AMIGOS organizes immersion programs in Latin America for high school and college students seeking powerful life experiences. This sets you on the path to be a leader in your career and in the global community. With over 50 years of experience, there are over 28,000 incredible AMIGOS alumni across the world, and one of those great leaders is Darien Clary. She currently serves on the board of the Austin Chapter, volunteering with new groups of AMIGOS each year, and she has been utilizing her AMIGOS experience throughout her exciting and diverse career.
Interested in a career in public health at a young age, Darien volunteered with AMIGOS in Oaxaca, Mexico and worked on a project focused on community sanitation and oral hygiene. She was able to collaborate with local doctors and visited schools, talking to children about keeping teeth healthy. Years later, she still remembers the songs they sang about how to brush teeth (“arriba, abajo, en forma circular“) and the mural of a happy tooth and its toothbrush they painted with the school. Darien also worked with families in the communities to construct twelve new latrines. These experiences were very eye opening for her, living in a remote area and seeing what happens when people do not have access to health care.
Growing from her experience in Latin America, she interned with the health department, and eventually pursued a Masters in Public Health to focus on the disease prevention perspective of population health. After graduate school, she drew upon on her experiences with AMIGOS to develop and implement sustainable development programs in the Dominican Republic. This included collaboration with local fishermen in marine conservation, and addressing water quality and access in rural communities. She then relocated back to the US and currently uses those leadership skills to enhance sustainability programs in large public education systems to decrease costs while conserving the environment and being responsive to the dynamic local community. If you would like to read more about her work, please see these articles in Forbes and from The Learning Counsel.
When talking about her work, Darien refers to how she is able to accomplish tasks through the “AMIGOS Approach.” She finds solutions that work across different departments and organizations. She loves to bring people together through a spirit of collaboration and mobilizing local resources. These are values that AMIGOS utilizes in all projects. The reason that she devotes her precious free time to work with new groups of AMIGOS participants every year is because she is believes in the power of these transformative programs.
Darien believes that no other program offers the independence to learn more about yourself and realize what you are capable of. For many participants, AMIGOS is their first time in a new country. They put themselves to the test while developing leadership skills. According to Darien, other programs do not hold a candle to what AMIGOS offers and the impact it has on the rest of your life!