General

AMIGOS is governed by an international board of directors.  Our day to day operations and managed by the staff at the AMIGOS headquarters in Houston, Texas, and other locations in the US and Latin America. AMIGOS meets the criteria for exchange programs set by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel and is a member of the International Volunteer Programs Association and Inter-Action. AMIGOS has a network of more than 30 partner agencies that work in community development and support the design of our programs throughout the region of the Americas. Read more in our 2014 Annual Report.

Approximately 80% of each dollar raised by AMIGOS goes directly to cover the cost of our programs. Program expenses include training materials and workshops, international travel, supervision of participants, a 24-hour emergency support system all year long, planning and management of the projects, and supplies for participants’ community service activities. Host communities in Latin America contribute the food and lodging for AMIGOS participants. The other 20% covers overhead costs of the organization such as insurance, telephone, and other administrative expenses.

In 1965, a 29-year-old youth director from Houston, Texas, named Guy Bevil, led a team of teenagers into rural Honduras to fight a growing polio epidemic. Serving communities in remote areas of the country, this group of 181 youth and 36 adults helped protect thousands of people from the crippling disease and established friendships that crossed borders. This service had a positive impact on the lives of these young people, and as a result, they returned more mature, culturally aware, and inspired to continue serving communities at home and abroad. AMIGOS has grown and evolved since that first year, operating programs in 17 countries throughout the region during the last 50 years.

AMIGOS is an industry leader in health and safety management. Our staff is prepared to help you with any situation that may arise. All participants receive support from local staff teams and a professional 24-hour on-call emergency team of travel, medical and mental health specialists. AMIGOS also has an established network of vetted local medical clinics and hospitals throughout the region. To learn more about health and safety in AMIGOS, click here.

Application Process

There are two ways to apply to AMIGOS.

AMIGOS Chapters accept applications for high school and college students participating in Summer Programs. Chapters are led by a volunteer board of directors who coordinate participant recruitment, fundraising, and training. Chapters provide a support system for participants and their families before and after the summer. Joining AMIGOS through a chapter means you participate in training and fundraising events in your hometown prior to departure.  You can click here to see if there is a chapter near you.

The AMIGOS National Office accepts applications on a rolling basis for Gap and Summer Programs regardless of your proximity to a chapter location. Participants who join through our National Office receive their training online and in a condensed four-day workshop prior to departure. Fundraising tools are provided, but the process is more independent.

Have questions? Chat with us!

AMIGOS Chapters accept applications for high school and college students participating in Summer Programs. Chapters are led by a volunteer board of directors who coordinate participant recruitment, fundraising, and training. Chapters provide a support system for participants and their families before and after the summer. Joining AMIGOS through a chapter means you participate in training and fundraising events in your hometown prior to departure.  You can click here to see if there is a chapter near you.

The AMIGOS National Office accepts applications on a rolling basis for Gap and Summer Programs regardless of your proximity to a chapter location. Participants who join through our National Office receive their training online and in a condensed four-day workshop prior to departure. Fundraising tools are provided, but the process is more independent.

High School

Program participants live with a host family in a community, experiencing day-to-day life as a local, not a tourist. This authentic cultural and language immersion enables youth to have a meaningful and unforgettable summer. Our staff visits communities and host families in advance of the participant’s arrival to determine the best eating and living arrangements. Staff members spend the night in each host community before the program begins to ensure the host families and communities are safe and are prepared to receive participants.

AMIGOS training curriculum prepares participants to manage projects, organize community members, solve problems, accept responsibility, and learn from others. The AMIGOS training program offers hands-on experience to gain skills necessary to succeed in our projects. AMIGOS prepares participants with pre-departure training in cultural understanding, health and safety, community development practices, leadership, and team building.

Students must be at least 16 years old by December 31st of the year of participation. In order to participate, you must also have completed at least two years of high school Spanish, one year of college Spanish, or be a native speaker. If you are between schools or have graduated from college, you are still encouraged to apply, however participants must be 25 years or younger.

As an AMIGOS participant, you will live with a host family in a small to medium-sized community. You will work closely with US and Latin American peers to facilitate activities for children in your community as well as gain hands-on experience supporting a community development project. Beyond the project implementation, you will improve your Spanish through true language immersion and make lifelong friends from across the Americas.

