As a group, AMIGOS volunteers will tackle global problems such as environmental sustainability, diversity, inclusion, conservation efforts, and more while partnering with local organizations and grassroots efforts.

AMIGOS is here for you and your family, so please feel free to reach out at any time with any questions or concerns.

Have questions? Click here to schedule a call!

 

COVID-19 Protocols for Summer 2022

We continue to carefully monitor the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. AMIGOS policies and procedures are updated routinely in consideration of the most current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), local ministries of health. All policies are reviewed by our AMIGOS Medical Director.   

Protocols will likely include pre-departure and on-program testing, masking, physical distancing, monitoring for symptoms, maximizing time outdoors, in addition to other interventions design to reduce transmissibility.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the COVID-19 vaccination policy?

All volunteers are required to receive a vaccination for COVID-19 in advance of participating in an in-person AMIGOS program.

All volunteers are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Please send a copy of your COVID-19 vaccination card or reason for your exemption to [email protected] within 30 days of travel. If you have any questions about this policy, please contact [email protected].

What about the new U.S. Department of State Level 4 Travel Advisories?

The U.S. Department of State recently updated each of the countries where AMIGOS operates to a  Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory. This advisory update from the U.S. Department of State  “reflects an adjustment in the State Department’s Travel Advisory system to rely more on (the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s) existing epidemiological assessments” (source: Reuters). These new advisories do not impact our program model and/or guidance to families. AMIGOS took into consideration these warnings when designing programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We understand the challenges of travel programs during the global pandemic, and as such made key adaptions to our program design. We continue to adapt and strengthen our COVID-19 mitigation strategies based on the latest recommendations from the CDC and program experience.

Will I need any additional vaccinations?

In addition to our immunization schedule, AMIGOS is requiring that all volunteers have the flu vaccination for the 2020–2021 influenza season. Many symptoms of the flu mimic COVID-19 and given the pod-like structure we want to be diligent to avoid any contagious illnesses. Volunteers will receive a list of required immunizations included in their welcome packet. 

If AMIGOS cancels a program, will we get our deposit and/or program fee refunded?

Yes. If we cancel a program, you may transfer your enrollment to another AMIGOS program or receive a refund of your deposit and your program fee. Your refund will include everything minus the $50 application fee and fixed costs associated with the canceled program.

What if I decide after enrolling that I don't want to participate in AMIGOS because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

We understand that many factors are considered when you choose AMIGOS, and that circumstances may require you to cancel your participation in AMIGOS. Our $425 program deposit is fully refundable if requested within 30 days of payment. Additionally, partial refunds are available for payments made towards the program fee. The amount of the refund is calculated based on administrative and fixed costs incurred through the date of cancellation. If you are unable to join AMIGOS due to a documented health concern, you can also choose to hold over funds for use in the next program year. The complete finance policy can be found in the Welcome Packet which was sent via email upon acceptance. Local chapter volunteers should reach out to their chapter for the specifics of their financial agreement.

How is AMIGOS designing programs in response to COVID-19?

Before the program begins, volunteers must follow strict social distancing guidelines for 14 days prior to the program start date.

Seventy-two hours before the program starts, volunteers will be required to take a COVID-19 PCR nasal test and show a negative result. All volunteers will also need to follow current entry requirements of their destination when traveling.

The program will operate in a pod or camp-like structure where all volunteers and program staff will live together in the same facility.

Pre-planned excursions and events are in more remote areas away from large cities and crowds. Private transportation will be hired for the duration of the program and volunteers and program staff will be required to wear face masks and maintain proper social distance anytime they are outside of the pod or when interacting with others who are not part of the pod.

Volunteers and program staff will be monitored daily for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 by an onsite health and safety coordinator.

While these measures will reduce the overall risk of exposure, AMIGOS cannot guarantee that there will not be COVID-19 exposure. AMIGOS has developed a thorough response plan in the event of a positive case and will work tirelessly to minimize the spread and ensure access to health care, if needed.

What if the volunteer is fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

If the volunteer has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 28 days have passed since completing the series, they do not need to undergo the 14-day pre-departure self-quarantine. This will be verified with the Health and Safety Manager prior to departure, and individual families will be notified of the clearance to forgo the pre-departure quarantine. All volunteers regardless of vaccination will still be tested between days 5–7 in-country.

What preventative measures will AMIGOS follow?

AMIGOS believes that education is core component of prevention. All volunteers and staff will be required to undergo a COVID-19 predeparture training and pass a test with at least 85%. In addition, we will follow protocols which include social distancing, regular and frequent handwashing, face coverings when outside of the pod, and isolation anytime someone is showing symptoms. We will disinfect surfaces multiple times a day and volunteers will be required to monitor and report their signs and symptoms daily.

Anytime that someone comes into contact with the pod, they will be screened for symptoms and their temperature will be taken. Social distancing and face masks will be mandated when interacting with those outside the immediate pod.

AMIGOS will contract with a vetted, private bus for our transportation needs and public transportation will be prohibited. Volunteers will be instructed to maintain social distancing and will wear masks on the bus and all windows will remain open to allow for ventilation.

Students should self-isolate for two weeks before departure and must show a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure. Upon arrival, the pod will isolate together and receive another COVID-19 test within the first few days. A Health and Safety Coordinator is on staff and onsite. Students will have minimal contact with anyone outside the pod.

