Hadley Kyle, a volunteer in Michoacán, México in 2006, shares how her AMIGOS experience led her to a completely unexpected lifelong friendship.
I first heard about Amigos de las Américas during a presentation in my Spanish class in 2005, at the beginning of my 10th grade school year.
I had spent a couple of weeks volunteering in Lusaka, Zambia the previous summer, and was developing a strong interest in learning about new cultures and places. I knew that AMIGOS would be a great opportunity to explore this interest further and began the process to become a volunteer. I had also just been accepted into a very competitive counselor-in-training program at a sleep away camp that I loved. It was a difficult decision, but I ended up going with my gut and choosing AMIGOS. I’m so glad I did.
AMIGOS truly changed the course of my life.
Once I arrived in Michoacán, México in the summer of 2006, I instantly started making friends with the other volunteers and was eager to start my placement. When Claire was introduced as my partner, I was a little bit disappointed. We had not connected much during the in-country training, and she was not who I had pictured spending the next 6 weeks with in a small town.
I could not have misjudged her and the relationship we would develop more than I did in that moment.
Claire and I became fast friends. We shared a room in our host family’s house. We spent many evenings together writing up lesson plans for the next day of school with our kids, while eating peanut butter out of the jar. We took care of each other when we got sick.
Claire and I had each other’s backs, and fell in love with a town full of people completely different from us.
Since our time as volunteers with AMIGOS, Claire and I have maintained a solid long distance friendship. In 2009, we went back to Michoacán for two weeks and visited our little town of Acuitzio to see friends and our (host) family. In 2016, I joined her on a trip to Costa Rica, where we spent a week road tripping around the country together. We have also visited each other multiple times in our respective cities, her in Chicago and me in Boston.
We have both grown up a lot since our AMIGOS experience, and yet we remain close friends. When Claire and I met in 2006, I would never have imagined that twelve years later I would be standing next to her as she married her husband John this past March.
Amigos de las Américas has influenced a lot of things in my life, but one of the things I am most grateful for is my friend Claire.