Gap

AMIGOS values a diverse array of students from different backgrounds and skill sets. The cornerstone of the AMIGOS mission is that all young people will rise to the challenge. We are looking for students who are passionate, enthusiastic, independent, self-driven, and value cultural exchange and teamwork. We welcome students regardless of whether they have had past experiences abroad. AMIGOS is an excellent fit for young people with interest in international community development, public health, international business, political science, international economics, nonprofit management, or other social service themes.

AMIGOS does not pay commissions to any referrals for the gap year program. Neither therapeutic nor court mandated youth can participate in AMIGOS.

To serve in an AMIGOS Gap Program in Latin America, you must have completed high school. In addition, you must have a conversational-level Spanish language ability by the start of the program. Learn more about the Gap Program requirements.

AMIGOS provides pre-departure training and guidance for participants and parents, focusing on health and safety, as well as preparation for travel. Once in-country, AMIGOS staff provide a comprehensive orientation which covers:

  • Local history, culture, and language
  • Preparation for serving as an intern in a local community development organization during your Gap year or semester
  • Project management – Visioning, building a leadership team, mobilizing support for a project, evaluation
  • Country specific health and safety procedures
  • Team building and social time with other participants in your Gap cohort

The learning does not end with orientation. AMIGOS staff bring Gap participants together for a weekend excursion every month to explore a new part of the country and share best-practices and lessons learned.

AMIGOS gap participants are all able to access the internet, either through an internet cafe or home wifi. Therefore most communication with your family will be up to you. AMIGOS staff members communicate with parents/guardians in situations relating to travel, health, and safety. This is outlined in detail in the parent preparation handbook your family receives as a part of the AMIGOS training program.

College

College-only programs require that students be currently enrolled at or graduated from a university. College-track programs are recommended for students 18 or older and have specific programming and activities for college students. In order to participate, you must have completed at least two years of high school Spanish, one year of college Spanish, or be a native speaker. If you are between schools or have graduated from college, you are still encouraged to apply, however participants must be 25 years or younger.

As a college participant, you may be able to earn credit for AMIGOS through your current university. Many schools are able to count your AMIGOS experience as an internship with credit towards graduation that combines academic coursework with relevant work experience. Reach out to professors in the departments of Spanish, Latin American Studies, Political Science, Anthropology, or Public Health to explore this possibility. Credit must be pre-arranged in most cases.

All participants live with a host family in a community, experiencing day-to-day life as a local, not a tourist. This authentic cultural and language immersion enables youth to have a meaningful and unforgettable summer. Our staff visits communities and host families in advance of the participant’s arrival to determine the best eating and living arrangements. Staff members spend the night in each host community before the program begins to ensure the host families and communities are safe and are prepared to receive participants.

AMIGOS training curriculum prepares participants to manage projects, organize community members, solve problems, accept responsibility, and learn from others. The AMIGOS training program offers hands-on experience to gain skills necessary to succeed in our projects. AMIGOS prepares participants with training in cultural understanding, health and safety, community development practices, leadership, and team building.

Students must have graduated in high school and be enrolled in a college or university. In order to participate, you must also have completed at least two years of high school Spanish, one year of college Spanish, or be a native speaker. If you are taking a gap year or have graduated from college, you are still encouraged to apply, however participants must be 25 years or younger.

College students will choose between a College Only Program and a College Track (see below). All College Program participants will live with a host family in a small to medium-sized community. You will work closely with US and Latin American peers to facilitate activities for children and youth in your community as well as gain hands-on experience supporting a community development project. Beyond the project implementation, you will improve your Spanish through true language immersion and make lifelong friends from across the Americas.

 

 

 

Alumni

We encourage all AMIGOS alumni to stay connected and the options are many!

  • Join a local chapter board
  • Start or join an alumni group for networking in your home city
  • Join our professional staff team
  • Sign up for our e-news and blog to stay abreast of all AMIGOS activities and programs
  • Become a monthly sustaining donor to ensure AMIGOS stays strong for the future
  • Follow us on social media! We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Join our Linked-In group for networking with thousands of alumni
  • Join the International Board, which is responsible for governing the AMIGOS organization