Five years and counting!
Last month, a cohort of US Department of State-funded youth leaders returned to their hometowns in Houston, TX and the San Francisco Bay Area, CA after traveling to Ecuador and Uruguay respectively. While the Youth Ambassadors and American Youth Leaders Programs are certainly new to AMIGOS in comparison to over 50 years of summer immersion programming in Latin America; the grant-funded, bilateral exchange programs have become fundamental to AMIGOS. This year, we celebrate five years of stellar collaboration with US Embassies as well as partner agencies in Uruguay, Paraguay and Ecuador. It’s a different model, and it’s still AMIGOS to the core. Between workshops on community development and youth-led social ventures, Youth Ambassadors in Montevideo tested traditional yerba mate tea with their host families and swapped dance moves with Uruguayan Youth Ambassadors. American Youth Leaders in Ecuador thoughtfully reflected on their daily adventures in Quito, and also made sure to transform every bus ride into a mobile karaoke party. Now that they’re home, these extraordinary high school students are carrying out their own community projects with the support of mentors and AMIGOS staff. We’re looking forward to the next six months of project implementation, as well as the next five years of programming!
Youth Ambassadors is a US Department of State funded program that focuses on civic engagement, cross-cultural understanding, and youth leadership. AMIGOS operates the program for 9th-11th grade students in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA; Paraguay, Uruguay, and Ecuador. In each country, the program is approximately 8-10 months long. Selected participants are oriented to the program at home and then embark upon a three-week international training and exchange abroad. While abroad, participants live with host families, learn from community organizations and youth peers, and develop an action plan for a community project that they then will carry out at home after the trip. During the months to follow at home, participants continue to develop and implement their community project with the help of AMIGOS staff, adult mentors, and a leadership team of peers that they recruit and train. While working independently on their projects, Youth Ambassadors meet four times – 3 retreats and 1 closing celebration.
The Youth Ambassadors program is continuing to thrive and we have an opening for a Youth Ambassador Program Coordinator in Oakland, CA.
We also have opportunities for families to host a Youth Ambassador from Latin America in the Houston area.
Here are some reflections about their experience in the United States from Paraguayan Youth Ambassadors:
“Uruguayans and Paraguayans speak about their countries characteristics, and I can not help but feel proud and homesick of the culture I was raised in.When I got the chance to interact with the students, I received once again this genuine feeling of support towards my project, and the activity ended up being a really inspirational one.”
-Susana Gimenez. Youth Ambassador 2016. Paraguay
“Returning from the island was as beautiful as going, and to dine in the bohemian restaurant “Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe” the dish for which they where known for, the “meatball” was almost equally beautiful. Oh… truly, what a tasty thing. We went back home, started watching “horror movies” with mom (that caused us more laughs than scares) while my brother was reading for his AP Literature class, and then we chatted about interesting and also absurd topics, laughed, murmured and sighted… and that was how we ended my last Sunday in San Francisco, as a true family.”
-Fabrizio Sanchez. Youth Ambassador 2016. Paraguay
“I am so glad to met them, Kim was very sociable it made me feel that she was interested in my culture, my country and my traditions. She told me some experiences and stories she had had as a teacher and I liked to hear them not just because of courtesy, because they made me feel like another member of their family. I hope that they have liked to know about me.”
-Jose Luis Ortiz. Youth Ambassador 2016. Paraguay.
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- Partner Spotlight: The World Affairs Council of Austin - January 23, 2017