Returning to Homestays in 2022
After careful consideration in consult with our local partner agency, Medical Director, host community contacts, and Health, Safety, and Risk team, AMIGOS has decided to run a six-week homestay immersion program in Ecuador this summer. We are thrilled to again offer students the opportunity for a deep immersion experience living with host families and getting involved in their host community!
How did we come to this decision?
Working in Partnership
We decided to open this project in Ecuador because of the country’s high vaccination rate and level of public health precautions as well as our long-standing relationship with our partner agency, Plan International. We have been in conversation with Plan throughout the planning and design of this program. Plan currently works with local families through one of their own initiatives, and the AMIGOS host families are those who are already participating in this program. Many of these are the same families that hosted AMIGOS volunteers the last time we ran this project, in 2019. They are all vaccinated in addition to being well-versed in Plan’s robust health and safety protocols. Both the participating host families and Plan are very excited to partner with AMIGOS on this immersive homestay project, as they feel that they get to work with people more closely and form meaningful relationships across cultures.
Health & Safety
Our number one priority is the health and safety of our volunteers, staff, and host community members. In light of this, we made some adjustments to the previous Ecuador: Santa Elana project that we ran in 2019 in the interest of COVID-19 safety. In 2022:
- Volunteers and staff must be vaccinated for COVID-19 and receive any boosters for which they are eligible. This is a requirement for all AMIGOS programs in 2022.
- A Health and Wellness Coordinator will be on project staff. Their responsibility is to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and support with testing, symptom monitoring, clinic visits, and the like. All 2022 projects will have a Health and Wellness Coordinator.
- Briefing and debriefing (the periods of time at the beginning and end of the project, before and after volunteers stay in their host communities) will be longer so that volunteers may be tested for COVID-19 and any symptoms monitored.
- All host communities will be located within 40 minutes of the city in which staff are based. This will allow staff members to visit the volunteers on their route without needing to stay the night in community, thereby limiting the potential to spread COVID-19.
- Volunteers and staff will be expected to take the same level of precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission as they would in their home countries.
- The majority of service projects will take place outdoors.
Who is a good fit for this project?
This project has a limited number of spots. It is open to volunteers ages 17–22 who have taken at least two years of high school Spanish (or the equivalent). This is a much more independent experience than our other summer 2022 project offerings: volunteers will be placed in a community with one or two other AMIGOS volunteers. Each volunteer will live with a host family. An AMIGOS staff member will visit the volunteers in their host communities at least once a week to check in with them and provide any support needed. This is a great option for students who have already done an AMIGOS group project or who are looking for a more independent and immersive experience.