May 18, 2018
Today, AMIGOS operates in 9 countries throughout the Americas. More than 650 teens and young adults will participate in our programs this year. And we have 28,000 alumni worldwide.
It’s been 54 years since our founder Guy Bevil led a team of teens and doctors into rural Honduras to fight a growing polio epidemic. What they learned that first year remains even more true today: when you cross borders into the unknown and allow that place into your heart and soul, you simply can’t stay the same.
This is where we find the power of AMIGOS. This power is in the transformation that comes from the deep humility, empathy, and connection we build at an age where our whole life is ahead of us.
This is not an easy process. This transformation comes from:
- living for weeks and months with a host family and joining the rhythm of their daily life
- working – and sometimes struggling – to carry out a project with people from a different culture in a different language
- letting ourselves become challenged and uncomfortable
- coming home changed, aware, and ultimately connected to a world both bigger and more personal than before
We are convinced there is no better long-term antidote to discord and division in the world than the experience of deep immersion and the discovery of our collective humanity.
In an evolving world full of time commitments and competing opportunities, one thing has stayed the same: AMIGOS continues to offer the most authentic, the most immersive, real life way for students to leave their home realities and learn about the world by living in it. If you are catching up or not familiar with all of our programs, there are many different ways to become an Amigo:
- Our Summer Immersion Programs continue to be the longest and most intensive that young people can find starting at age 15
- Our Gap Program enables high school graduates to go even deeper into the immersion experience before heading to college
- The Discover Program is a new introductory program offered for rising 8th and 9th So now at age 13 one can sign up to get a glimpse of the world with the guidance of AMIGOS
- The Youth Ambassadors Program offers a binational exchange and service opportunity for students from the U.S. and Latin America, meaning we host youth from Latin America in the U.S. as well
We are extremely proud that Latin American students are now joining AMIGOS. This year, more than 100 youth from Latin America will participate full time in our programs, and hundreds more join our programs at the community level. This has been a tremendous evolution in our programming and we are committed to growing this number in bold new ways.
In offering these programs, health and safety remains our absolute top priority. We are saddened to share that we have suspended future programming in Nicaragua until further notice due to political turmoil. Our 2018 Summer Program participants and staff have been reassigned to other programs with the support from the vast AMIGOS network in our other host countries. We remain deeply concerned for our Nicaraguan host families, community members, and partner organizations. We are hopeful that AMIGOS will soon be able to return to continue our programming there. We will share more details about this decision in our upcoming newsletter.
As our 54th summer begins, we are incredibly grateful to everyone who supports AMIGOS. We thank our dedicated staff and volunteers who work around the clock to ensure that this transformational opportunity is available to youth from all backgrounds. We could not do this without our donors across the AMIGOS network who contribute nearly $2 million a year to make AMIGOS accessible to more students. We thank our dedicated partner organizations in our host countries in Latin America, who value our effort to open up the eyes of young people and inspire them to embrace the world in new ways.
President & CEO
Alum ’97, ’98, ’00, ’01, ’03