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Allison and Blake are AMIGOS alums who met in Latin America, where they both volunteered as Route Leaders in Paraguay in 1991. Eventually, they got married and now they’re sending their daughter on a Discover AMIGOS program in 2019. Here’s the story of how they met and why they believe AMIGOS is important for all young people.

(L-R: Blake Trabulsi, Allison Orr, Kristen Berry) Route Leaders in Paraguay, 1991

How did you each hear about AMIGOS and decide to go?
Allison: I heard about it from my mom. She had a friend whose son had done AMIGOS. I decided to apply for AMIGOS because I was interested in doing public health in Latin America.

Blake: I played in a band with a guy who had gone to the Dominican Republic with AMIGOS. He had lots of adventurous stories to tell during band practice about his time in Latin America. It sounded fun and exciting, but also interesting and different. So I applied.

What projects have you volunteered on?
Allison: I did two projects as a volunteer: one in Ecuador in 1989 and in Costa Rica in 1990. The next year I was a Route Leader in Paraguay, which is when I met Blake. Then in 1993 I went to Mexico as a Project Director.

Blake:  I volunteered in Ecuador in 1987, Costa Rica in 1988, then Mexico in 1990. I was also a Route Leader in Paraguay, 1991. Then I was a Project Director in Ecuador in 1993.

How did you two meet?
We first met during training to prepare for being Route Leaders. Even though we never broke any rules, our chemistry seemed to be apparent to everyone around us. Our contacts at the Paraguayan Ministry of Health told us, “You all would be an ideal couple!” before we left. And then of course we got married. We did make sure to send them news about our engagement many years later!

How do you think AMIGOS has impacted your life overall?
WHOA! AMIGOS opened our eyes to the many different ways people around the world live, which can be very different than the way we grew up. AMIGOS also taught us about community organizing and how to build relationships to get important work done. We also walked away with a lot of practical skills, such as  learning how to build a team, solving problems in a cultural context different from our own, communicating effectively, and being a leader.

Why do you think AMIGOS is important?
AMIGOS gives young people from the chance to be of service to other communities and to learn about real life issues, which in turn gives them so many real life skills! It also really teaches young people how to be self-sufficient, independent, and responsible.

How did your daughter get involved?
Our daughter has grown up hearing about AMIGOS from our stories. With the Discover AMIGOS programs being open to younger ages, she was ready to go! She was particularly excited about the animal portion of the project.

What advice can you give to other parents thinking about sending their kids on an AMIGOS program?
We believe in our daughter and know she will come back with a more mature, broader perspective on the world. AMIGOS is well-run and has been doing this work for a very long time- we trust the program. We have countless lifelong friends from having done it. It is truly a life-changing experience. Get ready for your young people to come back different!

 

Want to learn more about getting your children involved with Discover AMIGOS?
Check out our projects in Costa Rica and Panama here.