By AMIGOS Alum Jordan Chase. He has participated in both our Discover and Summer Immersion programs. In 2018 he joined the Discover AMIGOS Panama Project and returned to spend his summer in Panama in 2019 with our 4-week Coclé project. Back in Panama for the second time, he was able to visit his host family from the previous summer and celebrate his host abuela’s 101st birthday! Jojo is a sophomore at The Post Oak School in Houston and interns at the AMIGOS office.
It’s difficult to compare my Discover AMIGOS and Summer Immersion experiences.
Both programs were extremely fun and a little challenging. Although my Discover AMIGOS experience was a lot shorter when it came to time spent in Latin America, it prepared me for my four-week summer immersion program. I knew what to bring, how to act, and the general gist of how the schedule worked. It was also a great help in knowing what cultural norms were different and how to act in a way that is respectful to Panamanian customs.
I felt the culture shock pretty hard on my first AMIGOS project. I felt homesick and out of place. But on my second experience, the culture shock was cushioned. It was easier to get used to the change in lifestyle because I knew I had done it before. By the time I had to go home, I didn’t want to leave my host family and the community that had embraced me with open arms.
There were a lot of new experiences being in my community for a four-week Summer Immersion project instead of a two-week Discover AMIGOS project.
The bonds that formed between me, my partner, my host family, and the community were a lot stronger than before. My host family became like my real family, and we became very close. My partner and I had more time and resources to go towards our project, which gave us the opportunity to really do something that could benefit our community and would make a lasting impression. Our project may have seemed smaller than previous AMIGOS projects in our community, but we still had to opportunity to create an incredible impact.
Part of the reason I chose to do AMIGOS for a second summer was a sense that I didn’t make enough of an impact on the host community we stayed in. I felt like we did some good work, but the time constraints limited what was possible. After my second AMIGOS experience, I left knowing that I had done something with my time and effort that would truly better the community that I stayed in.