AMIGOS ran in-person programs in 2021 during the pandemic. Were there any cases of COVID-19?

233 students ages 15–22 joined AMIGOS in-person programs in Latin America and Colorado in 2021. Approximately 85% of Summer Program volunteers in 2021 were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Approximately 55% of our staff were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Some staff and volunteers are based in Latin America where vaccine availability remains limited. We anticipate that as vaccine access increases in Latin America, vaccination rates will be higher for staff and volunteers. 

Volunteers followed strict testing, masking, and distancing protocols before and during the program. COVID-19 testing was completed pre-departure and at pre-determined intervals during the program Additionally, mandatory COVID-19 pre-departure training was required. We monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 in all volunteers on a daily basis.   

We experienced four positive COVID-19 test results isolated to the project. Two students tested positive during the program and two students tested positive upon returning to the United States. Each of these four students was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and their cases were either asymptomatic or mild. No staff members on the 2021 Summer Program tested positive for COVID-19.  No volunteers or project staff team members tested positive prior to program departure. 

In each incidence of a positive test result, quarantine protocols were activated and contact tracing was completed. No evidence of community spread was found. Each student recovered and none required hospitalization.  

What happens if I am on an AMIGOS program and the situation becomes unsafe due to the spread of COVID-19?

AMIGOS reserves the right to suspend or relocate a running project for any reason. In the event that a project must be suspended, we will make every effort to relocate the volunteers to a comparable project. If relocation is not possible, volunteers will return home early. In this case, refunds will be available less any costs incurred up to that point in the program and less any costs required in order for the volunteer to return safely home.

What happens if a volunteer contracts COVID-19?

If any volunteer produces a positive COVID-19 test, whether or not they are exhibiting symptoms, we will activate our monitoring and quarantine response protocol. Any volunteer with a positive test will be immediately isolated, a detailed record of their symptoms will begin to be recorded, and the AMIGOS Medical Director will be notified. The student will be given their own room at the program site and a staff member will bring them all meals and attend to any need they may have. They will also be offered the opportunity to get outside and spend time in nature recovering away from other volunteers. At this time, all other volunteers and staff members will also receive a COVID-19 test if they have not already. We will be in close communication with the AMIGOS Medical Director to determine the best course of treatment and clinical environment for each volunteer.

COVID-19-positive volunteers will be required to complete an individual isolation according to best practices from health officials and the AMIGOS Medical Director at the time of the program.

In the case of known exposure, families will be notified immediately and be kept up to date with any developments or changes.

In the event the symptoms become severe or require medical treatment, the volunteer will be taken to a private hospital and/or clinic for treatment.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 before departing for my AMIGOS program?

All students on our in-person programs must send AMIGOS a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to departure. If a student tests positive for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure, they cannot participate in the program. Instead, they can elect to transfer their participation to an AMIGOS program with a later start date. The student will need to produce a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of any AMIGOS program start date. If they are still unable to produce a negative test or prefer not to attend another AMIGOS program, they can receive a partial refund. No late starts on programs are permitted.

Will AMIGOS volunteers administer COVID-19 vaccinations?

While we have a history of involvement in vaccination campaigns, the focus of our programs has changed over the last few decades. We design our programs using the approach of asset-based community development: leveraging a community’s strengths and building on existing assets rather than a model that relies entirely on outside support. While we hope to support ongoing efforts to ensure that people throughout the Americas will have access to the vaccine, we believe it is most appropriate for health care workers and/or trained local community members—not AMIGOS volunteers—to administer COVID-19 vaccinations in their own communities.

Our current programs are based on collaborating with local organizations addressing critical global issues that are affecting their own communities, like conservation, climate change, and sustainable agriculture. Local communities are addressing these topics in innovative ways that we can support and learn from.

You can learn more here.

If AMIGOS cancels my program and I was fundraising, what will happen to my donations?

Donors who contributed to your fundraising effort may be given the option to convert their donation to be used for the AMIGOS Annual Fund or to have their donation refunded. Additionally, if you opt to defer, you can hold over your donations for your program fee.

I have some additional questions or concerns. Who can I speak with?

Please contact our Health and Safety Manager, Elizabeth Martinez, at [email protected] or at 713-782-5290 x115.

Program-Specific Questions

Gap Programs in Latin America

When will AMIGOS return to Ecuador or Uruguay?

Our traditional programs involve homestays with local families and in-person internships at partner agencies, which are not feasible at this time. We are actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation in these two countries for our ability to safely return to our traditional programming.

We are running a pod-based Gap Semester Program in Ecuador in spring 2022.

Summer Programs in Latin America

Will AMIGOS run summer programs in Latin America in 2022?

Yes! Click here to learn more about our Summer Programs in 2022.

 

What will AMIGOS do if you can’t run a certain program?

We have built program offerings for next summer with potential cancelation in mind. Our projects have other project locations running at the same time to allow for easy transfer over for families if one location is not able to run. If multiple programs are canceled, volunteers will be issued refunds.

Summer Programs in the U.S.

Is AMIGOS planning any summer programs in the U.S.?

Yes! Click here to learn about our program in Colorado. 

Youth Ambassadors Program

How has COVID-19 impacted the Youth Ambassadors Program?

We ran our first-ever virtual Youth Ambassadors exchanges in 2020 and continued to run virtual exchanges in 2021.

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Frequently Asked Questions