AMIGOS Gap Programs for high school graduates provide unparalleled immersion and leadership experiences in-person in Colorado, Costa Rica, and Ecuador.
Accredited by the Gap Year Association, our Gap Programs focus on service, leadership, and cultural humility. See all programs below!
Go beyond travel and experience life in Costa Rica, get real-world experience learning about environmental conservation and community adaptation to climate change, practice speaking Spanish with local slang, and build a community of friends and family across cultures.
Explore the roads less traveled in Colorado! Examine the complex interplay of public, private, and nonprofit contribution to conservation in the Centennial State. From skiing to farming, and hunting to hiking, you'll leave the program with a broadened understanding of what it means to be a conservationist in the west.
Explore the highlands around Cuenca, Ecuador, and dive deep into food security and justice in rural indigenous farming communities. Discover how Ecuadorian agriculture is based on ancestral cultures, specifically regarding the importance of superfoods and indigenous medicine. Meet local leaders, food producers, and youth making an impact on food systems in the region.
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See all program options below!
- Get hands-on experience and gain skills through service
- Improve your Spanish through authentic cultural immersion (Latin America only) 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
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 everyday!
Spanish language or immersion is not a part of U.S.-based programs.
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 – pending COVID-19 restrictions.
AMIGOS is the industry leader in health and safety management. Our staff is prepared to help you with any situation that may arise. We have robust COVID-19 safety protocols, which were developed in conversations with our Medical Director as well as agency guidelines. Learn more about our COVID-19 protocols here. 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.
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 international gap year programs is available through the Gap Year Association and Portland State University for a fee of $1,700. Email Admissions at [email protected] for more information.
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.