GAP YEAR PROGRAMS
Since 2012, AMIGOS has been bringing over 240 students ages 17–22 to live, study, and work in cities across Latin America in powerful international experiences that include authentic language and cultural immersion, homestays with local families, and meaningful internship opportunities. Volunteers can receive college credit for this program through our partnership with Western Colorado University and our Gap Program is accredited through the Gap Year Association (GYA).
What You Will Do
Live, Work, and Study in Cuenca, Ecuador! You’ll complete an internship with a local organization, take classes to improve your Spanish skills, and live with a host family. When you join the AMIGOS semester or the year project, you will:
-Become a part of an international cohort of volunteers
-Meet remarkable people through your time with your host family, internship colleagues, AMIGOS staff team, and fellow volunteers
-Learn more about Ecuador with excursions that are beyond traditional tourist travel
-Explore what living abroad and in the larger world is really all about
While you are working alongside colleagues at your internship, you'll learn to develop, support, and implement a sustainable service project to contribute to this new place you can call home.
Explore more on what to expect below:
-A day in the life of a Gap Program volunteer in Cuenca two-minute video
-What Emma is doing during her internship with a women's shelter
-Take a weekend trip with Luke to the coast of Ecuador with his staff and volunteer cohort
-How living with a family from Cuenca is full of sweet surprises for Avery
Still curious how taking a gap semester or year supports future success in college and life?
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See all program options below!
- Live with a host family in Latin America
- Get hands-on experience and gain skills through service
- Improve your Spanish through authentic cultural immersion and language courses
- Collaborate with the local community on a sustainable service project
- Engage in professional leadership training
- Explore the region with other students on group excursions
- Count on 24/7 on-call support
- Earn three college credits
AMIGOS programs provide a unique opportunity to experience a new culture as a local, not a tourist. Volunteers report increased fluency in Spanish after going through our program. Activities go far beyond the classroom — you’ll lead activities in Spanish, learn local slang, and increase your confidence with real-world practice. You will not believe how fast your Spanish improves when you use it in conversation every day!
AMIGOS works with trusted local partner organizations to identify communities that are passionate and committed to working with our volunteers on community service projects. It has been our experience that a service project is sustainable only when the community owns it and participates in the effort. In our in-person programs, you will collaborate on a service project with volunteers your own age as well as community members.
AMIGOS is the industry leader in health and safety management. Our staff is prepared to help you with any situation that may arise. Each volunteer receives a personalized emergency plan, as well as support from local staff teams and a professional 24-hour On-Call Safety Team of travel specialists, doctors, and mental health specialists. AMIGOS also has an established network of vetted medical clinics and hospitals throughout the region. Additionally, the ratio of staff to students in-country is at least 1:7.
Prepare for AMIGOS through guided training in topics like:
- Multicultural understanding;
- Health and safety;
- Community development;
- Travel safety;
- Leadership; and
- Team building.
At the beginning of your program, you’ll train with your group of fellow volunteers. During your time in the program, you’ll meet regularly with an AMIGOS staff member who serves as your mentor. Finally, at the end of your service, come together again as a group to participate in debriefing — putting what you learned in context, preparing to go home, and going on fun excursions.
College credit for gap year programs is available through Western Colorado University for $340 (2 credits).
Don’t miss out on must-see spots! You’ll travel as a group to experience unique destinations your area has to offer, like volcanoes, ancient ruins, national parks, and historical sites. You’ll get to see these places from the distinct perspective of someone who has learned about the culture firsthand. Plus, you’ll bond with their fellow volunteers and have fun!
You’ll receive a leadership certificate upon completion of any AMIGOS program. Build your leadership skills by identifying your strengths, exploring your interests, and experience with project management.