“Thank You Parents”
After a day of early morning airport runs and well-wishing the last group of participants, I drove home with a mezcla of emotions. I had just spent several days with some of the most interesting and inspirational young people I have ever met. For those participants who apply through our National Office, there is a five day training in Houston before they leave for Latin America. This summer I had the opportunity to attend alongside the training staff, and I am very grateful for the experience.
I was an orientation leader in college, so I assumed it would be a lot of games and activities to get participants excited about their summers.
To be fair, there were a lot of games and activities. We got to zumba to stretch our legs, and participants, alumni, and staff took turns leading fun and educational games in Spanish that they can take down to Latin America and use to play with the local youth. It was a blast meeting everyone and learning about their interests. Sarah plays rugby and participated in a robotics team that excelled in competition this year. Calum and Nick joined our group from other countries and shared insights on their cultures. Shelby worked with friends to raise over $35,000 for a sustainable project she helped endeavor. Eli is team captain for his Ultimate Frisbee Team. Dylan volunteers at basketball camps for children during the summer. Megan was a return AMIGO who helped us in different activities and was constantly available to answer any questions from new participants. Everyone was extremely inclusive and went out of their way to make new friends and ensure everyone had a great time.
I discovered training also included several challenging activities to prepare everyone for their community projects and daily life in a new and different culture. Students collaborated on projects where they prepared lesson plans for working with children. They developed ideas and task lists of different projects they could undertake and their role in working with the local community to make it relevant and sustainable. They worked independently and in groups and presented several times in Spanish. Each new activity left me in awe of their openness, creativity, and leadership skills. After each lesson, they provided incredible insight and understanding to what they had learned and how to apply it in the field.
At the end of training, we gathered for our final circle and talked about those who had invested their time, energy, and financial support into making this summer a reality. It is quite clear that none of this would be possible without all of the love and support from parents. Parents that aided in fundraising efforts and paperwork for the application process. Parents that were AMIGOS themselves in the past and excited to see their children involved, and parents that were learning about AMIGOS for the first time from their children. Most importantly, we heard time and time again that parents were encouraging and gave these participants the courage and confidence to embark on a truly transformative experience. Thank you parents for all of the work you put into preparing your children for this summer. I am so excited to see all of the incredible feats they accomplish during their time with AMIGOS.
-Lauren Kelly, New Member of AMIGOS Staff